Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, most people, of course, are focused on what happened last night over in the House. I would like to focus on the press conference that congressional Democrats held just a few hours earlier.
Here were the leaders of the Democratic Party in the Senate--other than the President, these are the folks with the greatest responsibility for protecting the American people from a massive tax hike coming in January--and what did they do? They stood in front of the cameras and laughed. They laughed. They giggled at a bunch of bad jokes and told the American people they didn't plan to do anything this week--nothing, absolutely nothing.
Democrats in the House vowed they wouldn't vote for this bill, the majority leader vowed he would ignore it if it made it out of the House and landed in the Senate, and the President vowed he would veto it if it made it out of the Senate.
So Democrats spent literally all day yesterday defeating a bill that would make current tax rates permanent for more than 99 percent of Americans, and they laughed about it. Ten days to go until the fiscal cliff, and they laughed about it.
I don't know if anybody has looked at a calendar lately, but we are about out of time here, folks. This isn't funny. People's livelihoods are at stake. The U.S. economy is at stake. Millions upon millions of families are counting on us to do something.
Look, it is the President's job--it is his job to find a solution that can pass the Congress. He is the only one who can do it. This isn't John Boehner's problem to solve. He has done his part. He has bent over backward.
Mr. President: How about rallying your party around a solution. How about getting Democrats to support something.
I have said it many times before: We simply cannot solve the problems we face unless and until the President of the United States either finds the will or develops the ability--the ability--to lead. This is a moment that calls for Presidential leadership. That is the way out of this. It is that simple.
Does anybody wonder why we keep going from crisis to crisis around here? Does anybody notice a pattern? This doesn't have to be a crisis. This was an opportunity, but once again the President ignored it. He went out and held rallies and gave partisan speeches even after he had already been reelected.
As I said yesterday, I think it is obvious at this point the President wants to go off the cliff. But I know most of the American people don't want that. Today, I am going to make an offer. With 10 days to go, we have an obligation to act on something--something that can pass the House and the Senate. If the President won't propose it, if Senate Democrats won't propose it, I will.
Earlier this year, the House passed a bill that extends current rates on everyone for 1 year, with instructions for expedited comprehensive tax reform by next year. We could bring up this House-passed bill.
If the majority leader has a plan that can get 60 votes in the Senate, break through the disarray in his own caucus and build bipartisan support, offer that as an amendment and then let's vote. Let's vote on amendments from all sides, and then let's go to conference with the House of Representatives. They have already passed a bill--one I support--to prevent a tax hike on all Americans and reform the Tax Code. Why don't we take it up here? Let's get this done.
It is called legislating. That is what we used to do in Congress. Democrats may be popping champagne corks today about bringing down Plan B, but all their efforts to do so yesterday will not protect a single taxpayer from a massive tax hike in just a few weeks. The American people are waiting. Surely, we can do better than this. Let's do it.
I yield the floor.
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Mr. McCONNELL. All I was suggesting to my friend the majority leader is that you have the tax bill that originated in the House. It came over to the Senate. If our friends in the majority don't like that version of it, they could call it up, amend it, and see if there is a majority in the Senate for something.
It seems to me that the time for finger-pointing is about over. The American people are not particularly interested in what originated here or there or who is doing what; they are interested in getting a result. I was trying to be helpful in suggesting that you have a tax bill that came over from the House. You have a majority here. You could take it up, offer amendments, and see if there is something that could achieve a majority of the Senate rather than just complaining because the House did not pass something yesterday. That is not going to solve the problem. Somehow, some way, we need to find a way forward, and I hope we can in the coming week.
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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I add that the time for finger-pointing is gradually running out. The American people know we have a President, they know we have a Senate, and they know we have a House. They are anxiously awaiting whether we are going to solve this problem before the end of the year.
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