January 8, 2003 Wednesday
HEADLINE: NEWS CONFERENCE WITH THE SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP
TOPIC: THE REPUBLICAN AGENDA FOR THE 108TH CONGRESS
SEN. MCCONNELL: Well, I'm particularly enthusiastic to be working with our new majority leader, Bill Frist. We had a number of very productive sessions about what my role will be, and I'm excited to get about it. Most of all, we're realistic. I mean clearly, here the American political system is about as tight as it has been in our history, with the possible exception of the 1880s. We know what the numbers are, and we know that the only way we're going to be able to advance our own agenda and the president's agenda is with cooperation across the aisle, as Senator Stevens has indicated.
We are anticipating that on various issues we will have support from particular Democrats, depending upon the issue. We're going to try to win these votes. We think many of them will be very close. But we intend to put forth the energy and the effort to succeed for the president and for the country over the next year.
SEN. MCCONNELL: Yeah. Leader, I would just add one other issue too, to your list. And theI was one of the principal sponsors of the election reform bill last year, and I can tell you that the leadership conference on civil rights believes that adequate funding for election reform this year is one of their top priorities, and we intend to work to see that that happens.
With regard to Judge Pickering, as a member of the Judiciary Committee last Congress, I had an opportunity to be in the hearings, to listen carefully to Judge Pickering's testimony. It was my view that he was given a raw deal by the committee. This is a man who testified against the Klan in 1967 at great personal risk to himself and to his family.
I'm optimistic that the new Senate Judiciary Committee will give him a fair hearing, and if he deserves to be reported to the floor, as I believe he does deserve to be reported to the floor, he'll be given a fair shot on the floor of the Senate. It was our belief last year that had Judge Pickering gotten to the floor, he would have been confirmed by the full Senate. And I'm optimistic that A, he will get to the floor; and that B, he will be confirmed by the full Senate.