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Public Statements

Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I think the Senator from South Dakota has laid out the problem. One of the regrets that I think all of us have is the failure of this message to get to the American people: the loss of 1 million defense jobs, $1 trillion taken out of our economy, the devastation to our national security that has been so graphically described by our Secretary of Defense and our uniformed chiefs. And still I think most Americans do not understand how the word ``sequestration'' applies in this particular situation. Now, maybe when this report--thanks to the legislation sponsored by the Senator from South Dakota--comes out as to the effects, it will give more visibility to the train wreck we are facing. It is a train wreck.

I would like to remind my colleagues again that the President cut $78 billion from defense in 2011. The budget request this year cut an additional $487 billion over the next decade, and this is another approximately $480 billion in addition to that. That is why our uniformed service chiefs say they will not be able to carry out their missions if this sequestration takes place.

And the President of the United States, whose title is ``Commander in Chief,'' has said, as far as I know, one, that he wants us to agree to tax increases. There have been some comments he has made about, well, after the election, maybe we will sit down. That is not the job of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces whose No. 1 priority is this Nation's security. The job of the President of the United States is to prevent the catastrophic consequence of sequestration on our Nation's national security.

I stand ready--and I know my colleagues do--I stand ready to go over to the White House and sit down with the President of the United States and say: How can we avert this catastrophe for our Nation's defense? What is the answer? Well, as soon as the Republicans agree to tax increases, or, after the election, maybe we can sit down. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has to plan. They have to plan on what their budget is, on what their capabilities are going to be, what their acquisitions are going to be, how we are going to pay, make sure the pay and benefits of our men and woman who are serving are kept up.

I will yield to my friend from Alabama in just a second, but this is really an incredibly frustrating situation. We are not going to take up the Defense authorization bill anytime soon. We are going through a veterans jobs act that never had a hearing, sponsored by a person who is not a member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee. There are six veterans jobs programs already in being today. Then I read in some of these periodicals that we are going to take up a bill from the Senator from Montana concerning some kind of hunting deal.

Meanwhile, the Senate refuses to take up the National Defense Authorization Act, which has to do with defending this Nation. What is the role of the President of the United States on this issue? I ask my colleagues, are we, for the first time in 50 years--the first time in 50 years--not going to pass and send to the President's desk for signature a defense authorization bill? Instead, we will go back and forth filing cloture and arguing on amendments and on which will be allowed or not allowed, fill up the tree, blah, blah, blah. Yet the majority leader of the Senate cannot take up the national defense authorization bill, the most important piece of legislation this body considers, and it may be that we do not take it up for the first time in 50 years.

We must address the issue of sequestration. I again commit to making compromises, to doing things I otherwise would not agree to, because we cannot allow this train wreck that will endanger the lives of our citizens to take place. Do not take my word for it. Take the word of the Secretary of Defense appointed by the President of the United States and our uniformed chiefs appointed by the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the Senate that this is a devastating challenge to our national security. We just found out in the last couple of days that the world we live in is a very dangerous one.

I thank my colleagues for their involvement.

I yield to the Senator from Alabama.

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Mr. McCAIN. Isn't that known as chutzpah--to come down and attack the other body's budget when we haven't done a budget for 3 years, which is required by law?

I have to hand it to them--I have to hand it to them. I congratulate my friends on the other side of the aisle who come down and attack the other body's budget when they haven't done one in 3 years. Congratulations for new levels of hypocrisy.

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Mr. McCAIN. Yes, the President did have a budget. It got zero votes. Not a single Member on the other side of the aisle voted for their own President's budget. Yet they will come down and attack a budget proposal which, by the way, puts us on a path to a balanced budget, and there is certainly no proposal I have ever seen coming from the other side. In fact, the answer, according to them, is spend more money--spend more money. Let's have more of everything. Obviously, that has not been a very successful approach over the last 3 1/2 years.

Again, I don't mean to be too repetitive, but here we are and what are we debating--a jobs bill. It sounds great. It sounds great: a veterans jobs bill. What could be better or more important? We have six veterans jobs programs that haven't succeeded. The fact is we are not addressing the needs of the men and women in the military who will be veterans someday. We are not providing them with the equipment, the training, and the wherewithal to defend this Nation by both ignoring sequestration and not taking up the National Defense Authorization Act.

My friends, I think the American people see through this charade we are conducting in these last few days before we go out to campaign and see if we can find and meet any Americans who are still in that 11 percent who say they still approve of Congress.

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Mr. McCAIN. I thank the Presiding Officer.

DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION

I was just glancing through the often-read calendar of business here that we chop down a lot of trees to provide on every Senator's desk on a daily basis. It is the Calendar of Business for Thursday, September 13. On page 58, for order No. 419, is S. 3254, by Mr. Levin, ``a bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2013 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes.'' This was reported and placed on the calendar on June 4, 2012. So for nearly 4 months we have had the Defense authorization bill pending on the legislative calendar.

Meanwhile, we have been taken up with other important items, such as the one we are considering now, one that praises, as we all do, our veterans, with efforts for our veterans to obtain jobs. We already have six veterans job-training programs, but, what the heck, let's have another one.

Meanwhile, the men and women who are serving in the military, who will be veterans, are not having authorized the equipment, the training, the programs, the health care, family support systems for military families, for example, strengthening training, oversight, and the prevention of military sexual assault, ensuring that reductions in military personnel are matched with comparable savings in civilian personnel and contractors over the next 5 years, without sacrificing mission-critical capabilities. It authorizes $135 billion for military personnel, for the men and women who are serving today, including the cost of pay allowances, bonuses, and a 1.7-percent much-deserved, across-the-board pay raise for all members of the uniformed armed services. It also includes nearly $1 billion in unemployment benefits for members who leave military service and cannot find civilian jobs. It authorizes all our major weapons systems and every piece of equipment large or small that the Department of Defense needs and the men and women need who are still fighting in a war.

We found out in the last day or so that we still live in an extremely dangerous world. It authorizes $525 billion for the Defense Department, $88 billion for operations in Afghanistan and around the world, and $17.8 billion to maintain our nuclear deterrent. I think we have just seen with the tragic death of our Ambassador that al-Qaida and other extremist organizations are making a comeback in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan; certainly extremists were present in Libya in the tragic death of four Americans.

This legislation enhances the capabilities of our military and partners to counter and ultimately defeat al-Qaida and its regional affiliates which remain intent on attacking the United States and our interests.

But there is an issue that all of us are concerned about, cyber warfare, those attacks that we know are coming sooner or later. This legislation improves the ability of our Armed Forces to counter nontraditional threats focusing on terrorism cyber warfare and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

I could go on and on about the importance of this legislation which has been before this body for 4 months. And what has the Democratic leader of this Senate done? We are about to go out of session next week without addressing the most important responsibility of this Senate and their elected representatives which is our Nation's defense.

In the meantime, when we take up bills, the majority leader ``fills up the tree.'' A lot of people do not know what that means. That means we cannot have an amendment. Then we vote and we drop that particular piece of legislation. Then the next week we will take up a piece of legislation that somehow will enhance the majority leader's ability to maintain his position as majority leader, certainly not believing that that legislation will actually be passed by the Senate.

Every year for 51 years the Senate has passed the Defense authorization bill, it has gone to conference and been signed by the President of the United States. The majority leader of the Senate and the Members on the other side of this body have been derelict in their duties, and we are about for the first time in 50 years not to authorize what the men and women who are putting their lives on the line for us every single day need very badly.

You know, sometimes my colleagues wonder why the American people hold us in such low esteem. If we cannot enact legislation that has us carry out our most important duties as representatives of the people, including the men and women in the military, then I am surprised that so many Americans still approve of the way Congress operates.

What have we watched here on the floor of the Senate for the last 4 months since this bill was put on the calendar and could have been taken up, debated and passed by the Senate as we have every year for 50 years? The majority leader of the Senate has refused to bring this bill before the body for debate, discussion, amendment and passage, our most solemn responsibility.

All I can say is, shame, shame, shame that we have not fulfilled the responsibilities to the men and women who are sacrificing their very lives on our behalf, a failure of colossal proportions. All I can say is I believe that the American people are aware, and I believe the American people deserve a lot better than they are getting from this body.

I yield the floor.

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