MAKING EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS--MOTION TO PROCEED -- (Senate - November 16, 2007)
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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I have a simple message this morning. We need to get the funds to the troops, and we need to do it now. The Secretary of Defense told us yesterday that the money for the Army and Marine Corps will soon run out, that he will have to start writing pink slips, tearing up contracts, and reducing missions at military bases. If we don't approve these funds for training and supplies that are needed to protect these brave men and women in the field, that is exactly what will happen.
Are we about to deny all these supplies just as the successes of General Petraeus's plan have become more clear? Attacks are down, casualties are down, political cooperation is taking root at the local level. We should not leave our forces in the field without the funding they need to accomplish the mission for which they have been deployed
The Pelosi bill, if it were to get to the President's desk, would be vetoed, as was the supplemental bill sent to the President earlier this year that contained a withdrawal date. We need to get our troops everything they need, and we need to get it to them now.
THE FARM BILL
A word about the farm bill. We all know we are going to pass a farm bill. Any suggestion to the contrary is laughable. I am disappointed that the majority has filed cloture on the bill. I am even more disappointed that from the get-go, the parliamentary device of filling up the tree was used on a 1,600-page bill so that one Member of the Senate could dictate to everybody else what amendments would be allowed, if any. This is not the way to go forward.
I am not sure how the majority defines wide-open debate, but this is certainly a no-amendments process which is stunningly observed in a body that has passed a number of farm bills over the years. As I mentioned on the first day of floor consideration, we have been down this road before.
During the last farm bill, when the Democrats were in the majority, then-Leader Daschle attempted to limit amendments. He failed three times. I am going to confidently predict today that this unfair procedural tactic is going to fail again. In 2002, after the majority finally agreed to an open-amendment process, final passage of the farm bill occurred fairly quickly--about a week. So we went through a somewhat similar dance. The tree was not filled, but there was premature cloture filed. Cloture was defeated several times. When the games stopped, we went back to the farm bill. We had an open process for a week and passed it.
We would probably be passing the farm bill today had we not used this process last week. We could have gone through the amendment process and worked our way through it and gotten to final passage. On today, instead of defeating cloture after an unfair process for 10 days, we could have been and would have been sending a farm bill on to conference with the House had we employed an open process which the Senate almost always insists upon. The farm bill will not pass today because the games have not stopped. But I will confidently predict at some point they will stop. We will have an open process and, in about a week, we will get a farm bill and get a conference and do the important work we need to do for America's farmers.
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