McConnell Discusses Senate Getting Back to Work, Previews Trade and Iran Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding an active Senate:
“I took a trip up to Boston this weekend to address the Kennedy Institute. It was a unique experience.
“I was there — in a full-scale representation of the Senate chamber — to discuss how the real Senate is beginning to get back to work.
“I explained how committees are working again, so Senators can have more of a stake in the legislative process.
“I explained how we’re allowing more open floor debate and more amendment opportunities, so Senators can better represent the voices of their constituents.
“And I explained how we’re getting the fundamentals back on track, like passing a budget.
“This doesn’t mean we’ve ironed out all the Senate’s challenges.
“It doesn’t mean a new Era of Good Feelings beckons just around the corner.
“And it doesn’t mean an exertion of will won’t be necessary every now and then.
“But it does mean we’re beginning to open the Senate back up, and in a way that will make shared achievement more likely.
“Recall just last week, when we overwhelmingly passed a bill to give the American people more of a say in President Obama’s negotiations with Iran. Although we weren’t able to consider nearly the number of amendments I’d like to have seen considered to strengthen that bill, the legislation did provide for congressional oversight of any comprehensive agreement.
“The White House had been threatening to veto that bill, but it passed with the bipartisan support of 98% of Senators anyway.
“Later this afternoon, we’ll take up another Iran-related measure that I hope we’ll pass with similar bipartisan enthusiasm.
“The Junior Senator from Idaho’s resolution is simple. It calls on the Administration to use the tools it has in pursuit of what should be a bipartisan goal: securing the release of American citizens being held as hostages by the regime in Iran.
“One of those Americans, Saeed Abedini, has reportedly been held prisoner for what would appear to be the supposed ‘crime’ of attempting to build and operate an orphanage.
“Beaten, denied access to medical care, and locked away in solitary confinement — that’s apparently how the Iranian regime deals with those who dare to show love and compassion to others.
“No American should find this acceptable.
“Just as no American should find it acceptable to unjustly imprison a reporter, or a grandson coming to see his grandmother.
“I think we can all agree that, at the very least, the American government should not be rewarding Iran for its disgraceful human-rights abuses — that we should not be granting Iran access to the funding it desires to further its nuclear weapons program and terrorist proxies while this exploitation continues.
“So I call on every Senator to join us in standing up for human rights. Let’s pass Senator Risch’s legislation later this afternoon.
“I mentioned earlier that committees are beginning to get back to work in the new Senate.
“We’ve seen a lot of bipartisan committee action in recent weeks.
“One standout achievement was the Finance Committee’s overwhelming passage of bipartisan trade legislation, 20 to 6.
“It’s incredibly important for American workers that we pass this bill.
“Without it, foreign countries will continue to be able to discriminate against American products and American produce, while we have some of the lowest duties in the world.
“We need strong and fair trade legislation that expands Congress’ oversight over the Administration and sets clear rules and standards for its trade negotiators.
“That’s the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act in a nutshell.
“And yet, some talk about preventing the Senate from even debating this bill. I think this is a mistake. The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act reported by the Finance Committee is already a strong bill, and we’ll have an amendment process on the floor that will allow members an opportunity to advance their priorities.
“Voting to proceed to a bill is a vote that says ‘this is worthy of debate.’ Well, this bill is worthy of debate.
“So I commend Chairman Hatch, Ranking Member Wyden, and their colleagues on the Finance Committee for getting us this far. My hope is that we can continue this debate tomorrow.”
Related Issues: Restoring the Senate, Iran Nuclear Deal, Trade Promotion Authority, Iran, Back to Work, Free Trade, Jobs, Middle Class, National Security