Mitch McConnell | WOSU Radio

Mitch McConnell

"How does one man have so much power?"

One hears that question asked in Washington a lot these days, often with exasperation and bewilderment.

And it is not always a reference to President Trump.

Quite often, the man in question is Mitch McConnell, the Republican senator from Kentucky.

The man who calls himself the "Grim Reaper" — of signature Democratic initiatives.

Updated at 11:58 a.m. ET

President Trump on Friday indicated that he supported new legislation on "intelligent" background checks for gun purchases after recent mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

"On background checks, we have tremendous support for really common-sense, sensible, important background checks," Trump told reporters at the White House.

The president said the issue "isn't a question of NRA, Republican or Democrat," and added that he had spoken with the head of the National Rifle Association.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will discuss measures aimed at addressing gun violence in September. He said he expects background checks, assault weapons and "red flag" laws to be part of the debate.

"What we can't do is fail to pass something," McConnell told WHAS radio in Kentucky, adding, "the urgency of this is not lost on any of us."

Dayton Mayor Joins Letter Urging U.S. Senate To Return For Gun Bill Vote

Aug 8, 2019
Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley speaks to members of the media Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, outside Ned Peppers bar in the Oregon District after a mass shooting that occurred early Sunday morning in Dayton
John Minchillo / Associated Press

More than 200 mayors, including two anguished by mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, are urging the Senate to return to the Capitol to act on gun safety legislation amid criticism that Congress is failing to respond to back-to-back shootings that left 31 people dead.

The National Rifle Association's sway in the nation's capital may be waning at a time when two mass shootings in Ohio and Texas are reigniting the debate about enacting new gun restrictions.

In the past few months, the gun rights group's president stepped aside; its top lobbyist resigned; and allegations of financial misconduct at the highest levels of the group have burst into the open.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says one of his "highest priorities" is to take on the leading cause of preventable death in the United States: smoking.

McConnell has sponsored a bill, along with Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, that would increase the tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21.

A man watches a baseball game in a casino.
John Locher / Associated Press

In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss what legalized sports gambling will look like in Ohio. Brent Johnson, a reporter who covers the New Jersey Statehouse for the Star Ledger and NJ.com, joins the show.

In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., refused to hold a hearing on President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, saying that it was an election year and that the American people "deserved a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice."

That was then.

Speaking to an audience in Kentucky on Monday, McConnell said should a vacancy occur on the court in 2020, another presidential election year, he would allow a vote.

Updated at 3:04 p.m. ET

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced he will introduce national legislation to raise the minimum age for people buying tobacco products from 18 to 21. Some anti-tobacco advocates worry that the plan could actually harm children by heading off other regulation efforts.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says the path to GOP success in 2020 is running "to be the firewall that saves the country from socialism."

McConnell told reporters Thursday that he is advising all Republican Senate candidates to run on offense by casting themselves as the only alternative to Democrats who want to drive the country to the left.

President Trump, bowing to political reality, says he is putting off his thoughts of finding a replacement for the Affordable Care Act until after the 2020 election.

In remarks to reporters Tuesday, Trump said, "I wanted to put it after the election because we don't have the House." But it became clear that he didn't have support for a replacement to Obamacare in the GOP-led Senate, either.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Tuesday that he wants the Senate to vote on a massive plan to fight climate change.

Updated at 7:27 p.m. ET

A closed-door briefing for congressional leaders in the White House Situation Room on Wednesday failed to resolve any issues between Democrats and the Trump administration over funding for border security.

The stalemate has led to a partial government shutdown, now nearing the two-week mark.

"I don't think any particular progress was made," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters afterward.

Updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

The threat of a partial government shutdown this weekend may be diminishing.

The Senate passed a short-term measure Wednesday night to keep the federal government open into 2019. The House is expected to take up the bill on Thursday. Funding currently expires at midnight on Friday.

Bowing to pressure from the White House and activist groups, the Senate will schedule a vote on legislation that would reduce sentences for certain drug offenders and support programs that prepare prisoners for life after incarceration.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would move ahead with consideration of the bill before the end of this year's lame-duck session after sponsors agreed to certain changes to the package.

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