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McConnell Still Warring With Manchin Over Big 12 Bid

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is reportedly holding a grudge against U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-Wv., over a fight between their alma maters to get into the Big 12 Conference.

Last fall, the University of Louisville was jockeying with West Virginia University to jump ship from the Big East Conference to Big 12 Conference. McConnell got involved in lobbying for the Louisville Cardinals, but the NCAA eventually selected Manchin’s school.

According to Politico, McConnell is still mad about the selection and the West Virginia Democrat’s attacks.

From Politico:

Now, Manchin reports of maintaining a much “colder” relationship with McConnell, and some GOP senators said they’ve heard McConnell privately criticizing Manchin over his conduct.

Things are so bad that Manchin and others in West Virginia suspect the GOP leader worked largely out of spite when he aggressively lobbied Republican John Raese to jump into the race for his Senate seat.

“People take things personally,” Manchin said in an interview in the Capitol. “This is a bad place to have a personal vendetta, I can tell you that.”

A McConnell spokesman declined to comment on Manchin.

(SNIP)

McConnell was nothing short of furious at what he believed were Manchin’s baseless personal attacks on his conduct alleging ethical impropriety as he pushed his beloved Louisville Cardinals.

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McConnell Predicts Agreement On Infrastructure Improvements

From Dan Conti, Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator says he believes Republicans and Democrats in Congress can come together on a plan to improve the nation’s infrastructure.

Republican Mitch McConnell says the general idea has bipartisan support.

“Everybody knows we have a crumbling infrastructure. Infrastructure spending is popular on both sides. The question is how much are we going to spend and we’ll continue to talk about that,” McConnell said this week at a Washington press conference.

McConnell expects President Obama to present a plan for infrastructure repairs soon and for Republicans to do likewise.

An amendment sponsored by McConnell’s Kentucky colleague, Rand Paul, to use highway beautification funds
for bridge and other repairs was defeated this week on the Senate floor.

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McConnell Asks Holder To Reconsider Iraqis’ Trial Site

From the Associated Press

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder repeating his request to reconsider holding civilian trials for two Iraqis arrested in Bowling Green last month.

McConnell released that letter on Tuesday, saying the decision to treat Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi as civilian criminal defendants in federal court in Bowling Green is “ill-advised.”

The men were charged with trying to send weapons and money to al-Qaida operatives in Iraq.

McConnell also told Holder that a Bowling Green trial is widely opposed by Kentuckians and their elected leaders.

Holder has defended his position, saying terrorism-related trials can be successfully handled by civilian courts.

McConnell wants the men sent to a Navy-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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McConnell, Justice Dept. At Odds Over Terrorism Trial Site

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is disputing the Justice Department’s defense of prosecuting terrorism suspects in Kentucky, saying the case is unique.

McConnell wants the two Iraqis tried in Guantanamo Bay rather than in civilian court in Kentucky. The Kentucky Republican met Friday with local elected officials and law enforcement in Bowling Green, where the suspects were arrested.

Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney David Hale says any claims that a civilian trial would put the state at risk of attack are unfounded.

“Before and since 9/11, hundreds of individuals have been convicted of terrorism or terrorism-related offenses in our civilian courts. Not one of these individuals has escaped custody and not one of the judicial districts involved have suffered retaliatory attacks,” Hale read from a statement this afternoon.

McConnell said this case is unique because it involves alleged foreign terrorists who entered the country as a result of a mistake by the government and are being given protections of the Bill of Rights.

McConnell’s Republican Senate colleague, Rand Paul, says he’s not necessarily opposed to a civilian trial but also wants an investigation into how the men got into the country.

(Information for this story also came from the Associated Press)

Here’s the complete statement by David Hale, U.S. Attorney for the Western Distict of Ky.:

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Ensign Resignation Gives McConnell Tough Choice

Resigning amidst a pending ethics hearing, the departure of U.S. Sen John Ensign, R-Nv., gives Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., an open seat to fill on the powerful Finance Committee.

Considered one the of most powerful panels in Congress, the committee deals with taxation and other revenue measures, including broad jurisdiction over Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Typically, Senate Republicans base their committee assignments on seniority, but there’s  speculation that the senior senator from Kentucky will pass over ranking member Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a rival who challenged McConnell on earmarks and in his own backyard when he backed  then-candidate Rand Paul over McConnell’s candidate in the 2010 GOP primary.

Other names being tossed around for the seat are Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., who appear to have support among the insiders, but the conservative base has been behind DeMint in the past.

A McConnell spokesman declined to comment for this story.

Ensign resigns effective May 3.

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McConnell Wins A Third Term As GOP Leader

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has won a third term as the chamber’s Republican leader.

McConnell’s unanimous re-election Tuesday by the GOP conference put to rest speculation that a Tea Party caucus led by South Carolina Sen. Jim Demint would mount a challenge to McConnell.

At a Capitol press conference after the leadership election, McConnell said lawmakers need to respond to Americans’ demand for a reduction in spending and debt and to find ways to spur job creation.

“It is our hope that we will be able to work with the administration on all of those issues. I and others have had numerous conversations with the president over the last week or so and we look forward to exploring ways that we can go forward together for the american people,” he said.

McConnell will serve a two-year term as GOP leader.

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McConnell Endorses Earmarks Moratorium

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says he will support a moratorium on earmarks in the next Congress, a reversal of course for one of the staunchest defenders of the practice.

Earmarks are funding requests for local projects that lawmakers insert into legislation.

In a Senate floor speech Monday, McConnell, the Senate Republican Leader, said he’s not apologizing for supporting earmarks, but sees that Americans have come to view the abuse of the practice as a symbol of waste and out-of-control government spending.

“The only way we will be able to turn the corner and save our future is if elected leaders like me make the difficult decisions that voters are clearly asking us to make,” he said.

GOP leaders in the House have already called for a ban on earmarks, which is also one of the planks in the Tea Party platform.

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McConnell: GOP To Pursue Health Care Overhaul Repeal

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says Republicans in the newly configured Congress will work next year to repeal the health care overhaul passed by Democrats this year.

“If that is not possible or if it is possible and (President Obama) vetoes it, we’re going to go after it piece by piece. There are numous parts of this controversial and unpopular law that have developed a high level of political toxicity,” he said.

McConnell is expected to win re-election as Senate Minority Leader. The GOP picked up at least six seats in the chamber in Tuesday’s election, while Republicans regained control of the House.

McConnell says he’s had a good working relationship with Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, who’s expected to become the next House Speaker.

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McConnell, Bunning Pay Tribute To Stevens

Kentucky’s U.S. Senators are paying tribute to their former GOP colleague, Ted Stevens, who was among those killed in a plane crash in Alaska Monday night.

Sen. Mitch McConnell read from a prepared statement shortly after learning of Stevens’ death

“In the history of our country, no one man has done more for one state than Ted Stevens. His
commitment to the people of Alaska and his nation spanned decades, and he left a lasting mark on both,” McConnell said.

McConnell also praised Stevens, who was a World War II pilot, for his support of the nation’s military during his long career in Washington.

McConnell’s Kentucky counterpart, Jim Bunning, called Stevens a good friend and one of the toughest people he knew in the Senate.

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Demostrators Call For Benefits Extension

By Rick Howlett and Andy Freudenburg

Several dozen demonstrators marched outside the Louisville office of U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell today, calling on the Minority Leader and his GOP colleagues to end their filibuster of a measure that would extend federal unemployment benefits.

The event was organized by the Kentucky AFL-CIO. President Bill Londrigan says thousands of laid off workers in Kentucky will be placed in a desparate situation if the impasse is not resolved soon.        

“Many of them (are) losing their benefits as we speak right now, and they have no jobs available for them. most of them are going to be in dire straits. We don’t think it’s very good public policy to be denying these unemployment insurance benefits to workers who are desparately needing them,” he said.

A spokesperson says McConnell is opposed to adding the cost of the extension to the federal deficit and has offered several alternatives rejected by Democrats, including a plan that would fund a two-month extension through spending cuts.

Lawmakers return to Washington next week but will go into a one-month recess in early August.

(Photo by Andy Freudenburg)