McConnell Criticizes Lack of Constitutional Overhaul in Myanmar

Suu Kyi, center, received a Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in the Capitol in September 2012. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor Thursday morning to express frustration about the pace of change in Myanmar.  

The Kentucky Republican warned he would push for delays in furthering trade relations with the country, which is also known as Burma, after a bid to overhaul the Southeast Asian nation's constitution was thwarted.  

McConnell: Myanmar Must 'Assume Responsibility' for the Rohingya

McConnell says the Rohingya are the responsibility of Myanmar. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday the government of Myanmar needs to address the human-rights crisis involving the Rohingya.  

Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell said he and others want the country, also called Burma, to successfully complete an open election process, free of favoritism by the state-run media and with broad access to voting. McConnell said he met recently with the speaker of the country's parliament, Shwe Mann, and expressed his concerns directly about a variety of issues, including the plight of Rohingya Muslims, a minority group of which many members have fled to boats.  

White House Praises McConnell on Myanmar

Suu Kyi received a Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in the Capitol in September 2012. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The man elected by his conference to be the next Senate majority leader actually won praise from the White House earlier in the day in Myanmar for his longstanding support of pro-democracy interests in that country.  

The political situation in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, has been a priority for more than 20 years for the Kentucky Republican, who is set to become the majority leader when the GOP takes over in January.  

Senators Watching as Kerry Visits Myanmar

McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, met with Suu Kyi during a 2012 visit to the Capitol. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Myanmar Saturday to meet with government officials there along with ASEAN Regional Forum and other meetings, the Senate will be watching.  

The week before the chamber left for August recess, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell provided one of his periodic updates on the current political climate in the country, formerly known as Burma. The Kentucky Republican has long been one of the Senate's leading voices, along with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, against a repressive military junta that long ruled the country with an iron fist.