‘Making it official with my hemp pen!’ Mitch McConnell surprises as end of year nears, threatens work over the holidays

From working over Christmas break, signing an unprecedented farm bill that would legalize hemp to announcing plans to take up President Donald Trump’s criminal justice reform bill and vowing to fund certain border security measures, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to be on a roll.

His roll to legislative success began Monday when he symbolically signed the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill using a pen made from hemp, a non-psychoactive derivative of cannabis that’s useful as a raw material in various industries, including textiles, biodegradable plastics, and construction.

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If signed into law by the president, the farm bill would remove hemp from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s controlled substance list and allow it to be used legally.

“Making it official with my hemp pen! Proud to have served as conferee on #FarmBill & to fight for #Kentucky priorities,” McConnell proudly tweeted Monday.

“With today’s signature, my provision to legalize industrial #hemp is 1 step closer to reality. Looking forward to voting YES on this bill & sending to @POTUS.”

Less than 24 hours later the Senate majority leader pushed even further ahead with Trump’s agenda by announcing that he intends to take up the president’s criminal justice reform bill.

But even more notable is the warning he issued to his fellow congressmen — that they should “be prepared to work between Christmas and New Year’s if necessary in order to complete our work.”

The Senate had been prepared to adjourn for vacation on Dec. 14, but it doesn’t appear that’ll be happening.

But there’s more. In a tweet posted Tuesday morning, he personally announced that he’s begun working with the president and the Department of Homeland Security to muster up billions for border security.

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These announcements represent a turnabout for McConnell, who, despite his lauded performance during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings earlier this year, seemingly let the Senate fall back into disarray again afterward.

His vow to take up the president’s criminal justice reform is particularly important because he’d initially reportedly planned to just let the bill die.

“McConnell has told Republicans there’s almost no window to take up the bill and debate it on the floor this year, according to multiple GOP sources,” Politico reported in early December.

Had the Senate majority leader let the bill fail — and especially after all the work that had gone into it — it would have been a letdown to many, as well as a gigantic legislative blunder for the president.

What remains unclear is whether the Senate majority leader will also perhaps take up Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s WALL Act, a bill that would entirely fund the president’s proposed southern border wall.

In response to McConnell’s tweet Tuesday, many took to Twitter to remind him that far more than just $5.02 billion is needed to get the job done.

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Granted, for every detractor there was at least one supporter thrilled beyond words that the Senate leader was finally taking up the president’s criminal justice reform bill.

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Vivek Saxena

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