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Public Statements

Roadblock to Progress

Location: Washington DC

Sept. 21, 2004


Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, it is after Labor Day so the campaign rhetoric is in full bloom. One thing we have already heard and continue to hear is this charge of a "do-nothing" Congress. And in yet another great paradox unique to this town, we find those who complain that the Senate is not driving ahead and are themselves the roadblock to progress.

For a year and a half we have seen a stall ballgame for the ages, an effort to run out the clock on this session practically before it began. We have seen unprecedented obstruction by a determined minority. Sadly, tactics not employed since the founding of the Republic have become commonplace in this body. We have seen tactics employed not only against highly controversial items but against noncontroversial, broadly supported items, too.

The CARE Act, which provides numerous tax improvements to assist and empower those who run, contribute, and benefit from our charitable organizations passed the Senate 95 to 5. No Democratic Senator voted no. Yet our colleagues on the other side of the aisle refuse to let this bill go to conference and, therefore, it lies near death.

Fortunately, I understand that the IDEA bill, which reforms and enhances the funding of education for disabled children-which passed the Senate 95 to 3-may well be going to conference tonight. If so, that is excellent movement in the right direction.

The Workforce Investment Act, which authorizes the worker training programs for young people, dislocated adults, veterans, Native Americans, seasonal workers, and migrant workers, passed the Senate last year by unanimous consent. No one objected. Yet this bill also has not been able to go forward. Think about it. Bills virtually with no voiced opposition are being stopped by a silent and shadowy force, and the American people are being denied better jobs, better education, and a more compassionate society all because of a pattern of obstruction.

I think the practitioners of this obstruction owe an explanation to the American people as to why they are blocking these widely supported bills that they previously voted for on the Senate floor.

Fortunately, the majority leader's extraordinary effort and patience has enabled much to be done in spite of the obstruction. We have passed tax cuts to get the economy going again, and it sure is going again. We have passed a Medicare prescription drug benefit that is giving seniors an immediate helping hand with a full comprehensive benefit to start in about 15 months. We have passed a Do-Not-Call Registry and the Healthy Forest Act, the partial-birth abortion bill, and the NATO enlargement treaty. But that was last year. What about this year?

We passed into law a pension relief and stabilization plan for private sector businesses, workers, and their retirees. We passed into law a BioShield Act to improve countermeasures from biological, chemical, and other terrorist attacks. We passed into law the Unborn Victims of Violence Act and also a Defense appropriations bill, as well as a supplemental for operations in Iraq.

So much has been accomplished, but much more can and should be done. I call on our colleagues to allow us to move forward on the Workforce Investment Act and CARE right now so we can have an America with workers trained for the modern workplace, a better educational environment for our children, and a more compassionate safety net for our citizens.

I yield the floor.

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