Politics & Government

McConnell tells Obama 'start listening to the electorate'

WASHINGTON — A defiant Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell plans to give a tough speech Thursday saying that if President Barack Obama won't go along with key GOP goals, "the only way to do all these things is to put someone in the White House who won't veto any of these things.

"We can hope the president will start listening to the electorate after Tuesday's election," the Kentucky Republican plans to tell the conservative Heritage Foundation. "But we can't plan on it." Excerpts of the text were released late Wednesday night.

McConnell will lead a bigger Senate Republican caucus when the 112th Congress convenes in January, but will not command a majority. Though Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in Tuesday's election, it fell short in the Senate.

Still, McConnell, who was able to hold virtually all his party's senators together on major legislation over the past 21 months, suggested he could do the same again next year.

McConnell's attitude was in contrast to the mood of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, Wednesday, who called for more bipartisanship.

McConnell said he'd be happy to work with Democrats. But a top priority of Republicans, he said, would be trying to repeal one of the Democrats' signature 2010 achievements, health care overhaul.

Instead, McConnell plans to say, "We can — and should — propose and vote on straight repeal, repeatedly. But we can’t expect the president to sign it. So we’ll also have to work, in the House, on denying funds for implementation, and, in the Senate, on votes against its most egregious provisions.”

The White House, he is to say, "has a choice: they can change course, or they can double down on a vision of government that the American people have roundly rejected When the administration agrees with the American people, we will agree with the administration.

"When it disagrees with the American people, we won’t. This has been our posture from the beginning of this administration. And we intend to stick with it. If the administration wants cooperation, it will have to begin to move in our direction.”

Expect more Republican unity, McConnell is to say. "The single most important thing Republicans in Congress did to prepare the ground for Tuesday’s election. By sticking together in principled opposition to policies we viewed as harmful, we made it perfectly clear to the American people where we stood. And we gave voters a real choice on Election Day.”

For more McClatchy politics coverage visit Planet Washington

To ask a question about this story or any economic question, go to McClatchy's economy Q&A

Related stories from McClatchy DC