Meanwhile, McConnell may be poking at (vocal "grand bargain" opponent) DeMint:
Earlier this week, when reporters pressed him on his decision about ethics reform, Lott announced his opposition to the plan and then questioned whether his party had the right leadership to fight it. "After the exhibition I saw on immigration, I don't suspect there's going to be a lot of strength and dynamic leadership here, but we'll see," Lott told CongressDaily.
That was perceived as a direct shot across the bow at McConnell, who in late May agreed to push the controversial immigration reform package that was hammered out in an old-fashioned, bipartisan, back-room deal. As that immigration package unraveled in late June, McConnell changed his support on the plan and ultimately voted against ending debate and moving toward a final vote on the plan. Privately, but not very quietly, GOP aides wondered whether McConnell's vote against immigration was more about protecting his own political standing back home in Kentucky, where the immigration deal was unpopular and McConnell must stand for reelection in 2008.
In officially announcing his position on ethics, McConnell was still smarting over DeMint's blockage of a House-Senate conference. That left Reid no option but to negotiate a final compromise with House Democratic leaders on their own, passing it out of the House and then approving the exact same plan today in the Senate. Republicans never had a seat at the final bargaining table - a point McConnell drove him again publicly today.
"This bill isn't nearly as tough as it would have been on earmarks if Republicans had been involved in writing it. But weighing the good and the bad, many provisions are stronger than current law," McConnell said. "I will support its passage."