BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. REID. Mr. President, I reserve the right to object and will say just a few things.
Unless we act by midnight tomorrow, Friday, across-the-board cuts will kick in. They are going to start kind of slowly, but they are going to ramp up really quickly. So the question for us today is, Are we going to act to replace these across-the-board cuts?
The proposal we have put forward would prevent the cuts with a balanced plan. Our plan will protect air safety, our food supply and, most importantly, our national security. And frankly, Mr. President, air safety, which I mentioned, food supply--that is also part of our national security in addition to our military.
The alternative that has been put forward by my friend the Republican leader would not replace the cuts. As I said earlier this morning here on the floor, one of my colleagues in the Democratic caucus said at our caucus on Tuesday that he understood what the Republicans were going to put forward, and he said it would be like sending the President an order: We have already decided you are going to have to cut off three fingers, and we are giving you the alternative to decide which one you cut first.
The Republican alternative would not replace the cuts but would call for making the cuts in some different way. Republicans call their proposal ``flexibility.'' In fact, it is anything but that. Their proposal is entirely inflexible on one key point: not a single dollar of revenue, not a single tax loophole would be closed.
Now, remember, Mr. President, the one proposal we have forward says that if you make $5 million a year, you will have to pay 30 percent tax minimum. That is it. That does not sound too outrageous. That is why the American people agree--Democrats, Independents, and 60 percent of Republicans.
Now the Republican side seeks a third vote on the Ayotte amendment, which would replace the cuts with a parade of even more unfair cuts and penalties on immigrants, people receiving health care under ObamaCare, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, those kinds of things.
I also have trouble understanding, as I do--I frankly do understand why, as I read in the paper, AYOTTE, MCCAIN, and GRAHAM do not like the Republican proposal--haven't we ceded enough power to the President?
So it is not our fault over here that the Republican leader chose to offer not the Ayotte alternative but instead chose the Republican alternative that we are going to talk about and vote on later today.
I return to my main question again briefly. Are Republicans really filibustering a vote on replacing the sequester? My question is, Would the Republican leader modify his consent to allow for simple up-or-down votes on each of the two alternatives? Would it make a difference if we allowed votes on three bills, including the Ayotte alternative? I would be happy to have three votes if the Republican leader would simply allow the votes to be held at majority thresholds.
So I have asked that. I can do it formally. I would be happy to do so if there is any taking of my request here. But this having been the case, if my friend the Republican leader says: Yes, why don't you put that in proper form--and I would be happy to do that--then we would have votes on all three, with a simple majority on each one of them. Not hearing someone say: Great idea, then I object to the request of my friend from New Hampshire.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I would say to my friend the majority leader that I would object. He can either propound such a consent or not, whatever he chooses, but I would object.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there objection to the original request?
Mr. REID. Yes, I did that.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT