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Public Statements

Political Exercises

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

POLITICAL EXERCISES -- (Senate - December 12, 2007)

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, what we are going to witness for the next 3 hours is the kind of thing that gives the public such a low impression of Congress. Looking at the new Gallup poll that just came out, the President has a 37-percent approval rating--certainly not anything to applaud if you are a Republican. But the Democratic Congress has a 22-percent approval rating, 15 percent below the President. Why is that? I think it is because the American public thought they sent us here to legislate. Obviously, in a body such as the Senate, in order to legislate you have to do things on a bipartisan basis. We are very different from the House of Representatives. We are actually beginning to make progress on the farm bill, although I must say we have only had one vote this entire week. It is Wednesday morning, and we have had one vote. The farm bill now is ready to move forward, and we are taking, at the insistence of the majority, 3 hours this morning to finger-point and make excuses and try to explain to the American people why we haven't been able to do enough on a bipartisan basis to achieve anything on their behalf.

It is now December 12, nearly a quarter of the way through the fiscal year. To date, we have had only one spending bill signed into law. The troops in the field haven't been funded. The Energy bill is still pending. Updates to the laws governing our terrorist surveillance program so that we can track terrorists and prevent attacks haven't been addressed.

As I indicated, we are spending 3 hours this morning engaged in what will essentially be a finger-pointing exercise instead of making further progress on the farm bill, which is poised to be completed if we will just stay on it. Christmas is less than 2 weeks away. You would think there would be a flurry of activity on the floor. You would think we would be doing everything possible so we could finish our work before New Year's Eve. But, as I indicated earlier, so far this week we have had one vote, and this is Wednesday.

Surely the majority has scheduled votes all day today; right? Wrong. We will not even consider the pending business, the farm bill, until at least this afternoon. And why do we have to wait until this afternoon? Is it so we can spend the morning addressing tax relief or the cost of gasoline or our troops and veterans? None of the above. We are gathered here this morning so the majority can spend hours of valuable floor time trying to score political points instead of trying to make law.

As I indicated earlier, they have set aside 3 hours to try to show that this session's very limited accomplishments haven't been their fault, that the endless investigations and midnight Iraq votes were not the cause. They have set aside this time as if magically in the next 3 hours they will somehow pass the litany of things they have not been able to accomplish over the past 3 months.

Let's not waste even more time relearning the lessons of the past. Partisanship and refusal to work with the minority may get you a headline, but it won't get bills signed into law. If you are serious about accomplishments, let's get back to work. Let's work together so that instead of pointing fingers, this Congress can actually point to some accomplishments. It is December 12. There is simply no time for political exercises on the Senate floor. We simply don't have the luxury of putting off our fundamental responsibilities any longer.

If the majority is serious about finishing our work and not merely about making a political point, they will not object to the following unanimous consent request which I will now make.

I ask unanimous consent that we return to the pending business of the farm bill in order to make further progress on this important measure.


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