McConnell: Obama needs to be ‘realistic’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTSA agents protest government shutdown at Pittsburgh airport The case for Russia sanctions Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation MORE (R-Ky.) called Friday for President Obama to focus on “realistic” reforms in his State of the Union address that have a chance of passing the GOP-controlled House and Senate.

“Tuesday can be a new day,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Friday. “This can be the moment the president pivots to a positive posture. This can be a day he promotes serious, realistic reforms that focus on economic growth and don’t just spend more money we don’t have.”

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At a joint Senate-House retreat in Hershey, Pa., Republican lawmakers held up free-trade legislation as a likely area of compromise.

They also expressed optimism for common ground on tax reform but warned that Obama and his Democratic allies need to drop their demand that it raise hundreds of billions of dollars in new revenue for the federal government.

“There’s much we can get accomplished for the American people, if the president’s willing to work with us,” McConnell said. “We’ll be looking for signs of that in the speech he delivers.”

He said voters signaled to Obama that he needs to cooperate with Republicans in Congress to “enact a different and better reform agenda for the middle class,” when they stripped Democrats of their Senate majority.

But he acknowledged that Republicans and Democrats remain far apart on many issues, such as healthcare reform.

“We’ve got some distance to cover,” he said.