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SOURCE:  Office of Senator Mitch McConnell

mcconell

John Boehner: ‘Country and Institution Before Self’

John Boehner has wandered the valley. John Boehner has been to the mountaintop. John Boehner has slid right back into the valley, and then ascended to great heights yet again. He does it all with hard work. He does it with an earnestness and an honesty I’ve always admired.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the retirement of House Speaker John Boehner:

“There’s a lot you can say about John Boehner.

“He loves his breakfasts every morning at Pete’s Diner. He’s a fan of the tie dimple. He’s one of the most genuine guys you’ll meet. I know, because we’ve fought many battles together in the trenches.”

“He never breaks his word. He never buckles in a storm. And what’s amazing is how we’ve had such a frictionless relationship, especially when you consider that old House saying, The other party—that’s just the opposition. But the Senate—that’s the enemy.

“That may have been true of past House and Senate leaders, but it wasn’t true for us.

“Though you might not expect it, I’m more Bourbon. John’s more Merlot. I lecture on Henry Clay. John sings zip-a-dee-doo-dah.

“But I’ve always considered John an ally. I’ve always considered John a friend.

“It’s hard not to like him, and it’s hard not to admire what John’s accomplished in his career.

“As a concerned Ohioan, he took on a scandal-plagued incumbent in a primary—and won.

“As a freshman Congressman, he took on money-laundering schemes and banking scandals involving powerful members—and prevailed.

“As an engineer of the Contract with America, he took on Democrats’ decades-long power lock—and triumphed.

“As an ex-member of leadership once considered politically dead, he knew he had more to offer—and convinced his colleagues he did.

“As the inheritor of a diminished and dispirited House minority, he dared to believe conservatives could rise again—and helped grow the largest Republican majority since bob-haired flappers were dancing the Charleston.

“John Boehner has wandered the valley. John Boehner has been to the mountaintop. John Boehner has slid right back into the valley, and then ascended to great heights yet again.

“He does it all with hard work. He does it with an earnestness and an honesty I’ve always admired.

“When John talks about struggling to make it, it’s not some platitude. When John gets choked up about Americans reaching for their dreams, it’s not some act.

“This is a guy who had to share a bathroom with 11 brothers and sisters. This is a guy whose parents slept on the pull-out sofa. This is a guy who worked hard behind the bar, and eventually found his way atop the rostrum.

“Maybe that’s why he’s so humble. Maybe that’s why, when he orders breakfast at Pete’s, they don’t call him “Mr. Speaker” — they just call him “John-John.”

“Well here’s what I know about Speaker John Boehner.

“He says the code he lives by is a simple one: do the right things for the right reasons, and the right things will happen.

“I’ve always found that to be true. I’ve found it to be true in our battles fighting side-by-side for conservative reform, sometimes from a position deep in the minority.

“We had our share of Maalox moments, that’s for sure. But he always strove to push forward.

“As I said about John Boehner the day he announced his retirement, Grace under pressure,   country and institution before self.

“These are the first things that come to mind when I think of him.

“I wish Speaker Boehner the very best in retirement, and I thank him for always working hard to do the right thing, for his family, for his district, for his party, for his country.

“Farewell, my friend.

***

“Though we bid farewell to one Speaker today, we know we’ll soon be saying hello to a new one.

“The House will vote later this morning on the nomination of Congressman Ryan.

“I think it’s appropriate to wait for that vote to occur before making full comments.

“But I also think it goes without saying that Paul Ryan is one of the most respected guys around here. Everyone knows he’s smart. Everyone knows he’s serious.

“And I look forward to working closely with him in pursuit of conservative solutions for our country.”

SOURCE:  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

SOURCE:  Office of Senator Mitch McConnell

President’s Foreign Policy Blunders Have Weakened U.S. Influence Abroad
Op-Ed By Senator Mitch McConnell, October 28, 2015

Former President Jimmy Carter recently said of President Obama’s foreign policy that America’s “influence and prestige and respect in the world is probably lower than it was six or seven years ago,” adding “…I can’t think of many nations in the world where we have a better relationship now than when he took over.” Having recently returned from Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Afghanistan with Congressman Andy Barr and several of my Senate colleagues, it’s clear that Carter’s critique is devastatingly accurate. 

When the Obama Administration withdraws our forces and forward presence from the

Senator Mitch McConnel (R-KY) photographed at the Capitol on December 2, 2008. Photograph by Karen Ballard

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) photographed at the Capitol on December 2, 2008. Photograph by Karen Ballard

world stage, others step in to fill the void, leaving the world less stable and America on worse footing. Thanks to this administration’s indecision in reacting to events in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, Russian president Vladimir Putin has projected combat power to expand Russia’s sphere of influence, evidenced by Moscow’s recent deployment in Syria.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has consolidated its gains in Iraq and Syria, and is increasingly active in Afghanistan. To help prop up the Assad regime in Syria, Russia has attacked moderate opposition forces there, and Iran is reportedly sending reinforcements. Civilians are dying and refugees are fleeing.

Our longstanding ally, Israel, is rightly concerned that the windfall of billions of dollars in sanctions relief to the Iranian theocracy—facilitated through President Obama’s ill-advised nuclear agreement—will finance terrorist operations against Israelis by Hamas and Hezbollah. This has all occurred while the President has reduced the size of our conventional forces and failed to invest in modern weapons systems.

Congress recently passed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This bipartisan bill—which passed with 70 votes in the Senate—not only provided a number of tools to help the Administration execute defense operations, it also authorized pay raises and improved quality-of-life programs for our service-members, strengthened sexual assault prevention and response, and equipped the men and women who volunteer to serve our country with funding at the same level requested by the Administration.

The NDAA would also benefit Kentucky service-members and military families by authorizing school construction projects and a new, 102,000-square-foot medical facility at Fort Knox—a project I have championed for years—as well as a new special forces facility at Fort Campbell.

Incredibly, the President vetoed this bipartisan bill for unrelated partisan reasons. That represents another grave foreign policy miscalculation that our country cannot afford.

I thought the growth and advance of ISIL last year would have prompted a reconsideration of strategy for the President. I thought the fall of Iraq’s Anbar Province to ISIL and the threat posed to allies like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey would have sparked a rethinking of his entire national security policy. It didn’t then. But if the latest reports of White House efforts to revise its ISIL strategy are to be believed, then perhaps the President now finally realizes that the threat from terrorist groups like ISIL and Al Qaeda has outpaced his failed efforts to train and equip military units in Yemen, Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan while drawing down U.S. forces.

I welcome the President’s recent announcement that he will maintain a force level of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan, which General John F. Campbell, Commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, relayed to me upon arrival in Kabul. I hope, however, that the President will follow through on his assertion—and the advice of American military leaders—that conditions on the ground should determine the appropriate force levels necessary to continue our vital counter-terrorism and training missions there.

Russia, China, and Iran are all looking to exploit American withdrawal in pursuit of dreams of empire. They have watched as America shrinks back and as other U.S. commitments—like the announcement of a strategic pivot to Asia, without the investments to make it meaningful—have proven hollow. The next President will have to rebuild America’s credibility with friend and foe alike.

At every stop in my travels, foreign leaders expressed sincere appreciation for U.S. leadership and assistance, and requested that it continue. To better protect U.S. interests, President Obama must work with Congress to redouble support for our allies in the Middle East and review his strategy in this region. Unfortunately—and to the detriment of the needs of our service-members and of U.S. leadership in the world—the President’s veto of the bipartisan NDAA bill indicates his foreign policy blunders may continue.

SOURCE:  DOD DEFENSE NEWS LEAD PHOTO

Aeromedical evacuation members load a patient onto a West Virginia Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Southern Strike 16 at Stennis International Airport in Hancock County, Miss., Oct. 28, 2015. The Air National Guard's Combat Readiness Training Center hosts the multiservice training exercise, which runs through Nov. 6, 2015. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter

Aeromedical evacuation members load a patient onto a West Virginia Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Southern Strike 16 at Stennis International Airport in Hancock County, Miss., Oct. 28, 2015. The Air National Guard’s Combat Readiness Training Center hosts the multiservice training exercise, which runs through Nov. 6, 2015. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter

Marines with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment fire AT-4 Rocket Launchers for the duration of a live fire and maneuver exercise during the Integrated Training Exercise 1-16 aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Oct. 23-24. During ITX, Marines demonstrate core infantry mission essential tasks while conducting offensive and defensive stability operations. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tyler A. Andersen/Released)

Marines with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment fire AT-4 Rocket Launchers for the duration of a live fire and maneuver exercise during the Integrated Training Exercise 1-16 aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, twenty-nine Palms, Calif., Oct. 23-24. During ITX, Marines demonstrate core infantry mission essential tasks while conducting offensive and defensive stability operations. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tyler A. Andersen/Released)

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