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Mitch McConnell Calls On the Senate To Be More Productive

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In his first floor speech as Senate Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell on Wednesday laid out his plan for what he says is the end of a dysfunctional government led by Democrats.

“The people we represent have lost faith in their government. They no longer trust Washington to do the right thing,” he said. “When Americans look overseas, they see a world filled with chaos: instability roiling the Middle East, terrorists pressing an aggressive agenda, and autocrats scoffing at a superpower that doesn’t seem to have a real plan.

"At home, they see a government that’s either uninterested or incapable of addressing their concerns—a government that seems to be working for itself instead of them. Whether it’s Washington’s dysfunction or a bureaucracy that’s grown so byzantine and unaccountable it tried to muzzle political opponents and ignore the needs of veterans. The American people have had enough. And this November, they had their say.”

McConnell called on his colleagues in the Senate to work harder and longer hours, and for more work to be done on bills in committees. He said there are areas where bipartisan compromises are possible: trade, infrastructure and task reform. But in a speech that was mostly conciliatory and focused on broader goals, he saved one barb for President Obama.

“But bipartisan reform can only be achieved if President Obama is interested in it,” McConnell said. “The president is the only one who can bring his party on board. He’s the only one who can sign what Congress passes. And I assure you, threatening to veto a jobs and infrastructure bill within minutes of a new Congress taking the oath of office—a bill with strong bipartisan support—is anything but productive.”

McConnell was speaking of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, a measure that he said he’ll bring to a vote as soon as possible. On Tuesday, Obama’s press secretary said the president would veto that legislation if it passes Congress.

Read McConnell's whole speech here.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.