Democrats have seized on that refusal, accusing Mr. McConnell of turning the Senate into a “legislative graveyard” — a phrase Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, invoked in recent days when he complained to reporters about the state of affairs in the chamber, including Mr. McConnell’s recent decision to block legislation aimed at improving the security of elections.
“From health care to gun safety to climate change, Republicans just say no, despite the overwhelming consensus of the American people on these issues,” Mr. Schumer said, adding: “Leader McConnell’s Senate has been a big black hole. There has not been a single bill open for amendment all year. Not. One. Bill.”
Some Republicans say they do not blame Mr. McConnell.
“There are certain issues that the ideological divide is so great I think that if I were Mitch, I wouldn’t bring something up on the floor that would be anything more than a big debate club with no outcome,” said Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina. Floor time, he said, is the Senate’s “coin of the realm,” and it makes far more sense to allocate it toward judicial nominations and consensus bipartisan measures.
“When you’re in divided government like we are now,” he said, “you’ve got to set aside your more contentious issues.”
But other rank-and-file Republicans are grousing, including many freshmen who have had to curb their ambitions. Senator Josh Hawley, a freshman Republican from Missouri, arrived in Washington hoping to address the high cost of prescription drugs. Instead, he will report to constituents that he is the first freshman to have a bill signed into law: a bipartisan measure that restores grant funding to establish suicide-prevention programs and mental health services for police officers.
“I promised the people of Missouri when I ran for this job that I would not be a wall flower, I would not just sit back, and I would not go along with the status quo, that I would actually speak up for the issues that matter to our families, working families, parents, children,” Mr. Hawley said proudly.
He was asked if he is frustrated. “Oh, yeah!” Mr. Hawley exclaimed. “It’s totally dysfunctional.”