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Public Statements

Concurrent Resolution on the Budget, Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I wish to thank Ranking Member Sessions once again for another good day of vigorous debate. There are clearly some differences between us in the Senate, but all our constituents benefit from having those views laid out and expressed clearly. I appreciate all he is doing to help us move along as well as have the good debate we are having.

Yesterday, the Senate did vote to reject the idea that balancing the budget by an arbitrary date should come before middle-class families and broad-based economic growth. Last night, the Senate voted to continue down the path toward a truly balanced approach to tackling our economic and fiscal challenges. It is the kind of approach that cuts spending responsibly and calls on the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share.

We voted on an approach that puts our economy first and foremost and makes sure we are protecting, not threatening, our fragile economic recovery. That is the kind of approach that is supported by the vast majority of the American people, and the Senate stood strongly behind that.

The Senate strongly rejected the budget that passed the House of Representatives yesterday. Their budget would meet the goal by balancing the budget with an arbitrary date but would do it in a way that would be devastating for our families and the economy. It would dismantle Medicare and end up cutting taxes for the rich while raising them on the middle class; not only that, but it did rely on gimmicks and tricks to hit that arbitrary date. There is nothing balanced about that kind of approach. I am very glad every Member of the Senate had an opportunity to be clear about where we stand on that.

The Senate also voted yesterday to specifically reject the idea that Medicare should be dismantled or voucherized. I am glad we had strong bipartisan support on that amendment. We also voted clearly for the idea that while both sides favor closing tax loopholes and ending wasteful deductions that favor the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations, the Senate thinks some of that revenue should be used to tackle the deficit and invest in the middle class, not to be used to simply cut tax rates for the rich the way the House budget did.

We have a few more hours of debate this morning between now and 11 a.m., followed by some votes, and then we will close out the debate and move on to all the rest of the votes we will take before final passage late tonight or early tomorrow morning.

As the majority leader said, we have hundreds of amendments. If we were to vote on all of them, we would be here every single hour voting between Monday and Tuesday. I think every Member knows that is probably not going to happen. I encourage every Member of the Senate to work with the manager on their side so we can get the amendments up sooner rather than later and vote on the ones each side wants us to.

I urge all my colleagues to work with us and our staff to make sure we know where the priorities are, how to proceed, and we will work with everyone to combine similar amendments. Obviously, among those 400 amendments, there are a number that are similar. We will clear as many noncontroversial amendments by voice vote as we can, and we will get through as many votes as possible in a fair and reasonable manner. We look forward to working with Senator Sessions to make sure we can do that.

I encourage our colleagues--there is a bit more time for them to have their say before we vote. If anyone would like to have their say, make sure our staffs know before making any statements.

With that, I yield to my colleague, Senator Sessions.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I am very proud of the balance we have put forward in our budget that makes sure all Americans in this country participate in solving the great crisis in front of us in terms of managing our debt and deficit. We are doing exactly what the American people have asked us to do--making sure that everyone participates.

To me, as someone who has been involved for a long time in taking care of my own family and my community, balance is an important word, and I am very proud of the balance we put into this in terms of the American public.

Mr. President, I yield 5 minutes to the Senator from Iowa.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I want to thank the Senator from Iowa for his long-time passion for young people in this country. As chair of the Education and Health Committee, he has committed his time to making sure those who are least among us have opportunity in this country. That is so important. He has spoken eloquently against the Cruz amendment, reminding all of us that amendment isn't just about repealing health care but actually taking away the ability for students to be able to go to college on Pell grants and student loans.

I would not be standing in front of us today if our country hadn't invested in me way back to give me the ability to go to college on student loans and Pell grants. So I want to thank him, on behalf of a very grateful country, for his long-time work on this. And as we all know, the Senator will be retiring. We will miss his voice, but his passion will always remain here.

With that, Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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Mrs. MURRAY. I want to thank my friend from New Jersey on his previous work to highlight how our budget impacts children and on his efforts to do so again today. I agree with him that it is important that we have a full accounting of how the Federal Government serves children throughout our Nation. However, my friend is correct, and due to the strict procedural guidelines of the budget resolution an amendment that is primarily focused on executive branch agencies falls outside the scope of a concurrent resolution such as the one we are debating today. However, I want to assure my friend that I will work closely with him to find a path forward on the children's budget and achieve our shared goal of ensuring that the government is doing its best to efficiently and effectively serve our Nation's children.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I wish to thank the Senator from Minnesota, as we prepare to go through a series of votes, for reminding us that a budget is not just numbers on a piece of paper. It really is a statement of our values and what we care about and how we are going to invest in our country so we have strong jobs in the future and a strong economy. We really base this budget on those principles, and the Senator from Minnesota reminded us all of that so well today, and I thank him for his statement.

We are within a minute of beginning the vote, so I would remind my colleagues we have a busy day ahead of us. We on our side are very proud of the budget we have put forward that focuses on jobs and the economy, in this fragile time getting people back to work, getting them the resources they need to have a strong future, whether it is education or infrastructure or the research and development that creates the kind of jobs that the Senator from Minnesota has focused on. We on this side do deeply understand the need to manage our debt and deficit responsibly. It is why we have put forward a credible approach, a balanced approach, that makes sure we are cutting, in many programs the Presiding Officer and I care deeply about, but understanding this is the time we are in, where we have to relook at these programs and manage them effectively, and we have done that in our budget. There are many tough choices we have in front of us, but the tough choices we have put forward in this budget reflect the balance the American people have asked us to make in our budget approach.

I look forward to having it passed sometime, I am sure, in the wee hours of the morning. This budget moves us toward a place where we can work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and both sides of this city to come together in a way that gets us back on a path so we are not managing this country from crisis to crisis, but are working effectively together to move forward in this country.

So with that, Mr. President, I yield back the remainder of our time.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, on behalf of Senator Mikulski, the first amendment she has offered is a very important one.

We all know pay discrimination in the workplace is very real. We know women are nearly half of our workforce, but they still only earn about 77 percent of what men earn, and women of color are much worse off. African-American women make 70 cents on the dollar. Hispanic women make only 60 cents on the dollar. We want to make sure all of our families are strong and stable in the future, and pay discrimination is something that is holding women and families and communities back.

So a ``no'' vote on this means you are actually OK with women earning less pay than men--women not being able to contribute to their families in a strong way so their children can be taken care of and they can pay their mortgage or their rent and put food on the table.

A ``yes'' vote on this amendment means you acknowledge this as a problem and agree that women must receive equal pay for equal work.

I want to thank the Senator from Maryland for her long-time advocacy on behalf of women in many ways, but particularly on making sure they have equal pay.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, on our side I believe we are happy to have a voice vote on this amendment. And I urge a strong yes. It sets a great tone, by the way, for the rest of the day.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, as I have said many times, this budget asks the wealthiest Americans and our biggest corporations to pay just a little bit more, both to get our fiscal house in order and to make critical investments that will help drive broad-based economic growth.

Economists across the political spectrum will tell you that raising revenues from those who can afford it most will not hurt our economy. In fact, our experience during the 1990s proves that fact. In fact, raising revenues by closing loopholes and cutting inefficient spending in the Tax Code for the wealthiest Americans, as our budget proposes, actually stands to boost the economy by removing tax breaks that distort the allocation of capital.

This amendment that is being offered would effectively end the privileged status of a balanced and fair budget plan, such as this one, that calls on the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in order to address our deficits and get our economy going again.

I strongly encourage my colleagues to oppose this amendment, and I ask for the yeas and nays.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, for the information of all Senators, we are going to have a lot of amendments, so if we have a lot of floor discussion, this is only going to delay it. I would encourage Senators throughout the day to please take their conversations off the floor after the votes so Senators who are speaking on the amendments on both sides of the aisle have the consideration of being heard.

I will take my 1 minute on this amendment.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, the Senate budget already includes a deficit-neutral reserve fund for tax relief. This amendment would make that relief for low- and middle-income Americans explicit, but it would do it in a way that preserves the health care benefits in the Affordable Health Care Act.

Unfortunately, the amendment that follows this one will gut the ACA and leave millions of Americans back in a position where they have to worry about a preexisting condition or a health illness that could bankrupt their household. We have to make sure taxes do not hit low-and middle-income families, but we should do it in a responsible way that doesn't take away health care for millions of Americans.

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, it is ironic that a number of those taxes are in the Ryan budget that our colleagues voted for last night. But let me say this. The ACA is going to extend health care coverage to nearly 30 million people. They are mostly low- and middle-income people who don't have access to affordable coverage. The law also fully pays for the costs of expanding health insurance coverage and does it without increasing taxes on our middle class.

I believe expanding health care insurance coverage is one of the most important things we can do for our country and for our economy. The amendment that is being offered would undermine the effort under way to bring health insurance to millions of currently uninsured people in a fiscally responsible fashion.

I urge our colleagues to oppose this amendment and I ask for the yeas and nays.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, we are now in a period of 2 hours of debate equally divided. I understand Senators on that side will begin.

I would like to notify all Senators we are now working through a process to get the next amendment set in order so that Members will know. We do have 2 hours of debate, but Members should know that we may yield back some of that time. So please be ready. I think everybody has a lot of amendments they want to have brought up, and the sooner we can get to that the sooner we will.

So, again, we will now move to 2 hours of debate equally divided.

I yield the floor.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I want to thank all of my colleagues in the Senate--and in particular, my ranking member Jeff Sessions--for their valuable contributions to the debate we have had over the last few days and weeks. While there are clear areas of disagreement about how to restore our Nation's fiscal health, this is an important conversation, and one we can build on.

We all like the word ``balanced.'' As chair of the Senate Budget Committee, a critical part of my role is making sure the voices of the American people are heard in the budget process. I believe that budgets are about far more than numbers on a page. They are about the values and priorities of the American people. In their daily lives, families across our country will feel the impact of the plan we lay out in a budget, and they deserve a seat at the table. That is why at one of my first hearings as chairman, we invited inspiring Americans to speak about how the Federal budget impacts their day-to-day lives and the opportunities they have had to reach their own goals.

A young woman from New Hampshire named Katyanne Zink attended my hearing. She grew up in a low-income neighborhood in New Hampshire. Her parents didn't go to college themselves, but they desperately wanted the best for their children. Thanks to a great public school teacher who encouraged her to aim high, and with the help of Pell grants and student loans, Katyanne was able to go to college. She is now giving back to her community as an urgent care nurse. Tara Marks of Pittsburgh also spoke at our hearing. Tara never expected to find herself in poverty, but when she was suddenly hit by hard times, she temporarily depended on food stamps to feed herself and her young son. Tara firmly believes that without help when she needed it the most, she would not have been able to get back on her feet.

We heard from Patrick Murray, who is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran. Patrick explained that after suffering severe injuries while serving his country, Federal support helped him live independently so he could focus on finishing his degree.

The stories that Katyanne, Tara, and Patrick shared are just a few of the millions we must keep at the forefront of this discussion because the interest of hard-working Americans must come first in our decisionmaking. I am proud that the Senate budget my colleagues and I put forward does exactly that. The first priority of our Senate budget is creating jobs and economic growth from the middle out, not from the top down.

With an unemployment rate that remains stubbornly high and a middle class that has seen their wages stagnate for far too long, we cannot afford any threats to our fragile recovery. That is exactly why our budget responsibly replaces the harmful and arbitrary cuts from sequestration. It removes the unnecessary burden on our economy that would lower employment by almost 750,000 jobs this year alone. Following the advice of experts across the political spectrum, the Senate budget invests in education and job creation targeted through infrastructure and training initiatives while putting in place a responsible plan for deficit reduction over the long term. To secure strong economic growth in the future, our budget invests in our greatest resource, the American people, by strongly supporting high-quality education from preschool through college and career training.

As my colleague Senator Warner said so eloquently here earlier on the floor, we have to stay ahead of our competition. Our budget supports Federal R&D, which will help us make sure that growing industries and the jobs which come with them take root in the United States, not in China or India.

This budget also recognizes that getting our debt and deficit under control is crucial to our Nation's economic strength in the coming years. Our Senate budget puts forward serious, responsible deficit reduction that reflects the recommendations of bipartisan experts and the values and priorities of the American people.

Back in 2010, the Simpson-Bowles Fiscal Commission recommended finding about $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years. This has become, as we all know, the benchmark for other serious bipartisan proposals. Building on the $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction put in place over the last 2 years, our Senate budget pushes us past that $4 trillion benchmark with $1.85 trillion in deficit reduction that is evenly divided between responsible spending cuts and new revenue from the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.

This budget cuts spending responsibly by $975 billion, and we make some pretty tough choices to get there. By taking the balanced approach the American people have consistently called for, our Senate budget matches those responsible spending cuts with $975 billion in new revenue, which is raised by closing loopholes and cutting unfair spending in the Tax Code for those who need it the least. This should not be controversial. There is bipartisan support for reducing the deficit by making the Tax Code more fair and more efficient.

If our Senate budget is enacted, the total deficit reduction since the Simpson-Bowles report will consist of 64 percent spending cuts, 14 percent tax rate increases on the rich, and 22 percent new revenue by closing loopholes and cutting wasteful spending in the Tax Code for the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations. We will have put our debt and deficit on a downward, sustainable path. This is a responsible approach. It is a balanced and fair approach. It is one that is endorsed by bipartisan groups and experts, and it is one supported by the vast majority of American people.

The Senate budget takes the position that the solution to our fiscal challenges will not be found in deep cuts to programs vulnerable families depend on. It maintains crucial services that mothers such as Tara and millions of other families struck by hard times have used as a way to make ends meet while they recover. The Senate budget preserves and protects Medicare for seniors today and into the future.

As Senator Stabenow explained on the floor so well yesterday, Medicare is vital to the health and well-being of more than 50 million seniors and Americans with disabilities. Upholding our commitment to seniors and helping struggling Americans get back on their feet is not just good for our economy, it is the right thing to do.

I realize there are serious differences between the parties, and in the last few years it has been especially polarized here in Congress. But the House has now passed its budget resolution. We will be working here in the Senate to pass ours sometime late this evening. We have presented very different visions for how our country should work and who it should work for, but I am hopeful that we can bridge this divide.

As we look ahead now, I urge my colleagues to think of the millions of Americans such as Katyanne, Tara, and Patrick.

I urge them to think of the millions of middle-class families across the country who are looking to all of us to get this right; families who want us to invest in them and their communities; who want us to focus on the economy and on opportunity and the future; who are not looking for a handout, just a hand up when they need it; a government that works for them during the good times and the bad; and who desperately want us to break through this gridlock and end the dysfunction that is hurting our economy and costing them jobs. They are what this debate is about. They are who sent us all here to represent them.

The Senate budget works for families. It is a balanced and responsible plan that will tackle our economic and fiscal challenges in a way that puts the middle class and broad-based economic growth first.

When this comes up for a final vote tonight, I am going to be proud to vote for it, and I hope all of my colleagues will do the same.

When this passes the Senate, by the way, the work is far from complete. I will be working with Chairman Ryan in the House and anyone else who is interested in coming together to make some compromises, and to get to a balanced and bipartisan deal that the American people expect and deserve. It is not going to be easy, but I am hopeful it can be done. I know the families who sent us here expect nothing less.

I wish to thank Senator Sessions again for working with me on this. We have different views on many issues, but I am proud of the work we did together to make sure we had a robust and fair debate in the committee and here on the Senate floor. I also wish to thank all of his staff who have worked so hard, all of our staff who are continuing to work--all of them--very hard behind the scenes to pull this together. I wish to thank all of my colleagues again on the Budget Committee for contributing their ideas and their thoughts and their values to this resolution. I believe we have a very strong budget here. I am proud to vote for it, and I am very glad to have worked with so many people to get us to this point and, hopefully, in not too many hours we will pass the budget in the Senate and can go to work for the American people.

Thank you, Madam President. I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I thank all of our Members for their patience. I think we have an agreement put together, and we will be able to get going, so I would ask for everybody's attention.

I ask unanimous consent that the next amendments in order to be called up after the disposition of the Republican side-by-side amendments to Shaheen No. 438 be the following: Menendez No. 651, Coburn No. 409, Whitehouse No. 652, Blunt No. 261, Boxer No. 622, Hoeven No. 494, Durbin No. 578, Murray No. 653, and Collins No. 144; and that the only second-degree amendments in order prior to the votes in relation to the amendments listed above be the following amendments to the Durbin amendment No. 578: Enzi No. 656, Ayotte No. 657, and Baucus No. 658, to be offered in that order en bloc; that notwithstanding all time having expired on the resolution, there will be 2 minutes equally divided prior to each vote, with the exception of the vote prior to the Enzi second-degree amendment No. 656 to Durbin No. 578, where there will be 40 minutes--10 minutes each for Senators DURBIN, ENZI, AYOTTE, and BAUCUS, or their designees; that the order of votes with respect to the second-degree amendments to Durbin No. 578 be the following: Enzi, Ayotte, and Baucus; that upon disposition of the Collins amendment No. 144, the majority have the next amendment in order; finally, that all after the first vote will be 10 minutes.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, we are now going to be starting a series of votes. I would ask Members to stay in the Chamber. We are going to be very strict on the time in making sure we move through these.

Again, I would ask all Senators to please respect those Senators who are speaking so that they can be heard, keep the conversations in the cloakroom, and be ready to vote.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, this amendment would allow any employer or insurance company to refuse to cover any health care services for women based on their own religious beliefs and moral convictions that have nothing to do with the health needs of those denied coverage.

The compromise put forward by President Obama ensures that religious liberty is respected while ensuring that women can get access to the health care they need. Last year, Judge Carol Jackson, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush, ruled in support of this compromise, saying that Federal religious freedom law is ``a shield, not a sword ..... it is not a means to force one's religious practices upon others.''

I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, for the information of all the Senators, that vote went a little bit over. We will not let votes go over. Anyone who is not in the Chamber is going to miss a vote. We have to be able to do this in order to move expeditiously. I want to let all Senators know they leave at their own peril.

With that, I am going to turn to Senator Menendez so he may offer his amendment.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I rise to speak in opposition.

First, there was an error made in the number for the Whitehouse amendment for this sequence of votes. I ask unanimous consent that the Whitehouse amendment No. 646 be put on the list instead of Whitehouse No. 652.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, the amendment the Senator has offered would reverse a provision in the Affordable Care Act which required that Medicare's area wage index changes be spread budget neutrally throughout the entire Nation.

I, as do many, recognize that Medicare's area wage index reimbursement system does require a thorough review and revision. But the amendment in front of us now singles out one provision that negatively affects some areas while ignoring the larger payment reform.

I believe Congress should have a larger discussion on area wage index reform within the committees of jurisdiction, and I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.

I ask for the yeas and nays.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, before we go to this vote, I would just remind all Senators that at the end of this vote there will be up to 40 minutes of debate before the next amendment. I would ask all Senators who leave the floor to be back here by 6:30, maybe a little bit before that. But I would remind all of my colleagues that if you drift back in for half an hour on the first vote, it will be later and later as we get through this. So I would really ask everyone who leaves after they vote to be back here at 6:30 at the latest. We may yield a little bit back, but please be back by that time.

With that, I ask for the yeas and nays.

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Mrs. MURRAY. I would agree with the Senator. We are trying to work through. Members have a lot of priority amendments. We are trying to make sure our lists match. Our staffs are working very hard to go back and forth so everybody has equal time on the amendments which are a priority to each side. I apologize for taking time to do it. We are trying to come to an agreement, and sometimes it takes a few minutes.

I yield the floor to the Senator from Alaska.

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Mrs. MURRAY. I move to reconsider the vote and move to lay the motion on the table.

For the information of all Senators, we have worked through a lot of amendments, and I appreciate everybody's hard work. I am about to ask for unanimous consent that will lock in the next 16 amendments, which will take us well past midnight. I suggest that any Senator who is going to need a vote and wants to keep the Senate later talk to either Senator Sessions or myself very soon.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the next amendments in order to be called up be the following: Warner amendment No. 693, Thune amendment No. 307, Sanders amendment No. 198, Burr amendment No. 697, Reed of Rhode Island amendment No. 482, Paul amendment No. 263, Landrieu amendment No. 314, Cornyn amendment No. 247, Menendez amendment No. 606, Vitter amendment No. 689, Tester amendment No. 537, Toomey amendment No. 535, Casey amendment No. 442, Coats amendment No. 514, Cardin amendment No. 273, and Lee amendment No. 373; that there be no second-degree amendments in order prior to the votes in relation to any of these amendments; that notwithstanding all time having expired on the resolution, there be 2 minutes equally divided prior to each vote; that upon disposition of the Lee amendment No. 373, the majority have the next amendment in order; finally, that all of these votes be 10-minute votes and the Chair report en bloc.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I strongly oppose this amendment. Repealing this budget's revenue increase and striking reconciliation would be irresponsible. Our budget would not raise taxes on veterans.

I yield back the remainder of my time to the Senator from Vermont.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, the budget resolution before the Senate represents the values and priorities of the pro-middle-class agenda. The Paul budget that is being offered includes tax savings for the wealthy and eliminates the programs that strengthen our economy and support our middle class.

I strongly urge my colleagues to vote against this amendment, and I ask for the yeas and nays.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, again, for our colleagues, the goal of our budget is to tackle our deficit and debt responsibly in a way that works for our middle-class families and our economy. That means a balanced mix of responsible spending cuts and new revenue from those who can afford it most.

I remind all Senators every bipartisan group who has examined our budget situation has acknowledged that reality. Simpson-Bowls, the Gang of 6, Domenici-Rivlin--all recommend several times more revenue than the roughly $600 billion that was generated by the yearend deal. In fact, Simpson-Bowles and the Gang of 6 each recommend well over $2 trillion in new revenue. So striking this reconciliation instruction, which is what this amendment does, and reducing the revenue level, goes in exactly the wrong direction. I ask for a strong ``no'' vote and oppose this amendment.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I too am committed to meeting the needs of our military to defend the Nation and our interests abroad. That is exactly what this budget does.

We should not be linking defense funding with unrelated benchmarks. This amendment is unnecessary. The Senate budget does fund defense above net interest in fiscal year 2014 and over both the 5- and 10-year windows.

I recommend that my colleagues oppose the amendment.

Madam President, may I just respond and say that we have been very hard at work here. We have had a number of amendments come before us. All of our staffs are working together to have as many amendments as we can put together for the next group of votes.

Really, I do want to thank all of our Senators. I know everybody has been working really hard to get their amendments up so we can have them in order. I think we are going to keep working on that, and I appreciate everybody's focus.

Madam President, I ask for the yeas and nays.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the next amendments in order to be called up be the following: McCaskill No. 366, Johnson of Wisconsin No. 213, Brown No. 455, and Scott No. 597; that there be no second-degree amendments in order prior to the votes in relation to any of these amendments; that notwithstanding all time having expired on the resolution, there be 2 minutes equally divided prior to each vote; that upon disposition of Scott 597, the majority have the next amendment in order; finally, all these votes be 10-minute votes.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I would add to what the majority leader said. Senators have been very good in helping us work through our list on both sides. We will have some more amendments to be offered in a unanimous consent in a short while once we work through these four.

Again, I would ask all Senators to please work with the leader on your side, Mr. Sessions on the Republican side, and myself. We need to know which amendments you have to have votes on so we can start letting Senators know where we are going to end up here. I would ask everybody to continue cooperating with us. I appreciate everybody who has been working so hard.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, Social Security and Medicare have played a very critical role in providing a foundation of financial security and health care for millions upon millions of Americans over the decades. Democrats are committed to preserving and protecting them. When analyzing the solvency of these programs, it must be over more than just a 10-year budget window; we must measure them over a 75-year window.

This amendment, however, does nothing to protect the integrity of the Medicare and Social Security trust funds, and it does not do anything to improve their solvency. We should have a debate about the solvency of these programs but not on the budget resolution.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment and ask for the yeas and nays.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I would speak in opposition.

Gains in quality, productivity, and efficiency year after year, in department after department, would not have been possible without the reasonable and sound use of collective bargaining and worker representation. This amendment is just another in a long line of attempts to kill public-sector unions--unions that represent and ensure quality public service.

I strongly recommend that my colleagues oppose this amendment, and I ask for the yeas and nays.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent the next amendments in order to be called up be the following: Cardin No. 706, Inhofe No. 359, Menendez No. 705, Sessions No. 614, Merkley No. 696, Roberts No. 187, Menendez No. 619, Portman No. 152; that there be no second-degree amendments in order prior to the votes in relation to any of these amendments; that notwithstanding all time having expired on the resolution there be 2 minutes equally divided prior to each vote; upon disposition of Portman No. 152, the majority have the next amendment in order; all these votes be 10 minutes; and we report them en bloc.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I oppose this amendment. Malpractice premiums and claims and claim payouts have all gone down in recent years, partly as a result of steps many of our States have already taken. Caps on noneconomic damages limit compensation for such harms as loss of fertility or severe disfigurement or loss of mobility or loss of a spouse or a child. Damage caps do not affect frivolous lawsuits but, rather, impact the victims who have been seriously injured and who would win in court.

Tort reform can create enormous risks and costs. Immunizing health care providers against accountability for their mistakes risks increasing the number of preventable medical errors.

So this proposal would cut losses for insurers by curbing our patients' right to sue, but there is no requirement in these proposals for insurers to pass on any savings to the doctors who pay their premiums.

So I recommend a ``no'' vote on this amendment and ask for the yeas and nays.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, for the information of all Senators, we have had very good cooperation. We are working this list down. I have another unanimous consent request. I believe most of these will go by voice vote, and I appreciate everybody's cooperation.

AMENDMENTS NOS. 624, 295, 232, 538, 412, AND 340 EN BLOC

I ask unanimous consent that the next amendments in order to be called up be the following: Johanns No. 624, Corker No. 295, Burr No. 232, Wicker No. 538, Coburn No. 412, and Shelby No. 340; that there be no second-degree amendments in order prior to the votes in relation to any of these amendments; that notwithstanding all time having expired on the resolution, there be 2 minutes equally divided prior to each vote and that all the votes be 10-minute votes; that upon disposition of the Shelby amendment No. 340, the next amendment in order be an amendment from the majority; and I ask unanimous consent they be reported en bloc.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I have looked at this amendment. I do have some concerns about the implementation, but I think we can work them out. I would be willing to accept this on a voice vote.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I am speaking for my counterpart. This is another deficit-neutral fund, which I know Senator Sessions has been expressing his concern about all evening. I am delighted to accept this amendment on a voice vote.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I will not oppose this amendment. I am delighted to see another deficit-neutral reserve fund put into place on this bill that I know my colleagues on the other side of this aisle have not been very happy about throughout the process. But in the spirit of good will, I am happy to accept this amendment on a voice vote.

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Mrs. MURRAY. I have another group of amendments for which I will ask unanimous consent.

I ask unanimous consent the next amendments in order to be called up will be the following: Flake amendment No. 225, Graham amendment No. 329, Heller amendment No. 293, Boozman amendment No. 527, Portman amendment No. 153, and Ayotte amendment No. 136; that there be no second-degree amendments in order prior to the votes in relation to any of these amendments, but notwithstanding all time having expired on the resolution, there be 2 minutes equally divided prior to each vote, and that all votes be 10-minute votes; that upon the disposition of Ayotte amendment No. 136, the next amendment be an amendment from the majority.

I ask the amendments be called up en bloc.

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Mrs. MURRAY. I would answer the Senator, we are working through between the majority and minority as fast as we can. I don't think anybody here will say I have not been working very hard to get up their amendment.

We are doing our best to get everybody considered from both sides. If we keep going, I am happy to do this.

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Mrs. MURRAY. I think a lot of people want to know the answer to that question. If we could move to the Flake amendment, ask me any question you have, and I will have the answer for you.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I was really trying to focus on what the Senator was saying. It was very difficult for me to understand, and I think many of us were confused about the amendment. I support the amendment, and I ask for a voice vote.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, this actually is a commonsense approach, and I do urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

I will be happy to accept it on a voice vote.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, before we go to the rollcall vote on this, I want to turn to all my colleagues and remind all of us that what we are here trying to do is to pass a budget out of the Senate.

I have heard from so many people for so many months about how important it is that we get a budget out so we can move to the next process in this whole thing of getting our country back on track, and we are trying to do it in a responsible way.

We have had a really great debate in our committee, out here on the floor, and many Senators have participated in it. We have now had I believe 62 or 63 amendments, and I think we have a responsibility to work toward final passage.

I am aware that not every Senator had an opportunity to have an amendment, but I think many, many Senators have to say they were able to get their amendments. We have had amendments on virtually every topic here tonight, including the budget, but I would really ask all Senators to stop and think about what we are showing the American public.

What we would like the American public to think is that the Senate as a group of 100 people can have a process to move a budget forward and vote on it, whether we agree with it or we disagree with it. And I think we are pretty much there in showing the American public that we can have a good debate, have numerous amendments, have our voices heard. At the end of the day, it is a ``yes'' or ``no'' vote.

So while we have this next vote, I would really like everyone to take a second and think about how we look to the American people and how important it is that we move this process along so that we can come to a final conclusion and hopefully get bipartisan agreement to get our country back on track.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, we do have a vote that needs to occur but a final word here. I would just say that we want to get a budget passed, and I know the minority wants us to pass a budget. We have been told that time and time again. We can't pass a budget if we are filibustered by amendments for the rest of the night.

So I would urge all our colleagues to have this vote, and let's have some discussions and see if we can come to a final conclusion.

With that, I ask for the yeas and nays.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I can keep on standing all night. I am sure a number of Senators can. I do have respect for a number of our Senators here who may not be able to stand as long as some of us or who are elderly, and I would ask consideration of them. That is just my request.

With that, I do think we need to get to a vote here.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, we have been working throughout the last vote. I am hoping we are getting to a very short list in the near future.

I recognize there are Senators who are frustrated and that want an opportunity to speak out. I know there are a number of Senators who are very tired. Everybody's patience is wearing thin. I would just ask everybody to hold your patience for just a few more minutes. I am going to put us into a quorum call. I am hoping we can get an agreement and give everybody some certainty.

I know on our side we want to get a budget passed. We have been working for a great deal of time. We want to move this process forward. We know there are Senators on the other side who may not agree with our budget but agree with us that we have to move to a process to get our country back on track.

So I would ask everybody's patience for just a short while; hopefully, we can get this resolved and we can get a budget passed.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, will the Senator from Washington yield for a question?

Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I will hold the floor and yield for a question.

Mr. SESSIONS. If the Senator will yield for a question with regard to the possibility of us starting one of the votes that will probably be a rollcall vote, and let's get started on that while we work out the further details.

Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I would be willing to get an amendment going, but I haven't seen it yet. I would like the ability to take a look at it, so I suggest the absence of a quorum. It will only be for a very few minutes--patience, please--and then we will come back in and see if we can get to a vote.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.

The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I am proud of our Senators for having patience for exactly 30 seconds.

I yield to the Senator from Idaho to offer an amendment.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Let me thank the Senator from Idaho, who has been very involved in a lot of discussions over time in trying to manage us toward a better place with our Federal debt and deficit. I understand his dedication, but I oppose this amendment. Over the last several years we have enacted $1.8 trillion in spending cuts on a bipartisan basis. We do not have any trouble cutting spending in this body right now. We do seem to have trouble locking in the revenue necessary to achieve a balanced revenue reduction. I recommend our colleagues oppose this amendment.

I ask for the yeas and nays.

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Mrs. MURRAY. I am now going to ask for unanimous consent for a number of amendments to get to final passage. I would say to all Senators that we are going to have a number of votes. We would like to tell everyone to sit in your seat. We will get through these faster if we can have the rollcalls and be done quickly. So I encourage everyone to be in this room.

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Mrs. MURRAY. The Senate budget resolution that is in front of us, that we are hoping to get passed tonight, provides strong investments in transportation infrastructure. It fully funds MAP-21, the recent highway bill. It provides $50 billion for urgent transportation needs and another $10 billion for an infrastructure bank.

We could put more funding toward transportation projects and fund some good projects but not without making cuts to other vital programs. The amendment before us will make unnecessary and deep cuts to foreign aid and energy programs. I oppose this amendment.

I ask for the yeas and nays.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Voter photo identification laws are overly burdensome and have the ability to disenfranchise voters. We should not attempt to implement these policies nationwide, especially at 3:15 in the morning on a budget resolution.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Access to a telephone is beneficial for anyone trying to get a job or attempting to communicate with their family or receiving help in an emergency. Since 1985, the Lifeline Program has made it easier for low-income Americans to have a phone by providing a small monthly subsidy toward basic service. The program has seen an influx in new users over the past several years after the eligibility expanded to include mobile phones.

The FCC issued an order in January 2012 to attack waste, fraud, and abuse in the program, and that order has been successful.

I recommend my colleagues oppose this amendment.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I raise a point of order that the pending amendment is not germane. The underlying resolution therefore violates section 305(b)(2) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, it is important to reduce wasteful spending and ensure all Federal funding is spent efficiently and effectively. The budget resolution is not the appropriate place for funding decisions at a subprogrammatic level.

I recommend we oppose the amendment.

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Mrs. MURRAY. The budget already includes a deficit reduction reserve fund for the elimination, consolidation, and reform of Federal programs to achieve savings. Our budget goes even further to instruct committees to review the GAO report on duplication and asks committees to use this information to reduce overlap and identify efficiencies. The budget does not single out individual programs because we believe that sorting through duplication should be the role of our authorizing committees. That is why we have specifically instructed committees to review GAO's findings on duplication in their high-risk list.

Therefore, I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.

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Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, the Senate has passed a budget. I want to thank all of my colleagues. I especially want to thank our staff who have literally spent weeks and weeks and days and hours on this--Evan Schatz and Mike Spahn and John Righter and the others who are sitting behind us tonight--as well as Senator Sessions and all of his staff.

It is a tribute to their hard work and my lost voice that we are sitting here tonight ready to take the next step to get our country back on a better fiscal path.

I thank the Presiding Officer and yield the floor.

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