Senate Majority Leader McConnell: The American People are Ready for Solutions

‘The question now is whether we have the courage to begin binding our national wounds. We can fight about the things that divide us forever, or we can take this moment to finally move forward as one country.’ 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the challenges that President Trump is inheriting from the last administration:

Last week, President Trump gave his first major address to the nation. The week before, President Obama gave his last.  These are different men. They come from different parties. But their speeches were more similar than you might think, and there were some common themes.

“…the world is dangerous.

“...our economy isn’t living up to its potential.

“… Americans are divided, worried about their futures, and don’t feel like Washington is listening.

“Here’s one quote:

“’… [T]oo many families, in inner cities and in rural counties, have been left behind — the laid-off factory worker; the waitress or health care worker who’s just barely getting by and struggling to pay the bills — convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful — that's a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.’ 

“That was former President Obama at the end of his term.

“It’s obvious that the situation today for many families simply isn’t sustainable.  As my friend the Democratic leader said in his speech on Inauguration Day, ‘we live in a challenging and tumultuous time.’

“Our economy, he cautioned, leaves ‘too many behind.’  Our politics, he warned, is ‘consumed by rancor.’  And we face threats, quote, ‘foreign and domestic.’

“Americans are reeling after 8 years of grand promises and diminished dreams, left-wing experiments and heavy-handed overreach.  Small businesses are literally drowning in regulations, bigger employers as well.  College graduates are struggling to make it, and too often simply move back in with their parents.  The middle class feels under assault, as kitchen tables pile ever-higher with health care bills, energy bills, and paychecks that fail to keep pace.  And Americans feel like they don’t have a say in what’s happening either.

“So let us not underestimate the challenges President Trump is inheriting.  They are indeed formidable. There is a lot to fix.

“But we can move forward — if we work together.  The first thing we have to do is move beyond this us-and-them mentality that has so characterized the last 8 years.  Our goal should be to give confidence to everyone.  Regardless of race, religion, or income. Regardless of where someone lives or who they voted for.  We’re all in this together.  We rise or fall as one.

“When I applied for the job of Majority Leader, I vowed to open up the Senate for a reason. I thought it would give more Americans a voice again. I thought it would give both sides skin in the game again. I thought it would bring us closer to durable solutions.  And it has.  On education…on transportation…on the fight against cancer…on so many issues, we’ve passed meaningful legislation that can positively impact millions. The way we did it was simple — really simple, actually.

“We set the slogans aside. We listened to each other. We legislated in good faith. We kept our focus where it truly belonged — on areas where both sides can agree. And, wouldn’t you know it, turns out we actually agree on a lot.  Turns out, we all want to give our kids a better future.  Turns out, we all want better roads and infrastructure.  Turns out, we all want a country that’s healthy.

“Seems obvious, but we can forget these things in the midst of a divisive campaign. We can get lost in the politics and lose sight of our common humanity.  Well, the campaign is over.  The time for governing is upon us, and we face huge challenges.

“Many of these issues President Obama sought to solve. Sometimes his policies moved us forward. More often, they moved us backward — or created new problems altogether. This is not an attack on the sincerity of his aims, it's a critique of the efficacy of his means.  We’ve seen quite clearly over the last eight years which policies do not work.  We now have the opportunity to try policies that can work. 

Obamacare offers a great example.  Democrats came into office in 2009 with a promise to unify the country and big majorities that allowed them to ignore half of it. They made their choice with partisan, highly ideological laws like Obamacare that divided us further — and often made things worse.  We’ve seen how Obamacare in particular has hurt the middle class.  Choices are dwindling.  Costs are skyrocketing.  And too many middle-class families don’t know how much more they can sustain.

“This is why we’ve promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, and this is why we will meet our responsibility to do so.  Obamacare came into this world on a party-line vote and a flurry of executive action, and it can leave the same way. What repeal presents is a fresh canvas where we can start over with durable, lasting reforms that both parties — if they choose to engage — can take credit for.

“I hope our Democratic friends choose to engage. I hope they join in the hard work of improving health care for the American people. Because let’s remember… This should not be about winning or losing. It isn’t about scoring points. It’s about replacing a law that doesn’t work with reforms that can. Simple as that.

“You could hardly accuse President Trump of being a rigid ideologue. He’s interested in health care that actually works. Americans are interested in health care that actually works. All of us are.  So we can work together to finally solve big problems like Obamacare, or we can continue to bludgeon each other election after election — our Democratic friends can crank the faux outrage machine up to 10, claim Republicans are motivated by some desire to make America sick, and get right back to the Hatfield and McCoy routine.  But that won’t solve problems or move us forward.

“The moment calls for something more.  The question now is whether we have the courage to begin binding our national wounds. We can fight about the things that divide us forever, or we can take this moment to finally move forward as one country.

“One way to begin moving forward is by proceeding with confirmations without delay — especially when it comes to key national and economic security nominees. 

“Tonight we will vote on the nomination of Mike Pompeo to be director of the CIA. He enjoys overwhelming support to be confirmed, just as we know that many other Cabinet nominees command sufficient support as well. So let’s confirm them now, and let’s never forget how Republicans worked with the administration of former President Obama to confirm seven members of his Cabinet the day he took office, and nearly his entire Cabinet within two weeks.

“Both parties appear to agree that our economy, our health care, and our politics need fixing.  So let’s get down to fixing them. Let’s join hands and move forward.

“The American people are ready for solutions, and — after 8 long years — they’re ready for Democrats to work with Republicans to deliver them.”