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

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, along with the Senator from Oklahoma, I intend to object. I think the Senator made the case. I will remind my colleagues that 1 week ago Senator Coburn and I sent a letter to Senator Reid and Senator McConnell with copies to Senator Mikulski and Senator Shelby.

We stated in one sentence:

We write to inform you of our intention to object to entering into a time agreement before consideration of a continuing resolution until we have had at least 72 hours to review its contents.

That is what we wrote. That is what we asked for.

I will remind my colleagues again, it is a 587-page bill of over $1 trillion that we got at 9 p.m. last night. Is there anyone who has had time to read this entire bill that is 587 pages long? We are talking about $1 trillion, and we are holding up the Senate? We have had since 9 p.m. last night until 3:30 p.m. this afternoon to examine a 587-page bill of over $1 trillion.

What we have already found--and we have not finished, but we hope to be finished with examining this legislation within a few hours--is the most egregious pork-barrel spending during a time of sequestration. I find it mind-boggling. We spent 3 weeks in December on the floor of this Senate doing the fiscal year 2013 Defense authorization bill. There are provisions in this CR that were directly prohibited in the Defense authorization bill.

I respect the knowledge of the Senator from Alabama and the Senator from Maryland on defense issues, but we spent 3 weeks and hundreds of hours in hearings including amendments and markup. For example, we said there would be no money for Guam until we have a coherent strategy laid out by the administration as to how we were going to implement the base realignment. The fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act prohibited expending that money.

What have they crammed into this 587-page bill? There is $120 million for a public regional health laboratory and civilian wastewater improvements in Guam. Why? I ask my friend from Alabama: Why does this directly contradict the authorization bill which was just passed that said no money would be given to Guam for these purposes until such time as we had developed the strategy for the base realignment in Guam? Is it because the Senator from Alabama and the Senator from Maryland know something more than the Defense authorization bill authorizers did? We had debate, discussion, and authorization of this, and we specifically prohibited it.

So here we are. We have not been able to deploy an aircraft carrier because of sequestration. We have had to cut down on flying hours. We have had to reduce maintenance. We have had to make all kinds of tough decisions as to the men and women who are serving, not to mention the equipment, operations, and maintenance.

What have we already found out in this bill? I want to assure my colleagues I am not making this up. There is an additional $5 million for the National Guard Youth Challenge program. I think the National Guard Youth Challenge Program is a pretty worthwhile project, but is it worthwhile when we are having to keep a carrier from deployment? There is $5 million for the National Guard STARBASE Youth Program; another $154 million for the Army, Navy, and Air Force ``alternative energy research initiatives.'' This type of research has developed such shining examples as the Department of Navy's purchase of 450,000 gallons of alternative fuel for $12 million, which is over $26 per gallon.

There is $18 million for unspecified ``industrial preparedness,'' $16 million for Parkinson's disease research. That part is out of Defense, my friends. That is not out of Health and Human Services; it is out of Defense. There is $16 million for neurofibromatosis research, $16 million for HIV-AIDS research, which is a worthy cause, but it is taken out of Defense. There is $9 million for unspecified radar research, $567 million for unrequested medical research, $20 million for university research initiatives, and $7 million for the Civil Air Patrol program increase.

The list goes on and on, and we have not finished. How in the world do we have a provision ``for an incentive program that directs the Department of Defense to overpay on contracts by an additional 5 percent if the contractor is a Native Hawaiian-owned company,'' how in the world is this justified during this time of sequestration?

I note the presence of our leader on the floor, and I want to assure the leader, with all due respect, that this is a 587-page bill of over $1 trillion. We got it at 9 p.m. last night. I hope that in a few hours we will be able to finish examining this bill. What we have found so far is so egregious it is hard to imagine that anybody--in light of the sequestration and the damage it does to the lives of the men and women who are serving the military--could have added these kinds of provisions and, frankly, is beyond anything I think I have ever seen in the years I have served in the Senate.

I yield to the distinguished majority leader, but before I do, I object.

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Mr. McCAIN. First of all, I appreciate very much the majority leader's responsibility to make sure we take up and pass legislation. There are many times when I have to say that the majority leader has been frustrated by some events and individuals which arouses my sympathy for the responsibility he has and his inability to carry out his duties.

I point out to my friend from Nevada that we just got this bill last night, so to rely on the fact that a House bill should be our guide when we know there were many provisions added--at least some provisions that were added that we already found in the Senate version of the bill--I would hope he would understand we need a little more time to try to get through the entire bill, which I hope will be sooner rather than later. Once that is done, then we can--as the majority leader said--be open for amendments.

I hope the majority leader understands our point of view, that this is bill over $1 trillion with 587 pages. For us to take sort of an act of faith that this is the bill that came from the House is obviously not the case.

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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to engage in a colloquy with the Senator from Illinois.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Schatz). Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. McCAIN. The point of the Senator from Illinois is very well made, but unless we know the entirety of the bill, we don't know what our priorities are as far as amendments are concerned. I am sure the Senator knows that even though amendments are going to be allowed, there is going to be a limited number of amendments. We know how things work around this place come Thursday afternoon.

All we are asking is to give us a little more time. It was 9 o'clock last night when we received the final version of the bill.

I would say to my friend from Illinois, unless we know what is in the bill in its entirety, it is hard for us to know what the priority amendments we intend on proposing are. I think we are nearly through the examination of the bill. I do not wish to impede the progress of the Senate on this legislation. I know how important it is.

I also hope my friend will understand that we asked a week ago to have 72 hours, which is the normal Senate procedure, to examine the bill before we consider it. I understand the exigencies of the moment--all the back and forth between both sides of the Capitol--but I don't believe, for a $1 trillion bill, 587 pages, it is too much to ask for about 12 hours, or 14 hours, 15 hours--we have our staff working full time, and I wish to assure the Senator we will have it done soon.

Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, if I might engage further in this dialogue, I see the Chair is seeking recognition. But there are Senators on both sides who have amendments ready to go. They have ideas they wish to present to the Senate for consideration. Without foreclosing the Senator from Arizona and his colleagues of the possibilities to offer amendments tomorrow or whenever they are prepared to, I don't know why we want to shut down this deliberation today. We can consider some of these amendments and still not in any way prejudice the rights of Senators to review the bill and offer amendments of their choice.

Mr. McCAIN. Look, my dear friend, every Senator has their responsibilities in this body. I have a responsibility particularly where defense is concerned. We spent 3 weeks on this legislation, including hundreds of amendments, hours and hours of debate, markup in the committee of hours and hours, hundreds of hours of hearings by the leaders of our military and the administration. I haven't finished examining the defense part of this bill.

Now, why am I so worried about the provisions of this bill? Because there are provisions in this bill that directly contradict the Defense authorization we spent weeks on. We prohibited money for Guam, OK? We prohibited it. Now there is $120 million in the bill for it. So that makes me curious as to what else is in this bill.

So I think for me to go back and tell my constituents in Arizona, who are heavily dependent on our national defense and our bases, to say, Yes, I went ahead without even reading the whole bill, without even my staff going through the entire bill; we were in such a hurry with our over $1 trillion legislation that they didn't want me to hold up the Senate so people could propose amendments--that is not my duty to the citizens of Arizona.

So I say with respect to my friend, I respect the rights of all other Senators. I hope the rights of the Senator from Oklahoma and my rights would be respected and that includes reading a piece of legislation that is 587 pages long.

Mr. DURBIN. If I might respond to the Senator, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for 2013 provides $604.9 billion, including $87.2 billion for overseas contingency operations. That is a reduction from the 2012 level of $633.2 billion.

There are no changes in the defense section of this bill. There are no changes in the bill that was passed by the House of Representatives last week. The bill fully complies with the spending caps in the Budget Control Act. It contains no Member-requested earmarks, in compliance with the earmark moratorium. There are cuts in the defense budget to define programs with excess funding, scheduled delays, and the like.

The bill includes 671 cuts as it came out of the House to programs in the budget request of funds that are not needed for the remaining 6 1/2 months of the year.

I might say to my friend from Arizona, this is what the House passed. We have not added anything to it that I think would be of Senate authorship that changes it in substance.

So I understand. It is the Senator's right. I respect his right and I will fight for his right as a Senator. But I would hope that at least for those Senators prepared to offer amendments, without in any way prejudicing the right of the Senator from Arizona to do so, we could proceed with the amendment process.

Mr. McCAIN. Well, again, I thank my friend from Illinois and I thank him for his point of view. I understand it. I understand the frustration of our two leaders on the Appropriations Committee and their desire to get this done. I understand the time clock is running out. We are talking about a very short period of time. But I have to repeat to the Senator from Illinois one more time: I am not going to go back to my State and say, By the way, I started the amendment process and debating on a bill that I hadn't read. I don't do that, and I hope the Senator from Illinois respects it. I hope in a very short period of time we can agree to proceed and have vigorous debate and amendments.

I also have to say this is remarkable. Here we are, I say to my friend from Illinois, in a period of sequestration, and there is a provision in here for $15 million for an incentive program that directs the Department of Defense to overpay contracts by an additional 5 percent if the contractor is a Native Hawaiian-owned company. That boggles the mind. It is unbelievable. While we are keeping ships tied up at the pier because we can't deploy them, we are now going to tell Native Hawaiian companies they are going to be overpaid by an additional 5 percent if they are based in Hawaii. What is that all about? That is why the Senator from Oklahoma and I have to read the bill. I thank my colleagues.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.

Ms. MIKULSKI. Would the Senator from Arizona yield for a question?

Mr. McCAIN. Yes, ma'am.

Ms. MIKULSKI. We acknowledge the validity of the concerns of the Senator from Arizona. We also acknowledge that we would have liked very much for people to have seen this 72 hours in advance. There was no intent to stiff-arm. Please understand that. We weren't trying to be cute and come in late and all that. It was just the sheer physicality of moving the bill, not getting it from the House until Thursday. So there was no intent to not honor the request of the Senator from Arizona, in which he was very plain, and he has been consistent in every bill. The Senator's request was not unusual and it was no surprise. So that is essentially where we are.

Mr. McCAIN. I would say to the Senator, the distinguished chairperson, I respect that and I would never impugn her motives. I said I thought I understood the time constraints the Senator from Maryland is under, given the House and the Senate and all that. I certainly did not intend to believe that there was anything----

Ms. MIKULSKI. I just wanted to assure the Senator from Arizona of that and I have respect for the Senator and his regard for the purse.

Does the Senator from Arizona have a sense of when he will be finished reviewing the bill?

Mr. McCAIN. I think in a very short time. I have to coordinate with the Senator from Oklahoma, but I think within a couple of hours.

Ms. MIKULSKI. We would appreciate it in any way the Senator feels he can exercise his traditional due diligence. We are not going to engage in arguments, but we would like to go ahead if we could get something going even later on this evening.

Mr. McCAIN. Could I say to the distinguished chairwoman, I will go back to my office right now, get together with Senator Coburn, and see if we can't come up with a definite time, and I assure the Senator from Maryland it will be a short period of time.

Ms. MIKULSKI. And if perhaps there are amendments the Senator from Arizona could share with Senator Shelby. I expect there to be amendments from Senators McCain and Coburn. It wouldn't have been a real bill if they did not offer amendments. It somehow or another wouldn't have counted in the process. So we look forward to it. If we can move it in an expeditious way, and courteously understanding the Senator's right to offer amendments, I think we can get going.

Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I will try to carry out my mission as assigned by the distinguished chairperson. I thank her for her leadership and her excellent work. I thank both leaders.

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