As the keynote speaker of the Chamber’s 2nd Annual Congressional Forum, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell welcomed the crowd and noted that though there seems to be some friction between Congress now, that friction between the House and Senate goes back to the nation’s founding.
He said that the Senate needs to stay on track as the Trump Administration has sent over 1,200 executive appointments that the Senate must confirm.
McConnell told the crowd that the single biggest decision of his career was not what he did, but in fact, what he did not do. He said as the “offensive coordinator” in the Senate, his decision to not fill the vacant Supreme Court position during the end of the Obama administration, though controversial, has proven to be his biggest success.
Besides the Supreme Court appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch, McConnell stated the biggest issue the Senate has been able to tackle under the Trump administration has been eliminating many burdensome regulations.
Looking ahead, Sen. McConnell said the Senate is now focusing on comprehensive tax reform. He said that this is the single most consequential thing the Senate can do, as business leaders know pro-business tax policies lead to economic growth.
Taking questions from the audience regarding health care, McConnell said that the health care system in American is a mess and that the Senate was hoping to replace the system with something better, but now with the failure of that bill, the path forward is a bit murky.
Speaking of infrastructure investment, McConnell said that we must look at how we are going to pay for it, which is challenging. He said tolls and raising the gas tax are both controversial and if a major infrastructure bill is going to move forward, we must look at revenue streams, probably after the end of 2017.
Looking at the upcoming 2018 elections, McConnell said he optimistic about keeping control of the Senate and this is critical in order to confirm judicial appointments of the administration.
Discussing trade, McConnell said this is one area in which he differs from the president as he supports pro-trade policies that will generate economic growth and job creation.
McConnell concluded by telling the crowd that if anyone is ever in doubt about what is going on in D.C., just remember that America has always had robust and spirited debate and the current environment now pales in comparison to what Jefferson and Hamilton often said to each other. He said he feels his job is to keep working for the people of Kentucky and leading the Senate, which can be challenging, but is the great honor of his life.