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Public Statements

Defense Authorization

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION -- (Senate - September 08, 2008)

Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I wonder if I might pose a question to the leadership. Senator Levin and I just met in preparation to move forward, hopefully, on the annual authorization bill. This would be the 30th bill Senator Levin and I have worked on together. In the interim period, over the summer, our staffs have done a lot of very valuable work in terms of trying to sort through reconciliation between the House and Senate provisions. But it is our recommendation to the leadership that we try to obtain a UC to enable the amendments that would be brought forward to be relevant to the work of the committee, or the text of the bill.

I am just wondering, what do the respective leaders have to guide the Senator and myself on this issue?

Mr. REID. Mr. President, I say to the Senator from Virginia that I hope we can work out something. We have this week to do it. It will be the last week that we have an opportunity to finish this most important piece of legislation. I think we owe it to our troops to work out something. We can get hung up on germane and relevant. One thing we could do--and I know we have had a problem here with people wanting to offer amendments on everything, as they have said, ``like we used to do in the Senate.''

Mr. President, I have been through a number of Presidential elections, and we have one coming up in about 60 days. We have to do things a little differently. I hope we can come up with some way to move forward on that. One of the suggestions made is maybe we could come up with something where the Senator from Virginia and Senator Levin can look at the amendments first related to the bill. We need to finish the Defense bill. Next week, we are going to be able to legislate our hearts out on energy. People have been wanting to do that for a long time. Let's get rid of this piece of legislation, which is important. I hope we can figure out a way to move forward on it.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Republican leader is recognized.

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, we talked about this a couple of times before the August break. I know he is concerned because this bill has frequently been targeted for nongermane amendments. I can recall that, as recently as last year, a nongermane amendment was offered by a member of the majority and actually adopted and became a complication in trying to complete the legislation.

I say to the Senator from Virginia, I don't know what is possible. I just got in from the airport. I will meet with the Republican leadership later this afternoon to discuss with our colleagues what we might be able to achieve. I am certainly open to trying to move the measure along. I will consult with everybody on our side to see whether that is possible.

Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I thank the leaders. I only say that Senator Levin and I are ready, beginning tomorrow morning, if this procedural motion this afternoon at 5:30 is carried, to go to work. Hopefully, we can waive any 30-hour requirement, or whatever might be attached to this, and proceed directly to the bill. We both have amendments that can be brought up, and we welcome amendments from our colleagues. Again, the issue of relevancy is imperative if we hope to complete this bill this week.

Mr. REID. Mr. President, I hope we don't have to use the 30 hours. We can start working on this tomorrow. There are amendments, as the Senator has indicated, members of the committee want to offer which relate to the bill. We should do that. Now, I hope we don't have to file cloture on the bill itself if we get on it. I think we should try to finish the Defense bill.

As I have indicated, I went to Afghanistan. We have learned a lot, and we are implementing what we learned in Iraq. There are some things in Iraq that didn't do so well. We are trying to do better in Afghanistan. But it takes resources, and that is what this bill is about. I hope we don't have to wait 30 hours. We don't have to do that.

We have a national election coming up. Speaking for the Republican leader, we don't want to be here until November 3, which is a Monday. We need to allow people to get back and work--those who want to help McCain and Obama, those who want to work on their own campaigns, and those who want to help others who are campaigning. I hope we can legislate on this tomorrow. Before we do that, we have to proceed to it tonight.

Mr. McCONNELL. At the risk of being redundant, I will consult with the leadership of my conference and other members, and surely we will be able to get on the bill, at the latest, sometime tomorrow and proceed with the amendment process.

Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I thank the leaders.

I yield the floor.

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