McConnell may not be the majority leader anymore, but he's using his minority status in convoluted, uncharted ways to try and stop President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, even if it pushes the country towards grave economic uncertainty.
The outcome of the debt crisis has left no confidence that there will be another one. McConnell actually orchestrated a resolution to the standoff, which ensures Congress will remain in the same place in December when funding for America's next bills runs out. This means another potentially disastrous debt showdown as the COVID-19 crises lingers and the economy struggles for recovery.
"Mitch McConnell is a lover of chaos," stated Sen. Sherrod brown, D-Ohio, who chairs the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. "He is a brilliant strategist and tactician, but the country has to pay the price for what he does."
McConnell's reputation as a master of misdirection has been cemented by the crisis. McConnell is the architect of the impasse, and the one who solved it, even if only in the short-term. As Democrats limit Biden's huge agenda now-$2 Trillion, more battles will follow. This is all paid for by taxes on corporations and wealthy Republicans oppose.
McConnell is a smart leader. He uses every tool at his fingertips to gain power and subvert Biden's priorities, according to some Republicans. Donald Trump thinks he's weak because he "caved" too quickly. McConnell is still a frustrating rival for Democrats. He has repeatedly shown that he is willing and able to challenge one institution after another in order to attain Republican power.
"McConnell's job is to lead the opposition, and it's his job for the majority to oppose what he does," stated Alex Conant, a Republican strategist.
He stated, "Nobody should be shocked to see the leader Republican making the job of the Democrats harder."
These risks are not only for Biden, but also for the Democrats in Washington.
Democrats were portrayed as big-spenders in the debt showdown, eager to increase the country's $28.4 trillion debt for the purpose of paying the bills. Both parties contributed to this burden because of past decisions that have left the government rarely in the black.
Republicans are also at risk of being recriminated by all parties to their deeply divided party. McConnell helped to ease the crisis but McConnell did not shield his Republicans from more blame. This angered Trump and his supporters, who were eager to criticize McConnell for his concessions.
Ted Cruz, R-Texas said that he told his fellow Texas senators during a private meeting prior to the debt vote that it was a mistake for Republican leadership "to agree to this deal."
While once a routine vote to pay the bills, raising the debt limit is now a political tool, especially for Republicans who rail against government spending. Ten years ago, the nation was at the brink of default due to the actions of the tea party group of Republicans. This new strategy was created by the GOP.
McConnell stated that he was not seeking to interfere with Biden's domestic agenda. The now-$2 Trillion package, which is the president's signature legislation, is criticized by Republicans for being a "socialist tax and spending spree."
Democrats are using a complex procedure to get Biden's agenda passed. This allows 51 votes to approve the bill, instead of the 60 required to overcome Senate objections. With her ability to cast a tiebreaking ballot, Vice President Kamala Harris gives Democrats 50-50 split Senate.
McConnell used the Democratic budget strategy to condense the issues. He announced months ago that he wanted Democrats, using the same process, to raise the debt limit. He used it to link Biden’s federal government overhaul and the nation’s growing debt load.
Both parties have sometimes had to take on the debt-raising vote, which has been a controversial issue. McConnell tried to set new terms for Democrats, but McConnell found new legislative ground.
Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) quickly ignored McConnell’s requests for the complicated process and set out to pass a debt ceiling bill using a more traditional route.
The Oct. As the Oct. McConnell called a timeout only after the pressure from business increased and Biden urged Republicans to "get off the way".
McConnell arranged the solution to the problem by allowing traditional vote Thursday night. McConnell also joined 10 Republican senators in helping Democrats reach 60 votes needed to end the crisis.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, praised Republicans for "doing their part tonight" and allowed Democrats to take the work of raising debt limit. But she encouraged the parties to unite to find a permanent solution.
She stated that "we can't allow the regular process of paying our bills turn into a confidence shaking political showdown every 2 years or every 2 months."
Schumer took a more serious tone.
He said, "Republicans played an extremely risky and dangerous partisan game and I am glad their brinkmanship didn't work."
This also caused trouble: McConnell wrote to Biden late Friday, stating that similar antics assure him "I will never provide such assistance again."
McConnell shared with Republican colleagues the reason he had devised the solution. He was concerned that Democrats might change the filibuster rules that they had been discussing. Two key Democrats were contacted by McConnell, Sens. Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Senator Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona to make sure they were not thinking about doing that.
The Republican leader had also achieved his goal: to sabotage Biden's agenda, sow the seeds of fiscal distress, and portray Democrats as a party that is struggling to govern.
McConnell's first fight with Biden is the biggest, and it could be the last phase of their decades-long relationship.