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Reorganization of the Senate

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, as the Senator from Texas pointed out, except for the extraordinary circumstance in which the Senate found itself—50-50—for the first time since the 1880s, the issue of committee funding was not dealt with by the full Senate. The only issue that was dealt with by the full Senate was the appointment of the committees. For 1 week now, the Senate has been in the majority of the Republicans, and yet there is not a single Republican committee chairman. New Members of the Senate, such as the occupant of the Chair, do not yet have committee assignments. He has been a Senator, I say to the Senator from Minnesota, for almost a week now, and he is not yet on a committee.

What the Senator from Texas has been saying—wholly aside from this debate over what the committee funding should be, which is typically not dealt with by the full Senate anyway—there is no rational basis, no equitable basis for not ratifying the results of the election last November by letting the new Members of the Senate and, for that matter, the old Members of the Senate who are going to new committees, have those committees ratified and the chairmen and ranking members selected. That is what I believe the Senator from Texas was saying.

I do not have the exact facts in front of me, but I understand this is the latest, certainly in recent Congresses, after the beginning of a Congress that we have, in effect, ratified the results of the election.

Last Tuesday, the Senator from Minnesota was sworn in. It has been almost a week; he is not on a committee yet. We do not have any committee chairmen. It is not enough to suggest that the minority ought to hold the hearings about which the Senator from Texas was talking. The minority does not hold hearings; the majority does. That is the tradition of the Senate. That tradition should be honored, and we should not delay passing the committee resolution pending the outcome of this ongoing discussion about what the committee funding ratio should be.

I think the Senator from Texas makes a compelling and irrefutable point about the need to start doing the people's business. We did not pass 11 of the 13 appropriations bills last year. They have not been done yet. We cannot have a meeting of the Appropriations Committee to get started on trying to pass those 11 bills because we do not have a chairman. The committees have not been organized. Let's at least get that job done, as the Senator from Texas points out, and we can continue—I assume at the rate we are going indefinitely—to discuss what the appropriate funding ratios should be.

We are holding up the people's business. We are not honoring the results of the election Tuesday, November 5. We need to get on with it, and tonight or tomorrow would be a good time. I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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