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Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I respect my friend from Arizona. He is my friend, and we have worked together on a bipartisan basis. I respect his right as a Senator and his responsibility as a Senator to speak on issues that he thinks are important to our Nation and his home State as well as to offer amendments if that is the appropriate approach he wants to use. However, we have wasted a day. We lost a day in the U.S. Senate.

Yesterday was the day to begin the amendment process and we could not. Senators objected to our coming to this process and even offering an amendment on the continuing resolution, which is the Federal budget for the remainder of this year; in other words, until September 30. We know we are just days away from the continuing resolution expiring. We don't want the government to shut down; we do want to fund the government. We understand there must be spending cuts and there is a healthy difference of opinion on where those cuts should be made. The Senator from Arizona was on the floor yesterday and we spoke of this.

One aspect of this bill, which I wish to address for a moment, is the Department of Defense appropriations. This is a new responsibility which I have on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and it is an awesome responsibility. Not only are we dealing with the security of the United States of America, first and foremost, we are dealing with a massive spending bill. This is larger than any other spending bill in the Federal Government.

Last week the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution which covers the Department of Defense for the remainder of this year. Many changes are included in there, but that was done along with the military construction budget and the Veterans Administration budget. That was all finished last week. It was all sent to us by the House last week ready for us to address it if we cared to.

Well, we had that chance yesterday, and we didn't do it. Now we have another chance today, and we should take it. We have a lot to do in a limited amount of time. We have this week and the next to accomplish not only the passage of this Federal budget for the remainder of this year but also next week we will begin consideration of a budget resolution for spending in the next fiscal year. Those are two awesome responsibilities back to back and up against the Easter recess.

Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, has come to the floor expressing some frustration. He wanted to move on this continuing resolution this week--as early as yesterday--and give Members an opportunity to offer amendments. There were several Members who stepped forward prepared to do so, but there was a stop. There was a hold.

I understand the Senator from Oklahoma--and I believe my friend from Arizona may echo his remarks--is prepared to not stand in the way of any of the amendments. If Members wish to offer amendments, they can do so, and I hope they will.

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