The Supreme Court
Conservatives cheering Trump’s selection of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court can thank McConnell for defying the odds—and some would argue, all precedents —by denying President Barack Obama the opportunity to replace the late Antonin Scalia upon his untimely death last February. The idea that McConnell could hold together a notoriously fickle, media-sensitive GOP delegation in lockstep on this issue for nine months—particularly with the prospect that a President Hillary Clinton would appoint someone far less to their liking than Merrick Garland—seemed fanciful. Understandably, Democrats were outraged. Various outside groups fulminated. McConnell didn’t care. And, with Gorsuch all but a cinch to pass the Senate this year, after a respectable period of Democratic huffing and puffing, the maneuver will have paid off brilliantly.
In an exercise reminiscent of the various “show votes” to repeal Obamacare that Republicans attempted during the Obama years to placate their base, Senate Democrats have done everything in their power to hold up Trump’s Cabinet nominees, even when they knew most if not all of them had the votes to be confirmed anyway. Demands for exhaustive ethics disclosures? Check. Endless questionnaires to drive nominees insane? Check. Sleepovers on the Senate floor? Been there, done that.
McConnell has weathered them all, and so far gotten every nominee but one through. That one exception: Trump’s nominee for labor secretary, who withdrew after reportedly facing a mutiny among some Senate Republicans. McConnell himself expressed confidence to the end that he could get the required votes. Judging by his record, he might have been right.