LOUISVILLE — Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to show some “guts” and allow Democratic bills on a host of issues to come to the Senate floor for a vote.
Addressing a rally in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, the Vermont independent and presidential candidate accused McConnell of obstructing Democratic efforts to tackle gun violence, increase the minimum wage and strengthen protections against foreign interference in elections.
McConnell has described himself as the “grim reaper,” killing what he has characterized as far-left legislation emerging from the Democrat-led House. At the same time, Republicans from President Trump on down have contended that Democrats in control of the House have done nothing to solve the nation’s problems.
Last month, McConnell was forced to defend his decision to block a bill designed to counter cyberattacks by Russians or other foreign agents against U.S. elections. He said he was the victim of “modern-day McCarthyism.”
Sanders urged to the Republican leader to end his “cowardice” and “obstructionism.”
“Have the guts to debate the issues,” he said. “If you want to vote against any of that legislation, that’s fine.
“You then have the right to come back to Kentucky and tell the people why you voted the way you did. But you don’t have the right to stop democracy in the United States Senate.”
He also took aim at Kentucky’s poor standing economically, as many Democrats have leveled against McConnell without success.
“It’s not the billionaire class that needs help, it’s the working class,” he said, adding that ten out of the 25 poorest counties in America are located in Kentucky. “Stop turning your back on your constituents.”
Sanders also hit at McConnell’s backing from wealthy donors and supporters — the same argument he has made against Democrats running for president.
“I say to Sen. Mitch McConnell: stop worrying about your billionaire friends – they’re doing just fine,” he tweeted Sunday afternoon. “Start worrying about the working class who are trying to keep their heads above water.”
Making a fresh case for his Green New Deal environmental plan as he addressed voters in a coal-producing state, he insisted: “Coal miners are not my enemy. Workers in the fossil fuel industry are not my enemy. Climate change is my enemy!”
In response to Sanders’s visit to the red state, the Republican National Committee released a statement accusing the candidate of running on a platform that would “devastate” Kentucky.
“While President Trump continues to enact prosperous policies and fight for fairer trade deals for the state, Sanders’ agenda would put them out of work and hand them a large tax bill in the process,” the statement said.