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McConnell lays out legislative agenda in La Grange

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By Kenny Colston

The next leader of the U.S. Senate made a stop in Oldham County this week to update business leaders on his legislative agenda come January.

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, fresh off re-election as Kentucky’s senior senator and recently selected again as leader of the soon-to-be Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, spoke to a joint meeting of the La Grange Rotary and Oldham County Chamber and Economic Development groups at the John Black Community Center on Tuesday.

McConnell touched on an array of topics, including his 15-point victory over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, energy policy, immigration and more.

McConnell’s theme throughout his talk was hope he could reintroduce “progress” to the U.S. Senate with bipartisan legislation on a variety of issues.

But one thing the senator said he wouldn’t miss was his most recent campaign, where outside groups flooded the airwaves with attacks against him and Grimes.

“You got to see a pretty spirited campaign,” McConnell said. “One of my colleagues at the table asked me, ‘are you upset the campaign is over?’ and I said ‘Are you kidding me?’ ”

McConnell said he took this year’s election results, including his re-election, the new control of the U.S. Senate for Republicans and the pick up of multiple governorships as a sign the American people “wanted to go in a different direction.”

Referencing the new divided government that will take place in January, with the GOP controlling Congress for the last two years of Democratic President Barack Obama’s second term, McConnell once again repeated that he wanted to achieve some progress.

“It’s usual to have divided government,” he said. “What’s not unusual is how productive it’s been. Divided government provides the opportunity to do real difficult things, if you’re willing.”

McConnell said approving the Keystone XL pipeline, a natural gas pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast, would be one of many energy-related items the new Congress takes up. He also said he would find parts of the Affordable Care Act to repeal with the help of Democrats, namely the medical device tax.

“If we’re going to make progress in this country, I’m going to look at Senate Democrats that have been marginalized,” he said.

McConnell said the Senate would vote on legislation, a change from recent years, without worrying about whether the president would veto it.

“We’re not going to be intimidated by willy-nilly threats of vetoes,” he said.

McConnell said Obama’s recent executive order on immigration was a “mistake” and said it would likely freeze any Congressional action on the issue. The senator also said the president hadn’t shown much willingness to compromise so far.

But with the new Congress starting in a few weeks, Kentucky’s senior senator said he held hope that the president’s stance would change.

“I still want to accomplish things for the country,” McConnell said. “But he’s got to move to the political center.”

Email us about this story at editor@oldhamera.com.