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Surface Transportation Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, later today I will be down on the floor to offer a budget point of order on the highway bill. I have been down here several times over the course of the last several days.

I think most in this body--a large majority of people in this body--have been a part of encouraging us to, in a very bipartisan way, solve the budget problems we have in this country. There were 64 of us--32 on each side of the aisle--who signed a letter to the President encouraging him to really adopt some of the principles that were laid out in Bowles-Simpson. After that, there was a very large number of Senators on both sides of the aisle who signed a letter to the supercommittee asking them to go big and really deal in a serious way with the budget issues, the deficit issues with which our country is dealing.

I have been down here multiple times talking about the various oddities in this bill. What is getting ready to happen in this bill is that we are actually, over the next 2 years, going to create a $10 billion to $11 billion deficit. Because of the various gimmickry we use, we are figuring out ways to get around that. One of the budget gimmicks we are using in the bill is that we are going to spend the money over a 2-year period but pay for it over a 10-year period--2 years worth of spending, 10 years worth of revenues.

I think the Acting President pro tempore was here during the period of time we had the health care debate in our Nation, and many of the folks on my side of the aisle, rightfully so, were concerned about the health care bill because there were 6 years' worth of costs and 10 years' worth of revenues, and a lot of people thought that was a budget gimmick. Candidly, many of my friends on the other side of the aisle, while they may have supported the bill, were also concerned about those same types of gimmicks being used in the health care bill, and it caused them concern.

My point is, in a bipartisan way, we have tried to deal with our budget deficits in this country. I notice the Senator from Illinois just stepped on the floor. He has been a major player in those initiatives. What we did last year was we passed something called the Budget Control Act. We did so in order to raise the debt ceiling and to accomplish discipline in this body so that over the next 2 years we established overall caps on spending.

This bill, believe it or not--here we are in March, with a very popular bill, which speaks to the fact, to me,

that it is the kind of bill that many of us would think, if you really want to pass a highway bill, you would prioritize it higher than other spending, that it is the kind of situation that, in a bipartisan way, we would come together and say: OK, we really want to see infrastructure spending in this country, so let's make this of higher priority than other spending.

That is not what we are doing. Believe it or not, this Senate--which has talked big about deficit spending, written lots of letters, had lots of meetings--what this Senate is getting ready to do with this bill is violate the Budget Control Act that we passed last year trying to show the American people we had at least a modicum of discipline.

Let me say it one more time. This highway bill, in March of this year--I think we passed the Budget Control Act last August, in the early part of August, to demonstrate to the American people that this Senate, this Congress had the discipline to put caps on spending over the next 2 years to begin the process of addressing deficit reduction. What we are going to do, if we pass this highway bill, as laid out, is violate that budget cap right now.

I want everybody in this body to know that I plan to offer a budget point of order. I hope at least all of those 64 Senators--32 on each side--would join me in opposing breaking the Budget Control Act we just put in place in an effort to demonstrate to the American people and, candidly, to the world that buys our Treasury bonds that we have the ability, the discipline to deal with the fiscal issues we have in our Nation.

Mr. President, I know we have the distinguished Senator from Texas in the Chamber, who was to speak exactly right now. I yield the floor and thank the Acting President pro tempore for the time.


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