COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM ACT--Continued -- (Senate - June 27, 2007)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I appreciate the distinguished Senator from Nevada allowing me the time.
I think it is really important for us to ask ourselves what the test is before us today in the Senate.
As many of you know, I spent the last 2 weeks recuperating from a surgical illness, and I got to see--from a perspective of watching television on all the different channels, reading all the different papers--there was a recurring theme that I noticed that came through from all across this country. It did not matter what part of the country. It did not matter who was saying it, no matter whether they tend to lean liberal or they tend to lean conservative. That theme is this: We have failed to instill the confidence in the American people in the Congress that we are about doing what is in the best long-term interest of our country.
It is not about being against immigration or for immigration. It is not about being against an ethnic group or for an ethnic group. It is not about being liberal. It is not about being conservative. It is about the worry that the American people have for this concept called liberty. They are worried about that concept right now. They are worried about whether we have the mettle to stand up to the test, to put us back on a road that will give them the confidence that what we do will be done in the best interests of them and their children. There is worry that the thing that gives us liberty, which is the rule of law, is somehow now being tinkered with in a way that undermines their confidence and security in what this American dream is all about.
So we have had a very interesting experience today, but it is really not about the immigration bill. It is about something much greater that we should be paying attention to. It is about the right to govern with the confidence the people of this country give us and the responsibility that comes with us to have the integrity to do that in a way which builds that confidence, which rebuilds the strength, rebuilds the positive attitude, rebuilds the ``I can do'' America has been known for.
I asked for this time to speak not as a Republican but as a citizen of this country with children and grandchildren, like everybody else out there who wants the best for our country. We can debate about the details.
I had this wonderful experience about a year ago traveling with members of the opposite party to China. We met with students at Chinese Harvard. What we found was 95 percent of the things we agree on, we were solid in our bond.
The very thing that makes this country great is what Democrats and Republicans agree on: the idea of the rule of law; the idea of freedom; the idea that we have a Constitution that has to be supported, nurtured, and maintained. The only way that happens is if we rebuild the confidence of the American people in our abilities to do that.
We are in the midst of a debate on immigration that is a very wildly moving, emotional issue for all sides. But it should be a signal to us that when it is this wildly emotional and wildly divided, it should temper our thoughts to
say the most important thing is not to finish the bill, the most important thing is to reestablish credibility in what we do for the American people.
I happen to believe if we do the right things that the American people in their gut know are right, ultimately, we will go from the 17-percent approval rating the country has of this body today back to where we should be--a healthy, vibrant confidence that the people who are elected to represent them in the Senate will, in fact, have the confidence of the American people to do and carry out this wonderful, creative experiment our Founders started over 200 years ago.
My question for the body and my challenge to the body is that we have a greater problem than immigration. The problem is the test: Do we meet the test that is before us of regaining the confidence of the American people? I think that is the biggest test we have today. I think all 100 of us need to redouble our efforts to assure that No. 1, we listen; No. 2, the Constitution is our guide; that the oath we took said nothing about Republican, said nothing about Democrat, said nothing about an individual State, but said we have an oath to uphold the Constitution of these United States without regard to party, without regard to locale.
So I would beg my fellow Senators, over the next few weeks, as we go on break in a week and we come back here, that the No. 1 goal that ought to be in front of us is, how do we change that approval rating? How do we restore the fact that we are listening, that we are hearing, that our action is based on what we know to be right, what we know to be good, and what we know is in the best interests long term for our country?
With that, I yield the floor.