Pelosi knocks 'Moscow Mitch' for blocking bills

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed 'Moscow Mitch' - a derisive nickname for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - in a speech on Wednesday for blocking bills aimed at preventing gun violence and foreign election interference.

"We all want to invest in building our democracy and saving it from any enemies foreign and domestic, so we've sent our legislation to the Senate," Pelosi said at the Illinois Democrats’ “Democrat Day” event in Springfield. "'Moscow Mitch' says that he is the 'Grim Reaper" ... that he's going to bury all this legislation. Well, we have news for him. All this legislation is alive and well in the general public."

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has been sharply criticized in recent weeks after he blocked two election security bills that Democrats put forward following former special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony on Russian election interference. Mueller warned that Russia was already preparing to interfere in the 2020 election "as we sit here," calling the Kremlin's efforts "the new normal." The move earned McConnell the nickname ‘Moscow Mitch,’ suggesting he is giving cover to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has expressed anger about the nickname comparing the attacks to "modern-day McCarthyism."

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at his side in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, center, First Lady-elect Melania Trump, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, right, exit after a meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. Trump's first visit to Washington since winning the Nov. 8 election is a key step toward bridging the nation's painful divisions before he takes the oath of office in January. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (2ndL), U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (2nd R), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R) and other congressional leaders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at his side in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leave after their joint news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
US President-elect Donald Trump gives the thumbs up after a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on November 10, 2016. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrive to speak to the media in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at his side in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 10: President-elect Donald Trump (L) walks from a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) at the U.S. Capitol November 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day president-elect Trump met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 10: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L), walks with President-elect Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol for a meeting November 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day president-elect Trump met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump speaks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L) as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (L) Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (3rd L) House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (3rd R), Vice President Mike Pence (2nd L) and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R) during a reception with Congressional leaders on January 23, 2017 at the White House in Washington, DC. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump smiles during a reception with Congressional leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (2nd L) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (3rd L), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (R) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on January 23, 2017 at the White House in Washington, DC. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
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Pelosi's call to action comes as Democrats ramp up pressure the Senate to pass a universal background check bill after the two shootings — one in Dayton, Ohio, and another in El Paso, Texas — left at least 29 dead and 53 injured in a matter of just 13 hours. The Senate is currently in recess until September. McConnell, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, has not signaled he would end the break.

McConnell has also drawn criticism from Democrats for blocking H.R.8, or the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which would create new background check requirements for gun transfers between unlicensed individuals. It passed the Democrat-controlled House in February 240-190.

"We must pass gun violence prevention legislation. Every day we lose lives," Pelosi said. "We've been waiting since February, and now public sentiment must weigh in to save lives to pass our bill."

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