FIVE WEEKS AND COUNTING -- (Senate - October 30, 2007)
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, a lot of business in the Senate involves numbers. There are 100 Senators. The majority has 51, and this side of the aisle has 49. As the majority leader just indicated, it takes 60 votes to pass most significant legislation. Senators are always thinking about many different numbers. But today's number is quite simple. The number is 5--yes, just 5. It is 5 because this is the fifth week of the new fiscal year. But our friends on the other side of the aisle have yet to fulfill, as the majority whip puts it, ``the most fundamental job Congress is expected to do,'' and send a single appropriations bill to the President's desk.
Let me give just one example. The Senate passed the Military Construction/Veterans Affairs appropriations bill, which provides critical funds for wounded warriors, deserving veterans, and the base installations of service members and their families, in a bipartisan 92-to-1 vote nearly 2 months ago. Yet that bill now sits idle as we wait for the majority to call it up to conference.
Meanwhile, as early as today, the majority could proceed to take up another version of the SCHIP bill, which is certain to be vetoed once again by the President.
Republicans want to strengthen and secure the SCHIP program. The exact wrong way to do that is to lose focus on the low-income children it was designed to protect. So let's work together on a compromise that will keep the focus where it belongs, on low-income children. But I suspect I am going to have plenty of chances to come back to the Senate floor and debate this issue very soon.
The point is, working on a bill that we know will be vetoed is not the best way to use precious legislative time. Why do they insist that we go through with this?
Further, Mr. President, I think we can all agree that we should do everything in our power to provide for our veterans and our troops. November 11 is Veterans Day. I think this Senate ought to honor our veterans and the brave men and women who serve under our country's flag by sending the Military Construction/Veterans Affairs and Defense appropriations bills to the President's desk by Veterans Day without any gimmicks and games. It is the least this Congress can do for those who have worn the uniform, and it is the least this Congress can do to meet the minimum threshold of conducting the Government's important business.
Five weeks and counting, Mr. President.
I yield the floor.