McConnell: Door Remains Open for a Path Forward on Bipartisan Trade Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the Senate Democrats filibuster of a bipartisan trade bill:
“What we just saw here is pretty shocking.
“There are always limits to what can be accomplished when the American people choose divided government.
“But it doesn’t mean Washington shouldn’t work toward bipartisan solutions that make sense for our country.
“Trade offers a perfect opportunity to do just that.
“We on this side believe strongly in lifting up the Middle Class and knocking down unfair barriers that discriminate against American workers and American products in the 21st Century economy.
“On this issue, the President agreed.
“So we worked in good faith all year to formulate a package that both parties could support.
“The top Republican on the Finance Committee engaged in months of good-faith negotiations with the top Democrat on that committee.
“They consulted closely with colleagues in the House, like Chairman Ryan.
“They consulted closely with President Obama, with Democrats, and with Republicans.
“The issues they had to work through were tough.
“Difficult concessions had to be made.
“Many believed an agreement would never emerge.
“But in the end, a strong, bipartisan trade package came together that was able to pass through committee by an overwhelming margin, 20 to 6.
“It was a significant win for the people we represent.
“It was a win for the Americans who look to us to secure economic growth and good jobs for them, not give in to the special interests who apparently would rather see those jobs end up in countries like China.
“It was a win for the security of our country, and for our leadership around the world. As seven former defense secretaries of both political parties put it last week, ‘The stakes are clear… [and] America’s prestige, influence, and leadership are on the line.’
“So the rationale for voting ‘yes’ today — a vote that would simply have allowed the Senate to debate the issue — was overwhelming. It was supported by facts.
“And yet, voices in the President’s party who rail against the future won out today.
“I wouldn’t normally quote President Obama. But today is no ordinary day.
“So when the President said that the Hard Left was just ‘making stuff up,’ or when the President said their increasingly bizarre arguments didn’t ‘stand the test of fact and scrutiny,’ it was hard to argue with him.
“‘You don’t make change through slogans,’ he reminded these folks. ‘You don’t make change through ignoring realities.’
“I think that’s something worth reflecting on.
“This doesn’t have to be the end of the story.
“Trade has traditionally been a bipartisan issue that cut across the partisan divide. And I suspect we have colleagues on the other side who aren’t that comfortable filibustering economic benefits for their constituents — or a President who leads their party.
“I suspect some may be parking their vote, rather than actually buying the outlandish rhetoric we’ve heard from the Left.
“That’s my hope.
“But to get to the best outcome for our country, we have to be realistic.
“For instance, the idea that any Senator can make a guarantee that a particular bill will be enacted into law is simply impossible.
“I assure you that we would have had a different outcome on today’s cloture motion if Senators actually wielded the power to force things through by sheer will alone.
“Obviously, we don’t.
“What we can guarantee is that Senators receive a fair shake once we proceed to the debate our country deserves on a 21st Century American trade agenda.
“We’ll have an open and fair amendment process.
“And for my part, I can restate my commitment to processing TPA and TAA, and other policies Chairman Hatch and Senator Wyden can agree to.
“The Senate has historically been the place where our country debates and considers big issues. This is an issue worthy of our consideration. It doesn’t mean we can predetermine outcomes. It doesn’t mean we can even guarantee the successful passage of legislation once we proceed to debate it.
“But blocking the Senate from even debating such an important issue is not the answer.
“Senators who do so are choosing to stand with special interests and against the American jobs that knocking down more unfair trade barriers could support.
“I hope some of our colleagues across the aisle will heed the words of President Obama and rethink their choice.
“I hope they’ll vote with us to open debate on this issue.
“And let me reiterate: We’ll continue to engage with both sides.
“We’ll continue to cooperate in the same spirit that got us through so many impossible hurdles already.
“That’s been our posture all along. That’s why we’ve had so much bipartisan success up til now.”
Related Issues: Middle Class, Free Trade, Trade Promotion Authority, Back to Work, Jobs, Restoring the Senate