Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015—Conference Reportby Senator Mitch McConnell
Posted on 2015-12-03
McCONNELL. Mr. President, I wish to take a few moments to
congratulate the chairman of our environment committee, Senator Inhofe,
and his ranking member, Senator Boxer, for an extraordinary job. This
has been a fascinating experience, particularly for Senator Boxer and
me. To say that our relationship got off to a rather rocky start is to
put it mildly. We found ourselves 20-some odd years ago on the opposite
side of a very contentious issue with a lot of--shall I say--rather
feisty exchanges on the floor of the Senate. It is also pretty obvious
that we are not exactly philosophical soulmates. But I had heard
Senator Inhofe say over the years how much he had enjoyed working with
Senator Boxer and that there were actually things they agreed upon.
I made a mental note of that and wondered whether there might be some opportunity at some point down the way to team up with Senator Boxer. That finally happened this year. As Senator Inhofe and Senator Boxer would certainly underscore, we had challenges. We had the complexity on our side of the Ex-Im Bank issue, which created some serious internal Republican problems. We had a flirtation among some Members on the other side that we could shoehorn a major territorial tax bill into this bill. Senator Boxer and I were skeptical about that from the beginning because it is an article of faith on our side that tax reform is not for the purpose of taking the money and spending it, but of taking the money and buying down the rates.
We had all kinds of odd potential allowances that led to the floor debate last summer, for which we had an administration that was less than enthusiastic with what Senator Boxer and Senator Inhofe and I were trying to do. Senate Democratic leadership hadn't exactly bought in on it either. In the meantime, our good friends in the House on my side of the aisle were calling it the Boxer bill, which of course was really great for me to hear.
We had all kinds of tripwires on the path to getting what we thought was important for the country, which was a multiyear highway bill, which--I believe I am correct, Senator Boxer--we haven't done since 1998.