The Democratic House leader for years has referred to the Kentucky Republican as “the Grim Reaper” when it comes to legislation her chamber has passed, only to see him stifle it without committee work or floor votes. But with Joe Biden appearing to have won the presidential election, she says Mr McConnell cannot keep saying no.
“What Mitch McConnell is going to find out now, whether he’s in the majority or the minority: not having Donald Trump in the White House is going to change his leverage,” she told reporters.
Mr McConnell has yet to acknowledge that Mr Trump appears to have lost the election to Mr Biden. A spokesman for the majority leader had not responded to a request for comment on the speaker’s remarks.
But should, as widely expected in Washington, Mr Biden be sworn in on 20 January, he would take the pen to sign legislation. And the speaker is betting that gives her and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer increased sway in negotiations – not to mention the incoming president.
After four years of the Trump presidency when little major legislation was passed, especially once Democrats took control of the House in January 2019, Ms Pelosi predicted some things soon will change.
She claimed Mr McConnell would enter a room for talks and inform her: “I’m not doing anything Donald Trump doesn’t want.”
“To me, that was an abdication. … If we're not having the input or, shall we say, the scrutiny, listening to the beautiful diversity of our caucuses, then we are dis-servicing the American people,” she said. “When the president is of your party … your leverage and your power is greatly increased.”
Ms Pelosi spoke by phone on Thursday with Mr Biden as they began teeing up his agenda, even as Mr Trump continues to deny he lost.
Mr McConnell is giving Mr Trump – who experts say will remain the most powerful figure in the Republican Party once he leaves office and the frontrunner for its 2024 presidential nomination – cover.
“President Trump is 100 per cent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” Mr McConnell said on Monday. “If any major irregularities occurred this time of a magnitude that would affect the outcome, then every single American should want them to be brought to light.”
Ms Pelosi on Friday called Republicans backing the president’s election challenges “a charade.”
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