Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is ready to hit the ground running when the new session starts in January, and he has been laying the groundwork for the agenda of a Republican majority since last spring, he said in an interview with CQ Roll Call
"The worst experience any majority can have is that you convene and you look around and nothing's ready to go.
"So what I said to the members who hoped they would be chairmen [was], 'Let's don't have that problem. Be thinking now about legislation that you have, preferably that enjoys some Democratic support, because we certainly didn't think we were going to have 60 and we don't,'" the Kentucky Republican said.
McConnell said that since the election he has reassured Democrats of his intent to work in a bipartisan way and make sure the chamber isn't hobbled by the gridlock of recent years.
"Up to half the calls I got after the election were from Democratic senators. I'm not implying that they were happy I won, but they were awfully curious as to whether I really meant it early last year when I pointed out that we needed to run the Senate in a very different way," he told Roll Call.
"I think there's going to be bipartisan gratitude for having a chance to be relevant, to not be marginalized."
At the same time, he admitted there would be issues that the parties disagreed about, such as the GOP's commitment to repeal Obamacare and spending bills that would likely create a showdown with the White House.
McConnell hit back at the notion that Republicans are the only party that experiences tension within its ranks, saying Democrats have their own intraparty differences.
"They are the ones in disarray," he said.
"They are the ones criticizing Obamacare publicly as a mistake, a political mistake. They are the ones who are suffering the embarrassment of having the president veto a bill that has just been negotiated between the Democratic majority in the Senate and the Republican majority in the House," he told Roll Call, referring to the president's recent threat to veto tax breaks for businesses
which has bipartisan support among lawmakers.
Meanwhile, McConnell said one of his top goals is to demonstrate that the Republican Party is capably of governing.
"What we want to be is a responsible, right-of-center governing majority," McConnell told Roll Call. "We don't intend to engage in rhetoric nor actions that rattle the public, that rattle the markets."
He said he is also hopeful that he will have a constructive relationship
with President Barack Obama.
"The president and I did have a chance to talk this week and hopefully that will not be as unusual as all of you thought it was," he told Roll Call.
"And the reason you thought it was, is, it was unusual. Hopefully we will have a greater opportunity to talk about the way forward more frequently."
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