Chuck Schumer Rails Against Lack of Legislation: 'McConnell's Senate Has Been A Big Black Hole'

Having passed a massive two-year budget agreement that will now head to the president's desk, which he's promised to sign, the Senate has officially adjourned for August recess and will shortly skip out of town for five-weeks.

But the chamber's minority leader, New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, took one last opportunity Thursday to voice frustration over his GOP counter-part: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"Leader McConnell has turned what used to be the world's greatest deliberative body into a legislative graveyard, your perfect compliment to our get-nothing-done president," Schumer said of the Kentucky Republican.

Schumer lambasted McConnell for a host of issues, including on lack of legislative progress that's occurred in the upper chamber this year and his recent move to block several election security bills in the wake of former special counsel Robert Mueller's warning that Russia still seeks to subvert U.S. elections.

"Leader McConnell's Senate has been a big, black hole. There has not been a single bill open for amendment all year—not one bill," Schumer told reporters. "In the minority, Leader McConnell would complain bitterly about the same procedural tactics and said he'd run things differently. Let me tell you, Minority Leader McConnell would be aghast at how Majority Leader McConnell is running the Senate."

Schumer Rails against McConnell black hole
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) answers questions following a vote on the budget agreement August 1 in Washington, DC. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty

Since GOP leadership invoked the so-called "nuclear option" in April to speed up the process in which federal judges nominated by Trump can be confirmed, the chamber has focused little on legislation. The frustration over a lack of major bills being passed has even frustrated some Republicans. McConnell takes pride in killing any Democratic-led measure that comes from the House, calling himself the "Grim Reaper" of what he considers a "socialist agenda."

Schumer also said he believes that "the pressure will continue to mount on Republican senators, especially Leader McConnell, and they will be forced to join us and taking meaningful action on election security this fall." However, he's "not naive. I don't think Leader McConnell will change his behavior overnight," Schumer added.

Senate Republicans have blocked various pieces of legislation four times since Mueller testified to House panels last week, which would require, among other things, candidates, campaign officials and their family members to notify the FBI and the Federal Election Commission within 24 hours if they receive or are offered foreign contributions, post-election audits, back-up paper ballots, more safeguards in electronic voting machines and provide hundreds of millions of dollars to states to beef up security and infrastructure.

McConnell has been one of the Republicans whose blocked a move by Senate Democrats to force votes on such legislation, causing the majority leader to be nicknamed "Moscow Mitch." He's railed against the election security bills as "highly partisan" and slammed his critics for practicing what he views as "modern-day McCarthyism."

"The smear that I am a 'Russian asset' ran in the opinion pages of The Washington Post. The accusation that I am 'un-American' was broadcast on MSNBC," McConnell protested on the Senate floor Monday in a longer-than-usual speech. "These people have worn out the volume knobs so badly that they have nothing left but the most unhinged smears. Welcome to the modern-day McCarthyism."

McConnell said that he and "every single member of the Senate" agrees Russia meddled—and continues to—in American elections. Mueller warned congressional lawmakers that Russia is "doing it as we sit here." But McConnell said he could not allow the election security bills to receive a vote because it was a stunt aimed at passing partisan legislation that only received one Republican vote in the House.

"These theatrical requests happen all the time in the Senate," he said. "This kind of objection is a routine occurrence in the Senate. It doesn't make Republicans traitors or un-American. It makes us policymakers with a different opinion."

"Here was my crime," McConnell quipped. "Bless me, for I have sinned."