It Takes 60 Votes, Republican Senator Says

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - Since it takes 60 votes to get most things accomplished in the Senate, Democrats -- who are nine votes short of the magic 60 number -- will have to work in consultation with Republicans, incoming Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday.

"There's simply no way to do very many things in a purely partisan way in the Senate," McConnell said in an interview on Fox & Friends. "That's always frustrating to the majority and exhilarating to the minority, and we're fairly exhilarated about our potential to influence the course of events in the Senate in the next two years."

McConnell said Republicans would like to "cooperate" in advancing the national agenda. But, he added, "We're certainly going to insist that whatever solutions we come up with on a bipartisan basis are in the center -- right at the center -- otherwise they'll have a difficult time."

McConnell said he has a good relationship with Harry Reid, who's about to become majority leader.

He also said he expects Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) -- a former Senate majority leader -- to be a "very effective whip."

"He's the only person in history that's been a whip in both the House and the Senate. He's a good vote-counter, and we're going to need that," McConnell said.

Press reports on Thursday were buzzing about Lott's Senate leadership "comeback." By one vote, Senate Republicans on Wednesday chose Lott over Lamar Alexander of Tennessee to serve as the second-ranking Republican in the 110th Senate.

Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine pointed to Lott's "institutional knowledge and appreciation for what it's going to take" to rebuild the Republican Party, the Washington Post reported.

Other reports called Lott's comeback a sign of President Bush's diminished hold on the GOP.

Four years ago, beset by Democrats and lacking support from President Bush, Lott was forced to resign as Senate majority leader because of his off-the-cuff remarks at Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party.

Lott noted that his home state of Mississippi had voted for Thurmond for president in 1948. "We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either." The controversy arose because Thurmond was a segregationist in 1948.

Lott later apologized, saying that a "poor choice of words conveyed to some the impression that I embraced the discarded policies of the past. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by my statement."

But it wasn't enough, and Lott ended up resigning his leadership post.

On Wednesday, Lott used the word "exhilarated" to describe his return to a leadership position.

Subscribe to the free daily E-Brief.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.