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Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, and I hope I am not going to have to object, but I wish to suggest a very modest and sensible alteration to the UC request from my colleague, the chair of the Budget Committee, so hopefully we can get on to this because I would like to see us go to conference.

I was very critical of the 3 years when my Democratic colleagues absolutely refused to do a budget. It is progress that this year they decided to do one. I am glad. I am on the Budget Committee. I think we ought to have a budget, and I think we should go to the conference committee, despite the fact we are very far apart.

My Democratic friends supported and voted for a budget with at least $1 trillion of new tax increases, and I strongly oppose that. But I agree that is what ought to be discussed in conference. The budget that was passed uses the big tax increase that was in the budget for additional spending. I strongly disagree with that. But again, that is exactly the kind of thing that ought to be the subject of negotiations in a conference. We are very far apart. I don't know whether we can narrow that gap, but we should try.

The only reason I have been objecting, and that some of my colleagues have been objecting thus far, is that our Democratic friends want to insist on retaining the opportunity to use the conference report on a budget resolution to raise the debt ceiling, and I would point out the debt ceiling issue was not even contemplated in the Senate budget resolution. It never came up, it wasn't discussed, there was no amendment, there was no vote, and it is not in the document. In the House budget, the debt limit increase is not contemplated. It is not there. It wasn't voted on. It is completely absent.

So consistent with the rules of the Senate, I would simply suggest we go right ahead to conference, that we have a conference on the budget but that we follow the normal procedure of the Senate, which is that matters that are not in either bill, either the House or Senate bill, be excluded from consideration in a conference report so we don't airdrop in some extraneous unrelated matter that was never contemplated by either body.

I think that is the sensible approach and necessary because the debt limit is a very important issue. We have a staggering amount of debt we have allowed to accumulate. It is already damaging our economy and is a huge threat and we know the President and many of our Democratic friends think we should just raise that debt ceiling with no strings, no conditions, no reforms. So we have a very real concern this conference committee, as contemplated by my friends on the other side, would be a vehicle for the backroom deal that would allow them to exclude Republicans and come back and jam through a debt ceiling increase with no reforms.

In order to avoid that, but so we can go to conference, which I think we should do, I would simply ask that we modify the unanimous consent request as follows; so it would not be in order for the Senate to consider a conference report that includes reconciliation instructions to raise the debt limit.

If the chair of the Budget Committee would agree to that modification of her unanimous consent request, then I would agree to it.


Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, and I will wrap up quickly. I thank my colleague, the chair of the Budget Committee, but as she knows--and I wish to make sure everyone is clear--the motion to instruct conferees the chairman of the Budget Committee is recommending is completely nonbinding. It is nothing more than a recommendation. The fact remains she is insisting on retaining the ability to do a backroom deal that would raise the debt ceiling without allowing any Republican input in this body whatsoever. This is a very bad policy. It was not contemplated in either bill.

I would be delighted to go to conference with a budget resolution from the House and the Senate that does contemplate everything that is in those two respective agreements but not some extraneous matter that could be very damaging to our economy that was never contemplated. So I object.


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