Thus far the only legislator who has railed against the proposed order was Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). McConnell called the proposal an “outrageous and anti-Democratic abuse of executive branch authority,” and went on to say, “Just last year, the Senate rejected a cynical effort to muzzle critics of this administration and its allies in Congress.”
McConnell is working under the assumption that the draft order is an attempt to restrict free speech, but there is nothing in the order remotely resembling free speech violations. The exact wording of the president’s executive order says, “The Federal Government prohibits federal contractors from making certain contributions during the course of negotiation and performance of a contract.” There is no free speech issue and the order applies to union contractors as well as non-union contractors. There is no special dispensation of muzzles or prohibitions on political support; only certain contributions during negotiations and performance. Republicans must hate the idea of corporations like Halliburton or Koch Industries losing the ability to contribute unlimited money to legislators for special treatment in securing government contracts, especially no-bid contracts like the ones Dick Cheney’s company’s received in Iraq and Afghanistan. In lieu of veracity, McConnell accuses President Obama of muzzling critics and suppressing free speech when in fact, the order will bring increased transparency and accountability to the process of awarding contracts. Republicans made it their goal to increase transparency and accountability in government in the lead up to the midterm elections, so McConnell should be thrilled that President Obama is helping them achieve their goal.