Add bourbon to the list of things Sens. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer can’t agree on.
Schumer, a New York Democrat, showed up for an event in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky — the world’s bourbon capital — and proclaimed that his native Brooklyn produces “some of the best bourbon in the world.”
Schumer gave the Senate majority leader a bottle of Brooklyn-made bourbon, acknowledging that his proclamation was a “contentious thing to say in these parts.”
McConnell defended his home state’s honor and quipped: “There’s no such thing as Brooklyn bourbon.”
Other than their good-natured debate over whiskey, the Senate leaders portrayed themselves as friendly counterparts during Schumer’s visit to Louisville.
“We really do get along, despite what you read in the press,” Schumer said in his speech at the University of Louisville, McConnell’s alma mater.
When introducing Schumer, McConnell noted that the New Yorker’s parents objected to his decision to enter politics, wanting him instead to become a corporate lawyer.
“Well Chuck, I’ve got to say that my life would have been a lot easier if you had only listened to your parents,” McConnell said, adding that no one works harder than Schumer.
McConnell said that in his role as Senate majority leader, he works closely with Schumer — the Senate’s minority leader — in setting the chamber’s legislative schedule.
“We’re kind of like the offensive and defensive coordinators. I’ve had both roles. As coach Petrino can tell you, offensive coordinator is better,” McConnell said, referring to the University of Louisville’s football coach, Bobby Petrino.
Schumer said he disagreed with how McConnell navigated the Senate’s debate on health care and tax legislation, but he called the Senate’s work on the budget agreement signed into law last week as a “genuine bipartisan breakthrough.”
He urged the Senate to work across party lines on the next big issue — immigration. Senators are beginning a debate that could determine the fate of the “Dreamer” immigrants.
McConnell didn’t offer comments on immigration or other issues at the event.
Any rancor among senators “pales in comparison” to what two rival Founding Fathers — John Adams and Thomas Jefferson — said about each other, McConnell said.
“At every critical moment in this country, we’ve come together to do what needed to be done to move the ball down the field,” he said.
Schumer’s appearance was part of a speaking series sponsored by the university’s McConnell Center. Through the years, prominent Republicans and Democrats have been invited to campus.