Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, as lawmakers return to Washington this week, we did so against the backdrop of many world crises. From recovery efforts in Japan, to battles everywhere from Afghanistan to Libya, to an unfolding economic crisis in Europe, the scope and intensity of world events in recent months has been nothing short of breathtaking.
Yet in the middle of all this, it is important we not lose sight of the struggles and concerns of so many around us here at home. At a time when roughly 1 in 4 American homeowners owes more money on their mortgage than their home is worth, at a time when nearly 1 in 10 working Americans is looking for a job, at a time when the Federal debt has reached heights none of us could have even imagined just a few years ago, now is not the time to lose focus on the paramount issue on the minds of Americans every day, and that is the very real crisis we face when it comes to jobs.
Americans look around them and they see neighbors and friends struggling to find work. Yet all they seem to get from the White House are policies that handcuff small businesses with burdensome new regulations and redtape and that create even more uncertainty about the future, including the administration's inexplicable and inexcusable inaction on trade deals that would level the playing field with our competitors overseas.
They are tired of it. Americans are tired of the White House paying lipservice to their struggles while quietly promoting effort after effort, either through legislation or some backdoor regulation, that makes it harder, not easier, for businesses to create new jobs. But the administration outdid itself last week, when the President told a Brazilian President the United States hopes to be a major customer in the market for oil that Brazilian businesses plan to extract from new oil finds off the Brazilian coast.
We can't make this stuff up. Here we have the administration looking for just about any excuse it can find to lock up our own energy resources here at home, even as it is applauding another country's efforts to grow its own economy and create jobs by tapping into its energy sources.
For 2 years, the administration has canceled dozens--dozens--of oil and gas leases all across America. It has raised permit fees. It has shut down deepwater drilling in the gulf. It would not even allow a conversation about exploring for oil in a remote 2,000-acre piece of land in northern Alaska that experts think represents one of our best opportunities for a major oil find. It continues to press for new regulations through the Environmental Protection Agency that would raise energy costs for every business in America and lead to untold lost jobs for more American workers.
In other words, in the midst of average gas prices approaching $4 a gallon and a chronic jobs crisis, the White House plans to make the climate for job growth worse. That is why Republicans, led in the Senate by Senator Inhofe, have proposed legislation to prevent the new energy tax from ever taking effect without congressional approval. The Wall Street Journal has called the amendment we are proposing ``one of the best proposals for growth and job creation to make it onto the Senate docket in years.''
Our amendment would assure small businesses across the country that they will not be hit with yet another costly new job-stifling burden by Democrats in Washington. It will give voters the assurance that a regulation of this kind, which would have a dramatic impact on so many, could not be approved without their elected representatives standing and actually voting for it. At a time of rising energy prices, it would prevent Democrats in Washington from adding even more pressure to energy prices than they already have out of fealty to special interests that would rather we buy our energy from overseas than find and use the bountiful resources we already have right here at home.
I wish to thank Senator Inhofe, once again, for leading us on this issue. His bill, upon which my amendment is based, has 43 cosponsors. He deserves the credit. He has been a fierce and tireless advocate not only for American energy but also against new EPA regulations that would sidestep the legislative process. I thank him for his work, along with the great work Senators Murkowski and Barrasso have done, in educating the American people about these issues.
At a time when Americans are looking for answers on the economy, this amendment is as good as it gets from Washington. By voting for it, we would be saying no to more regulations and redtape and we would be saying yes to American job creators and to the jobs they want to create. I urge my colleagues in both parties to support it.