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Paycheck Fairness Act--Motion to Proceed--Resumed

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I would like to continue to discuss the student loan issue this morning because the administration's approach to this problem is nothing short of surreal.

I have in my hand a letter that has been signed by the top four Republicans in Congress: Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, minority whip Jon Kyl, and myself. It lists no fewer than four good-faith bipartisan proposals to resolve the issue, all of which are based on offsets the President has proposed himself in the past.

Let me say that again: We have recommended to the President four offsets that he, himself, has proposed in the past to achieve what we all want to achieve, which is a 1-year extension of the current student loan interest rates. We sent this letter to the President 5 days ago. Yet we have now learned that in spite of the fact they have a proposal recommending that on a bipartisan basis we accept offsets that they have previously recommended, we have now learned the Vice President will have a group of college presidents over to the White House today to ``reassert the call for Congress to stop the student loan interest rate from doubling.''

Congress has acted. We have given the administration four offsets they previously proposed. We are waiting for a response so we can solve this problem. Why doesn't the Vice President simply pick up the phone, choose one of the proposals we laid out in our letter, and then announce at the meeting the problem has been resolved? That way he will give these folks some good news to bring back to their campuses instead of just asking them to be props in this elaborate farce the White House political team cooked up on this issue. It is an elaborate farce. This can be solved very easily with offsets the administration itself has recommended.

The only people dragging their feet on this issue are over at the White House. Republicans in Congress have been crystal clear for weeks. We are ready to resolve the issue to give students the certainty they need about their loan payments. The President may find it politically useful to keep these young people off-balance, but we don't think they should have to wait another day. It is inexcusable for the President to allow this impasse to persist. That is why we bent over backward to find a solution, and it is simply disingenuous for the President to claim otherwise, which brings me to larger point.

We all realize the President is concerned about his reelection. I understand he is placing a higher priority on fundraising and trying to make Republicans look bad as he ramps up to November. I get his rationale for running a negative campaign. If I were he, I wouldn't want to brag about my record either. I get it. But I would remind him he is still the President, even though the campaign is going on, and that Americans are looking for leadership and the economic problems we face will only get worse if he avoids them for 6 more months.

So whether it is the student loan issue or the prospect of a massive tax hike at the end of the year, Republicans are ready to work with the President to provide the kind of certainty the American people need right now. But it is a two-way street. We will never solve these problems if the President continues to mislead the American people about what Republicans in Congress are willing and eager to do to help.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have the letter I previously referred to printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD,

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, hearings on the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory agenda will be held in Kentucky this week. One hearing will be held today in Frankfort and another later this week in Pikeville. Since Congress is in session this week, I will not be able to attend these important hearings in person, but I will have a representative on hand at each hearing, and I wish to express my thoughts on the matter on the Senate floor.

Similar to most of the country, Kentucky is suffering from very difficult economic times.

Far too many Kentuckians are unemployed, and the prospect for future employment remains daunting. That is why it is especially irritating that this administration has blindly followed ideological policies that eliminate jobs in our communities. The people of Kentucky are amongst the hardest working people on the planet, but how can they be expected to compete if our own government is actually working against them?

Simply put, my constituents are under siege from the Obama administration's regulatory agenda, and the EPA is the worst offender--the very worst.

Perhaps the clearest example of this administration's regulatory assault is its war on coal. Since being sworn in, President Obama's EPA has set out to circumvent the will of Congress and the American people by turning the already cumbersome mine permitting process into a backdoor means of shutting down coal mines. Mr. President, 18,000 Kentuckians work in coal mining, and nearly 200,000 more, including farmers, realtors, and transportation workers, rely on the coal industry for their jobs. Coal brings in more than $3.5 billion from out of State and pays more than $1 billion in direct wages every year. Attacking an industry so important to Kentucky will only succeed in putting people out of work, impeding future job growth, and increasing energy prices.

A former senior EPA official under the Obama administration recently summed up the regulatory philosophy of the Agency with respect to those working in the coal business by saying it wants to ``crucify'' them. Let me say that again. This was a regulator, with respect to those working in the coal business, saying it wants to ``crucify'' them. With this radical environmental anticoal agenda, it is no wonder the administration has failed to answer the call of the American people for greater domestic energy production. The real-world impact of their fantasy world energy policy is that people are losing their jobs and energy prices will rise even further.

It is high time the Obama administration stop treating the Kentucky coal industry as the problem and start recognizing that it has been and will continue to be part of the solution.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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