In Louisville, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer praises McConnell for leadership on immigration debate
Senator Schumer was guest lecturer at U of L's McConnell Center.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- They are often battling each other in Washington D.C., but on Monday in Louisville, the two most powerful men in the U.S. Senate played nice despite sharp disagreement.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) was Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s guest for the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center lecture series.
The Kentucky Republican told the crowd he has hosted a number of interesting speakers, but none more interesting than this one.
The event began with Schumer presenting McConnell with a bottle of Brooklyn-made bourbon - a peace offering of sorts - between the two men who are often adversaries on the Senate floor.
“Actually, the Senate is a pretty collegial place. We don't dislike each other. We have to work together,” said McConnell.
But that is about to be tested.
The Senate is scheduled to begin debate Monday evening on what to do about the so-called Dreamers, immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.
Schumer praised McConnell for leading on the issue by allowing a full debate in the Senate.
“The House is fractious. The President is the President. It is the Senate - the Senate - that has the potential to act as a beacon of stable leadership and progress in a political culture plagued by gridlock and division, and rancor,” said Schumer.
While Schumer had nothing but kind words for McConnell, he was critical of Kentucky's junior senator, Rand Paul.
In response to a question, Schumer pointed out that Paul opposed last week's bipartisan budget deal because it added to the deficit, after he voted for a trillion dollar tax cut.
“Had Rand Paul, voted against that tax bill because it would increase the deficit, by such a large amount, he would have every right - he still has the right - but he would have the benefit of the argument when he stood on the floor and railed against this bill,” said Schumer.
Paul's Communications Director, Kelsey Cooper, released a statement in response to Schumer's comments:
Despite the false narrative being perpetuated by those aiming to undercut Senator Paul’s efforts to hold Congress accountable for their reckless spending, the fact is tax cuts are not spending, and the tax cuts for which Sen. Paul voted are required to be paid for by Congress per budget rules.
Rob Hammond, a political science teacher at Iroquois High School, said he was impressed by the civil discourse.
“They actually did seem to genuinely like each other, unlike what you hear a lot in the media,” he said.
Hammond’s students, both immigrants, were split on Schumer’s assurances about solving the Dreamer problem.
“I believe that they are going to come up with a solution because this is a huge problem, and we really need to find a solution for everyone,” said Jennifer Coca, a native of Cuba.
“He mentioned that they were working together towards a solution, but he didn't really mention what they have actually done,” said Afi Tagnedji, who is originally from Togo.
For the students, and most others in the crowd, it was a rare encounter with two Washington power players whose relationship is complicated but, on this occasion, courteous.
“We really do like each other,” said Schumer.
McConnell and Schumer met privately with the McConnell scholars before returning to Washington, where the rhetoric will likely get more heated.
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