Politics & Government

McConnell pledges to end Senate dysfunction, find common ground with Obama

A day after the GOP gained enough seats to control the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would work with President Barack Obama on issues including trade and tax reform.
A day after the GOP gained enough seats to control the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would work with President Barack Obama on issues including trade and tax reform. AP

LOUISVILLE — Predicting that he will be elected U.S. Senate majority leader next week, Sen. Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he intends to end gridlock and dysfunction in the Senate.

As head of the Senate, a position he has strived for years to attain, McConnell said during a news conference at the University of Louisville that he would work with President Barack Obama on issues including trade agreements and tax reform, particularly reducing the corporate income tax rate.

He also said a Republican-led Senate will work longer hours, possibly late into the night on some occasions, and will allow consideration of amendments offered by both political parties and make committees more relevant.

He complained that the Senate has not done much in recent years under Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, noting that the chamber has not considered an energy bill in seven years.

Three prominent Democrats in the Senate have called him and "are anxious to be relevant again," McConnell said.

McConnell, who will have to walk a political tightrope to keep the various factions of his caucus happy, said there will be disagreements with Obama, noting that Obama's veto pen makes him the only Democrat who "counts."

Concerning Obama's controversial Affordable Care Act, every Republican senator thought it was a mistake, McConnell said.

"We'll be discussing how to go forward with it," the senator said, adding that he expects that parts of it, including a tax on medical devices, will be changed.

On foreign policy, McConnell said, immediate attention will be given to the Ebola virus crisis and relationships with Syrian rebels.

He said President Obama called Wednesday to congratulate him on his re-election.

McConnell said that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who earlier this week stopped short of saying he would vote for McConnell to be majority leader, also called him.

Asked what Cruz said, McConnell replied: "He was impressed with my margin of victory."

McConnell, who has been in the U.S. Senate since 1984, defeated Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes on Tuesday by 15 points.

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