WASHINGTON—Sen. Dikembe Mutombo (R-CO) showed that he is still one of the most dominant big men in Congress Thursday, blocking a record 16 bills in one legislative session.
The 7-foot-2 senator, who broke the record previously held by Sen. Shawn Bradley (D-NJ), Rep. Arvydas Sabonis (D-OR), and current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), batted away legislation left and right, sometimes swatting bills so hard that they were sent flying all the way back to committee.
Mutombo punctuated his final block, a clean rejection of the Criminal Justice Reinvestment Act, with his signature finger wag.
"He stuffed the new jobs bill right back in Harry Reid's face," Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told reporters. "And then when Reid tried to put the bill back up for consideration, Sen. Mutombo blocked it a second and then a third time. That's when I knew he had a chance at the record."
"He just completely dominates the Senate floor," McCain added.
"You don't mind giving up the blocks record to a talent like Mutombo," said Sen. McConnell, who is still considered the Republican floor leader. "Some say he's too centrist, and he may take that position at times, but the fact is he can get stuff struck down like nobody's business."
Mutombo, who has been called a "force" by his Republican colleagues and is a key player in their legislative game plan, had a career-best nine blocks during the first half of Thursday's session. He easily rejected several appropriations bills, barely even getting off the Senate floor on two of them. For his 10th block of the day, he also got a piece of the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act.