Flag Day, Health Care And Extenders

Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: June 14, 2010
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MCCONNELL. Mr. President, first, I would like to note a couple important anniversaries today. It was on this day in 1775 that the Continental Army was established and George Washington appointed to lead it. So June 14 has gone down in history not only as the beginning of America's defeat of the British Army but also as the birth of the greatest Army the world has ever known. The largest and oldest branch of the U.S. military, the Army is older than the United States itself. Its first leader became our first President. It continues to make Americans proud, and we are grateful on this day and every day for the men and women of the U.S. Army.

Incidentally, 2 years to the day after the establishment of the Army, the Second Continental Congress officially established the flag under which our military has fought ever since. The resolution in Congress said that 13 stripes would represent the 13 States, and that 13 stars would represent the Union in the form of a new constellation. President Wilson officially established this day as Flag Day in 1916. Ever since, Americans everywhere have honored this great symbol of freedom every year on Flag Day, June 14. We honor those who have fought for it, and we are proud of all that the flag of the United States of America represents here and wherever it flies around the globe.

On another topic, the Obama administration announced new regulations today that will give Americans a better sense of how the health care bill will affect them. These new regulations outline the various ways in which existing health plans will be forced to change under the new law. According to the Obama administration report we saw on all this today, these regulations could result in nearly 7 out of 10 workers--and 80 percent of workers at small businesses--seeing changes in their plans. In other words, under the new health care bill, more than half of those who get insurance through their jobs may be forced to change their plans whether they want to or not.

This is not only bad news for the vast majority of Americans who like the plans they have. It also flatly contradicts the President's repeated promises to the contrary. A year ago this month, the President said the following on national television: ``..... Government is not going to make you change plans under health reform''

The implication here was that businesses might change your plans, but government won't. Today's regulations show that this isn't true. The government is about to change the plans most Americans have. Here's one more promise the administration has broken on health care and one more warning Republicans issued on this bill that's been vindicated.

Now onto the business on the floor. Since Democrats continue to argue among themselves about the extenders bill, I will be asking consent at the end of my remarks to pass a 30-day extension of the recently expired provisions in the bill that will give doctors and those looking for work the assurances they need to plan ahead. And rather than doing it in a way that simply adds to the deficit, this proposal would actually reduce the debt by $2.5 billion. Moreover, later today Senator Thune will offer an amendment that would provide for a long-term extension of these programs, plus the tax provisions which expired at the end of last year, without adding a dime to the deficit.

In fact, the Thune amendment would enable us to lower the deficit by $55 billion by enacting the kinds of spending cuts Americans are demanding of lawmakers in Washington.

Many of these cuts have been proposed previously by Senator Coburn and received bipartisan support on the supplemental spending bill. We need to show the American people we are making serious efforts to cut spending. The Thune amendment gives us an opportunity to do just that today. I hope our Democrat friends join us in that effort.

As I indicated and mentioned to the majority leader when we were in private discussion a while ago, I will now propound the consent agreement to which I referred in my remarks.

UNANIMOUS-CONSENT REQUEST--S. 3421

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate now proceed to the consideration of Calendar No. 411, S. 3421; further, that the bill be read a third time and passed, and the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table; before the chair rules, for clarity, this is a paid for 30-day extension of the extenders bill, which includes unemployment insurance, doc fix, COBRA, flood insurance, and the extension of the small business loan guarantee program and the 2009 Federal poverty guidelines.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there objection?

Mr. REID. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, it is my understanding, through the Chair to my distinguished friend, the senior Senator from Kentucky, that this is paid for out of stimulus money?

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I believe most of the pay-fors are. I would say to my friend, having consulted with staff, it is some stimulus money but largely what we believe to be noncontroversial pay-fors.

Mr. REID. Mr. President, a 30-day extension doesn't solve the problems we have. A 30-day extension of unemployment, 30-day FMAP, 30-day doc fix, is just kicking them all down the road. We have to have a legitimate program to extend these benefits into the future, and 30 days does not do it. It just kicks the ball down the road.

I would also say, with money being taken from the recovery moneys--this is one of the job-creating things we have left going on in this government. It is a good program, it creates jobs.

I look forward to working with my Republican colleagues to have a more long-term fix of this difficult problem, and therefore I object.