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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, today we will once again attempt to prevent student loan interest rates from going up. This problem could have been solved literally weeks ago, but our friends on the other side were not interested in solving the problem; they wanted a scapegoat more than a solution.
So this afternoon we will vote on two different ways of addressing the issue. The Democratic plan is designed to fail. In order to cover the cost of a temporary rate freeze that both parties actually want, they propose to divert $6 billion from Medicare and to raise taxes on small businesses, hurting the very companies we are counting on to hire today's college graduates. They have known for months that we would not support this tax hike and that it couldn't pass this Chamber or the House of Representatives. It has already failed, but they are proposing it anyway, for a second time.
If our Democratic friends would allow it, the chairman and ranking member could write a bill that could actually pass. But since passage isn't their goal, our friends on the other side huddled behind closed doors, out of sight of the public and the press, and produced the tax hike instead of letting the committee actually do its work.
We already know how this story is going to end. We know exactly, already, how the story will end. So why are the Democrats forcing us to vote on their failed proposal yet again? Because, as I have said, they are more interested in drawing our opposition--of trying to create a bad guy--than in actually solving the problem.
When it comes to college graduates today, the bigger issue is the President's economic agenda which has created an environment in which most of them can't find a decent job. So I can understand why our Democratic friends want to change the subject, but if we are actually going to do something to solve the problem, we are going to need to get past the political theatrics.
If Senate Democrats reject the bipartisan fix the House already passed--one that doesn't raise taxes or divert a single dollar away from Medicare and is an offset they have used themselves before--then I hope they will turn around and work with us on a bipartisan fix that doesn't tax small businesses--a proposal that is actually designed to pass and become law.
But let's be clear about something. The real issue isn't the fact that certain students are going to see an interest rate hike because we will address that concern; it is that so many young people today can't find a job that will enable them to pay off their loans in the first place. That is the much larger problem. The solution is a progrowth agenda that would make it easier for U.S. businesses to hire, not a tax hike that will actually make it harder for them to hire.
In the short term, Republicans are ready to work to offer this temporary relief, but we are still waiting on the Democratic leadership to propose a solution of their own that can actually pass either one or two Chambers of Congress.
I would, once again, urge the President to get involved. If the President has time to run around to late-night comedy shows and college campuses talking about this issue, then he can pick up the phone and work out a solution with Democrats in the Senate.
Last week at the White House, I pressed the President to get involved in order to prevent the student interest rates from going up--a goal we all share. Think about it. If the President wants to pass this bill so badly, then why on Earth hasn't he picked up the phone and called the chairman or ranking Republican of the relevant committee? As with so many pressing issues, the President has not led on this issue. He has campaigned on it, but he has not worked to actually fix it.
The American people are tired of the posturing and the games. It is time for the President to lead. It is time for Senate Democrats to stop the political theater and to find a real solution.
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Mr. President, on another matter, I wish to take a moment to thank my good friend, the senior Senator from Wyoming, Mike Enzi, for the work he has done shepherding the FDA bill through the markup and across the Senate floor. This is an incredibly complex piece of legislation that strikes a difficult balance of protecting consumers while avoiding the stifling regulation that slows the process of bringing lifesaving drugs and devices to market.
Throughout a lengthy process, Mike has shown the command of complex topics, steady leadership, and interest in his colleagues' priorities that have characterized his tenure at the HELP Committee. For that, those of us on this side of the aisle would like to thank him very much.
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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I wish to address one other matter. I have a sad task today of informing my colleagues that a valued and honorable Kentuckian who enlisted in the U.S. Army has fallen in the performance of his duty. On March 29, 2012, SPC David W. Taylor of Dixon, KY, died from injuries sustained in an accident at an ammunitions supply point in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. He was 20 years old.
For his service in uniform, Specialist Taylor received several awards, medals, and decorations, including the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Parachutist Badge, and the Overseas Service Bar.
After his tragic death at entirely too young an age, one of Specialist Taylor's commanders, Sergeant Addington, delivered a tribute to his fallen brother in arms. This is what he said:
When his country called for young lives to offer themselves up for the preservation of freedom, young David Taylor answered the call and said, ``Here am I, take me.'' Specialist Taylor was my soldier, my battle buddy, and my friend. He was a fast learner and my greatest student. He sacrificed himself so we might be free.
Before he was a soldier, his mother Sarah Taylor recalled that David was a compassionate, dedicated young man. From a young age, he was always looking for ways to help others. Sarah says of her son: ``One Christmas he had received a large amount of gifts.''
David asked his parents ``if he could give some of his gifts to a classmate of his who he knew would not receive many items.''
David was a great athlete who played football and soccer and ran track. He loved to hunt and hunted turkey and deer, but his real passion was for duck hunting. He had many friends, was the life of the party, and he was popular with the girls. David ``would change outfits multiple times before going to school, as his hair and clothes had to be perfect,'' Sarah says.
David was also very dedicated to physical fitness. He worked out multiple times a week to stay in shape. Perhaps that is because young David knew his body was his instrument, and he had made up his mind to join the military by age 14.
David's high school did not have an ROTC program, so David worked hard to graduate 6 months early and eagerly enlisted. He skipped both the prom and graduation to take up his more important pursuit, enlisting in January 2010. He even waived his signing bonus saying, ``It is every young man's duty to serve.''
David planned to make the military his career and hoped to go into the medical field. He dedicated himself to the military handbook and doing everything ``by the book.'' He went on to serve as a paratrooper in a parachute infantry regiment, one of the most demanding specialties in the Army.
LT Eric Fitzgerald was Specialist Taylor's platoon leader. He says:
David was one of the most outstanding paratroopers in the whole platoon, just striving to be the best. When you wanted something done, when you wanted it done right, you went to Taylor for it.
CPT Brian Bifulco, David's company commander, concurs:
It was evident since the day I met him that David had all the qualities desirable in a paratrooper: Smart, aggressive, committed, and reliable. He displayed them readily in everything he did.
David maintained his rigorous workout schedule in the Army by following the Crossfit physical fitness programs 5 to 6 days a week so he could excel at the Army's physical fitness test. He could run his 2-mile fitness test in a full minute faster than anyone else in his platoon. Specialist Taylor was assigned to D Company, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, based out of Fort Bragg, NC. He deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom in February of this year for what would be his first and only deployment.
David's fellow soldiers from his platoon named the small gym in their Afghanistan outpost in his honor as a remembrance of David's commitment to excellence. Nearly every soldier in the platoon wears a metal bracelet honoring Specialist Taylor. SFC Russ Kelley had this to say:
For many of the guys, this is the first friend they've ever lost to combat. They wear the bracelets to remember.
At this time we are thinking of SPC David W. Taylor's family and his friends as I recount his story for the Senate, including his mother Sarah Taylor, his grandmother Laura Klutey, and many other beloved family members and friends. David was preceded in death by his father Kevin Taylor.
David's mother Sarah says David loved the Army and was excited to be in Afghanistan.
Sergeant Addington remembers:
David seemed to live for the job, and while others would whine and complain in the field, David would just sling up his hammock and settle in. He was at home in the woods, a natural outdoorsman.
David, who grew up in the woods, fit in perfectly. He seemed born to do this job, and I felt sorry for any Taliban that he was bound to run into in Afghanistan. The Taliban got lucky this time.
Even if that is the case, the tragedy of Specialist Taylor's death is certainly not lucky for anyone else, most of all not for the family he has left behind or his friends and fellow soldiers.
I know it is small solace in place of what they have lost, but I want them to know this Senate holds SPC David W. Taylor in the highest regard for his service on behalf of our country. We are honored, just a few days before Memorial Day, to recognize his enormous sacrifice on behalf of this Nation.
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