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Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, you will excuse me if I am a little frustrated at the situation in which we find ourselves.
Last night, President Obama called myself and the Speaker--and maybe others--from Hawaii and asked if there was something we could do to avoid the fiscal cliff.
I say I am a little frustrated because we have been asking the President and the Democrats to work with us on a bipartisan agreement for months--literally, for months--on a plan that would simplify the Tax Code, shrink the deficit, protect the taxpayers, and grow the economy, but Democrats consistently rejected those offers.
The President chose instead to spend his time on the campaign trail. This was even after he got reelected, and congressional Democrats have sat on their hands. Republicans have bent over backward. We stepped way out of our comfort zone. We wanted an agreement, but we had no takers. The phone never rang.
So now here we are, 5 days from New Year's Day, and we might finally start talking. Democrats have had an entire year to put forward a balanced, bipartisan proposal. If they had something to fit the bill, I am sure the majority leader would have been able to deliver the votes the President would have needed to pass it in the Senate and we wouldn't be in this mess. But here we are, once again, at the end of the year, staring at a crisis we should have dealt with literally months ago.
Make no mistake. The only reason Democrats have been trying to deflect attention onto me and my colleagues over the past few weeks is that they don't have a plan of their own that could get bipartisan support.
The so-called Senate bill the majority leader keeps referring to passed with only Democratic votes, and despite his repeated calls for the House to pass it, he knows as well as I do that he himself is the reason it can't happen. The paperwork never left the Senate, so there is nothing for the House to vote on.
As I pointed out before we took that vote back on July 25, the Democratic bill is, ``a revenue measure that didn't originate in the House, so it has got no chance whatsoever of becoming law.'' The only reason we ever allowed that vote on that proposal, as I said at that time, was we knew it didn't pass constitutional muster. If Democrats were truly serious, they would proceed to a revenue bill that originated in the House--as the Constitution requires and as I called on them to do again last week.
To repeat, the so-called Senate bill is nothing more than a glorified sense of the Senate resolution. So let's put that convenient talking point aside from here on out.
Last night, I told the President we would be happy to look at whatever he proposes, but the truth is we are coming up against a hard deadline. As I said, this is a conversation we should have had months ago.
Republicans are not about to write a blank check for anything Senate Democrats put forward just because we find ourselves at the edge of the cliff. That would not be fair to the American people.
That having been said, we will see what the President has to propose. Members on both sides of the aisle will review it and then we will decide how best to proceed. Hopefully, there is still time for an agreement of some kind that saves the taxpayers from a wholly preventable economic crisis.
I yield the floor.
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Mr. McCONNELL. I would only add the majority leader has given you his view of the last 2 years. I have certainly given you my take on it. The American people have spoken, and they basically voted for the status quo. The President got reelected, the Senate is still in Democratic hands and the House is still in Republican hands and the American people have spoken. They obviously expect us to come together and to produce a result.
As I indicated, the President called me and probably called others last night. My impression is he would like to see if we can move forward. We do not have very many days left. I have indicated I am willing to enter into a discussion and see what the President may have in mind. I know the majority leader would certainly be interested in what the President has in mind. It appears to me the action, if there is any, is now on the Senate side. We will just have to see whether we are able, on a bipartisan basis, to move forward.
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