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Public Statements

Fraud Enforcement And Recovery Act Of 2009

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I see my colleague from Connecticut is waiting, so I will be brief. There is not much I can add to the words of my friend and colleague Senator Dorgan of North Dakota, whom I have had the privilege of working with in the past on a number of issues, especially the investigation of a scandal that is still ongoing, as a matter of fact, concerning Mr. Abramoff and his corrupting effect on both sides of the aisle.

All of us just came back from a recess. All of us had an extended opportunity to visit with our constituents. In Arizona, I had that opportunity. Traveling around my State, I saw that there is confusion, there is frustration, and there is justified anger. People are not able to stay in their homes, and they are unable to keep their jobs, with unemployment continuing to go up. A State such as mine was hurt very badly because we were on the crest of the wave of the housing and the crashdown in the most dramatic fashion. So I understand and appreciate and sympathize with the fear and anger and frustration people feel about what is going on in America's economy today, and they want answers.

Actually, they want two things: They want answers and they want relief. But they also want to know what are we going to do to prevent a crisis of this nature from ever happening again. So far we haven't given them any real good answers. That is why the proposal of Senator Dorgan, which I am pleased to join in, is so important at this time. The American people deserve to know what caused this crash, what caused this catastrophe which caused them to lose their homes, their families, their jobs, and futures.

A select committee could get to work right away. We could be in business for a year. I have been on select committees before, including the one on POW and MIA issues. We were able to resolve the issue to a significant degree in a bipartisan fashion. I have no doubt this could be a bipartisan select committee. There have been select committees in the past and there may be select committees in the future, but this is vital to Americans now because they lack confidence in our economy today and in their future.

Americans deserve to know what happened, to apportion responsibilities, and most importantly to know this will never befall them again. So I urge my colleagues to act and act quickly. We can talk about a commission. I have no objection to commissions. Some have been successful, some have not. The 9/11 Commission, which I was proud to sponsor, had magnificent results. The Commission on Social Security and Medicare disappeared like a stone.

I understand there are various areas of jurisdiction. The distinguished chairman of the Judiciary Committee is here, the distinguished chairman of the Banking Committee is here, and I know they are working hard, and I know they are going into their areas of responsibility. But I would allege that these areas of examination include economic, financial, banking, housing, trade, and a broad range of issues which are not under the jurisdiction of a specific committee. I understand jurisdictional proprietorship. I also understand some people may view this as some kind of encroachment upon their responsibilities. But another thing about a select committee is that it gets the kind of attention that select committees get. I have been around the Congress long enough to see that when there is a crisis, select committees get the kind of attention and the kind of results that can lead to the kinds of reforms that are necessary.

We are in the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Everyone knows that. The American people deserve to know what happened, who caused it, and what we are going to do about it.

It does not just lie under the jurisdiction of one committee. It crosses all lines, and it should be composed, frankly, of the most qualified people and staff we can come up with. So I urge my colleagues, in the interest not of specific committee jurisdiction but in the argument that this crisis, in its size and severity, is nearly unprecedented in American history and requires extraordinary actions. That is not business as usual.

I urge my colleagues to set aside any partisan or jurisdictional differences and vote in favor of an immediate appointment of a select committee to immediately address this crisis which has affected the United States of America in the most painful fashion.

I thank my colleague from North Dakota, who fits the best and finest and most admirable definition of a prairie populist. I thank him and I yield the floor.


Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I also thank the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and floor manager for his cooperation. We are trying to get the request for a recorded vote vitiated. Right now, there is a request on this side for a recorded vote. Whatever, I know the distinguished manager wants to move forward with the bill. We are ready to dispense with it as quickly as possible. Senator Dorgan and I have spoken at sufficient length.

I thank Senator Dorgan again for this very important legislation. Why is it important? Mr. President, America is in the midst of the greatest economic crisis of our lifetime. The American people are angry and confused. They have a right to know what caused this. But, most of all, they have a right to know the path out so that we can prevent it from ever happening again to the American people.

All the cards have to be put on the table. Everything that happened that caused this--somebody called it a ``house of cards'' that collapsed. Many Americans lost homes, jobs, health insurance, and their very futures. They deserve to know. The most effective way to do that, in my view, is a select committee.

I have seen select committees in action before. They have been efficient and effective. The American people have a right to know what caused this train wreck and how we can prevent it from ever happening again. I hope my colleagues cannot only voice-vote it but put enough pressure on so that we could act immediately with the appointment of this select committee with subpoena powers, which I am confident will have bipartisan participation, bipartisan support, and the nonpartisan support of the American people.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.


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