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Establishing the Commission on Freedom of Information Act Processing Delays

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the fact is that the only way we are going to get an agreement before Tuesday is to have an agreement with the President of the United States--the only person in America of the 307 million of us who can sign something into law. I am more optimistic than my friend the majority leader. We have both talked to the President today, talked to the Vice President several times. I think we have a chance of getting there.

What I think is not helpful is the process we are going through here on the Senate floor: having show votes over live quorums, having reluctance on the part of the majority to have a vote on a measure they favor, which we have been prepared to vote on since last night.

Look, we need to be in a position where all of us in the leadership can come back here and say that we think we have reached a framework of an agreement we can recommend to our Members and be briefing our Members. The sooner we can do that, the sooner we can reassure the American people we are going to get a result on a bipartisan basis. So that is what I am working on, and I am not interested in scoring any political points. I am interested in getting an outcome for the American people, and the only way that can be done is with the President of the United States, and we are going to continue to work on that, get this problem solved, and let everybody in the country know we are not going to default for the first time in our history. That is how I am going to spend my time until we get that outcome and I can come up here and recommend it to my colleagues.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.

Mr. REID. Mr. President, we are here today right now for this reason. It is spelled f-i-l-i-b-u-s-t-e-r--filibuster. There are delaying tactics proceeding right now. They will not allow us to have a vote, an up-or-down vote on our amendment, and this is a filibuster. By any other term, it is a filibuster. That is why we are here. I hope the negotiations go on. We are willing to be as fair as we can, but there has to be something that the President and Vice President Biden and the rest of us think is a step in the right direction. I guess talking is a step in the right direction, but that is about it.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the matter we have before us, which is amendment No. 589--that we have an up-or-down vote on that, as we have all the time, of course. There would be no points of order, as we do it here all the time. Have a vote on it right now.

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, these are direct quotes from my friend the majority leader. He says: ``In the Senate it has always been the case you need 60 votes.'' ``Always been the case you need 60 votes.'' This is the majority leader of the Senate. For him to suggest that a matter of this magnitude, in a body that requires 60 votes for almost everything, is going to be done with 51 votes makes no sense at all. I object.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.

The majority leader.

Mr. REID. Mr. President, first of all, it is unconscionable that the Republicans would filibuster legislation to prevent a default on national obligations. Frankly, it is unprecedented. Since 1962, Congress has raised the debt limit 74 times, including 18 times under President Reagan, and there was never a threat of a filibuster, and it was always by majority vote.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Republican leader.

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I might say I actually cut short a conversation with the Vice President to come out here for this important vote on a live quorum. I would like to get back to work so we can hopefully solve this problem.

It seems to me it would be a good idea for the majority to decide to allow the vote on the proposal they say they are in favor of; therefore, I ask unanimous consent that the vote on the pending cloture motion occur at 6:30.


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