McConnell's end-of-the-year column


McConnell Highlights Senate Accomplishments
Under Republican Leadership Significant Wins For Kentuckians and Their Families

Last year, voters chose to end the dysfunction in Washington. They elected a Republican Senate to advance a common-sense agenda, and Kentuckians honored me with the opportunity to serve as Senate Majority Leader. I promised that under my leadership the Senate would work for the American people again, not the other way around.

One year later, I am proud to say the new Republican majority has done just that. We’ve passed important bills, many of which have become law, that will help empower people to achieve and succeed. And we’ve put bills on the president’s desk to distinguish what a working Republican Congress would be able to achieve with a different president.

As the Obama Administration’s War on Coal continues, we passed two bills to block the administration’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” a plan that consisted of anti-jobs regulations aimed at ending the utilization of coal-fired energy plants. Although both of these bills passed the Senate and the House with bipartisan support, the president plans to veto them.

To help Kentuckians who are suffering from the War on Coal, I worked to pass an amendment to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that offers support to the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), which works to train laid-off coal miners for new jobs. I also helped EKCEP secure an additional $7.5 million federal grant to further its mission.

Crucially, the new Republican Senate also passed the first repeal of Obamacare, coupled with a redirection of federal funds from Planned Parenthood to community health centers that provide health services for women, but no abortions. Unfortunately, the president is expected to veto this bill. But passing it is a significant symbolic victory which demonstrates that the Senate is listening to your concerns about higher costs and higher taxes, and is working overtime to repeal Obamacare. And we will continue this fight after this president leaves office.

I led the bipartisan passage of the Highway Bill, which is the longest-term highway funding bill in nearly two decades. It designates the Natcher Parkway between Bowling Green and Owensboro a part of the federal highway system to boost economic development in the region.

We came to the aid of our servicemembers and their families by getting the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed and signed into law. Its enactment allows construction to begin on a brand new, state-of-the-art medical facility at Fort Knox. The NDAA also includes funding for construction of a new special operations facility at Fort Campbell, and new school construction at Fort Knox. The appropriations bill I worked to pass provides an additional $75 million to advance construction of a new VA medical center in Louisville to serve Kentucky veterans.

Enhancing Kentucky’s economic outlook remains a top priority of mine. I secured language signed into law that will protect the transportation between states of legally grown industrial hemp. This helps pave the way for the future commercial development of this important agricultural commodity, which I believe will create jobs in Kentucky. I also supported $200 million to allow vital cleanup work to continue at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and help support 1,600 jobs at the site.

Further, I worked to enact permanent tax relief for Kentucky small businesses and farms, and regulatory relief for rural and community financial institutions that provide so many Kentuckians with loans to operate their businesses.

Aside from economic matters, there are issues important to Kentucky families that I made a priority in Washington. There is a growing heroin and opioid epidemic plaguing our state, and too many babies are being born dependent on opioids. I am proud to have authored a bill signed into law to focus federal resources on preventing and treating these babies who deserve our protection and concern.

I worked to pass the Adoptive Family Relief Act, which will provide financial relief to Kentucky families who out of the goodness of their hearts have legally adopted children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but have been unable to bring their children home due to the DRC government’s suspension of exit permits.

Furthermore, I helped pass permanent tax relief for Kentucky’s low-income and working families, including a provision to improve section 529 savings accounts, to help Kentucky families save for college tuition expenses.

All of these achievements make 2015 a year of progress in Washington. The era of dysfunction is over. But more remains to be done.

As long as President Obama remains in the White House, he will veto legislation that could support jobs for our coal miners or repair our nation’s health care system. Next year offers us a chance to elect a Republican president who would sign these bills. We shouldn’t waste it.

In the meantime, Kentuckians should be glad to know that a promise made is a promise kept. The Senate is working again. And as Senate Majority Leader, I will continue to fight for them.



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