McConnell: No legislative agenda for 2022 midterms

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According to people who attended private meetings with the minority leader, Mitch McConnell has told aides and donors that Senate Republicans will not issue a legislative agenda before next year’s midterms.

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why it matters: In each midterm cycle, there are Republican donors and activists who argue that the party should issue a positive, proactive governing framework around which candidates can rally. McConnell strongly rejected the idea, preferring to skewer Democrats for their perceived failures.

Behind the scenes: On the night of November 16, McConnell met with a group of donors, lobbyists and Republican senators in a private ceremony room above the Capitol Hill club. The agenda for 2022 was on the menu.

  • In attendance was Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which hosted the dinner.
  • There were also some Republican senators up for re-election the following year: Chuck Grassley of Iowa, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Rand Paul of Kentucky and John Boozman of Arkansas.
  • Each senator sat at his desk with donors, and each talked for a few minutes about his re-election race. A microphone was passed for the question-and-answer session.
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a donor asked a question To which only McConnell could answer. According to a source in the room, the donor said something like this: We all know what’s wrong with the Democrats, but what are we going to do to help us win?

  • There was something to the effect of McConnell’s response, with all due respect, this is not what we are doing, the source said.

McConnell has long held the view that setting the agenda There’s a mistake ahead of the midterm election — at least for Senate Republicans, sources told Nerdshala.

  • He believes that his view has been confirmed by recent history. McConnell points out, in particular, when he led Republicans to win back the Senate in the mid-2014 midterm without proposing an agenda.
  • Some donors and activists point to a different memory: “the contract with America.” House Republicans issued a Governing Action Plan ahead of the 1994 midterm elections, and their party achieved unified control of Congress for the first time in nearly 50 years.
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The current House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, There’s a “contract with America” ​​guy. He has told his allies that he thinks it is important that they tell voters what they support – not just what they oppose.

  • According to sources with direct knowledge of his caucus statements, he intends to release a legislative agenda to unify the convention before the midterms.
  • McCarthy has already released a first element: what he calls “parental rights bill,
  • He has also appointed Republican members for seven.issue-specific task force“To work on this mid-term pre agenda.

During a mid-November dinner, McConnell told The Donor It will be the job of the next Republican presidential candidate in 2024 to formulate the party’s future agenda.

  • Until then, Republicans should focus 100% on Democrats and all the “terrible” things they are doing to the country, McConnell said, according to the source.
  • McConnell clarified, the source said, that the entire focus of the 2022 campaign should be about the things Democrats are doing wrong. He cited a history of mid-term losses for the party in power.

Asked about conversations within this dinner and party, NRSC president Scott told Nerdshala: “There’s some conversation that people would like to make some compromises that everyone runs into at some point. It sounds good, but it’s hard to do.”

  • A McConnell spokesman declined comment.

Between the lines: A top GOP operative, who did not attend the dinner but has often heard such conversations involving McConnell, said such discussions happen regularly with the Republican leader.

  • “It happens all the time,” the source told Nerdshala. “The donors in particular always ask for some sort of agenda and McConnell pushes back loudly. Because he knows it all distracts from unpopular Dem policies and gives Dems something concrete to tear up.”
  • “One of the biggest mistakes challengers often make is thinking campaigns are about them and their ideas,” the source continued. “Nobody gives a sh-t about it. Elections are referendums on the current people.”
  • “The challenges need to be focused on what the existing ones promised and how they failed to deliver and this has had a negative impact on the lives of the voters,” the source said.

Bottom-line: The current election appears to support McConnell’s political calculations.

  • By almost any measure — from President Biden’s approval rating to the general ballot — Republicans are enjoying their best political climate for a decade.
  • They are in such a state that they have barely uttered a word about their plans for the future.

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