Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I thank my friend from Vermont. I hope I will not inconvenience him. I have a very short opening statement. I thank him for giving me the opportunity to make this statement.
As always, we appreciate the President coming to the Capitol last night. I take him at his word when he says he wants to work with us on issues that benefit the Nation and in particular to grow jobs. I would like to speak this morning about two areas in particular that meet the criteria of bipartisan achievements and job growth--agreements to increase our exports and finding more American energy. Those are two areas upon which we ought to be able to find bipartisan agreement.
The President called for increased exports and for the Congress to pass trade agreements that have languished under the current majority in the Senate. Republicans agree with the need to increase trade and with the need to ratify trade agreements with Colombia and other important trading partners that so far have met resistance on the other side of the aisle. We also support passing a sensible bill to help Pakistan establish reconstruction opportunity zones that actually increase trade and do not impose self-defeating restrictions. We agree with the President's call to pass these agreements. We agree that these agreements will lead to more American jobs. The Congress should act on these agreements.
The President also called for producing more American energy. This is an area with a huge opportunity for American jobs that cannot--cannot--be sent overseas. We agree with his call for more clean energy produced here in America. We agree with his call for building more nuclear plants. We agree with his call for increased offshore exploration for oil and gas. We agree with his call for development of clean coal technologies. We should build a new generation of clean nuclear plants in this country. Senate Republicans support building 100 new plants as quickly as possible. We hope Democrats will join us in that effort, particularly now with the President's call to action. The President could start by moving forward on the nuclear loan guarantee program that was included in the bipartisan 2005 Energy bill. He could also put forward a plan for dealing with the waste that comes from these plants in a safe and secure manner.
The President and I agree on the need to meet in the middle to find bipartisan agreement to grow jobs. I have outlined two specific areas where the President and Republicans in Congress agree. We know that increased American energy, without a new national energy tax, will grow good jobs. We know that increasing markets for our farmers, entrepreneurs, and manufacturers overseas through trade agreements will grow good jobs. We can get these done, and I hope the President will join us in calling on the majority to bring these issues to the floor in the Senate.
One thing we had hoped to hear more about from the President last night was the administration's handling of the attempted Christmas Day bombing. After 9/11, all Americans recognized the need to create and coordinate myriad tools of defense, security, and intelligence to protect us from future attacks. That is why Americans are so troubled by the fact that the administration seems to have lost sight of this essential requirement for national security out of a preoccupation with reading the Christmas Day bomber his Miranda rights. Apparently, there was little, if any, coordination among key components of the administration's national security apparatus on how to treat this terrorist who nearly killed 300 innocent people over Detroit on Christmas Day. Shockingly, the administration then made the hasty decision to treat him as a civilian defendant, including advising him of the right to remain silent, rather than as an intelligence resource to be thoroughly interrogated in order to obtain potentially lifesaving information.
Republicans have issued a letter to Attorney General Holder demanding answers to some of the vital questions that arise out of the administration's handling of this attempted attack. It is critical that Americans have a full and timely understanding of the policy and legal rationale upon which the ill-Ðadvised decision surrounding this narrowly averted calamity was made. Until these concerns are addressed, Republicans will continue to raise them on behalf of the American people.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
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