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Paycheck Fairness Act - Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, let me make a few observations and then I intend to offer a consent request myself.

This is a problem that has been created by the majority, and I am sorry they will not accept our offer to fix their problem so we can move forward on this legislation. We have all known for literally years when the Violence Against Women Act was going to expire. We have known that for years. During this time, Democrats controlled the Senate. Yet our friends on the other side waited until February of this year--nearly 6 months after the current authorization expired--before they even reported a bill out of committee, and they chose to wait almost 3 months more to bring a bill to the floor.

I don't know why that decision was made. Press reports indicate that members of the Democratic leadership thought they could use VAWA as a campaign issue. When they finally chose to bring this bill to the Senate floor, Republicans consented to going to the bill, Republicans consented to bringing the debate to a close, and Republicans consented to limiting ourselves to just two amendments--just two. Our Democratic colleagues also added an amendment. It was a complete substitute. They offered it at the last minute.

This substitute was a couple hundred pages long and it added new sections to the bill. One of those sections would generate revenue by assessing new fees on immigration visas. I gather our Democratic colleagues did this because their bill, unlike the Hutchison-Grassley bill, would add over $100 million to the debt.

Including this provision is obviously a problem, in that adding a revenue provision in a Senate bill violates the Origination Clause of the U.S. Constitution. If we sent the Senate bill to the House in its current form, it would trigger a blue slip point of order, as it always does.

It is not our fault Senate Democrats waited until well after VAWA expired to start moving a bill. It is not our fault their bill would add to the debt. It is not our fault our friends waited until the last minute to try to fix the problem, and, in the course of doing so, they created yet another problem. We have offered to help them fix their problem. They do not have to accept our help, but they should stop demagoguing the issue and blaming others.

Therefore, I would offer another consent: I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the consideration of Calendar No. 406, H.R. 4970, the House-passed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act; provided further that all after the enacting clause be stricken, the text of the Senate-passed Violence Against Women bill, S. 1925, with a modification that strikes sections 805 and 810 related to the immigration provisions; that the bill be read three times and passed, the Senate insist on its amendment, request a conference with the House, and the Chair be authorized to appoint conferees on the part of the Senate with a ratio agreed to by both leaders.

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