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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ISAKSON. Madam President, tomorrow I will join with what I hope will be every American in paying tribute to our veterans who have served us over 200 years to protect the liberty, the freedom, and the peace that all of us enjoy--our veterans from the Revolutionary War, veterans who created this great Republic, to our veterans who serve today in Afghanistan and the war on terror.

In the history of our country, every generation has been called at a time of trouble, and in America's good fortune every generation has responded. There are significant dates in the history of our country that remind us of the great military victories that we have had and the great sacrifices our soldiers have made: December 7, 1941, the terrible attack on Pearl Harbor; June 6, 1944, when Americans bravely stormed Omaha Beach and began the invasion of Europe which ran out Nazi Germany. We all remember, with horror and with terror, 9/11/2001 when New York, Washington, and all of America and all peace-loving people were attacked by al-Qaida, and just a few days later, September 20, when we began and initiated our effort to go after al-Qaida wherever it was, and now recognizing, a little over 10 years later, terrorists have been disrupted, bin Laden has been killed, and America and the world are a safer place.

In the financial and economic history of our country, there have also been significant dates which we should remember and significant responses which we also should recognize: the tragedy of October 1929 when the market crashed and the Great Depression began, the difficulty of Black Friday in 1987 when the markets had a terrible crash. Those were all memorable times, and we hated to see our financial and economic stability upset.

Well, there is another critical day coming in America's history, and it is coming 13 days from today on November 23, 2011, when the select committee we in this Senate and the Members of the House created to address our troubles economically in this country, which are rooted in our spending, rooted in our tax system, and rooted in our entitlement system--the select committee is to come back with at least $1.2 trillion in cuts, revenue increases, or reform of entitlements over a 10-year period of time, to be matched with the $900 billion that we cut in August to, hopefully, get us on some type of a track that will be a sustainable recovery in getting our balance back in line. But there is fear that a deal will not be reached, and that is a failure that is not an option, in my judgment.

Yesterday, there was an offer put on the table that involved revenues, involved the reform of entitlements, and involved spending cuts put on the table to begin the discussion to find common ground to have $1.2 trillion or more in cuts. Unfortunately, as I understand it, the conversation ended, and they are not back at the table yet, and there are 13 days left to go.

As just one Member of the Senate, but as the father of three and grandfather to nine, someone who has lived in this country almost 67 years, I implore my colleagues on the select committee, and all of us in the Senate, to be supportive of their effort to get back to the table, to put all issues back on the table, and understand that failure is not an option.

Today in Greece, in Italy, in Spain, and in the European Union there is great fear. There is a search for leadership in those that can control their debt, control their entitlements, and control their spending.

America, as it led on D-day on June 6, 1944, as it led in the battle against al-Qaida and terrorists, must lead economically at this time more than ever. It is time for us to put forward a plan that gives us a chance to recover our economy over time, lower our debt and our deficit over time, and reduce our spending over time. It is not an instant, 1-day cure that we seek, but it is an amortization of our liabilities to get our leverage down and our hopes and our prosperity up.

So as one Member of the Senate, I implore our members of the select committee to come back to the table, to put every issue on the table, to forthrightly discuss them, and understand that November 23, 2011, is going to be a historic day in this country--historic because we found a solution and began a process or historic because we as Americans for the first time looked the other way.

As one Member of the Senate, I don't want to look the other way. I want to look my constituents square in the eye and say that I was willing to look at spending; I was willing to look at entitlement reform; I was willing to look at revenues.

I am willing to find a path forward so America can remain in the future what it always has been; that is, a beacon of economic security in a troubled world.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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