Unanimous Consent Request - Executive Calendar

Floor Speech

By:  Ron Johnson
Date: March 6, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. JOHNSON of Wisconsin. Madam President, all of us have come down here to support a very legitimate request to have a legitimate question answered. I think the Senator deserves those answers. If not an answer from the White House, he at least deserves a vote.

I started watching here this morning. The Senator started about 11:57. It is now past midnight. I think my primary action is one of just being puzzled. I have been here for 2 years. I have never served in any kind of legislative body. I certainly came to the Senate thinking this was the world's greatest deliberative body. What I found is a body that is utterly dysfunctional. Even though this is actually one of the best examples of how this body ought to work, it is also an example of that dysfunction. I cannot believe this issue has not been resolved within a half hour, within an hour. Just take a vote.

We have a number of our colleagues from the House coming here in support of the Senator from Kentucky. The House is operating, I believe, as our Founders intended. They are passing budgets. They are debating issues. They are passing real pieces of legislation that, unfortunately, are being dropped over here in the Senate, where those good pieces of legislation die. That is a real shame.

For example, I serve on the Budget Committee of the Senate. I have been on that Budget Committee for 2 years. We have not yet voted on a budget in the Budget Committee. This is, by the way, when this Nation is facing a fiscal crisis unlike anything we have ever faced in our history. We have racked up 4 years now where our debt exceeds $1 trillion. There is no end of that in sight. We have not passed or even brought to the floor an appropriations bill all year long. How can we function as a body if this is how it operates?

A number of Republican Senators joined the President at his gracious invitation for dinner tonight. It was an excellent dinner. It was a genuine, sincere, open discussion of the fiscal problems facing this Nation. I was part of a group of 44 Senators a year and a half ago, almost 2 years now, who also joined the President prior to the final debate on the first debt ceiling in the summer of 2011. The President of the United States leaving that meeting should have come away with a very strong understanding that those 44 Republican Senators were incredibly sincere in their desire to work with the President, to work with our colleagues across the aisle, to solve these problems. I will tell you, I am one Senator who ran for office not to become a Senator but because we are losing this country. We are bankrupting it.

One of the things I do when I talk around the country, I make it a point that fortunately I do not know of any parent who would willingly max out their credit cards, get in debt way over their heads never intending ever to pay it off, but fully intending to pass it off to the children and the grandchildren. I do not know any parent that way, fortunately. But as a society that is exactly what we are doing.

Frequently in this political town, Republicans are accused of waging a war on women, waging a war on immigrants. None of that is true. What Washington is doing is we are waging a war on our children. We are mortgaging their future. It is absolutely immoral. Americans have got to stop and consider what it is we are actually doing to future generations.

So I felt good at the dinner with the President tonight--I think all of my colleagues did. I hope the President did--with a pretty strong sense, once again, that there is a great deal of sincerity, a great deal of desire to roll up our shirt sleeves, put down partisan bickering, put down partisan differences, work together to solve this problem.

I think there has got to be a realization that neither side is going away. If we are going to start solving these problems, we have got to start working together. We have got to return the Senate into that deliberative body that our Founders intended it to be. We have got to be willing to be held accountable. We have got to take votes. It should not be that hard. We should not be afraid.

I would ask the Senator from Kentucky--as I understand it, this is puzzling that we are here now after midnight. I applaud the Senator for his resolve here. That is why he sees every Member coming down here and providing the support. But I think all he wanted was either unanimous consent or possibly a vote on this simple question:

Resolved, that it is the sense of the Senate that:

No. 1, the use of drones to execute or to target American citizens on American soil who pose no imminent threat clearly violates the Constitutional due process right of citizens.

That seems like a pretty simple question, seems like one most Senators would want to express their opinion by taking a vote, or allowing this resolution to pass by unanimous consent. So I guess my only question is, is that all the Senator is looking for, either an answer from the White House or a simple unanimous consent agreement or a simple vote?

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