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Transportation, Housing And Urban Development, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 - Conference Report

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I say to my good friend the majority leader, we have been anxious to have health care votes since Tuesday, and we have had the Crapo amendment pending since Tuesday. You have said repeatedly, and I agree with you, that the health care issue is extraordinarily important and that we should be dealing with it and debating it.

So it is my hope that somehow, through our discussions both on and off the floor, we can get back to a process of facilitating the offering of amendments on both sides of the aisle at the earliest possible time and we can get back to the health care bill.

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I reiterate to my good friend from Nevada, all I said was the Crapo amendment has been pending since Tuesday. We would like to vote on amendments. There has been some difficulty, apparently, in coming up with a side by side to the Crapo amendment. I understand that. But I am perplexed that it would take 2 days to come up with a side by side.

This, as has been stated by my good friend the majority leader, is the most important issue--some have said in history. It has been equated with a variety of different monumentally important pieces of legislation in American history. All we are asking is the opportunity to offer amendments and get votes. I said it in a most respectful way and meant it in a most respectful way. I think it is pretty hard to argue with a straight face that we are not trying to proceed to amend and have votes on this bill. That is what we desire to do.

The majority leader certainly has the right to move to the conference report. He has now done that--or we are about to vote on doing that. All I suggested was we would like to get back on the health care bill as soon as we can, resume the debate process on what has been described on an issue of historic importance, and let Senators vote, which is what we do here in this body.

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Mr. McCONNELL. As I stated earlier today, and as the majority leader has indicated, we have waited since Tuesday to vote on additional health care amendments, including the pending Crapo motion to commit on taxes. Finally, tonight the other side gave us language on their alternative to Senator Crapo's motion.

Senator Crapo's motion would ensure that the bill does not raise taxes on the middle class. I understand that their alternative is sense-of-the-Senate language on that subject. This consent request now has us voting on two drug reimportation amendments from the other side--not one but two on the Democratic side--one of which we just received less than an hour ago and is 100 pages long.

We are prepared to return to the health care bill and proceed to the two tax-related votes tonight. After those votes, I would suggest we continue to work on the bill and other amendments. I assume there could be votes on the drug reimportation issue and a whole host of other amendments we have all been anxious to offer at a later time. But at this stage, regretfully, I object and propound the following alternative.

Is my objection registered?

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.

Mr. McCONNELL. I would say to my friend, the majority leader, could we just get in the queue the Crapo amendment and the, I believe, Baucus side by side to the Crapo amendment? I ask unanimous consent that we do that, which would give us a way to go forward on two measures that both sides seem to want to vote on.

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, could I just say, at the risk of being redundant--and I do not want to get into a spirited debate with my friend and colleague over this--the facts are we were just handed a 100-page Lautenberg amendment about an hour ago. I have 39 Members here, all interested in that issue. It is simply impossible for me to clear voting on an amendment of 100 pages in duration that I just got an hour ago.

The reason I had suggested--and I was hopeful that maybe it would be a good way forward--we vote on the Crapo amendment, which everybody understands has been out there since Tuesday, and a sense-of-the-Senate resolution that is fairly brief, I assume--a very brief sense of the Senate that Senator Baucus was going to offer--is because both sides fully understand those two measures. They are not 100 pages long and enormously complicated. We did not just receive them.

So I do not want to get into an extensive back and forth with the majority leader, but I would say to him through the Chair, sincerely, it strikes me a good way to just get started would be to vote on these two issues, the Crapo motion and the Baucus amendment that both sides fully understand.

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