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Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, poised to become the next leader of the upper chamber, on Wednesday pledged to “get the Senate back to normal” after years of partisan bickering and near unprecedented gridlock.
“The American people have spoken, and they have given us divided government,” McConnell said the day after Republicans took control of the Senate by winning seven seats. But he added that it should not mean more gridlock.
Instead, McConnell said he will focus on making the Senate a more effective legislative body, which includes working more.
“The Senate in the last few years basically doesn't do anything. We don’t even vote,” he said while proposing longer work weeks.
McConnell said he has spoken to both President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid since Tuesday's results and identified areas Democrats and Republicans can reach agreement on.
He said his attitude towards Obama is "trust but verify," but added that executive action without approval from Congress "is like waving a red flag in front of a bull." It was meant as a clear message to Obama that unilateral action on immigration in the lame-duck session of Congress would only further GOP opposition to him in the final two years of his presidency.
McConnell, who is expected to enjoy overwhelming support in his quest to become the next Senate Majority Leader, easily survived his challenge from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, winning by 15 points in Kentucky.
GOP Senate candidates were successful in nearly every competitive race on Tuesday, and they may soon have even more to celebrate. Republican Dan Sullivan is holding on to a slight lead in his challenge to Alaska Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, and GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy has forced Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu into a runoff in Louisiana next month.
That could mean Republicans will hold a 54-vote majority for the final two years of Barack Obama presidency, a complete shift from the Democrats current 55-45 seat advantage.