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Public Statements

Senate Accomplishments

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, as we go into the Memorial Day recess, I thought it might be appropriate to take a few moments and look back at the accomplishments of the Congress in which we currently find ourselves. We know that last year the Senate did not pass 11 of the 13 appropriation bills, and never passed a budget. It was, in fact, the first time the budget did not pass since the Budget Act passed back in 1974.

We have now completed 5 months of the 108th Congress, a Senate narrowly controlled, 51-49, by the Republican Party—certainly not a huge margin from which to function. But, nevertheless, it has been an extraordinarily productive 5 months.

Just to run down the list: Extension of unemployment benefits to those who need them, not once but twice, the second time being today. We did, back in January, pass 11 appropriation bills that were never passed for the previous year—in fact, the year in which we are currently operating. We funded Operation Iraqi Freedom, which allowed our military to have the resources to win, as the President put it, the battle for Iraq, the battle in the larger war on terrorism. We preserved our military strength by passing a Department of Defense authorization bill just this week in the Senate. We initiated the protection of our homeland by confirming the nomination of the first Secretary of the new Department of Homeland Security.

As I made reference a few moments ago, we passed a budget which distinguishes this Senate from the previous one. We have enacted the President's plan to create jobs and stimulate the economy. We just passed that today and it is on the way to the President for signature. I think the Washington Post depicted it as the third largest tax relief package in history. If that is accurate, that sounds perfectly good to me.

We have also, in the first 5 months this year, banned the horrific practice of partial-birth abortion. It passed the Senate by a very large margin.

We passed the President's faith-based initiative. We funded the effort to eradicate the scourge of global AIDS, which gives the President the opportunity to go to the G-8 meeting next week and challenge our European allies to do likewise so that we all work collectively to deal with this plague which has affected all of the world, but in particular the continent of Africa.

To guard our children against abduction and exploitation, we passed the PROTECT Act in the first 5 months of this year. We have improved safeguards from foreign terrorists by enacting the FISA bill. We engaged in our second historic NATO expansion to include the remaining members of the Warsaw Pact which were not in the first tranche that came in—Poland, Hungry, and the Czech Republic, six more countries on top of the original three to further expand NATO to complete virtually the entire area that used to make up the Warsaw Pact.

We passed the significant arms reduction treaty with our former enemy turned ally, the Russians.

We are bridging the digital divide by providing needed funds to historically black colleges.

We affirmed the constitutionality of the use of the term "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

We awarded a Congressional Gold Medal to Prime Minister Tony Blair, who richly deserved it.

And we provided tax equity to the men and women in our Nation's Armed Forces.

This has been an extraordinarily productive first five months of the 108th Congress.

Particularly to be commended is our leader BILL FRIST, who stepped into a new job at the beginning of this Congress, and has done an extraordinary job of holding us together and advancing the ball. Those are the two principal responsibilities of the majority leader—holding together at least his own side, if he can, and advancing the ball.

We have been able to reach out to the other side and have critical Democratic support when that was necessary in order to achieve success.

So as we go into the Memorial Day recess, I think we can all feel proud that we have accomplished a great deal for our constituents and made this a better country in many clearly discernible ways.

Having recounted those accomplishments of the 108th Congress, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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