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Securing American Jobs Through Exports Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. Mr. President, I rise to just say a few words about my good friend and my mentor in the Senate, Senator Richard Lugar. I heard both leaders this morning mention Senator Lugar, and I thought I would rise for a minute to talk about him because I have been lucky to have him as a mentor since I arrived in the Senate. Senator Mark Pryor organized for our class, when we came in, mentors, usually a senior Democrat, senior Republican, and Senator Lugar was that mentor for me. As a result of that, I have spent a great deal of time with him, both in the Foreign Relations Committee and in a variety of meetings and he has always given me very valuable advice. Above all, his advice was to urge bipartisanship, not for its own sake but because it is what makes the Senate work and what allows us to move forward.

As one of the leaders pointed out, he is going to be with us for 8 more months, but I think there was something very important in the statement he made and I will read a few words and ask unanimous consent the full statement be printed in the Record thereafter.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

(See exhibit 1)

Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. I want to read a few words from what he said after he suffered this electoral loss. These are words we should all listen to in the Senate because they are so wise. They give us advice and put us on a path we should be on. These are Senator Lugar's words.

Legislators should have an ideological grounding and strong beliefs identifiable to their constituents. I believe I have offered that throughout my career. But ideology cannot be a substitute for a determination to think for yourself, for a willingness to study an issue objectively, and for the fortitude to sometimes disagree with your party or even your constituents. Like Edmund Burke, I believe leaders owe the people they represent their best judgment.

Too often bipartisanship is equated with centrism or deal cutting. Bipartisanship is not the opposite of principle. One can be very conservative or very liberal and still have a bipartisan mindset. Such a mindset acknowledges that the other party is also patriotic and may have some good ideas. It acknowledges that national unity is important, and that aggressive partisanship deepens cynicism, sharpens political vendettas, and depletes the national reserve of good will that is critical to our survival in hard times. Certainly this was understood by President Reagan, who worked with Democrats frequently and showed flexibility that would be ridiculed today--from assenting to tax increases in the 1983 Social Security fix, to compromising on landmark tax reform legislation in 1986, to advancing arms control agreements in his second term.

I don't remember a time when so many topics have become politically unmentionable in one party or the other. Republicans cannot admit to any nuance in policy on climate change. Republican members are now expected to take pledges against any tax increases. For two consecutive Presidential nomination cycles, GOP candidates competed with one another to express the most strident anti-immigration view, even at the risk of alienating a huge voting bloc. Similarly, most Democrats are constrained when talking about such issues as entitlement cuts, tort reform, and trade agreements. Our political system is losing its ability to even explore alternatives. If fealty to these pledges continues to expand, legislators may pledge their way into irrelevance. Voters will be electing a slate of inflexible positions rather than a leader.

I hope that as a nation we aspire to more than that. I hope we will demand judgment from our leaders.

Those are the words of Senator Lugar. I think they are very wise words. I think we should all read his whole speech and try to put the Senate on a better path.


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