Working Together for Positive Changeby Senator Mitch McConnell
Posted on 2015-01-20
McCONNELL. Mr. President, tonight we will welcome President Obama
to the Capitol. We look forward to hearing what he has to say.
We are looking forward to Senator Ernst's address, as well. Joni Ernst understands the concerns of hard-working families in a way much of Washington has not. That is why the people of her State sent her here--to fight for them. She will explain the commitment of this new Congress to work for policies aimed at the good jobs and better wages Americans deserve.
Tonight is a big moment for the President--and for our country. The tone he strikes and the issues he highlights will tell us a lot about what to expect in his Presidency's final act. There is a lot riding on it, and we will be listening closely.
One option is the path he has been on for so many years. I sincerely hope he makes a different choice. The American people just spoke in clear terms about this direction. They called for a new one. We should work together to make Washington focus on their concerns.
Working with the new Congress for positive change--that is the second option for President Obama. It is the one struggling families and serious policymakers urge him to choose. The new Congress has already started to take up smart, bipartisan ideas focused on jobs and reform. But when we have asked the White House for constructive engagement, what we have seen, at least so far, has been pretty discouraging. We need to change this dynamic. We need to turn the page. The State of the Union offers that opportunity.
The American people aren't demanding talking point proposals designed to excite the base but not designed to pass. What they said they are hungry for is substance and accomplishment. They want Washington to get back to work and focus on a serious jobs and reform agenda. They said they are ready to see more constructive cooperation, especially on bipartisan jobs initiatives--bipartisan jobs initiatives such as the Keystone infrastructure bill. Keystone has support in both parties. It is an important piece of infrastructure for our country. According to what the Obama administration's own State Department has said previously, constructing a pipeline would support literally thousands of jobs. It has already passed the House. We are currently working to pass it through the Senate. It will be on the President's desk before long. We see no reason for him to veto these jobs.
But whatever he decides, we are going to keep working for positive, middle-class jobs ideas here in Congress. As I have said before, we are not here to protect the President from a good idea. If the President is willing to work with us, there is much we can get accomplished for the American people.
[[Page S250]] We have already identified several areas of potential cooperation, such as tearing down trade barriers in places such as Europe and the Pacific, building jobs with comprehensive progrowth tax simplification, and working to prevent cyber attacks. On each of these issues, the President has previously sent some positive signals. Now we need some constructive engagement.
We will be looking for signs of that in the speech he delivers tonight.
What I hope is that he presents some positive, bipartisan ideas of his own that can pass the Congress Americans just voted for. Give us new ideas to prevent Iran from becoming a country with nuclear weapons or to confront the threats posed by terrorism or to remove regulations that hurt struggling coal families. Challenge us with truly serious, realistic reforms that focus on growth and raising middle-class incomes--reforms that don't just spend more money we don't have. And if the President is ready for a new beginning beyond canceled health plans and partisan executive overreach, work with us to pursue an achievement that history will actually remember. Reach across the aisle to allow us to save and strengthen Medicare. Cooperate with both parties to save Social Security. The President should tell America his plan for responsible reforms that aim to balance the budget and not just more tired tax hikes.
Achieving important reforms such as these would represent a win for hard-working families. It would deliver the kind of commonsense progress Americans deserve.
So we welcome the President tonight. We look to his address with interest. If the President is ready to play offense, then we urge him to join the new Congress in playing offense on behalf of the American people.