In CNN op-ed, Sen. Tina Smith calls McConnell's Senate leadership 'a big, fat waste'

In a CNN piece Tuesday, Smith expressed her frustration's about the Senate's current priorities.
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Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith aired her frustrations about serving in Mitch McConnell’s Senate in an opinion piece published on CNN Tuesday.

In the piece, Smith criticized the Senate's lack of policy action since McConnell has shifted focus to confirming President Donald Trump’s nominees to the court system. 

She describes his leadership as a "big fat waste," saying the "already-hard work of legislating has become nearly impossible, thanks to the majority leader's steadfast commitment to packing the courts to the exclusion of almost everything else."

"I had always heard that Mitch McConnell was a master legislator and a true loyalist to this institution. But in the 18 months I've been in the Senate, what I've seen is an astonishingly limited vision for what the Senate can and should accomplish.

"What a waste," she adds, saying the Senate is now a place where "good ideas go to die."

In early April, Republicans approved a move to reduce the amount of debate required before confirming court picks, with District and sub-cabinet nominees going from 30 hours to two hours, according to Politico. Since then, Smith notes that only 21 of the 127 votes the Senate has taken were on legislation.

Smith is no fan of the nominees either. She criticizes the lack of experience of some and the political beliefs of others, stating they are often appointed to serve the interests of the Republican Party. She expresses concern about the anti-abortion, anti-union and anti-gay beliefs some of the nominees hold.

“While I try to consider each nominee on his or her merits, it's usually pretty clear why they've been selected by the Trump administration,” she wrote, noting that McConnell himself he stated that the Senate is now "in the personnel business."

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Smith is also troubled by other appointments taking place in the Senate. She notes her vote against the nomination of Gordon Hartogensis for director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, despite his lack of experience. Hartogensis is McConnell’s brother-in-law.

What should the Senate be focusing on, according to Smith? She claims constituents on both sides want to pass the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which, approved by the House, has yet to see a Senate vote. Cybersecurity, healthcare and rural broadband would all be better uses of the Senate’s time, she writes.

Smith isn't the only one worried about McConnell's leadership methods. Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath announced Tuesday she would challenge McConnell for his Senate seat in Kentucky.

Smith won election to the U.S. Senate in 2018, having previously taken over her position in early 2017 following the resignation of Al Franken.

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