Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed Thursday that if given the opportunity to lead the Senate he would watch over the upper chamber in a much different fashion that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. McConnell said that Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, has done “tremendous damage” to the comity of the Senate that is essential to the chamber’s operations.
“He has turned the Senate into a graveyard of good ideas,” said the Kentucky Republican, accusing Mr. Reid of blocking amendments from both parties and circumventing the normal committee process. “He has muzzled the people’s representatives and, through them, the people themselves.”
Mr. McConnell promised that would change if Republicans pick up the six seats they need in the November election to flip control of the chamber.
“The Senate majority under my leadership would break sharply from the practices of the Reid era in favor of a far more free-wheeling approach to problem solving,” he said.
Mr. McConnell pledged to restore regular order to the chamber, reinvigorate the committee process and stick with the filibuster rule on legislation.
Mr. McConnell, though, refused to say whether he would follow in the footsteps of Mr. Reid by relying on the “nuclear option” to stop the minority from being able to filibuster presidential nominees to fill an executive branch or judicial nominees — with the exception of Supreme Court justices.
“My advice to my colleagues has been that is a discussion for December if we are fortunate enough to be given by the American people the opportunity to set the agenda of the Senate then we will address that question,” Mr. McConnell said.
Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Mr. Reid, sent out a statement to reporters denying the Republican’s charges against his boss, saying that “under Senator Reid’s leadership, the Senate has voted on more amendments and on minority amendments at a higher rate than” when Republicans controlled the chamber.
He then went on to attack Mr. McConnell as “the leading force for gridlock and obstruction in Washington.”
“With 540 filibusters under his leadership, Senator McConnell — the self-declared ‘proud guardian of gridlock’ — has done more to bring gridlock and obstruction to Washington than any single individual in Senate history,” he said, going on to call the Kentuckian’s legacy as “one of blind, knee-jerk obstruction against any and all efforts to help the middle class, regardless of the merits.”
On Tuesday, Mr. McConnell moved a step closer to winning a sixth term, defeating a challenge from his right in the Kentucky primary.
He now is preparing for his general election showdown with Kentucky Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, and polls show the race is tight.