Mitch McConnell, the senior Senator from Kentucky and Senate Majority Leader, looked great when he was leading the Republicans as a minority force, throwing bombs, gumming up the works, vowing to make President Obama a one-term President. However, he is finding, to his chagrin, that running the place is a lot more difficult.
Nowhere was this more in evidence than in his handling of the debate over the Patriot Act. Determined to renew the legislation without weakening it in any way, especially in terms of the NSA compiling meta data for the phone calls of all Americans, Senator McConnell thought he would jam the renewal through by forcing the debate right up against the hard deadline for renewal. Surely no one would let the protections of the Act expire, he thought.
Well, Rand Paul called his bluff, and moreover, Senator McConnell misread the sentiments of the American people. For a change, the it was the House that compromised to pass the bipartisan USA Freedom Act by a large majority. Only by passing that, and without any amendments, could the Senate continue the protections of the legislation — and only if the meta data was held by the telephone companies instead of the government.
Now Senator McConnell is reduced to pushing the Freedom Act or getting nothing at all. His face-saving attempt to amend it would only extend the lapse of the legislation (because it would then need to go back to the House), and he knows that. Seems it’s a lot harder to govern than trying to get in the way.