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SOURCE:  Office of Senator Mitch McConnell

mcconell

Senate to Vote Today on Landmark Education Reform Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding bipartisan education reform, another in a series of bipartisan accomplishments in the 114th Congress:

“Some questioned whether Washington could ever agree on a replacement for No Child Left Behind.

“They needn’t question any longer. Just consider today’s headline from the Associated Press: ‘Outdated education law up for major makeover in Senate.’

“This morning, we expect that a new Senate that’s back to work will send the Every Student Succeeds Act to the President for his signature.

“This forward-looking replacement for a broken law would open new opportunities for our kids, and put education back in the hands of those who understand their needs best: parents, teachers, states, and school boards.

“This bipartisan legislation would strengthen charter schools.

“This bipartisan legislation would prevent distant bureaucrats from imposing Common Core.

“This bipartisan legislation would substitute one-size-fits-all federal mandates for greater state and local flexibility.

“In short, it’s conservative reform designed to help students succeed instead of helping Washington grow. 

“It’s a significant achievement for our country.

“I want to thank everyone who helped make this moment possible.

“At the top of that list are two Senators.

“There’s Senator Alexander, a former Education Secretary from Tennessee — a Republican.

“There’s Senator Murray, a former preschool teacher from Washington — a Democrat.

“They worked hard, they worked across the aisle, and they worked in good faith.

“Their success in this effort is our country’s gain. It’s a win for parents. It’s a win for dedicated teachers. Most importantly, it’s a win for children, because these young Americans deserve the enhanced opportunities the bill would provide.

Here’s something else we know about what Senator Alexander and Senator Murray accomplished.

“It’s a testament to what a new and more open approach can bring to the legislative process.

“It gives Senators of both parties more of a say. It gives Senators of both parties more of a stake.

“And so, Senators are more likely to be interested in working together and seeing good ideas through to completion. That’s just what we’ve seen here.

“Here’s how Senator Murray put it: ‘I am very proud of the bipartisan work we have done on the Senate floor—debating amendments, taking votes, and making this good bill even better.’

“Here’s how Senator Alexander put it: ‘The bill is just one more example that Congress is back to work.’

“I couldn’t agree more.

“Finding a serious replacement for No Child Left Behind eluded Washington for years. Today it will become another bipartisan achievement for our country.

“I urge every colleague to join me in voting to send this forward-looking, conservative reform to the President’s desk. Let’s vote to help every student succeed by passing a bill NPR calls a ‘sea change in the federal approach’ and The Wall Street Journal hails as ‘the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century.’

***

“The new Congress and the new Senate have had a habit this year of turning third rails into bipartisan achievements.

“You might say we did so on highways and transportation last week.

“You might say we’re doing so on schools and education this week.

“We’ve also overcome significant obstacles to pass important legislation that would protect Americans’ privacy online through the sharing of cyber threat information, that would help fight against unfair trade barriers, that would help our military modernize and prepare for future threats, and that would bring hope to victims of deplorable crimes who suffer in the shadows.

“But when it comes to the truest of third rails in American politics, some boil that down to just two phrases.

“Medicare.

“Social Security.

“We all know that positive action will be needed if we care about saving these programs for future generations.

“Republicans and Democrats are both aware of this inescapable fact.

“Yet too many politicians have been conditioned to believe that bringing one comma of positive reform to either law is political suicide.

“Well, bipartisan majorities in the new Congress voted to change a lot more than just commas in both laws.

“We took bipartisan action on Medicare, reforming a broken payment system that threatened seniors’ care.

“We took bipartisan action on Social Security’s disability insurance component, enacting the most significant reform in a generation.

“As a result of these bipartisan reforms, we put a permanent end to Congress’ annual ‘Doc Fix’ drama, we brought reform to a program for disabled Americans that was scheduled to go broke next year, and we broke through — on a bipartisan basis — an important psychological barrier that’s held back broader positive action for the American people.

“The scale of what this new Congress was able to achieve on these issues is noteworthy, but it’s important for another reason—it clears a path for future wins for our constituents.

“That’s good news for our country today. That’s good news for future generations tomorrow. And it’s another example of a Congress that’s back to work for the American people, and back on their side.”

SOURCE:  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

President’s Oval Office Address ‘A Missed Opportunity,’ Says McConnell

Unfortunately, the American people did not hear of a strategy or plan to defeat and destroy this terrorist army.  Instead, they heard a restatement of a military campaign crafted to contain ISIL within Iraq and Syria.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the President’s insufficient plan to defeat ISIL:

“Last evening President Obama addressed the Nation concerning the threat ISIL poses to our people.

“Unfortunately, the American people did not hear of a strategy or plan to defeat and destroy this terrorist army. Instead, they heard a restatement of a military campaign crafted to contain ISIL within Iraq and Syria.

“Following the attacks in Paris and California, and the downing of the Russian airliner, about 60 percent of the American people disapprove of the President’s handling of terrorism. Nearly two-thirds disapprove of his handling of ISIL.

“They understand intuitively that ISIL and the wider terrorist threat has not been ‘contained,’ but rather that it has evolved into something increasingly more serious and challenging.

“Americans also know that the operational concept ordered by the President is insufficient to defeat ISIL.

“It’s not just the American people saying this. It’s not just Republicans saying it either.

“President Obama’s last Defense Secretary recently criticized his approach. So have several other former Obama Administration officials.

“Here’s a sampling of what they’ve said over just the last week or two.

“One called on the Obama Administration to ‘‘wake up’ to the threat.

“Another said that the Obama Administration ‘seems to be really flailing and tone-deaf to this latest challenge.’

“A third called on the President to ‘change your strategy’ because ‘by any measure, our strategy in Iraq and Syria is not succeeding.’

“And then there’s President Obama’s former Secretary of State, Secretary Clinton, who put it plainly: ‘we’re not winning.’

“So the President had a real opportunity last night to show the American people that defeating ISIL is his priority.

“He had an opportunity to demonstrate his willingness to adapt to the threat.

“He had an opportunity to explain how he can better prepare our nation for a fight that will inevitably be passed on to his successor.

“But he didn’t.

“The American people were looking for a serious strategy and a real vision last night — not a recap of an approach that hasn’t worked.

“Last night was only the President’s third Oval Office address, and it was a missed opportunity.

“Look.

“Throughout his time as Commander-in-Chief, President Obama has shown and inflexible adherence to policies he advocated as a candidate for office in 2008, most specifically to end our nation’s war on terror.

“In his first days in office he issued a series of executive orders designed to weaken the ability of our war-fighter and intelligence community to gather targeting information, capture terrorists, and interrogate and detain them to advance our understanding of terrorist networks and plans, as well as protect the American people.

“Although the President conceded that the complete withdrawal of our forces from Afghanistan would be harmful to our national security interests, and slowed our withdrawal in the face of Al Qaeda and Taliban resilience, he inflexibly clung to a fixed

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

date for our draw-down of forces in Iraq, which allowed for the growth of ISIL.

“And as the President inflexibly pursued an end to the War on terror, the terrorist threat evolved and adapted as Al Qaeda affiliates advanced in presence and capability and Al Qaeda in Iraq grew into the terrorist army we now know as ISIL.

“ISIL’s use of social media and encrypted communications burgeoned at the very moment that the President and his allies were working to take critical electronic surveillance tools from our intelligence community.

“So here’s what we need from the President now.

“What we need from the President is for him to clearly outline what it is he aims to achieve, how he aims to achieve it, and what authorities he thinks he’ll need to make that happen.

“He needs to match strategic objectives to the means to reach these goals.

“The President needs to tell us what authorities he needs to defeat encrypted online communications.

“The President needs to tell us what is needed to reestablish our capture, interrogation, and surveillance capabilities.

“The President needs to tell us how the coalition or NATO will forge a ground force capable of not just trying to ‘contain’ ISIL, but actually driving it from Raqqa.

“The President needs to tell us the force structure and funding our commanders will need to rebuild our conventional capabilities so we can continue and expand this fight while facing other global threats.

“The President should also explain why he won’t use the secure facility at Guantanamo Bay to safely hold and interrogate newly captured terrorists in order to help prevent the next plot against Americans.

“These are the kinds of things the American people are looking for and, by leading on them, President Obama can demonstrate his commitment to protecting our nation and leaving it better-prepared for his successor.

SOURCE:  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

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