McConnell: Americans 'Less Interested in Beltway Melodrama' Headed into State of the Union

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell news conference

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said going into President Trump's second States of the Union address that the American people "are less interested in Beltway melodrama and more interested in that classic question: Am I better off than I was two years ago?"

"I’m looking forward to attending and hearing the president reflect on the great strides our nation has made over the past two years and his vision for the challenges still before us," McConnell said on the Senate floor this morning. "From historic tax reform and regulatory reform, to huge progress in the fight against ISIS, to landmark progress in the nationwide fight against opioid addiction, the story of the last two years has been one of immense policy progress for our nation."

He also lauded "landmark regulatory reform" that "cut burdensome compliance costs for small businesses, reigned in federal overreach on education policy, and defended Americans’ rights of conscience."

McConnell has invited as his State of the Union guest Lisa Minton, who runs the Chrysalis House, a treatment facility for pregnant and new mothers fighting opioid addiction in Lexington, Ky.

"When American people elect a divided government, they’re saying we know you disagree on a lot of things, but look for the things you agree on and do those. If the past weeks have shown anything, it’s that we will need to work together across the aisle in order to do our work. And make no mistake -- there are significant challenges ahead," he continued. “Like addressing the ongoing security and humanitarian crisis at our southern border, lowering the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, and taking further steps to rebuild American infrastructure. Tonight, I expect that the president will offer a serious vision to deal with challenges like these."

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) countered in a floor speech that "the president will say that the state of our union is strong, but the American people know the truth – unfortunately it is not."

"The state of the Trump economy: failing America’s middle class. The state of Trump healthcare: failing American families. The state of the Trump administration: chaos. The state of Trump foreign policy: woefully backward, inside out," he said. "These are not the total extent of our nation’s challenges, but even on these four metrics – the economy, healthcare, governance, and foreign policy – the state of our union is need of drastic repair."

"Still, knowing this president and his penchant for hyperbole, he will probably say the state of our union is stronger than it’s ever been before in our nation’s long history thanks to him," Schumer continued. "Knowing this president, he will rely on distortions and made-up facts, mislead the American people. The only question about the president’s state of the union – how often will he distort? How often will he make up facts? How often will he resort to fear and divisiveness? And if past states of the union are prologue, far too many times will he do that. Knowing this president, he will then make bold new promises and not even make an attempt to fulfill them."

"The president has so little integrity that a promise that he makes at the state of the union means nothing the next morning," he added. "...No infrastructure bill, though he promised one in a previous state of the union. No paid family leave proposal, though he promised one in a previous state of the union. And he’s withdrawing from Syria even though he promised we would continue to fight until ISIS is defeated. And by all reports, including our own intelligence, it is not."