Who really runs the Senate? When Majority Leader Harry Reid abandoned filibuster reform last week, he negotiated the Democrats’ surrender with the Minority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell. Ezra Klein of the Washington Post reported:
A pro-reform aide I spoke to was agog. “Right now, you have to negotiate with McConnell to get on a bill,” he said. “Tomorrow, if this passes, you still need to negotiate with McConnell to get on a bill. It changes nothing on how we move forward.”
Frequently cited in recent years by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) as one of the most corrupt people in Congress, McConnell will therefore remain a crucial actor in the upcoming battles over the budget and other legislation. Beyond that, because of the lack of filibuster reform, he will essentially have a veto over judicial and regulatory nominees. As Salon‘s Alex Pareene wrote Monday:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spent a few weeks pretending he was on the side of the reformers and then cut a deal with Mitch McConnell that keeps the filibuster in place effectively unchanged. Then, as always, everyone congratulated themselves for some effective and successful worthless deal-making. (And Senate Republicans patted themselves on the back for winning.)
It is almost too perfect that this useless “compromise” happened right before the NLRB decision that granted the Senate minority the ability to stop regulatory agencies they don’t like from functioning entirely….
So who gives Mitch his moolah? The Senator, an ardent foe of campaign finance reform, has received a fair amount of money from in-state businesses. His top donors are Louisville-based health care companies Kindred Healthcare and Humana, chewing tobacco manufacturer UST along with its parent company Altria (formerly Philip Morris Companies), and Louisville’s Brown-Forman, maker of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, Southern Comfort and other alcoholic brands. Other Kentucky contributors include Ashland, Inc., makers of Valvoline (12th); Memphis-based FedEx (14th); and United Parcel Service (19th), which runs its own Louisville airline and which benefitted from earmarks McConnell rewrote after being lobbied by his former chief of staff, Hunter Bates.
Securities and investment firms are McConnell’s major industry donor. These include Swiss bankers UBS, financial megafirms Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, and hedge funds vultures Elliott Management; Capital One Financial, FMR LLC (Fidelity Investments), and private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe also ranked among McConnell’s top twenty donors.
Rounding out the Senator’s top twenty: coal behemoth Peabody Energy (sixth); telcom multinational AT&T (tenth); the third largest company in the world, General Electric (11th); insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield (15th); rail transport firm CSX (17th); and the world’s biggest advertiser WPP (18th).