WASHINGTON — Democratic leadership said Thursday that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s actions on the floor Thursday morning were evidence that Republicans had been put off their game by the disappointing election results last month.
Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Richard Durbin faulted McConnell for a move he made on the Senate floor this morning, when he called for a vote on a proposal made by the White House that would give the president authority to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling.
When Democrats agreed — according to Durbin, they had at least 51 votes — McConnell seemed to backtrack, asking that it be passed by 60 votes, rather than by a simple majority.
The McConnell camp called that standard procedure for any controversial vote.
Schumer described the move as McConnell “filibustering his own idea.”
“What this shows is that Republicans are really getting flummoxed, and they’re throwing stuff at the wall, but this one sure didn’t stick,” Schumer said, the first of many clichés in his comments.
“Republicans touched the stove with the debt limit a year ago, and they got burnt,” he went on. “The politics on the debt limit have obviously reversed themselves.”
“Sen. McConnell’s usually very astute political radar was off today, and I would argue it’s because they’re sort of losing ground on the whole fiscal cliff argument,” Schumer added.
Durbin said he was unclear what Sen. McConnell had been attempting to do, as he himself was not a particularly big presence in the debt ceiling negotiations.
“To this point, I think Sen. McConnell has not been actively, personally engaged. This is the speaker and the president working this through,” Durbin said. “I don’t know if this was supposed to be a side show, but it didn’t work. I mean, we called his bluff.”
“I don’t know if this is about Kentucky politics, or caucus politics, but it isn’t helping us reach our goal of a bipartisan solution,” he added.
“Last year, we were amazed at how Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell worked in lockstep, they were almost completely together, it was seamless, and it was effective. And this year, at least now, since the election, that doesn’t seem to be happening at all,” Schumer said. “Politics has consequences. Just as after the 2010 election we were not very surefooted, because the political landscape had changed against us.”
“So they’re not surefooted now, and it’s much harder for them to coordinate, it’s much harder for them to sing from the same hymnal because they’re on weak ground and they don’t know what to do,” Schumer said.