Slim GOP Majority Makes a Big Difference, Says McConnell

By Christine Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:29 PM EDT

( - Many political analysts believe that in light of the slim Republican majority in the Senate, President Bush has a near impossible task pushing his agenda through Congress. However, the second ranking Republican in the Senate insists a majority, even a slim majority, makes a world of difference.

"We may not have a big majority, but 51-49 Republican is better than 51-49 Democrat," said Republican Whip Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). He spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Arlington, Va. Thursday.

Judicial nominees, tax cuts and appropriations bills will now have an easier time getting through the Senate, said McConnell.

McConnell spoke on the same day the Senate Judiciary Committee approved by a 10-9 party-line vote the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District Columbia.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) began expedited hearings this week on three other appellate court nominees, Deborah L. Cook, John G. Roberts Jr. and Jeffrey S. Sutton. Committee votes are expected in early February.

The passage of appropriations bills has been another success story since the GOP won back control of the Senate in November. Last year, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed only two of the 13 annual appropriations bills that fund the federal government.

"We, in two weeks, passed 11 appropriations bills that they couldn't pass in 12 months," said McConnell.

What's more, he said, the GOP majority is able to stop Democratic efforts to boost government spending.

"In the course of voting on those 11 appropriations bills, you've heard a lot of talk on the other side ... about why we shouldn't have any tax cuts, [that] we shouldn't give you any of your own money back because it will make deficits worse," said McConnell. "Well, I thought you'd be interested to know that [Democrats] offered amendments [to the appropriation bills] to add over $300 billion in new spending straight on the deficit.

"Your Republican majority was able to defeat all those amendments," said McConnell.

McConnell did concede, there's only a small window of opportunity for passing the president's "growth agenda."

"We know the closer we get to the November [2004] election, the less likely we'll be able to move the ball," said McConnell.

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