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In what some pundits and lawmakers say is a show of unity, legislators of both parties will sit with each other during Tuesday’s State of the Union address. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, however, says the move is only for show, and he’ll sit where he usually does.

“If people want to mix it up, we don’t have seating assignments,” McConnell said. “The American people are more interested in actual accomplishments … than seating arrangements for the State of the Union.”

What are your thoughts? What do you think will be discussed more after the SotU, where people sat or the speech?

While they may not support the final spending bill, Senators Jim Bunning and Mitch McConnell still put in earmarks. Here are their requests:

Will 2011 Be Like 1995? With Senator Mitch McConnell opposing the omnibus budget bill, Politico says it could be:

Beyond the theatrics, the Republicans shift does harden the political lines against the giant spending bill and makes it more of an uphill fight to get to the 60 votes needed to cut off debate. Moreover by embracing a two month CR—even shorter than some House Republicans have proposed—McConnell is already looking past the Democrats own fallback position: a full-year, stripped-down spending resolution approved by the House last week.

This could be an alarming scenario for the White House, setting up a potential “shut-down-the-government” spending confrontation with newly empowered Republicans early next year.

 

Senators Mitch McConnell, Jim Bunning, Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh all supported the tax cut compromise.

The compromise cleared the Senate 81-19. Among other things, it calls for a 2-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts (all of them) and a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits.

From CN2:

During the fall 2010 election, Holmes worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, including on behalf of Rand Paul in Kentucky. Two years earlier, he spent much of the 2008 general election in Kentucky working on McConnell’s re-election bid against Democrat Bruce Lunsford.

 

The Washington Post says Louisville’s downtown is “shabby,” except for earmark-funded improvements and projects.

The paper spends a few paragraphs on Louisville in a story about what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s recent decision to oppose earmarks (at least for now) means for the cities, governments and people who benefit from earmarks.

But the downtown of Kentucky’s largest city also has a spectacular redeveloped waterfront featuring bike paths and open vistas, the spanking-new KFC Yum Center sports arena, and a medical complex of several hospitals that employ nearly 20,000 people, treat tens of thousands and conduct cutting-edge research.

This resurgence is a result of civic vision, pride, tenacity – and the impressive earmark performance of Louisville’s Slugger: Mitch McConnell (R), Kentucky’s longest-serving senator and the powerful Senateminority leader.

He has driven $62.4 million in federal funding to this city in the past three years, the largest chunk by locale of the $458 million that he earmarked from 2008 through 2010, according to data tallied by the Center for Responsive Politics.

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The messy, massive business of appropriations and bailouts during a prolonged recession has deepened public distrust, claimed political scalps and hardened the partisan divide. Rhetoric against Washington runs hot.

But here on the ground, where federal money has helped a river city of 722,000 become more vibrant and livable, people live with their contradictory feelings about government and its challenges, and their own senior senator.

“Earmarks are not just good,” Schneider says, “and they are not just bad. It’s more complicated than that.”

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Given all that, David Weilage is aggravated and confused by McConnell’s switch.

“It always concerns me when they start talking about cutting off the money,” says Weilage, 53, who is waiting for a bus at the edge of the medical district, which covers about 20 city blocks. He is a semi-retired Vietnam War veteran who “kind of leans on the federal government myself” and considers the construction and new sports-and-entertainment arena “good for the city, good for the state.”

(h/t LEO)

Senator Mitch McConnell has been re-elected Senate Minority Leader.

There were concerns that Tea Party-friendly Senators such as Marco Rubio of Florida or Rand Paul of Kentucky might favor South Carolina’s Jim DeMint for leader, but Rubio nominated McConnell for re-election, as did Arizona Senator John McCain.

The re-election comes a day after McConnell changed his position on earmarks.

After bringing $113 million to Kentucky last year, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell now says he opposes earmarks.

“What I’ve concluded is that on the issue of congressional earmarks, as the leader of my party in the Senate, I have to lead first by example,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “Nearly every day that the Senate’s been in session for the past two years, I have come down to this spot and said that Democrats are ignoring the wishes of the American people. When it comes to earmarks, I won’t be guilty of the same thing.”

In 2008, McConnell campaigned on his ability to bring earmark funds for his home state. Here are a few McConnell requested in 2008:

  • $20 million for the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant
  • $3.6 million for the Kentucky National Guard Counterdrug Program
  • $6 million for a Large Area Monitoring Network (LAMNET)
  • $1.6 million for the Military Fuels Research Program
  • $2.8 million for Online Medical Training for Military Personnel

But McConnell says he doesn’t want to be labeled a hypocrite.

“Make no mistake. I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state. I don’t apologize for them,” McConnell said. “But there is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and the out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight. And unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government.”

McConnell’s colleague Tom Coburn (R-OK) says there are other ways to fund earmarked projects.

“My greatest criticism for those who want to earmark is that they are basically lazy,” Coburn said.

These senators, Coburn said, incorrectly believe earmarking “is the only way they can make sure funds go in the right direction. They really do not want to do the hard work of passing a $4 trillion budget.”

 

It looks like outgoing Senator Jim Bunning has not reconciled with his colleague Senator Mitch McConnell. Bunning told CN2 that when he leaves office he won’t miss anything, especially not the Republican leadership in the Senate. That would be McConnell.

Perhaps the most talked-about item to come out of Sunday’s Senate debate between Rand Paul (R) and Jack Conway (D) debate was Paul’s repeated pledge of support for Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell. When pressed on the issue, Paul said he would support whomever the GOP chooses as its leader, and that most likely means McConnell, who is currently minority leader.

The statement came after McConnell’s possible challenger, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, helped raise money for Paul in Erlanger. (And DeMint’s appearance in Kentucky came after he told a crowd in his home state that homosexuals and unmarried women living with male partners should not be allowed to be teachers.)

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