Revelations about the animosity-filled relationship between two of the most powerful politicians in America are giving the public new insight into the behind-the-scenes battles that characterize our polarized Congress these days.
The new details about the less-than-collegial exchanges between Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) come from a new book by journalist Susan Page called Madame Speaker that was excerpted by Punchbowl News this morning.
Speaker Pelosi — who saw almost all of the legislation that she shepherded to passage in the House of Representatives blocked from consideration in the Senate by then-Majority Leader McConnell until earlier this year when the Democrats won control of the senior chamber in Congress — characterizes the Kentucky senator as the “enabler of some of the worst stuff” in our nation’s legislative body.
“Mitch McConnell is not a force for good in our country,” Pelosi told Page. “He is an enabler of some of the worst stuff, and an instigator of some of it on his own.”
An example of how far the relationship between the two powerful leaders has deteriorated is the fury that Pelosi directs at McConnell for his refusal to allow the body of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda following her death last year, an honor that would have made her the first woman in history to have ever received such distinction.
Rather than acquiesce to Pelosi’s suggestion, which required the approval of the Senate leader, McConnell was completely uncooperative,
“McConnell rejected the idea on the grounds that there was no precedent for such treatment of a justice. When William Howard Taft had lain in state in 1930, he had been not only the chief justice but also president, McConnell noted,” Page writes. “He wasn’t swayed by the argument that Ginsburg had achieved an iconic status in American culture, especially for women and girls.”
With the use of the Capitol Rotunda ruled out by McConnell’s lack of agreement, Justice Ginsburg’s coffin instead was placed in the Statuary Hall which is on the House side of the building and therefore outside of the Senate’s jurisdiction.
Another juicy tidbit found in Page’s book is the fact that Speaker Pelosi purposefully refers to McConnell by a name that she knows the GOP leader cannot stand: “Moscow Mitch.”
With the relationship between the two political leaders reflecting the heavily polarized divisions in American society, it’s no wonder that Congress during the Trump era was one of the least effective legislative bodies in our nation’s history.
With McConnell now relegated to the Minority Leader and his power significantly diminished, his ability to instigate and enable “the worst stuff” has hopefully become equally diminished.
It’s a new day in the Biden administration and Mitch McConnell’s pettiness will no longer control how things will work.
Original reporting by Dominick Mastrangelo at The Hill.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.