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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, for 3 weeks President Obama has been traveling across the country calling on Congress to pass what he calls his jobs bill right away. Here is what he will say in Texas today, if he has not said it already: At least put this jobs bill up for a vote so the entire country knows where every Member of Congress stands. Well, I agree with the President. I think he is entitled to a vote on his jobs bill.
The suggestion that the Senate Republicans are not interested in voting on his jobs bill is not true. I think he is entitled to a vote. It won't surprise anyone to know I do not think it is a good approach, a way that is likely to create jobs, but he has asked for a vote. I think we ought to accommodate the President of the United States on a matter he has been speaking frequently about over the last few weeks and give him his vote.
In fact, they have been calling for this vote with great repetition. His Press Secretary said it on October 3, and David Plouffe, the White House Senior Adviser, said the same thing on September 27. David Axelrod, his top strategist, called for us to have this vote on September 13. The President himself--let me count the number of times: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11--12 times the President of the United States himself, over the last few weeks, has called on us to have this vote. As he put it: I want Congress to pass this jobs bill right away. Well, I hope it will not pass because I do not think it is the right direction for the country to take to begin to deal with the joblessness issue, but I do think the President makes an important point--that he is entitled to a vote.
If I were to be given an opportunity by my good friend the majority leader, I would offer the President's jobs bill, which we think would be more accurately described as stimulus 2, sort of a redo of the approach and the bill we approved back in 2009, after which we have lost 1.7 million jobs. Therefore, I would ask consent to set aside the pending motion and amendments in order to offer the amendment which I have just described and hold in my hand at this moment.
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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, I listened carefully to what my good friend the majority leader had to say, and he was talking about other matters debated at other times--the first stimulus bill, on which I think we probably have a basic disagreement. I think it was almost a total failure. He also talked about the debate we had with regard to the continuing resolution, which was finally worked out on a bipartisan basis. But those are things that occurred in the past.
What I am trying to do here today by suggesting that we vote on the President's jobs bill which my good friend the majority leader has previously introduced and I gather by way of introduction supports, that we honor the request of the President of the United States to vote on it now. He has been asking us repeatedly over the last few weeks to vote on it now. If my friend the majority leader is saying he doesn't want to honor the President's request and vote on it now but would like to consider voting on it later, that is something he and I can discuss as we decide how to move forward with Senate business.
But I think the President of the United States, whose policies I, generally speaking, do not support--although I am happy to support his initiatives on trade, be they ever so late--is entitled to know where the Senate stands on his proposal that he has been out talking about over and over in the last few weeks, suggesting that we are unwilling to vote on it.
What I am saying is, we don't agree that it is the right policy, but we are more than willing to vote on it. What I hear my friend the majority leader saying is that even though he supports it, he wants to vote on it some other time. Well, the President has been saying he doesn't want to vote on it some other time, he wants to vote on it now.
If my friend is saying we are not going to vote on it now, I would be happy to talk to him and reach an understanding to vote on it later. But my feeling here is that the least we can do for the President is give him a chance to have a vote on his proposal now, as he has requested on numerous occasions. So I will object to the modification, understanding full well the majority leader and I, off the floor, will have further discussions about when we might move to the President's bill and give him the vote he has been requesting.
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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, if I may elaborate further, we have had a request from the President on multiple occasions to vote on what he calls his jobs bill and to vote on it now. Just to count again, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11--12 times the President has asked us, over the last few weeks, to vote on what he calls his jobs bill now. I don't think the President is saying he wants an extensive debate about it; I think he is saying he wants a vote on it. I wanted to disabuse him of the notion that somehow we are unwilling to vote on his proposal. We are more than happy to vote on it.
I understand why my friend the majority leader may have some reservations about going forward. I have read a number of critiques of this legislation by Democratic Senators, one part of it or another. But even though there is bipartisan opposition to the President's jobs proposal, I think he is entitled to a vote. So I am sorry it appears we will not be able to achieve this vote the President has repetitiously asked for over the last few weeks. I would like to give him that vote, and we will be talking to the majority leader about when we might have an opportunity to vote on his proposal, the President's proposal which the majority leader introduced, which he has been requesting us to vote on.
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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, is my friend propounding a consent agreement or simply asking a question?
Mr. REID. I think if the Republican leader is interested in the subject, I could put it in proper form, but we get the point. To get it on the floor, it needs 60 votes. I would be happy to, if the Republican leader would agree to a vote on a motion to proceed to the jobs bill.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, let me say to my good friend, I am prepared to vote on the President's proposal today. If the majority leader wants to vote on it some other day, we can talk about that, about how to move forward with it. But the President has been repeatedly asking us to take it up and vote on it now, and I am prepared to do that. With regard to taking it up some other time and voting on it some other day, we will be happy to talk about that off the floor, as we do frequently on every issue we deal with.
Mr. REID. Mr. President, I am sure that in the immediate future--right away--the American people will see, once again, the Republicans are filibustering measures they shouldn't be filibustering--this time, the jobs bill.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I would just add in closing, I think my good friend's problem--and I sympathize with him--is that there is bipartisan opposition to the President's proposal.
Mr. REID. Mr. President, I heard my friend say that, and I didn't want to get into a long dissertation about bipartisan opposition. There are 53 of us. A majority of Democrats will support the President's jobs bill.
Mr. McCONNELL. The majority leader just confirmed what I was saying, which is that there is bipartisan opposition to this, and we will discuss at what point the majority leader is comfortable with going forward with this proposal. My only reason for offering it today was to respond to the President's request that we vote on it, and we are prepared to do that. If we can't do it today, we will be happy to discuss, as we always do, the agenda of the Senate and when it would be appropriate to vote on it some other time.
Mr. REID. Mr. President, I know I only have in my head the math I learned from Mrs. Picker at Searchlight Elementary School. But I do know, when we have 53--and I have told everyone here we will get a majority of the Senate--a majority of the Senate, not a majority of the Democrats, a majority of the Senate--that is not very bipartisan opposition to this bill.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I can only quote my good friend the majority leader who repeatedly has said, most recently in early 2007, that in the Senate it has always been the case we need 60 votes. This is my good friend the majority leader when he was the leader of this majority in March of 2007, and he said it repeatedly both when he was in the minority as leader of the minority or leader of the majority, that it requires 60 votes certainly on measures that are controversial.
So it is not at all unusual that the President's proposal of this consequence, that would raise taxes, that would spend $ 1/2 trillion in a second stimulus bill, would have to achieve 60 votes. That is the way virtually all business is done in the Senate, certainly not extraordinarily unusual.
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