McConnell proves biggest hurdle for Dems
Staff and agencies
21 February, 2007
By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer 11 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Democr, , ) is no powerless bystander.
The Kentucky Republican made that clear when, despite grumbling from within his own ranks, he engineered the two-week standoff over Iraq and allowed the House to move first to challenge President Bush ‘s troop buildup.
Despite the Democrats‘ 51-49 majority — counting two independents who generally vote with the Democrats — the 65-year-old Republican leader might be viewed as the most powerful member of the new Congress.
They give McConnell, or any minority party leader, the power to shape legislation.
Yet, during the standoff over Iraq, he had plenty to say.
So Republicans used parliamentary measures to keep Democrats from taking up a debate leading to a final vote. Democrats accused McConnell of protecting Bush over an unpopular war, but the GOP leader refused to budge.
"Senate Republicans are going to insist on fair treatment," McConnell declared.
"We‘re very close (in) numbers here, , , ), R-Wyo. "Hopefully, that‘s what this is all about."
They set up the House to be an institution where the majority rules. Members there represent districts of nearly identical population. In the Senate, where members represent states with populations of different sizes, James Madison particularly wanted measured consideration that engaged all parties.
Still, it is uncle, , ), R-Pa., last week lamented the prospect of having to explain to his constituents the Senate‘s plodding.
"I‘m finding it difficult, really impossible, to answer my constituents about what the Senate is doing," Specter said, although adding that he agrees with McConnell in principle. "I tell them we‘re debating whether we‘re going to have a debate, and they can‘t understand what we‘re doing."