Mr. McCONNELL. In just 15 days significant across-the-board cuts are set to take effect unless the President and the Senate Democrats come up with a plan to replace them with smarter, targeted spending reductions. The President and the Senate majority have known about this deadline for more than a year. Yet here we are just days before the so-called sequester is set to hit, and a familiar scenario is playing out once again. It goes something like this:
Phase 1. Republicans identify a challenge and actually propose a solution.
Phase 2. Liberals sit on their hands until the last minute.
Phase 3. They offer some gimmicky tax hike designed to fail and then blame everybody else when it does.
Phases 1 and 2 have gone exactly according to plan. House Republicans proposed and passed plans to replace the sequester months ago. As if on cue, Senate Democrats have doggedly refused to consider any of them, much less offer any of their own. Here we are again at phase 3.
That means it is now time for them to swoop in with the gimmick.
That is why our friends on the other side have been huddled behind closed doors with pollsters and PR spinmeisters. They have been busy devising the most appealing-sounding tax hikes they can think of.
Don't believe me? Just watch what happens now. Later today, Senate Democrats are expected to roll out the gimmick. Remember, this is not a solution. Even they know it can't pass. But that is the idea. It is a political stunt designed to mask the fact they have offered no solutions and don't plan to offer any solutions. It is a total waste of time.
For nearly 2 months, I have been coming to the floor to ask Senate Democrats to work with us on a bill that could pass both Houses of Congress. If they were the least bit serious about a solution, they have had more than a year to write a bill in committee, bring it to the floor, vote on amendments, get it to the House and fix this.
Instead, they have waited right up until the moment of crisis, just as they always do, and then they get together not with the goal of finding a solution but to hatch an escape plan aimed at making Republicans look like the bad guys. Their whole goal here isn't to solve the problem, it is to have a show vote that is designed to fail, call it a day, and wait for someone else to pick up the pieces.
My message this morning is quite simple: There won't be any easy off-ramps on this one. The days of eleventh hour negotiations are over. Washington Democrats have gotten used to Republicans bailing them out of their own lack of responsibility. But those days have passed. Look, they run the Senate; they run the White House. It is time they started acting like it.
As a first step, Senate Democrats need to honor their pledge to return to regular order. Legislation that passes through this Chamber should be written with input from both parties. It should get a fair public vetting in committee, and Senators should get a chance to offer amendments. Just yesterday, the President's own Treasury nominee called for a return to regular order.
So it is time for the President and Senate Democrats to put the games and gimmicks aside. It is time they stopped waiting until the last minute to get things done around here. People are tired of it. I know my constituents in Kentucky are certainly tired of it. They have had enough of the political theater. It is time to put the stunts aside and actually work on real solutions. That is what we were sent here to do, and we should do it.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.