Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that Congress needed to focus on "essential tasks" during the lame-duck session, including funding the federal government and addressing the Ebola crisis.
"The actions of the next few weeks could help set a positive tone for the work of the next Congress — it's a tone that will depend largely on the administration’s willingness to respect the message sent last Tuesday," the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor.
McConnell, who was elected to a sixth term last week in the GOP wave that swept both houses of Congress, is slated to replace Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry Reid as majority leader in January.
The lame-duck session began on Wednesday.
"Last week, the American people sent a strong message to Washington," McConnell said.
"They voted for a new direction. They called for a change in the way we do things here in the Senate. And they sent a new team to Washington to carry their wishes forward.
"We plan to do just that," he said.
But the minority leader cautioned that Congress must address several basic governmental issues.
"In the weeks that remain, we should work to accomplish the essential tasks of funding the government and preventing retroactive tax hikes," McConnell said. "We must address the expiring authority passed earlier this session for the Department of Defense to train and equip a moderate, vetted Syrian opposition.
"And we must continue to support efforts to address the Ebola crisis. All of this will require cooperation from both sides of the aisle, from both sides of the rotunda, and from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue," he said.
McConnell described last week's meeting with President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and other government leaders as "productive."
"There’s a lot both parties can accomplish together over the next couple years," he added. "I hope that happens. I’m optimistic. But working together requires trust.
"President Obama has a duty to help build the trust we all need to move forward together, not to double-down on old ways of doing business."
He slammed Obama's vow during the session to move forward on executive action on illegal immigration, saying it would "be a big mistake."
McConnell was just as harsh about the surprise deal with China on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
The pact will "essentially give China a free pass on emissions while hurting middle-class families and struggling miners here at home," he said.
"Last Friday, the president said that the American people would like to see more cooperation in Washington. He said he thinks all of us have the responsibility, himself in particular, to try and make that happen.
"That is the kind of tone the American people are looking for," McConnell concluded. "Now it’s on folks in Washington to calibrate their actions accordingly."
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.