U.S. President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have been out of step with each other for most of 2015, so it’s unsurprising their perceptions of what was important this year are also at odds, as they expressed Saturday.
The Democratic president in his weekly address to the country listed marriage equality, the passage of a bipartisan budget, the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, the fight against the Islamic State group and the steps taken to stop the spread of nuclear weapons by attaining a strong deal with Iran as among his most important accomplishments in 2015.
Other accomplishments listed by Obama included the U.S. restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, the country’s leadership in combating climate change, Americans’ broader access to health care under the Affordable Care Act and an improved economy. He said the nation’s unemployment rate has dropped to 5 percent and that, over the past 69 months, 13.7 million new jobs have been created.
Obama also said, “All of this progress is because of you, because of workers rolling up their sleeves and getting the job done, and entrepreneurs starting new businesses, because of teachers and health workers and parents -- all of us taking care of each other.”
In contrast, the Republican Senate majority leader in his weekly address listed the biggest legislative accomplishments of the year as including the approval of a federal highway bill to spend billions on transportation projects, the OK of a measure that would enable more veterans to have access to health care, the passage of anti-human trafficking legislation and the end to a decades-old oil export ban.
McConnell also thanked members of the electorate who voted last year for the new majority in the Senate, which he described at the time as chaotic. “When you voted for this new majority last November, the Senate was a mess,” he said. “We believed the Senate could be restored to a place of high purpose again, and we’ve made great strides over the past year proving that it can.”
— The Hill (@thehill) December 19, 2015
One thing both Obama and McConnell agreed on was the bipartisan education law that replaces the controversial No Child Left Behind Act. The new law was signed this month, when it gave back to states the power to determine how schools that perform poorly should be improved, as the Wall Street Journal reported.