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Mitch McConnell makes Senate history as longest-serving Republican leader

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reached a key Senate milestone Tuesday, surpassing former Sen. Robert Dole of ...

Posted: Jun 13, 2018 1:32 PM
Updated: Jun 13, 2018 1:32 PM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reached a key Senate milestone Tuesday, surpassing former Sen. Robert Dole of Kansas to become the longest-serving Republican leader in the chamber's history.

Lawmakers from both praised McConnell's leadership since 2007, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, the second-ranking GOP member in the chamber.

"We all know he's whip smart. He is an impressive strategist. He understands the Senate better than anyone else here," said Cornyn, who praised McConnell for not seeking out the spotlight and working behind the scenes for the betterment of his party and country.

"That takes a remarkable sense of self-confidence and team spirit that not everybody has," said Cornyn, who would like to replace him as GOP leader when McConnell eventually gives up the post, on the Senate floor Tuesday.

The milestone elicited kind words even from his Democratic counterpart.

"It's no secret we disagree on a whole lot of issues, both political and philosophical, but that doesn't mean we can't or don't work together or that I don't admire the qualities that have helped make him the longest serving Republican leader," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said on the chamber floor.

"He understands his caucus and represents them well," Schumer said. "He know how to fight and he knows how to cooperate. The job is not an easy one. So it's a testament to his qualities that he has done it longer that anyone in the history of the Senate."

McConnell, who is 76, has been determined and willing to take tough steps to achieve his political and legislative goals. He did that when he boldly blocked Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's choice for the Supreme Court, and worked to install Trump's pick Neil Gorsuch instead.

He's also patient and willing to doing the plodding groundwork needed for legislative victories, like the ones he's trying to set up this summer when he canceled the August recess, a step he believes will give voters reasons to keep Republicans in control of the Senate. They include clearing a backlog of nominations and passing several lower-profile bills that McConnell says are evidence of good governing.

"He's a terrific leader," said Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, an ally of McConnell's, last week. "He's very intelligent. He pays attention to the rules. He's very good at the rules."

McConnell said last week he wants Cornyn, to stay in the Republican leadership ranks once term limits force the Texan to give up the No. 2 job at the end of the year. Cornyn said Thursday he will stay and use that position to launch an eventual run for GOP leader once McConnell leaves the post.

McConnell certainly has his critics even from within his own party. Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson has been one of the few members of the GOP conference to publicly challenge him.

"I've primarily been a critic of this place," Johnson told CNN. "I don't envy the (House speaker) or any leader around here. You are literally trying to herd cats."

But Johnson said there is a "real level of disgust" with some conservatives across the country because the GOP-led Senate hasn't carried out its promises.

"In general, what I hear from the conservative base in Wisconsin is, why aren't you guys supporting Trump? Where's the funding for the wall? But specifically, why didn't you fix Obamacare," Johnson said. "The problem we had -- and this wasn't the leader's fault -- we had Republican senators who didn't honor their promise to repeal it."

Freshman Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy expressed frustration that McConnell hasn't made it possible for there to be more votes on amendments in the Senate. But he also praised McConnell for doing a tough job well.

"McConnell tries to make the mules plow," Kennedy said, adding that the Kentucky Republican is "tougher than a two-dollar steak."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 304023

Reported Deaths: 3580
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin641421113
Ramsey27059502
Anoka21526225
Dakota21268190
Washington13529113
Stearns13524108
St. Louis8433108
Scott820154
Wright746139
Olmsted653534
Sherburne570941
Clay483956
Carver455913
Blue Earth405214
Rice403136
Kandiyohi396821
Crow Wing353431
Nobles304929
Chisago304410
Otter Tail300522
Benton293348
Winona273730
Mower257423
Douglas250735
Polk248923
Morrison228029
Lyon213411
Beltrami211917
McLeod205011
Becker199815
Goodhue196728
Steele19137
Itasca185523
Isanti184917
Todd178413
Carlton177715
Nicollet158725
Freeborn15125
Mille Lacs149931
Le Sueur144911
Cass138610
Waseca137811
Brown136415
Pine13138
Meeker12398
Roseau11454
Hubbard111924
Martin111220
Wabasha10301
Redwood91619
Chippewa8527
Dodge8380
Cottonwood8333
Watonwan8334
Renville83124
Wadena7736
Sibley7724
Rock7569
Aitkin75529
Pipestone71018
Houston6854
Fillmore6770
Yellow Medicine63311
Pennington6277
Kanabec59613
Murray5783
Swift5758
Faribault5422
Pope5281
Stevens5063
Clearwater5058
Jackson4841
Marshall4758
Lake4066
Koochiching3855
Wilkin3715
Unassigned36759
Lac qui Parle3613
Lincoln3511
Norman3417
Big Stone3072
Mahnomen2904
Grant2726
Kittson2138
Red Lake2053
Traverse1461
Lake of the Woods951
Cook660

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 225897

Reported Deaths: 2345
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33451334
Linn14206164
Scott1116385
Black Hawk10849134
Woodbury10323124
Johnson948636
Dubuque918291
Story677621
Dallas633657
Pottawattamie624570
Sioux369125
Webster357833
Cerro Gordo351544
Marshall347846
Clinton327540
Buena Vista304114
Des Moines287920
Muscatine286468
Warren279611
Plymouth274242
Wapello255071
Jones229813
Jasper217443
Marion204320
Lee202217
Carroll197322
Bremer194212
Henry18227
Crawford174316
Benton169519
Tama153840
Jackson144313
Delaware143221
Washington140214
Dickinson138210
Boone136311
Mahaska126727
Wright12336
Clay11714
Buchanan116410
Hardin115010
Page11294
Clayton11105
Hamilton11059
Cedar107413
Harrison106729
Calhoun10617
Kossuth10566
Floyd104116
Mills10407
Fayette103310
Lyon10268
Butler10116
Poweshiek98913
Winneshiek96212
Iowa94612
Winnebago91723
Hancock8607
Louisa85816
Sac8578
Grundy85611
Chickasaw8494
Cherokee8374
Cass80823
Allamakee79911
Mitchell7884
Appanoose78710
Humboldt7695
Union7676
Shelby76211
Emmet76024
Guthrie75215
Franklin73521
Jefferson7112
Madison6804
Unassigned6620
Palo Alto6514
Keokuk5967
Pocahontas5574
Howard5529
Greene5220
Osceola5211
Ida48713
Clarke4824
Taylor4643
Montgomery46211
Davis4619
Monroe44312
Adair4408
Monona4332
Fremont3573
Van Buren3555
Worth3550
Lucas3236
Decatur3160
Wayne2987
Audubon2952
Ringgold2112
Adams1692
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