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tv   U.S. Senate Sen Alexander on Sen. Mc Connells Record  CSPAN  June 13, 2018 5:19am-5:38am EDT

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senator, i can add to the accolades of the senator from kentucky by pointing out that he and i have a common trait, a comm denominator between us. we both married above ourselves. and the fact that his wife, the honorable elaine chao, now our secretary of transportation, former secretary of labor, it is truly one of the remarkable couples in the nation's capital of political leadership. and i congratulate him on the comments from the require. the presiding officer: the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: mr. president, the senate's majority leader, senator mitch mcconnell of kentucky, will become the longest serving senate republican leader in history surpasng former senator bob
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dole of kansas. this according to the senate historical office. today i senator mcconnell's 4 79 lgt day as senate republican leader, a position that he assumed on january 3, 2007, after republicans lost control of both chambers of commerce. i'd like to take a few minutes to put senator mcconnell's leadership in perspective. that perspective begins in the year 1969. i was 29 years old and working in the nixon white house. senator howard baker, jr., of tennessee said to me, you might want to get to know that smart, young legislative assistant for marlowe cook. marlowe cook was kentucky's newly elected republican senator. that smart, young legislative assistant was 27-ar-old mitch mcconnell. if anyone has noun him for a
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long -- known him for a long time, the evolution of mitch mcconnell's leadership isn't hard to trace. to begin with, when he was 2 years old, the doctor said, mitch h polio. it's hard to igi today how terrifying those words were for parents then. mcconnell rembers qte, it was 1944. there was a serious epidemic that year all over the country. and the disease was very unpredictable. first you think you had the flu and a couple of weeks later some people would be completely normal and some of them would be in an iron lung or dead. he continued. in my case, it affected my left quadriceps, the muscle between the knee and your thigh and one of the great good fortunes of my life, my mother was living with her sister in this little cross points of five point, alabama where there was not even a stopli whiley dad was overseas fighting the germans. and it happened toe 60 miles
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from warm springs where president roosevelt had gone to treat his own polio. my mother took me to warms,ccon. they taught her a physical therapy regiment and said to do it four times a day to keep me off my feet. she watched me every minute. it prevented me from reall walking. my first memory in life is when they told my mother i was going to be okay. that i would be able to walk without a limp and we stopped at a shoe star in la grange, georgia, on the wayack to alabama to get a pair of low-top shoes which were a kind of symbol that i was going to have a normal childhood. if one knows about the determination of mitch mcconnell's mother,ot i hard to imagine how her son determined as a college stunt to be a united statesenat s and did, determined to be his party's senate leader and did, and determined to hold that position longer than anyone in u.s. history and has.
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this was an arguous two-decade leadership journey. chairman of the republican national senatorial committee, counselor to majority leader trent lott, majority whip, minority leader, fally majority leader. as for his mother's example, this is what mitch mcconnell says. quote, it sure had to have an effect on me which was if you stick to something, you keep working at it and giving it your best, the chances are you may actually overcome whatever problem you're currently confronting. a second leadership quality that mitch mcconnell learned early in a fist fight was not to be pushed around. according to mcconnell again, quote, i was 7. we lived in athens, alabama. aid friend across the stree named ricky mcgrew. he was older than i and bigger. he was a bully and kept pushing me around. my dad called me around said,
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son, i've been watching the way been pushing you around. i want you to go over there and beat him up. i went across the street and i started swinging and i -- and it was an incredible -- and i beat him up and bent his glasses and it was an incredible lesson in standing up to bullies, and i have a thought about it throughout my life at moments when people are trying to push you around. as a junior senator on the foreign relations committee, mitch mcconnell surprised colleagues whennsor sanctions against the apartheid regime in south africa andaman in 1986 he voted to override president reagan's vietnam of those -- veto of those sanctions. these colleagues woun't have been surprised had they known him 25 years earlier when he was a student at the university of louisville. the civil rights movement was the defining issue of our generation. working an an intern in congress during the summer of 1963 i got
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to see martin lugerg jr.'s i have a dream speech. then in 1964 i was an intern in john sherman cooper's office. two things happened. cooper was in the middle of breaking the southern senor'sfid we nominated barry goldwater, one of the few people who voted against the civil rights bill. honestly, mitch mcconnell said, i was mad as hell about it and i was so irritatedbout goldwater voting against the civil rights bill and defining the roone party in a way that i thought would be unfortunate, that i voted for lyndon johnson, which in retrospect was a huge mistake. but it w a protest vote. senator mcconnell's willingness as a college student to buck his own political party resurfaced 40 years later in his leadership on first amendment free speech issues.
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in 2006 he cast the deciding vote against the adoption of a constitutional amendment to prohibit flag burning. when most republican colleagues and almost all of his constituents had a different point of view. he argued that the first amendment protects even personally offensive messages. and mcconnell became the senate's leading voice against restrictions on political speech under the guise of, quote, campaigneform, unquote. again, some of his own party disagreed, including president george w. bush and senator john mccain, but he persisted and on multiple occasions the supreme court has agreed with mcconview of protecting political speech under the first amendment. mr. president, two of the three united states senate office buildings in washington, d.c., are named for phillip earhardf and mitchell re of georgia,
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two senators who were never elected to formal leadership positions by their colleagues. senator mcconnell disssed leaders without foalio describing occasion when a senator describes a major policy role outside of the cfinesf formal party or committee ership his favorite was senator cooper. who mitch has described as, quote, my role model as a young man, a man of great conviction, very smart. in his auto biography, the long game, senator mcconnell says when cooper took him to the signing of the civil rights bill of 1965 and later on of watching cooper's principled questioning of the vietnam war, senator cooper's example must have influenced his young interns' one-man crusade 20 years later against an oppressive junta. according to "the new york times" in 2016, senator
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mcconnell has been a lead sponsor, the times said, of every major sanctiosurens m against the burmese government over the last 20 years and has worked tirelessly with several administrations to try to bring democracy to the country unlike south african apartheid, it was a totally unknown cause. his foreign policy advisor told the "times." he championed the cause of the leader who for years was under house arrest. in 2012 when suu kyi came to washington, d.c., she traveled to kentucky to thank mcconnell for everything he did for us, she said, over two being decades. that's a long triumphant -- -- that's a long time, she said. in order to be the senate leader, one first has to be elected to the senate. in mitch mcconnell's early contrary, one can find multiple
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clues that point to his campaigns and the style in which he wins them. i was the old in america he says watching political conventions from gavel to gavel and i began to practice the craft and see if i could get good at it. when he was elected president of his high school student body, he remembers, i was hooked. at the university of louisville, he campaigned for president of the student council both in college and in law school, participated in civil rights marches on the state capital, was president of the college republicans, persuaded barry goldwater to come to speak. he did learn the casts of politics and he did get good at it. he's undefeated in his own political campaigns winning six senate races in kentucky, more than any other commonwealth senator. he's been elected republican leader more than any other u.s. senator,h time unanimously. and he's been proficient in not
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just his own races. in 2010nd 2012, the senate conservative fund helped nominate republicans in five state who lost the general election when a more mainstream nominee might have won. so in 2014 and 2016 mcconnell organized an effort to defeat incumbent republican senators who were challenged in primaries. he was successful in every case. including his own primary. this is what he said. we were not going to allow what happened in 2010 and 2012 to happen anymore. and so we got the most electriccable people nominated who basically took them on because if you're dealing with a group of people who think compromise is a dirty word and who always want to make a point but never want to make a difference, the only thing to do if you want to win the election is to beat them. mostly mitch mc connell's political skills were born of necessity. in july 1984 he was 34 points
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behind in his challenge to incumbent democrat senator dee huddleson. mcconnell discovered that his opponent had been making speeches for money. now, that was legal then, but dee huddleson had been missing senate votes to make those speeches. so mcconnell ran an ad featuring a kentucky hunter with bloodhounds looking for senator huddleson to get him back to work. in another ad, the dog treed the senator right at the end of what became known as the bloodhound campaign. mcconnell defeated him by .04% of the vote s i'm searched in veins for one more aspect of mitch mc connell's leadership style -- his parsimonious use of words. sometimes he reverted to absolute silence. in his auto biography, he admits that he only speaks to the press
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when it is to his advantage. he also tells of when microsoft founder bill gates visited him and the two of them just sat there waiting for one to speak, making others in the room uncomfortable. and another time someone once told president george w. bush that mitch mcconnell was excited over a certain vote and president bush replied, really? how could you tell? why so few words? mcconnell's answer is, i learn a lot more by listening. sing fromly i start out by listening and think about what i want to say before i say it. you don't get in trouble for what you don't say. there's nothing wrong with being cautious about your comments. i think certainly don't mind talking, but i usually like to know what i'm talking about before i venture down that path.
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in july 23014 when he was minority leader, senator mcconnell spoke on the senate flr will what kind of majority leader he would be if republicans won the majority in the november election. his m, he said, would be mike mansfield, the democrat who was majority leader 45 years earlier when mcconnell and i were senate aides. what i meant by that he said, first of all was you have to open the senate up. the last year of the previous democrat majority, 2014, there were only 15 roll call votes on amendments the entire year. in the first year of our majority in 2015 we had over 200. open the senate up, let people vote. number two, we needed regular order, which means the bill is actually worked on together in committee, comes out to the floor with bipartisan support, and has a better chance of success. he said, the best example i can think of was the bill to rewrite no child left behind. the law had proved to be
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unworkable and unpop l by the time it came out of committee, you had the democrats and republicans lined up. it went to the floor, it was relatively open for amendments, not that absolutely everybody got everything they wanted but in the end it passed with a very large majority. prident obama called it a christmas miracle and "the wall street journal" said it was the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter century. the humorous roy blunt jr., who grew up in georgia, has written, quote, you start getting into trouble when you stop sounding like where you grew up. the political corollary is you start getting in trouble when you stop coming home. this is advice mcconnell has not forgotten. he and his wife elaine go home to kentucky almost every weekend. he has kept his eye on kentucky matters, both large and small, including disposal of chemical
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weapons that have long been stored in the middle of kentucky, enacting a tobacco buyout to help local farmers, support for the state's public universities, and his advocacy for workers at the pucah gas fusion plant. kentucky anglers and tourists appreciate helping to enact a law to require the army corps of engineers to allow fishing below the dams on the cumberland river. 20 years ago he created the mcconnell center at the iversity of louisville, attracting a bipartisan parade of national leaders to visit with ten scholars chosen each year from each undergraduate class. each year mitch mcconnell buys 12 season tickets to the university of louisville football games. he says, i have some regulars. we go to every home game and occasionally anway game. we make a day of it. we go out early. one of my friends has an r.v. in the parking lot and we will talk about what will happen in the
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game and then go to the game and then we'll talk about what happened after the game. and it's a complete lengthy exercise and one of the great joys of my life. mitch mcconnell's university of louisville honor thesis on clay tempted him to pursue a career as a professor. those of us who know him doubt that he would have been satisfied interpreting the action rather than being in the middle of the action. but his devotion to american history, his understanding of the importance of the united states senate as a unique institution in american life have contributed a valuable extra dimension to his senate leadership. in a 2016 c-span interview, he was asked, what would you like for high school american history teachers to tell their students about the united states senate? he replied, that the senate has been the indispensable
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legislative body because that's the place, mcconnell said, where things are sorted out, the place wherenly o rarely does the majorityet thingxactly its own way, the place where stability can occur. and at a time when many americans are non-optimistic about the country's future, he was asked, what would you want those teachers to tell students about their future in this country? mitch mcconnell replied, because of our woeful ignorance of american history, we always think the current period we're in is tougher than others. we've had nothing like the civil war period. we haven't had a single itnciden where a congressman from south carolina came over and almost beat to death a senator from massachusetts. america has had plenty of challenges, mitch mcconnell said, tough challenges, world wars, depressions. this is a great country. we're going to deal with whatever our current problems
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are and move on to another level. and i'm just as optimistic as i ever was that this generation is going to leave behind a better america than our parents left behind for us. i thank the president. i yield the floor.r. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: mr. president, i rise to speak on the ndaa bill that is before us

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