A few days after Doug Jones’ surprising upset victory over embattled GOP candidate Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election, Republicans in the Senate are rushing to get their widely unpopular tax bill passed before Jones is seated. With Bob Corker listed as a no and the impending insert of Jones into a seat that was temporarily occupied by governor appointee Luther Strange, Republicans would only be able to afford to lose one more vote once Jones is sworn in. A close vote is not one that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP cannot afford right now, especially not with memories of John McCain’s shocking Obamacare repeal vote (or lack thereof) still fresh in their minds.
Yet seven years ago, the GOP sang a much different tune. When Republican Scott Brown won the Massacussettes Senate seat during a special election in 2010, Republicans insisted not to vote on the Affordable Care Act until he was seated. Even Democrats, including President Obama whose name was quite literally attached to the bill and had his entire legacy hinging on its passing, agreed that they should wait until Brown’s arrival in Washington to vote on it in a move that Donald Trump himself agreed with at the time. Clearly, there is ample precedent to delay a vote on a large issue when a senator from a special election is awaiting getting sworn in.
Going back even two years ago, the GOP had no issue stopping a vote on something until the next candidate was sworn in to make the call. Americans can recall that with over a year left in Barack Obama’s presidency, Republicans refused to even vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination. They insisted on letting the next president appoint a justice instead. McConnell said at the time that he had no problem holding open the Supreme Court seat for over a year because he wanted “the voters to have their voices heard”.
Yet in this case, the Alabama constituents are definitely not having their voices heard by the Senate Majority Leader. Alabama residents voted for a senator who does not support this tax bill over someone who does. Their voices, which were so important to McConnell two years ago, are essentially getting nullified by him now, as he is the one who is trying to push this tax bill through before Alabama’s newly voted on senator can put forth his vote.
And somehow, no one in the press is discussing this. The media has become used to Mitch McConnell’s conniving ways. If Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi did something like this, there would be an uproar. Reporters have come to expect McConnell to put party before country, including (but not limited to) his statement to let Alabama voters decide whether accused child molester Roy Moore belongs in the Senate only a few weeks after stating that Moore should remove himself from the race.
So little is expected from McConnell and the entire GOP nowadays that they are no longer held accountable by the media for hypocritical actions like these since others in their party (Roy Moore, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, etc) are often doing much worse. Somewhere they could be held accountable, however, is the poll booth. As we have already seen in Alabama, Virginia and New Jersey, voters are sick of lies from the party of Trump. So while this tax bill will most likely pass, it also might be Republicans’ last victory for a while. With Paul Ryan, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, and more Republicans bowing out of the political arena, soon enough Mitch McConnell will be all alone on Capitol Hill with Donald Trump and a waning majority that looks more and more tenuous every day.