ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN THE FIRST SESSION OF THE 108TH CONGRESS
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, on another subject, I commend the majority leader, before he leaves the floor, for his extraordinary leadership this year. We have truly had an outstanding 6 months. I am totally confident it would not have happened but for his nurturing of all Members and moving us in the right direction, dealing with the myriad complaints and concerns that arise from Members on both sides of the aisle during the course of trying to move legislation forward.
As he goes into the August recess, he should feel very good about accomplishments so far this year.
The accomplishments of this Senate in the first session of this 108th Congress would be considered remarkable in any historical comparison. But given that our President is in the second half of his term and the slender majority that his party holds in the Senate, the record of accomplishments is nothing short of extraordinary.
These actions have substantially improved our homeland security, our national security, our economic security, and the health and retirement security of our seniors. We have compensated for the budgetary and appropriations shortfalls of last year and are on path to complete our appropriations for the coming year in good order.
In the last 2 months alone, this Senate has taken the historic step of passing legislation to add a prescription drug benefit for our seniors in the Medicare program while imposing much needed market-based reforms. Almost 40 years after the programs creation, and after years of unfulfilled promises, the Senate is poised to complete final action when it returns in September.
In the last 2 months, this Senate has passed both the defense authorization and defense appropriations bills to keep our military strong and ready.
In the last 2 months, the Senate has passed the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization to revitalize an air transport industry suffering from the effects of the terrorist attack of 9/11.
The Senate has passed appropriation bills for the legislative branch, military construction, and homeland security, with 8 others ready for floor action upon our return in September.
After 42 days of consideration during the past 2 years, the Senate has passed an energy bill.
After more than a decade of repression, the Senate has passed the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act.
And to ensure funding of any disasters that may arise prior to the Congress' return in September, the Senate has enacted an emergency supplemental for FEMA funding.
Looking to the earlier part of the year, the Senate, extended unemployment benefits to those who need ittwice; passed the 11 unfinished spending bills from the last Congress; funded Operation Iraqi Freedom; initiated the protection of Homeland by confirming the nomination of the first Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; maintained fiscal discipline by passing the Federal budget which the Senate failed to do last year; enacted the President's plans to create jobs and stimulate the economy; banned the horrific practice of partial birth abortion; passed the President's faith-based initiative; funded the effort to eradicate the scourge of global AIDs; acted to guard our children against abduction and exploitation by passing the PROTECT Act; improved safeguards from foreign terrorists by enacting the FISA bill; expanded of NATO to include most of the former Warsaw Pact countries; passed a significant arms reduction treaty with enemy turned ally, Russia; taken steps to bridge the digital divided by providing needed funds to historically black colleges; affirmed the constitutionality of using the term "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance; awarded a Congressional Gold Medal to Prime Minister Tony Blair; and provided tax equity to men and women in our Nation's Armed Forces.
This is a record all Senators can be particularly proud of. There is much yet to be done, but we have had an extraordinary first half of the year. Members of the Senate can go back to their States with a good feeling they have made great progress for our people.
I yield the floor.