Mitch McConnell

J. Tyler Franklin

Over the past few days, top Republicans have given hints that they are considering some gun control measures in the wake of the mass-shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. That’s a sea change for GOP leaders who have typically blocked any new restrictions on gun ownership, citing Second Amendment rights.

The chief proposals include gun-purchasing restrictions for those on the FBI terrorist watch list and expanding background checks for gun buyers.

On Tuesday, several media outlets quoted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he was “open to serious suggestions from the experts as to what we might be able to do to be helpful.”

And on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted: “I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.”

Cheryl Beckley, WKU PBS

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has followed through on some principles laid out in his recent autobiography — rebuking GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump for comments made against a federal judge of Mexican descent.

In his book “The Long Game,” McConnell underscores his support for civil rights, saying he withdrew his support for Republican Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election because of the Arizona senator’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act.

At a Washington press conference on Tuesday, McConnell told reporters that he disapproved of Trump’s comments against the judge.

“It’s time to stop attacking various people that you competed with or various minority groups in the country,” McConnell said.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

While some of Washington's most prominent Republican leaders are still struggling over whether to endorse Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the call to do so last month — as soon as Trump became the likely nominee.

In fact, for all the talk of the GOP's upheaval, the Kentucky Republican says he doesn't think a Trump nomination will redefine the Republican Party in any substantial way. The party is now at "an all-time high," he said.

McConnell spoke to Steve Inskeep of NPR's Morning Edition about what he sees for the future of the GOP — as well as why he approves of Trump's Supreme Court picks and stance on border security, but thinks the candidate's proposed Muslim ban is a "very bad idea."

Interview Highlights

On Trump's picks for the next Supreme Court nominee

The single most important thing I would remind right-of-center voters in suggesting that they vote for Donald Trump is: Who do you want to make the next Supreme Court appointment? Donald Trump has already put out a list of 10 or 11 right-of-center, well-qualified judges, a list from which he would pick. I think that issue alone should comfort people in voting for Donald Trump for president.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

In his attempt to maintain control of the U.S. Senate and send a Republican to the White House this year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is walking an awkward line when talking about presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

In an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, McConnell was asked if Trump’s nomination would help Republican candidates for Senate during the November general election.

“I think we don’t know yet,” McConnell said. “What I do think is that Senate races are big enough to where you can paint your own picture. And all of our candidates are going to be in a good position to run.”

Republicans are defending 24 of their 54 seats in the Senate and Democrats are defending 10 of their 44 seats.

Steve Voss, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky, says it’s unclear if Trump will ultimately hurt the GOP’s chances further down the ballot because he both energizes new voters and disenfranchises established ones.

Cheryl Beckley, WKU PBS

Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator says he supports the idea of having women register for a potential military draft.

The Courier-Journal reports Republican Mitch McConnell said he thinks it would be appropriate, given that women in the military are already performing many different functions.

The Selective Service System currently registers men ages 18 to 25 only.

Both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have recently passed defense policy bills that include  a registration requirement for women.

Some Democratic lawmakers have said adding women to the Selective Service list would help achieve gender equality for women in the military.

Win McNamee (L)/Getty Images and View press/Corbis (R) via Getty Images

Donald Trump arrived in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to meet with his party's congressional leaders to hash out their differences and talk GOP unity ahead of what is likely to be a pitched general-election battle against Hillary Clinton.

First up was a private meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan. The two arrived around 9 a.m. ET at the Republican National Committee in a session orchestrated by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

Swarms of journalists, protesters and onlookers crowded around the building just behind the U.S. Capitol. The crazy scene included a Trump impersonator in a huge piñata mask mocking Trump on a megaphone, immigration activists, signs that read "Trump is a racist" and "Islamophobia is un-American," and chants of "GOP RIP, GOP RIP."

McConnell Calls On Trump To Unite Party

May 5, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Donald Trump, as the Republican Party’s apparent presidential nominee, has the “opportunity and the obligation” to unite the GOP.

In a statement, McConnell said he committed to supporting the nominee chosen by Republican voters and noted that Trump is on the verge of clinching that nomination. He said Trump now must unite the party around “our goals.”

The Kentucky Republican said his party is committed to “restoring economic and national security” and preventing what he characterized as a “third term of Barack Obama” if Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton wins the White House.

“I have committed to supporting the nominee chosen by Republican voters, and Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee, is now on the verge of clinching that nomination,” McConnell said in the statement. “Republicans are committed to preventing what would be a third term of Barack Obama and restoring economic and national security after eight years of a Democrat in the White House. As the presumptive nominee, he now has the opportunity and the obligation to unite our party around our goals.”

Cheryl Beckley, WKU PBS

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell makes no secrets about his desire to block President Barack Obama’s agenda at almost every turn.

The latest flashpoint is the President’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

McConnell says the Senate won’t hold hearings for Garland. It’s a position McConnell took almost immediately after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The senior Senator from Kentucky believes Mr. Obama should let the next President fill the high court vacancy.

That position has been blasted by Democrats, who say McConnell is ignoring the president’s constitutional obligation to put forth a nominee, and the Senate’s obligation to provide advice and consent.

McConnell sat down with WKU Public Radio Monday to discuss the Supreme Court and the presidential contest.

In Louisville Visit, McConnell Touts Anti-Opioids Bill

Mar 23, 2016
Abbey Oldham, WKU Public Radio

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell visited a Louisville organization Tuesday to talk about federal legislation that would help boost substance abuse treatment programs across the country.

McConnell met with officials from the Louisville chapter of Volunteers of America to discuss the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, or CARA.

The bill would authorize the U.S. Attorney General to award grants to address the national epidemics of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use, which have hit Kentucky and Southern Indiana particularly hard. The Senate overwhelmingly approved the legislation earlier this month, with both McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul voting in favor.

“People like myself and other members of our delegation will be backing up grant applications that will be made from organizations like this to try to help them expand and treat more people,” McConnell said Tuesday.

Abbey Oldham, WKU Public Radio

Senator Mitch McConnell is planning to block the nomination of a Kentucky judge to a seat on a U.S. Appeals Court.

McConnell’s office issued a statement Friday saying he had no plans to move forward on President Obama’s nomination of Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes to the Sixth U.S Circuit Court of Appeals.

Watch: President Obama's Interview with NPR's Nina Totenberg

The statement said President Obama hadn’t consulted with McConnell before announcing the nomination Thursday night.

"Leader McConnell tried to work with the White House to fill this vacancy, including submitting a qualified Kentuckian for consideration. Rather than work with him to fill this vacancy, they submitted Justice Hughes without even notifying Leader McConnell. He will not support action on this nomination," spokesman Robert Steurer said in the statement.

McConnell is also refusing to hold hearings on the President’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

Any doubt that Senate Republicans would hold the line behind their leader's decision to block President Obama's Supreme Court nominee has been erased.

"I can now confidently say the view shared by virtually everybody in my conference, is that the nomination should be made by the president the people elect in the election that's underway right now," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters.

Justice Antonin Scalia loved a good fight.

So it's only fitting that news of his death at age 79 ignited an immediate and partisan battle over who might take his place on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Abbey Oldham

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell will headline a Republican fundraising event in late August for gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin, who last year launched a primary challenge against the longtime senator.

The event will be hosted by Alliance Coal CEO Joe Craft and former U.N. Ambassador Kelly Knight, both of whom chaired the Kentucky fundraising committee for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

McConnell, Craft and Knight’s presence at the event shows a measure of unity among establishment Republicans, who some had speculated wouldn’t aid Bevin after last year’s contentious GOP Senate primary.

Bevin was the benefactor of infighting between two GOP establishment candidates during the primary. Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Louisville businessman sparred during the race, which led to a narrow Bevin victory and speculations about a fractured Republican party.

But Bevin and McConnell have repeatedly assured Kentuckians that the GOP is united around Bevin, despite snubs between the two men after McConnell trounced Bevin in last year’s primary last year.

In an invitation sent out on Tuesday morning, attendees are asked to donate $1,000 to Bevin’s campaign for the general election as well as $1,000 for his primary campaign. According to June campaign finance records, Bevin still had almost $111,000 in outstanding debts for the primary, which was in May.

WKU PBS

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell weighed in on the 2016 presidential race at a luncheon in downtown Lexington Thursday. 

The Senate Majority Leader warned against the crowded field of Republican candidates getting too contentious. There are fourteen politicians jockeying to secure the Republican nomination for president next year.

McConnell warned against the race becoming unnecessarily brutal.

“You saw in the Kentucky governor’s primary if you get into a fight with somebody else in a multi-field candidate you could end up taking yourself down and whoever you’re feuding with down and somebody else benefits from it.”   

Former Republican candidates for governor Hal Heiner and James Comer launched attacks at one another, and on Election Day got bested by Matt Bevin, who stayed out of the fight for the most part. McConnell never made an official endorsement in the primary. It was widely speculated he and Bevin didn’t get along-- Bevin never endorsed McConnell after getting beaten by him in last year’s U.S. Senate race.

WKYU PBS

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a new legal argument that he says will scuttle the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

The EPA’s proposal—which hasn’t yet been finalized—will set greenhouse gas emissions reductions for each state. These greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are contributing to climate change. The plan is expected to give states the option of creating individual plans to comply, or to work with neighboring states to formulate a regional plan.

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has been a vocal opponent of the EPA and the Clean Power Plan. Most recently, he urged states to hold off on submitting individual plans to the government, in hopes that lawsuits against the rules will prevail. In a subcommittee hearing Wednesday, McConnell told EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that he believed he had found another legal avenue to oppose the proposal.

McConnell pointed to Section 102 (c) of the Clean Air Act, which requires Congressional approval for any multi-state agreements to reduce air pollution. And that Congressional approval, McConnell said, would not be coming.

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