Today, Sen. Rand Paul joined Sen. Jon Cornyn (R-Texas) on the Senate floor, and urged Democrat leadership to allow a vote on the STEM Jobs Act, which would be a first step toward comprehensive immigration reform.
Below is video and transcript of Sen. Paul's floor appearance this afternoon:
Sen. Paul: I'd like to compliment the Senator from Texas on being a leader in immigration reform. There are many of us in the Republican party who wish to have immigration reform. I do wish it to be noted for the record, though, today that we could take a small step forward towards immigration reform today. This bill that would allow Ph.Ds and Masters', successful graduates to come into the country and get a green card, could be passed today.
This bill is at the desk and we will ask consent from the majority party today to pass this bill. I will also note that the president and the members of the majority party will object. The president has said he will not pass this unless he can get everything he wants. Well, when I go home or when I talk to folks with the media, they say, why can't you guys get along? Why can't you do anything in Washington? Why is this system so horribly broken? This is precisely why.
We agree on this bill. I think the other side will stand up and say they like the concept. But they don't want to do it yet. They want to wait till we agree on everything. Well, guess what? We're never going to agree on everything. So we're never going to get immigration reform if we can't start agreeing to some things and moving the ball forward. This is the same on tax reform. This is the same on entitlement reform. We lurch from deadline to deadline.
There will be a deadline, the so-called fiscal cliff, coming up and the president has announced that we don't have enough time to do entitlement reform, we don't have enough time to do tax reform, we don't have enough time to do immigration reform. Well, when are we going to start? When is there going to be a committee hearing designated towards entitlement reform? I've been here two years. There's no such committee.
When will there be committee meetings and hearings on immigration reform? There won't be time, deadlines will pass. But why not break things up into smaller pieces? Why have to have some enormous fiscal cliff, or whatever, that everybody has to agree to a thousand moving parts? We are of different persuasions, of different parties, of different beliefs. We're never going to agree on a thousand things. Why don't we start passing some things we can agree to?
This is a small step forward. We can pass this bill today. Do you have an explanation that you can help me to understand why we have to have empty partisanship, why we can't move forward to pass some small things for immigration reform?
Sen. Cornyn: Mr. President, I would say in response to the Senator from Kentucky that i have been in the senate for some time now and I have been engaged in the immigration debates for a long time, and I think one of the biggest challenges is we've tried to deal with this in a comprehensive way that has so many moving parts that it's almost impossible to find a majority in the Senate, much less the House, in order to support all the various components of it.
That's one of the things I like about this bill is that it's narrow, it deals with a consensus reform, commonsense reform, and it avoids a lot of the controversy associated with other parts of the immigration subject. But I do believe that we owe it to the American people not to stop here. But it's a good place to start. And once we pass this legislation, I think, and people see that we've acted responsibly and in America's best interests, then they will -- we can regain their confidence that we can deal with other broken parts.
Sen. Paul: And I think an important point to make about this is that we truly have sometimes philosophic differences with the other side. But what people at home ask me is, when you agree with the other side, when the other side says, we want this part of immigration reform, why can't we do it? That, to me, I see as empty partisanship. Are we afraid to give the Republicans credit for introducing immigration reform?
In the House, in the Republican-controlled House? Are we afraid to have it perceived as a Republican idea? That to me is empty partisanship. I routinely vote with the other side on issues that some in my party object to. Because I believe in the issue.
This is an issue where we all should be able to agree to on immigration reform and yet the other side will object to moving the ball forward on immigration reform. That I don't understand and that I see as empty partisanship, and that is the dysfunction of this body when we agree on something, we still can't pass it.