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Sportsmen's Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, let me say from the outset that this Senate and this Nation are profoundly fortunate to have had the services of Senator Orrin Hatch for decades and decades. The speech he just delivered to this body was profound in so many ways and true in so many ways. It was made at 10 minutes til 6 on a Friday night when perhaps Americans are looking elsewhere, but just so much of what the Senator said is absolutely the truth, and our country needs to hear it. I appreciate him coming and delivering it in such a talented way.


Mr. WICKER. Well, it would be. I think that with the leadership of people such as Senator Hatch, we would not be ignoring what we have out there facing us in America today, and that is nothing less than a financial crisis. The Senator from Utah is correct. The President of the United States is doing everything he can to change the subject from the central issue of our faltering economy. Yet the mainstream media is out there playing trivial pursuit, talking about everything that is not important, and that is a distraction. But you just can't get around the facts. The facts are these: We have a $16 trillion staggering debt in this country. This government has added $6 trillion in 3 1/2 short years. Just the facts. You can't get around it.

You also can't get around these absolute truths: We have had no appropriations bills come out of this Senate this year. Our Republican friends in the House--it is a different story. They have done their work, and they passed product after product, as they are supposed to do. And my hat is off to the chair, the gentleman from Kentucky, Chairman Rogers, for getting the appropriations bills done. We have not done that in this Democrat-led Senate.

We have not passed a defense bill--first time in half a century that we will
have gone through a whole session and not passed a defense bill, at a time when we have troops at war, troops in harm's way. Our men and women are putting themselves at risk and fighting and dying. We do not have a defense bill.


Mr. WICKER. No question about it. It does not make me comfortable to point fingers, but there is no getting around the fact that there is one person on this planet who can call up a bill before this Senate; that is, the majority leader of the Senate. He has not brought up the defense bill.

We also do not have a budget resolution. Again, our friends in the House, the Republicans in the House, under Speaker Boehner, have during the 2 years of their stewardship brought budget resolutions to the floor, passed them, sent them over here, only to be ignored.

The President has submitted budgets--did not get a

single vote in the House of Representatives, did not get a single vote when we called it up as sort of a test vote here in the Senate. But this Senate, under the leadership of the Democratic majority, has not followed the statute that says you bring a budget resolution up every year--has not done it. We are into our fourth year now.

Beyond that, they do not have a budget deficit reduction plan. It is one thing to have a resolution that could say anything, but what the American people need, what our future generations are crying out for is a plan to reduce this debt.

I look forward to and hope to see the day when my friend from Alabama is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. I would ask him to assure everyone within the sound of our voices today that under his leadership as chairman of the Budget Committee, we will see a budget resolution brought to the floor and debated according to statute.


Mr. WICKER. Well, it is one of our basic responsibilities. As I said, the discretionary part of it is the appropriations bills. Not one single appropriations bill has cleared this Senate during 2012. And yes, indeed, at a time when we are running a debt of $6 trillion, when we are seeing our friends and allies across the ocean teetering on the brink, we are seeing all the warning signs.

We have time in this Capitol, in this Capital City, the shining city on the hill, to be an example to the world.

I can only answer the Senator's question by saying that the President's budget was so unpopular it did not get a single vote. There is not one single--even the most leftwing, left-leaning Senator would not step forward and embrace that budget. I can only assume that what they would have suggested would have been very much like that.

But when you are in the majority, you have a responsibility to lead. We all have a responsibility to lead, but in particular, when you are the only vehicle for bringing bills to the floor, you have a responsibility to lead in a time of crisis. That is what we have been lacking here in the Senate.

Of course, we do have the Federal Reserve, and the leader of the Federal Reserve announced the other day that he is going to print $40 billion extra each month. Now, that is his solution. I would counsel against that. I think most Members on this side would counsel against that. But at least it is a plan. We have had no indication from the leader of the Senate whether they like that plan.

We do know this. We passed a stimulus bill over here that cost almost $1 trillion. Unemployment has gone up under this bill that was supposed to jump-start the economy. It was supposed to do two things: jump-start the economy and keep the unemployment rate 8 percent or less. Of course, we know that for 42 months now, the unemployment rate has been over 8 percent. And the last thing the stimulus bill did was jump-start the economy. It has been going downhill ever since. It is hard to put a pretty face on this situation. Of course, the result is that a staggering 23 million American citizens either do not have a job, are underemployed, or have stopped looking for work.

In addition, of course, the President promised in 2008--the Senator remembers that promise--that he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. Well, this is the end of his first term. The deficit has mushroomed, not been cut in half.

We are in a financial crisis, and everybody on television seems to be trying to paint a rosy picture and avoid the subject. So I am glad to join with my friend, the ranking member on the Budget Committee, to suggest that we will have a plan, as House Republicans had a specific plan, in black and white, to address this unbelievable financial crisis our country faces.


Mr. WICKER. I tell you what else it would do. It would tell the truth to the American people about what we are facing. I like what our young nominee for Vice President said. We have got time to fix this, but we need to fix it, and we don't have much time.

Speaking of telling the truth, I wish to pivot, if I could, to a question that has been raised on this floor in the last couple of days about this Senate's lack of compliance with the Budget Act. There is not a more learned expert on the federal Budget Act of 1974 than my friend from Alabama, and I would ask him to clarify, if he would, the statements and misstatements and charges and countercharges that have been made about the fact there has not been a budget resolution brought to this floor for consideration and amendment.


Mr. WICKER. It is what every city council, every State legislature cannot avoid. They do not have a printing press down in Montgomery, AL, or Jackson, MS.

I know the Senator has seen the local delegations of county officials coming in and talking about economic development. They tell me: Senator, we have had to cut back on this, we have had to cut back on that, we have had to do this to our budget. We used to be able to afford these things and now we can't afford them anymore. They have had to make sensible decisions. Councils and legislatures, Republican and Democrat, have faced the hard choices, and it can't be any fun for them. They have to face the voters and say: we paid for this last year, we don't have the money this year. And families have had to do that as well.

Mr. SESSIONS. I couldn't agree more. In my hometown of Mobile, AL, they fell one vote short of raising the sales tax because of the financial challenges they were facing, and they had a big debate about it, but they didn't duck the vote. They had the vote and they decided they didn't need to raise the taxes. But it wasn't a question of the city council being able to avoid a vote.

We in the great United States Senate, we travel the whole of our States over and over and over again and we ask for this tough job. My wife has a good phrase for it when I complain. She says: Don't blame me. You asked for the job. Well, we asked for this job. Nobody said it was going to be easy, and this is not easy because we have never faced a more fundamental financial crisis. Because of demographics and history and trends that are going on in our population, the situation is such that it is going to be difficult to meet these challenges.

Mr. WICKER. But we can meet these challenges.

I have grown children--32, 28, and 25. They may be about to age into the next year, and they wonder if they will even receive Medicare when it comes time to retire. That retirement for them will come sooner than they think, though it seems like forever. But they do not believe--that generation doesn't believe--Medicare will be there for them. If we tackle this problem, Medicare can be there for the next generation. It should be there for the next generation.

Mr. SESSIONS. Exactly.

Mr. WICKER. It won't look exactly like it does for my father, who is 88 years old today and depends on Medicare, but Medicare could be there. But not the way it is going now. We have to tackle these issues.

Mr. SESSIONS. My colleague is so right. We are not going to have to cancel these programs.

Mr. WICKER. No, sir.


Mr. WICKER. Well, I appreciate the Senator's sharing his time with me.

Mr. President, I guess in a moment, Senator Sessions will yield the floor and we will go dark, subject to the call of the Chair for a vote at midnight, and then we will sort of slink out of town, with no appropriations bills, no defense bill, and no dealing with sequestration, which means meat axe cuts to defense and other programs.

But we will have gotten away under cover of darkness to face the voters, and in this country they are the ultimate arbiters.

I appreciate this opportunity to stand on the floor with a statesman such as my friend from Alabama and to thank him for his leadership on budget issues and to thank him for coming here and telling the truth to our colleagues and to the American people.


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