McConnell: ‘Era of dysfunction in Senate is over’

by Editor on August 25, 2015

Sen. McConnell spoke to Florence Rotary.

Sen. McConnell spoke to Florence Rotary.

FLORENCE – The “era of dysfunction in the Senate is over,” U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared Monday while speaking at the Florence Rotary Club at the Hilton hotel.

McConnell listed the achievements of his first eight months as majority leader of the Senate as proof.

The Senate has had 140 roll call votes on amendments this year compared to the 15 allowed by the previous Senate majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, allowed in 2014. He’s allowing Democrats to vote, which he said is more than Reid allowed Republicans when they were in the minority.

McConnell also touted the Senate’s passage of a federal budget and other bills. These include the passage of the bill that would allow for the Keystone Pipeline, which the president vetoed.

“I’m not here to suggest to you that’s enough, but I can tell you without fear of contradiction, the era of dysfunction in the Senate is over,” McConnell said.

Here are some other highlights of McConnell’s speech:

Mum on Trump

McConnell wouldn’t say what he thought about Donald Trump but gave some advice Monday to whoever the Republican nominee for president is.

The same strategy he used to get re-elected last November and become Senate Majority Leader will work for the Republican nominee, McConnell said.

The candidate needs to ask whether people are happy with where the country is right now, McConnell said.

It’s the same mantra that McConnell repeated from the start of his campaign, positioning himself as a candidate for change from then Senate Majority Leader Reid. He made an oblique reference to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as “her.”

“If I was the Republican nominee, I would ask if you’re happy where we are,” McConnell said. “If you think we have done as good as we can do, then you ought to vote for her. If you think America can do better by taking a different path, then I’m your candidate.”

As for who that nominee should be, McConnell wouldn’t say. He didn’t mention Kentucky’s other U.S. Senator, Rand Paul, whose star has started to wane nationally. When asked what he thought about the bombastic Trump, who is leading the Republican field in several polls, McConnell demurred with a smirk.

“I’m not going to answer that,” McConnell said. “Let me just say this. If you look at the Republican field, it’s like the Kentucky Derby this year. There are a lot of good horses, and everybody is trying to find some lane to break out of the pack. I’m not worried about having competition. I do want to nominate someone who can win.”

The Cincinnati region will see a lot of the Republican presidential candidate, McConnell said, with Ohio being one of about 10 states the Republicans will need to get to the White House. These are states that could go either way; states that don’t vote all red or all blue.

“What do all these states have in common?” McConnell said. “Purple states can go either way. To win the White House, we have to have somebody that will appeal to a broader electorate than just your true believers.”

Still no heroin answer

The solution to the rising heroin problem still seems elusive. McConnell said the federal government is here to help but didn’t give specifics.

“This is a huge, huge scourge that we’re all wrestling with,” McConnell said. “I know we’re all committed to giving it everything we’ve got.”

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy announced last week $13.4 million in grants to combat the heroin epidemic in areas designated “high-intensity drug trafficking areas.”

Despite the high rates of heroin overdoses in Northern Kentucky, the area isn’t one of the 29 Kentucky counties with the “high-intensity drug trafficking area” designation.

When asked whether Northern Kentucky could be so designated, McConnell said the visit to Northern Kentucky earlier this year by drug czar Michael Botticelli will help put the region on the national radar.

“We’re hopeful they’ll take a big interest in this further,” McConnell said. “I think you obviously have the problem in a very big way and everybody is focused on it.”