McConnell set to be Senate majority leader
WASHINGTON (AP) – Mitch McConnell may not be the most famous man in Washington. But he is about to become one of the most powerful.
McConnell was re-elected to a sixth term yesterday as his Republican party gained at least seven Senate seats – enough to control the chamber in next year’s Congress.
McConnell, 72, is certain to be chosen by his Republican colleagues for the Senate’s most powerful job and will join House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner in confronting Barack Obama with his presidency’s first Republican-controlled Congress.
Half a century after his first Washington stint as an intern, the methodical career politician from Kentucky is now poised to achieve his long-cherished goal of becoming Senate majority leader.
For McConnell, who’s been Senate minority leader for eight years, his ascension comes just in time. The 2016 election cycle looks tough for Republicans, who will defend 24 of 34 Senate seats, including several in Democratic-leaning states.
Viewed by Democrats as excessively partisan but by both parties as a shrewd and tough tactician, McConnell has opposed Obama’s health care and financial regulation overhauls and environmental curbs that McConnell says damage his state’s coal industry.
McConnell has said he wants to use must-pass spending bills to force showdowns with Obama over his health care overhaul, environmental regulations and other issues. He has said there may be room for compromise with Obama over tax laws and a trade accord with Asian nations.
He’s also shown a pragmatic side. He’s played pivotal roles in bipartisan accords that yielded a two-year extension of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts in 2010 and averted a 2011 federal default, the “fiscal cliff” across-the-board tax increases and budget cuts of 2013 and a federal shutdown that same year.