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Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I thank Senator Paul. I came down to the floor to thank him for bringing up a number of issues of concern and being willing to stand here and tell America what those concerns are.
I also respect his demanding the opportunity for debate and for amendments of such an important bill. It is extraordinary, particularly after the majority leader had promised in February that the PATRIOT Act renewal would get a week of debate with the chance to offer amendments. After a couple of weeks of doing absolutely nothing on the Senate floor, Senator Paul and others were denied the opportunity to offer amendments that would have brought up legitimate debates about the PATRIOT Act.
There are a number of things a lot of us would have liked to have learned more about, heard some of the arguments we have heard from Senator Paul today. Unfortunately, that has been limited to a relatively small amount of time. It is, frankly, stunning to me that the majority is actually willing to let the PATRIOT Act expire rather than give Senator Paul a few amendments. That is an extraordinary situation for the Senate that considers itself the world's greatest deliberative body when one of the most important pieces of legislation we could consider is jammed up against a break with no opportunity for amendment.
I do not want to interrupt Senator Paul's flow because I think a lot of the things he is talking about are important that we consider. Unfortunately, they will not be considered. It does not sound as if his debates will be allowed and for the amendments to be considered. It sounds as if what they are going to try to do is blame him for us voting late or early. But I commend Senator Paul for standing for good judgment and common sense on a matter of this importance. Whether we agree or disagree with all the amendments is not the point. It is too important to be handled this way.
I will allow Senator Paul to continue, and I yield the floor. I thank him for what he is doing.
Mr. PAUL. Will the Senator yield for a question?
Mr. DeMINT. Yes, I will.
Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, not only are we not debating the PATRIOT Act, but does the Senator from South Carolina think we have given sufficient floor time to amendments and proposals as to how to deal with the debt problem?
Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I think the Senator from Kentucky knows the answer to that question. Some of us have reserved time between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. for some give-and-take and some debate on the floor about the budget votes that will be this afternoon. But that time was canceled by the majority.
We have an impending debt that everyone in the world, except for those inside this body, seem to understand. We are in trouble as a country. The majority has not produced a budget in over 700 days, I think it is. At the same time, we are trying to negotiate how we will move forward on this huge important point of raising the debt ceiling which none of us want to do. We are avoiding the subject of balancing the budget. The majority leader has said these kinds of issues are off the table.
It is very frustrating, whether it is the debt ceiling, whether it is the PATRIOT Act and our homeland security, that we are spending weeks doing nothing, bringing up, in some cases, controversial judges who should not have been nominated in the first place, spending day after day of floor time and not bringing up important issues. We are all concerned. I know America is concerned.
Again, I thank Senator Paul very much for the willingness to bring out the point that we have something here that is very important to our security, to the privacy of every American. It needs to be vetted, debated, and amendments need to be offered. Yet this has been denied after a promise. I certainly encourage the Senator to continue. I thank him for his courage.
Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, one other question is, we will not all agree necessarily on the PATRIOT Act. The thing is, even for those who feel it is important it not expire, why would they not consent to some debate? I have asked for three amendments, three votes. We could do them in the next hour. We could debate and have this time and there would be no expiration of the PATRIOT Act for those who think it expiring is a problem.
Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, as the Senator from Kentucky knows, he has 11 amendments he wishes to have considered. He was willing to compress the time so we could do that expeditiously. They would not agree to that. Senator Paul is willing to compromise to three amendments. It sounds as though they do not want him to offer those amendments because, frankly, they do not want to take a vote on some of them that may expose what they believe. It is a frustrating situation for Senator Paul. As our majority friends over here like to do, they cause the problem and try to blame it on us. As the Senator said, within a few hours, this could be decided and over. We could pass the PATRIOT Act. Folks could vote for or against what they want. We could send it to the House, and it could be done. It does appear the majority is willing to let this important legislation lapse just to stop the Senator from Kentucky from offering a few amendments. That is an extraordinary situation.
Again, I thank the Senator for yielding. I appreciate him getting this debate out on the floor.
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