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Mr. WICKER. I thank the Chair for recognizing me and I appreciate the time.
I want to agree with my friend from Rhode Island to this extent: He said this debate is based on a false premise. And I agree with him in this respect. This is not a reality debate about a budget resolution. These are show votes. These are messaging votes we have today.
One can argue all he or she wants that we have a budget in place that we voted on last year, but there is no getting around 2 U.S.C. 631, which is the budget law of the United States of America, passed back in 1974. That budget law requires Congress each year to pass a budget resolution. As a matter of fact, it says on or before April 15 of each year, Congress completes action on a concurrent resolution on the budget.
The last time this Senate did that was in 2009. We missed the April 15 deadline in 2010, the leadership of this body missed that deadline in 2011, and they missed it again this year. It has been that long since this body, under the leadership of my friends across the aisle, have complied with the explicit terms of the Federal statute and brought a budget to full consideration on the floor.
What we will have today is debate on five concepts. I am happy to vote for some of them, and will certainly vote against others, but make no mistake about it, this is not the process called for by the Federal statute and it doesn't comply with the law and doesn't serve the purposes of advancing public policy in the United States of America. We are long overdue for a real budget debate that puts something in place.
As I mentioned a moment ago, we have passed the 3-year mark now--1,100 days--since Senate Democrats fulfilled one of their basic obligations, as I mentioned, laid out in Federal statute. A recent column in the Washington Times pointed out that the iPad had not yet even been introduced when the last budget was passed on the floor of this Senate. But since that time, in 3 years, Federal spending has topped a staggering $10 trillion.
Every day our country's debt grows closer to $16 trillion. This is money my generation will not be able to pay. We have our pages here on the floor. Even their generation will not be able to pay off this $16 trillion in debt. It will be left to their children and grandchildren. Annual deficits continue to soar, adding to that debt--over $1 trillion each year during President Obama's time in office--even though the President promised in 2009 he would cut the deficit in half during his first term, a promise that certainly has not been fulfilled. Instead, his latest budget relies more on spending, new taxes, and accounting gimmicks, and it leaves insolvent entitlement programs without meaningful reform.
I noticed the previous speaker stated he would not be voting for President Obama's budget proposal. I think it is because it is such a false and weak proposal. I expect the Obama budget today would get the same response it got on the floor of the Senate during these messaging votes last year when it failed to get a single vote. As I understand it, it failed to get a single vote in the House of Representatives. Not one Republican or Democrat in the House of Representatives earlier this year was willing to step forward and embrace the Obama budget proposal, and it got a big fat zero when it was put to a messaging vote in the House of Representatives. So we are watching a disastrous trajectory and we need to change it now.
Families, businesses, and organizations in my home State of Mississippi, and in every State across the country, know the importance of having a sensible budget and living within that budget; likewise, taxpayers deserve to see a blueprint of where their money is going and how much will be spent. Washington must be held accountable.
We heard talk on the other side of the aisle about priorities that our Democratic friends wish to see enacted. The Democratic majority in the Budget Committee needs to bring those priorities forward. They need to wrap them up in a budget resolution and bring them to the floor. That is the one thing we are not seeing today--a proposal by the Democratic majority.
It only takes 51 votes to pass a budget. There is no two-thirds rule on a budget resolution. There is no filibuster on a budget resolution. My Democratic colleagues, many of whom are dear friends of mine, have 53 Members in this caucus. They have the votes. We know a budget is required every year. Yet with a 53-vote majority, and with only 51 votes required, they do not bring a budget to the floor for us to consider so we can know what their budget priorities are.
There are plenty of excuses from across the aisle for not complying with the clear mandate, but there is no excuse. It is inexcusable that the majority party in this Chamber refuses to fulfill this statutory responsibility when the warning signs of fiscal calamity are at our doorstep.
You know, it is no wonder our popularity rating as a Congress is down around 10 or 11 percent when this Federal statute explicitly requires us to do this by April of each year and we do not do it. It is no wonder we are held in such low regard by the public. Inaction ultimately bequeaths a burden of debt to our children and grandchildren.
We certainly cannot blame the inaction on an absence of ideas. As has been stated by my friend from Rhode Island, we have five proposals before us today. President Obama's will probably get zero votes. The House Republican blueprint will be considered, and budgets from Senators LEE, PAUL, and TOOMEY. Yet the Senate Democrats, regrettably, stay on the sidelines. They have the votes, but we do not have their proposal on the floor--one they are willing to put forward and tell the American people they own.
My friend the budget chairman has suggested the upcoming election stands in the way. In April he said:
This is the wrong time to vote in committee. This is the wrong time to vote on the floor. I don't think we will be prepared to vote before the election.
I want to make it clear, I have the highest affection and regard for the chairman of the Budget Committee, but I do believe what he is saying, in other words, is that we have a job to do, we have a law to comply with, but we are
not going to bring it up at this time because of political concerns. I think political concerns are keeping our friends on the other side from saying where they stand on the budget issues. I think political concerns are keeping them from making the hard choices.
I can imagine the American taxpayer would like to know when will be the right time for the Senate to begin complying with Federal law and the right time for a budget that takes fiscal responsibility seriously. They know kicking the can down the road will not make the debt problem go away.
I noticed recently our Commander in Chief told a Russian leader that after
the election he would have more flexibility on a national security issue--the issue of national military defense. He said, I need to have some time, because after the election I will have more flexibility. Please pass that along to Vladimir. I suppose my friends on the other side of the aisle believe they will have more flexibility on spending issues and budget issues and taxation issues after the election.
The truth is Republicans and Democrats have differences on a number of issues, but that should not deter a concentrated effort to lower the deficit and curb runaway spending. I hope this week we can focus on constructive dialogue. I would have hoped we would have an honest process and do what is right and necessary to put this country's fiscal house back in order.
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