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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013--Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, briefly I was just going over the list of amendments that have been filed. I urge my colleagues who want those amendments considered to come over and state their intention and we will move forward with the amendments. I keep hearing from my staff this Senator is not ready yet, that Senator is not ready yet. I hope they come over, we get these amendments in order and we will dispose of them as soon as possible since we are looking at a rather late evening this evening, and even tomorrow.

We need to move these amendments. I hope my colleagues will cooperate by coming over prepared to offer those amendments.

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Mr. McCAIN. I have to object on this side. Senator Coburn wants the same privilege every Senator has; that is, to bring up his amendment. If someone objects to that, I hope that Senator will come down and object in person because this is holding up the progress of the bill. So if there is a Whitehouse amendment that is agreed to, then a Coburn amendment certainly should be allowed as well.

So we have to object to the unanimous consent request. Hopefully, during the vote on the Merkley amendment we can work out some agreement.

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Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, there is no one I know of in this body at any time who would not want to assist and provide the best care, especially for our disabled children who have autism. It is one of the most compelling stories any of us have ever heard. But I think it is also important for us to recognize that when we continue to add on benefits without a hearing, without any scrutiny, without balancing where they are in the array of priorities we have, and without paying for them--it seems to me that in the budget we have and the expenditures we have, to just say, as the distinguished Senator from New York just stated, that we will address it next year, we will get that taken care of--we all know the hardest thing around here is to find funds for programs.

So I appreciate more than I can say the dedication of the Senator from New York on this issue, but here we go again--we are going to now bestow another entitlement that is not paid for. With all due respect, I say to the Senator from New York, why don't she give us something to pay for it with? Why don't she come up with an offset that would then not have us increase the debt by $1.9 billion? We are now adding a cost of $1.9 billion in the name of one of the most humane and compelling causes any of us know. But don't we have an obligation to the taxpayers? We have an obligation to the taxpayers to say that we are going to take care of these special needs Americans but we are going to pay for it. Instead, we are going to lay an additional burden on the taxpayers of America which someday is going to have to be paid for--someday. It may not be in this bill, but someday it is going to have to be paid for.

Obviously this amendment is going to pass, but I would love to see the Senator from New York tell us how we are going to pay for it. I don't think that is an outrageous demand.

Madam President, I yield the floor.

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Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I believe it was Ronald Reagan who said that the closest thing to eternal life here on Earth is a government program.

Again, the complaint that we continue to hear from our constituents is that we have mortgaged our children's and our grandchildren's futures. And to somehow say, well, we are only authorizing this program for 1 year--does the Senator from New York really believe that once we start treating children with autism, we are going to terminate that program? Does she really believe that? Of course not. Of course not.

We have an obligation to the men and women, the citizens of this country whom we have saddled with a $16 trillion debt to find ways to sacrifice ourselves fiscally to pay for worthwhile programs. So I support a second-degree amendment from the Senator from Oklahoma, which is his right. It is his right to do so. And I don't see how we fulfill our obligation to our citizens by continuing to authorize and appropriate expenditure of their tax dollars without a way to pay for it except to take it out of our taxpayers' pockets.

That is not right. That is not right. The Senator from New York knows it is not right for us, no matter how worthy the cause, for us to continue this continued spend, spend, spend, debt, debt, debt that the American people are saddled with. I probably will not be paying for the national debt but my kids will, my grandkids will. Can't we for once say: Look, this is a worthwhile program, we all support taking care of people with autism, and here is how we are going to pay for it. That would be a unique experience around this body.

I yield.

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Mr. McCAIN. Reserving the right to object, and I will not object, I believe we will have a package, also, following this, of amendments that have been cleared by both sides.

I would like to express my personal appreciation for the cooperative and compromising fashion in which this unanimous consent agreement was entered. I would like to thank all parties, including the chairperson of the Intelligence Committee and others. I think this will allow us to move forward and complete this legislation sooner rather than later.

There are still a lot of amendments that have been filed, and at some point that has to stop and at some point we are going to have to finish all these. Many of them are duplicative and many of them are not particularly necessary, but I think we have made a giant step forward. I am confident we can complete this authorization bill and we will continue the record of now some 51 years of having completed an authorization bill.

I thank the chairman for his leadership.

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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I remind my colleagues we have been on the bill now for 2 days, so it might be time to stop filing amendments. I don't think that is an outrageous request on the part of the managers of the bill. I hope we can have those objections or concerns removed so we can at least bring the filing of amendments to a close.

I would ask the distinguished chairman, are we going to move with the managers' package now?

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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, after 12 hours today, 8 hours yesterday, over 42 amendments, and many more coming in the managers' package, what we have is a situation where the Senator from New York--because of his passion, which he just articulated--refuses to allow the Senator from Oklahoma his rights as a Senator; and that would be, since we have taken up this legislation with amendments and votes with a 51-vote majority as applicable, we have moved through, I am very proud to say, I think a very good process that I think all of us can be proud of.

But the Senator from New York, because of his passion and commitment and belief--all of which I respect--will now prevent the Senator from Oklahoma from having his amendment considered. Why? Because he is afraid he will lose. The Senator from South Carolina and the Senator from New Hampshire and I have been losing all day long, and I am passionate about that.

But I ask my colleague from New York, do we really want to have a situation where the depth of our passion now dictates whether the Senate should be allowed to go forward? The Senator from Oklahoma has the same right as every other Senator has had to propose an amendment. I will be glad to debate it, and up or down. Because if we are now going to tell our colleagues that if you have an amendment and you feel that you are going to lose and it really goes to the heart of your beliefs, that you are not going to allow the Senate to work, I think that is a very bad and dangerous precedent for us to set.

Passions are high tonight, I say to my friend from Michigan. I think we have a pending amendment now and there will be other amendments that we will line up. We could maybe overnight calm down a little bit and move forward with a process that we have enjoyed for the last 2 days. No matter how passionate we feel about a particular issue, we should let the Senate work its will; otherwise, we will never complete a piece of legislation around here unless we go back to what we have been doing before, and that is fill up the tree, file cloture, and then none of us are able to engage in what the Senate should--and that is open and honest debate and respecting the will of the majority.

So I urge, with all respect and appreciation for the passion of the Senator from New York, allow this process to go forward. Let an amendment be considered, let a second-degree amendment be considered, and respect the will of the majority, and move on and live to fight another day; otherwise, we will derail the Defense authorization bill that we have managed to pass for the last 51 years, and the men and women who are serving in the military and our Nation's security will be jeopardized.

I don't want to get into a fight with the Senator from New York. I respect his passion. But I hope for the good of the institution he would allow this process to go forward just as it has for the last couple of days.

I thank my friend from New York for listening.

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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I rise to say I think we have made great progress. I think we have addressed the major issues concerning this legislation, although there are certainly other issues our colleagues feel are very important. But we should have reached a point now after 3 days that we put together a list of amendments. We can decide whether those amendments can be agreed upon, dropped or voted on. But it is time we put that list together and, obviously, with that being accomplished, we could get this thing wrapped up without having to go through the process of cloture and the intervening hours and all the parliamentary procedures that are embodied in that process.

I thank the chairman and thank the presiding officer.

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