Last month, the president tweeted: “It is disgraceful what the Do-Nothing Democrats are doing (the Impeachment Scam), but it is also disgraceful what they are NOT doing, namely, the USMCA vote, Prescription Drug Price Reduction, Gun Safety, Infrastructure, and much more!”

The president wanted his Twitter followers to believe the only business Democrats have pursued over the last year is his impeachment. His message was simply untrue.

Under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the House also passed more than 300 bills, 275 of them with bipartisan support, but almost all of those measures are languishing on the Senate majority leader’s desk. Under Mitch McConnell and his minions, including our own senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, the Senate has become a dead-end street where almost nothing that might benefit average Americans has been passed into law.

Even popular legislation like lowering prescription drug prices, which the House passed and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said will save Medicare nearly a half trillion dollars over 10 years, is dead in the water. That’s because Big Pharma opposes authorizing the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug pricing — and nobody is more beholden to Big Pharma than McConnell and his allies.

On another crucial health care issue, the House passed the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act, which is the last bill the health insurance industry wants enacted. McConnell opposes the measure. It’s going nowhere, even though the president has frequently said he supports the policy. Apparently, he hasn’t talked to McConnell.

Also contrary to Trump’s claim, gun safety legislation, including closing gun-show loopholes and strengthening background checks, was passed by the House last February with wide public and bipartisan support. But it was dead on arrival when it reached the Senate. Again, the National Rifle Association instructed the Senate majority leader to stall. Nothing will happen, and there has been no demand or even encouragement to act from the White House.

The “For-the-People Act.” also passed by the House, would make Election Day a federal holiday while expanding voter registration. Is that not good for our democracy? Not as far as the Senate is concerned. How about equal pay for equal work? No action. The Paycheck Fairness Act, also passed with bipartisan House support, gathers dust in the Senate. Might we agree that the Violence Against Women Act should be continued? We might, but the Senate has it stymied.

With respect to the environment, if you accept the scientific consensus, as the Pentagon does, that climate change poses a threat to U.S. national security, then the Climate Action Now Act should be signed into law? But, it will not as long as McConnell is running the Senate.

And, of course, there are the Dreamers, those immigrant children brought here as small children and who know no other country. A dispositive bill passed by the House has died in the Senate.

Minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour for more than a decade. The Raise the Wage Act would gradually increase it to $15 an hour over six years, helping ensure that hard working full-time Americans making the minimum won’t need government subsidies to make ends meet. That’s common sense to most everyone — except McConnell.

There is a lot of other House-passed legislation the Senate majority leader is refusing to even discuss, let alone consider for passage. While the president continues to rail against climate change, public schools, and the lack of House action, McConnell quietly buries legislation.

One might ask: How can Mitch McConnell be a one-man roadblock to the things Americans need so badly? Very simply, because he can. The Senate allows it.

The Senate majority leader holds astonishing power, none of which is laid out in the Constitution. Chief among the majority leader’s powers is the ability to set the agenda, decide when it is in session, and determine which measures will be debated, then voted on. One person decides all this. The founders did not address how the Senate would run itself or who would be in charge. Appointing leaders among Senate members and the power they wield has developed with gradual, very gradual, speed.

An interesting twist is that McConnell has refused to take up essential issues because he says the president has not told him what bills he will support. This is a dangerous game to play with an erratic president who changes his position from one day to the next. McConnell’s stance precludes senators from debating and voting on legislation that is currently favored by most Americans.

This is not what the founders wanted. Congress was always meant to be the most active of the branches of government, the “first among equals” in the language of Thomas Jefferson. However, McConnell has largely put it to sleep.

Don Tortorice is a former attorney and professor at the Law School of the College of William and Mary.

(8) comments

John Rowerdink

This isn’t rocket science. If Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats want to get their legislation passed, they might try structuring it so it has a chance to be considered by the Republican-controlled Senate. As it is, House Democrats know they can pass anything they want, so they do it. As for the 275 bills they passed with bipartisan support, trust me; they had precious little support from House Republicans. There are always a few RINOs but calling their support “bipartisan” is like calling me bilingual when I say “Gesundheit” when someone sneezes. The bottom line is that House Democrats are more interested in creating a political issue than in passing real legislation that will help the country. Sadly, Republicans often do the same thing. This is the sad state of affairs of our political system today.

Ed Pieczynski

To claim that only the GOP is somehow owned by Big Pharma is disingenuous at best. As clearly outlined in Stephen Brill's "America's Bitter Pill" importation of drugs from foreign sources was a Democrat amendment supported by the GOP. The amendment would have saved Americans more than 400 billion over 10 years. The confessed liar Harry Reid knew that such an amendment would kill any chance for Big Pharma to

support of ACA so Reid caved to Big Pharma and never even allowed a vote on the importation amendment in return for Pharma's support for ACA.

Big Pharma owns BOTH political parties.

Sally Larson

It's going to be refreshing to see new blood in the Senate after November.

Conrad Meyer

And especially a new Speaker of the House to replace the idiot that has obstructed for 3.5 years. Time for Nancy Pee to go.

Peyton Cook

While these bills sound good “the Devil is in the details”. No Bills are clean. The pet issues are always included which could make them un-passable.

Kent Misegades

Anything Nanny Pelosi signs needs to go straight where it belongs, in the garbage. What a waste of tax dollars though.

Dan Roman

The real, true, enormous waste of tax dollars is one branch of Congress trying to do it's job, create and pass needed legislation, which it forwards to the Senate, and one man, the self described "Grim Reaper of the Senate" stonewalling virtually all legislation from being voted upon by the Senate.

Ed Pieczynski

From 5/2016: "Of the 518 bills or joint resolutions passed by the House since January 2015, only 122 have passed the Senate, according to Congress's Legislative Information System, which tracks the status of legislation.

That leaves just shy of 400 House bills stuck in the Senate chamber".

Yes that was when the noted liar Harry Reid controlled the Senate so please don't act like this is a new tactic.

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