When Mitch McConnell took over as majority leader in 2015 after years in the minority, he vowed to make good on a central campaign pledge of returning to a more “free-wheeling” Senate. And in the early days of his tenure, he did: McConnell presided over open, raucous floor debate on the Keystone XL Pipeline, winning praise even from some Democrats.
But the Senate has reverted to form. The body has taken just 25 roll call votes on so-called binding amendments so far during this two-year Congress, a sharp decrease from the 154 amendments voted on by this point during the 114th Congress under Barack Obama. Each year since McConnell took over, the Senate has voted on fewer nonbudget amendments: 140 in 2015, 57 in 2016, 19 in 2017 and six so far this year.
“There’s a lot of weeks I’m not sure why I show up,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).