Members of the Senate leadership used their first floor speeches since returning to take on major themes the nation has struggled with while the chamber has been recessed: the temperature level of political rhetoric, healthcare repeal and the deficit.
While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) acknowledged there was “no evidence partisan politics played any part in this monstrous attack [in Tucson, Ariz.]," he added that he hoped his colleagues would use the opportunity to “return to the respect that has always been a part of this United States Senate."
Part of that commitment should mean that both sides should deal in facts, not fictions, said Reid, suggesting that Republicans had created fictions to generate momentum for their vote to repeal the healthcare legislation in the House.
Although Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) opened his first remarks by noting the retirement of three esteemed Senate colleagues, he struck a more partisan tone in what followed.
“The administration’s policies have done more harm than good,” said McConnell, while noting that the president has been speaking in more moderate tones lately. “It takes more than a change in tone to fix the economy, reduce debt and product job growth. It takes a change in policy."
Perhaps in preparation for this evening’s State of the Union address, when the president is expected to talk about infrastructure spending, McConnell also harshly criticized the president’s infrastructure investment, which he said includes tennis court repairs, biology research labs, and other examples of waste.
“This is what happens when the government decides to pick winners and losers,” said McConnell. "Taxpayers know that when the president talks about investment, they should reach for their wallets.”