Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, all year I have been coming to the floor to urge Senate Democrats to work with us to help the middle class. So far they haven't seemed too serious about it. We saw that last week when they insisted on pushing legislation that could cost--not create but cost--up to 1 million jobs. Seventeen thousand of those jobs would be lost in Kentucky alone.
I am hoping Senate Democrats are finally willing to turn the page. I am hoping they are finally willing to get serious about helping the middle class, because if they are, here is the energy debate we should be having right here this week: We should be having a debate about how to develop policies that can actually lead to lower utility bills for squeezed families, policies that can put people back to work in America's coal country, policies that can help the kind of well-paying jobs our constituents want and deserve, and policies that can lead to a more effective use of North American energy supplies, that can help stabilize the world at a time when energy has become a weapon of states that do not hold our interests at heart.
Middle-class Americans struggle every day just to make ends meet. For many, the rising cost of energy is a big part of that. The price of electricity has been rising over the last decade, jumping by double digits in many States, and that is even after adjusting for inflation.
So it is unacceptable that it has been 7 years since we have had a real debate about energy jobs, energy independence, and energy security in the Democratically led Senate.
Republicans have a lot of good ideas about ways to help alleviate pressure on the middle class, and we have good ideas about how to create new opportunities through the use of our country's abundant energy supplies. I am sure our Democratic friends have some good ideas, too, and we would all love to hear them because these days we haven't heard a lot of serious energy talk from our friends on the other side.
We haven't heard many concrete Democratic proposals that would effectively alleviate the real concerns and anxieties and stresses that my constituents and theirs deal with on an everyday basis. That is what we would like to hear from them this week, and that is what the American people deserve to hear.
We know Washington Democrats tried and failed to push a national energy tax--cap and trade--through Congress back when they had complete control of Washington. We know President Obama hasn't given up on that idea, even after the people's representatives refused to go along with it--in a Congress that was controlled entirely by his party.
That is why we see the Obama administration trying to do an end run around Congress to get what it wants: to impose through the bureaucracy massive new regulations that would make things even harder for already squeezed middle-class families.
So what Republicans are saying is this: Our constituents deserve a voice in what Washington Democrats are planning to do up because they are the ones whose lives and livelihoods will be most affected by these decisions, and through legislation this very week our constituents should be able to weigh in on these kinds of Democratic plans.
For instance, my constituents in Kentucky should be able to weigh in on an EPA rule that would negatively impact existing and future coal plants. Kentuckians deserve a say on ongoing regulatory efforts to tie up mining permits and the redtape that is stifling the creation of good jobs in the coal industry and coal country.
The American people deserve a debate on how we can best tap our own extraordinary natural resources to achieve energy independence here at home and how we can help our allies overseas through increased exports of American energy too.
These are what we should be voting on this very week--serious energy policy proposals that can jolt our economy, boost middle-class incomes and jobs, and improve America's energy security in the world.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.