Regular Order

Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: March 5, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, back in November the American people sent a divided government to Washington. I know this is not the outcome that President Obama had hoped for. I know he wanted complete control of Washington, just like he had the first 2 years of his Presidency.

Still, it was surprising to me--and I think to a lot of other people around here--to learn over the weekend that among the first calls the President made after his acceptance speech on election day had to do with ginning up another campaign.

The President wasn't focused on solving the problems that middle-class families face today but how to get a Democratic Speaker of the House 2 years down the road. That was the message he sent to top House Democrats.

Since then, the President, along with his Washington Democratic allies, has expended enormous amounts of energy to advance that goal--rebooting his political organization, provoking manufactured crises with Congress, engineering show votes in the Senate, and traveling around the country to campaign relentlessly against his opponents.

That is why the sequester went into effect in its current form. That is why Washington continues to careen needlessly from crisis to crisis.

And that is why we find ourselves in a situation where more than 1,400 days have passed since Senate Democrats last passed a budget. What a sad state of affairs for our country, and for the notion of governance in general.

Every year House Republicans have passed budgets that seriously address the transcendent challenge of our time: putting runaway Washington spending and debt on a sustainable path so we can create jobs and grow the economy.

Meanwhile, Democrats have followed the President's lead, focusing on the next campaign to the exclusion of all else.

But it is not just Senate Democrats who have been missing in action. The President has been late submitting his own budget outline nearly every single year.

He has already missed this year's deadline by more than a month.

Just last week we learned the President will submit his budget after the House and the Senate have passed their own budgets and have gone home for Passover and Easter. That goes far beyond the pale of just missing deadlines.

Look, the American people are tired of the delays and the excuses. It is time for the President to get his budget plan over to us. Not next week or next month, but now. And this time, it should be serious--it should root out waste and inefficiency instead of kicking the can further down the road.

The budget blueprint he sent us last year was so roundly ridiculed for its fiscal gimmickry and its massive tax hikes that, when it came to a vote in the Senate, his own party joined Republicans in voting it down 99 to 0.

In the House, it was rejected unanimously. Even the President's most liberal allies couldn't defend it.

So we are counting on the President to get serious this time. And we are counting on Senate Democrats to stop relying on Republicans to bail them out of their irresponsibility and habitual legislative tardiness.

But the broader point is this: President Obama and his Senate Democratic allies will have plenty of time to campaign next year. The American people are exhausted after all these years of campaigning, and they expect Democratic leaders now to finally work with the divided Congress they elected to get things done. As I have said before, the President has to figure out how to govern with the situation he has, not the one he wishes he had. That is what being President is all about.

It is time to return to actually solving problems--in other words, to legislate the way we are supposed to around here: with transparency, with public input, and with sufficient time to develop sound policy. That is especially true when it comes to dealing with the most controversial issues in Washington. Whether it is the budget or tax reform or health care, we end up with better outcomes when we legislate in the light of day and not in some back room.

For instance, the Senate majority should be allowing us to mark up bills so that Members with expertise in a certain issue area can contribute to the legislative process in the most constructive and transparent way possible.

When bills do reach the floor, the Senate majority should allow Members of both parties the chance to represent the voices of their constituents by offering amendments in an open process.

And when the House sends us bills, the Senate majority should actually take some of them up every once in a while.

The leadership won't agree with everything the House passes; but that is okay. If the Senate passes a different version of a bill, we can work out our differences through the legislative process.

That is how Congress is supposed to function, even though it's not at all how the Senate has functioned recently.

I know Washington Democrats' most important priority right now is getting Nancy Pelosi her old job back in 2014. But that is not what Americans want--and that is why Washington has become so dysfunctional.

The American people, including my constituents in Kentucky, expect them to get off the hustings and work with Members of both parties to address the most serious challenges facing our country. The public is tired of the manufactured crises, the poll-tested gimmicks, and the endless campaigning. They expect and deserve better than that.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.