As 2015 wraps up, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report Five things to watch in round two of Trump confirmation fights This week: Confirmation fights dominate ahead of inauguration MORE (R-Ky.) is touting the accomplishments of the Senate during the first year of the new Republican majority.
His Saturday remarks came a day after the Senate passed a $1.8 trillion spending and tax package, wrapping up the first session of the 114th Congress.
McConnell ticked off the legislative highlights of the year: a multi-year highway bill; legislation reforming the No Child Left Behind Act; a veterans’ health bill; the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act; a cybersecurity bill; an end to the oil export ban; and fast-track trade authority for President Obama.
“When you voted for this new majority last November, the Senate was a mess. Some thought the Senate could never be cured of its dysfunction and its gridlock,” McConnell said during the GOP’s weekly address.
“But the new majority you elected didn’t agree. We believed the Senate could be restored to a place of high purpose again, and we’ve made great strides over the past year proving that it can,” he added.
McConnell attributed the chamber’s productive year to granting committee chairmen and rank-and-file senators more say in the process.
“We gave senators of both parties more of a say, and it opened a floodgate of legislative accomplishments and good ideas,” he said.
McConnell also noted the bills sent to the president’s desk and vetoed, such as legislation approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and repealing the core components of the Affordable Care Act.
“It’s true that a new president will be required to notch wins like those for the middle class,” he said.
McConnell pledged in January 2014 to restore the productivity of the Senate, then under Democratic control, if voters gave Republicans control of the chamber. They did that in November, when the GOP picked up nine seats.
“We can be more constructive. We can work through our differences. We can do things that need to be done. But there will have to be major changes if we’re going to get there,” McConnell said nearly two years ago in a formal 40-minute address to the Senate.
On Saturday, he counted it as a campaign-year promise fulfilled.
“I’m proud of what the new Republican majority has accomplished in such a short time. We’re not only putting the Senate back to work, we’re putting it back to work on your side,” he said. “Just like you asked. Just like we promised.”
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