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McConnell Closes 2017, Looks Forward to Bourbon and College Football

Takes final victory lap at Capitol after tax overhaul

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rounds out the year in typical fashion, with his trademark red-sweater news conference. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rounds out the year in typical fashion, with his trademark red-sweater news conference. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sporting his Louisville Cardinals red, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell bid farewell to the Capitol for 2017 on Friday.

Aside from a review of the year’s legislative accomplishments, McConnell wished gathered reporters a Merry Christmas and offered a little advice for the holiday season, after being asked if he had any Kentucky Bourbon recommendations.

“It’s all really good. It makes the holidays so much better,” McConnell said.

The majority leader said he was heading home to Louisville for the holidays. Asked if he would be visiting President Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago resort, McConnell said he had other Florida plans.

The University of Louisville plays in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Dec. 30, in Jacksonville, Florida.

Speaking of tax preparation, much of McConnell’s remarks to reporters Friday focused on the crowning legislative achievement of 2017, the tax code overhaul signed into law by President Donald Trump on Friday.

“I think we’ve established a really good working relationship,” McConnell said of the partnership that he has developed with the White House, despite the barrage of criticism and ridicule that Trump hurled in the direction of McConnell and other Senate Republicans during the health care repeal debate.

“We worked together seamlessly,” on taxes, McConnell said.

He also again highlighted what should be the longest-lasting accomplishment of 2017, the confirmation of Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. McConnell noted that Gorsuch is just 50 years old.

The majority leader also quipped that of the president’s Twitter habit, “I haven’t been a fan until this week.”

McConnell also talked 2018 politics. He reiterated Friday that he and his political backers intend to play in Republican primaries.

In so doing, he gave another signal that GOP Rep. Martha McSally is in fact running for Senate, even if there has been no formal announcement.

“We’re going to be supporting people who can actually win. How many contests there will be between well-funded people who are sure losers and people can win is hard to predict because recruiting season is not over,” the Kentucky Republican said. “But we’ve got some great candidates out there, and you’re familiar with them. Martha McSally, Josh Hawley, we hope we’ll add a few more in the coming weeks, and I think we’re going to be very competitive.”

Asked about the involvement of outside forces like Steve Bannon in influencing Republican primaries, McConnell pointed to the victory of Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama.

“The political genius on display, throwing away a seat in the reddest state in America, is hard to ignore,” McConnell said.

McConnell will no doubt keep busy with politics and perhaps especially candidate recruitment over the holidays, but he sounded like a man looking forward to being away from the Capitol for a little while.

“Merry Christmas,” he said. “I won’t miss you for at least 10 days.”

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