McConnell Waves Red Flag on Senate Immigration Bill

Majority leader also promises a Supreme Court nomination submitted in 'the next month or two' will get consideration this year

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed Wednesday that it’s “not on the agenda in the Senate” to consider any immigration reform bill that doesn’t have President Donald Trump’s support.

McConnell’s revelation, during his exclusive interview on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” could squash momentum behind a discharge petition that House Democrats’ and a few Republicans are pushing to circumvent House leadership and force the full House to debate four immigration bills. A successful discharge petition requires the signatures of 218 House members.

But even if the petition succeeded, McConnell told host Laura Ingraham that the Senate would not pass any immigration bill unless Trump believed that it conformed with his agenda.

“Well, I don’t know about the House, but in the Senate it’s not on our agenda,” he said of considering immigration bills. “I went to immigration early this year — wide open for amendments. The Senate did not want to pass any particular version of it.”

“Honestly, Laura, I can’t see us going back to immigration this year unless there was some proposal that the president actually was OK with and said he was willing to sign. And I don’t think he’s OK with anything that I’ve seen coming our way,” McConnell added. “So, short answer: not on the agenda in the Senate.”

McConnell spoke with Ingraham the day after he canceled most of the Senate’s traditional month-long August recess because of the “historic obstruction by Senate Democrats of the president’s nominees” and the failure to pass appropriations bills.

“Senators should expect to remain in session in August to pass legislation, including appropriations bills, and to make additional progress on the president’s nominees,” the majority leader said in his statement Tuesday.

McConnell emphasized during his interview with Ingraham the Senate is “going to be here, confirming the president’s nominees” while staying put in the nation’s capital. The Senate majority leader berated his Democratic colleagues for deliberately “slow-walking” Trump’s nominees and forcing cloture votes to end the debate swiftly.

“We’ve had to file cloture … to speed the [nomination] process up 101 times during President Trump’s administration, to try to speed up the confirmation of his appointments,” he said. “That’s happened only 24 times in the first two years over the last six presidents.”

“They’ve been slow-walking his efforts to not only staff up his administration, but they’ve made it more difficult to confirm judges as well,” McConnell lamented. “Even though we win them all in the end, [Democrats are] taking a lot of time. So I’m going to give them plenty of time.”

When Ingraham asked McConnell if the Senate would be ready to act if Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement this year, he insisted, “if we get a vacancy sometime in the next month or two, we’ll certainly deal with it this year.”

McConnell said he “can’t imagine” that the Trump administration is “not thinking about this” possibility as rumors of Kennedy’s impending retirement persist.

“If a vacancy were to occur, my assumption is we would get a nomination rather quickly. And I guarantee you we’ll deal with it,” he insisted.

Related: No More Recess, McConnell Tells Obstructionist Dems

McConnell also urged Americans to take comfort in the record number of circuit court judges the Senate has managed to confirm under the Trump administration, despite Democrats’ slow-walking.

“We now have confirmed 21 circuit court judges in the first year and a half of the Trump administration, breaking all modern records,” the majority leader said. “One-eighth of the circuit judges in America have been appointed by Donald Trump and confirmed by this Republican Senate in a year and a half.”

As for the eight judicial nominees waiting to emerge from the Senate committees and the two currently waiting on the floor, McConnell said, “They’ll all be done this year.”

“It’s important to remember — the Senate’s in the personnel business. The House is not,” he said, noting that this is why it’s so important for Republicans to retain their majority in the Senate following the 2018 midterm elections.

“If we lose the Senate, the president will be kneecapped for the last two years of his term on judicial appointments, on appointments to the cabinet, appointments to the commissions and all of that,” McConnell warned. “I think the American people need to understand the consequences for this administration if we were to lose the Senate.”

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

meet the author

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected].