McConnell: Busy Senate and Absent House Make the Capitol a “Study in Contrasts”

‘Over here, in the Senate… we’re holding hearings. We are legislating. We’re confirming nominees. With precautions, we are manning our posts for the country. And we’re aren’t slowing down.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding nominations and the Great American Outdoors Act:

“This week, like most weeks for a month and a half now, has brought a study in contrasts to the United States Capitol.

“Over in the Democrat-led House of Representatives, the lights are off. The doors are locked. There’s nobody home.

“With our country facing a once-in-a-century pandemic, an historic economic disruption, a major discussion over racial justice, and all the other important business we were already set to tackle this year before all this, the Speaker of the House has mostly kept her chamber on the longest-running Spring Break in human history.

“Lots of talk about supposed priorities, but few votes. Lots of partisan attacks leveled at Republicans from a distance, but little action.

“Over here, in the Senate, the story has been very different. We’re holding hearings. We are legislating. We’re confirming nominees. With precautions, we are manning our posts for the country.

“And we’re aren’t slowing down.

“Tomorrow, the Senate will begin considering the President’s nomination of Judge Justin Walker to fill a vacancy on the D.C. Circuit -- the second-most-important federal bench in the country.

“As my fellow Kentuckians and I can attest, Judge Walker is exactly the kind of individual our country deserves to have in such a role.

“He graduated from Duke, summa cum laude. Then Harvard Law, magna cum laude. He clerked on the D.C. Circuit himself for an impressive young judge named Brett Kavanaugh, and then on the Supreme Court.

“He’s built a national reputation as a leading academic scholar of the law.

“It’s no wonder that even the ABA rates him well-qualified. He has quickly made a name for himself as a district judge. A few weeks ago, when the mayor of Louisville tried to cancel drive-in Easter services with disparate restrictions that did not apply equally to other parking lots, Judge Walker won national attention for his eloquent defense of religious liberty.

“This subject becomes more important by the day. The American people deserve to have strong respect for their First Amendment rights, including their rights of religious exercise and conscience, on one of our country’s very highest courts.

“So I look forward to continuing to detail our Kentucky pride for Judge Walker as this week unfolds, and I will take great pride in voting to advance his nomination and to confirm him.


“But first, the Senate will pass the Great American Outdoors Act. It will be a big step in the history of our nation’s public lands and great news for their future.

“This bill is the product of a lot of hard work by many of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

“It has two clear purposes. It will restore access and function to parks and facilities that have been neglected. And it will secure a stable flow of resources to support recreation and conservation into the future.

“I’ve detailed in recent days just how many Americans rely on our nation’s public lands: From the guides and outfitters who cater to the booming outdoor recreation economy…

“To the hotel workers, restaurant owners, and gateway communities that welcome hundreds of millions of annual visitors. To the researchers who study historic sites and unique habitats. To the hunters, anglers, sportsmen, and American families who explore millions of acres of open space.

“It’s clear that a bright economic future for America is intertwined with this precious resource. So backlogged maintenance and delayed upkeep is a real problem. Too often, tough budgetary choices have left important facilities worn down and natural treasures inaccessible.

“So I’m proud that the legislation before us will tackle these critical missions.

But you certainly don’t have to take my word for it. You could look to the list of no fewer than 60 co-sponsors, on both sides of the aisle. Or to the 80 Senators who voted to advance consideration of the bill last week.

“Or you could sample from the ringing endorsements of an impressive cross-section of American recreation and conservation advocates.

“Take, for example, the letter the Democratic Leader and I received from the last six former Secretaries of the Interior. Men and women who served under presidents of both parties came together to tell us that, quote, “the Great American Outdoors Act will help ensure a better, brighter future for nature and for all of us.”

“Hundreds of advocacy organizations, from the Sierra Club to the American Sportfishing Association, also lent their approval, saying the bill, quote, “will ensure that our parks and other public lands continue to preserve our nation’s heritage and recreation opportunities, and that local communities and economies in these areas will continue to flourish.”

“It’s not often that we’re presented with the opportunity to take overwhelmingly bipartisan action that will affect a monumental part of American life for many years to come. And the opportunity in front of us this week comes thanks to the dedicated work of several of our colleagues.

“In particular, I’d like to thank Senator Daines and Senator Gardner once again for their leadership. I look forward to seeing their efforts across the finish line, and I would urge members to join me in supporting this bill and securing our nation’s natural wonders for generations of Americans yet to come.”

Related Issues: COVID-19, Nominations, Jobs, Economy