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Sportsmen's Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed--Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, Americans are crying out for us to stop giving away hard-earned tax dollars to countries that are not our friends. I agree. We need to review all our foreign aid and make any aid conditional on the protection of Americans and of our interests. But when it comes to the bill offered by Senator Paul, I have to say I do not like how some parts of it are worded. It has some flaws and Members on both sides of the aisle have some legitimate concerns. I have been working all day with Senator Paul to improve the language to address concerns on our side.

Senator Paul has been more than accommodating on this. He was willing to limit the scope of the bill to Libya, Pakistan, and Egypt. With respect to Libya and Egypt, he agreed to loosen restrictions so the funds would not turn off for 60 days, and only turn off if it was clear their governments were not cooperating with the investigation into the attacks and efforts to find the perpetrators. In short, he was willing to accept the legitimate concerns that have been raised by colleagues with respect to the potential unintended consequences of the bill.

Then Senator Paul asked the majority leader if he could modify the bill. Senators do this all the time--or at least we used to. We work together, we have managers' amendments, we allow Senators to modify their legislation to fix issues raised by other Senators. So after all this work and this good faith accommodation by Senator Paul who, to address the concerns of colleagues on both sides of the aisle, was agreeing to changes that narrowed the scope of the legislation far beyond what he personally wanted--after all this, the other side of the aisle decided to play gotcha. They would not let him modify his own amendment. His request was made 8 to 10 hours before the vote--plenty of time for Members to review the changes--but the normal rules of comity apparently do not apply anymore in the Senate.

This Senator is ashamed of the way the Senate is being run. We have had an entire Congress of gag rules, limited debate, limited votes, limited amendments, and the result has been no accomplishments. Over the last 2 years, the Senate has become a laughingstock. I may not like the way Senator Paul's bill is worded, his unmodified bill. I do not agree with the scope of the conditions in some cases, but I support the goals of providing accountability in our foreign aid, of freeing Dr. Afridi, and of ensuring that those we support with our precious dollars are defending our interests and our diplomats overseas.

I will vote yes on this bill in support of these principles. The bill will not pass, but the other side cannot hide from this issue forever. Senator Paul will be back and I will be back with him. We will get the votes the American people are demanding.

Mr. KERRY. Will the Senator yield for a question?

Mr. DeMINT. Certainly.

Mr. KERRY. I ask the Senator this question. We all understand the normal rules of the Senate. This is a big policy, cutting off four countries' aid with a set of circumstances that is so rigid it may encompass countries such as Israel and others. The normal rules of comity are that something such as this would go through the appropriate committee. That is why we have committees.

The Senator from South Carolina is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. This has never been to the Foreign Relations Committee. Does the Senator believe some policy as important as this doesn't deserve a hearing, doesn't deserve a process? I think the Senator knows that as the chairman I have never slowed down a process of our committee. The normal rules of comity ought to require this to go through the committee.

Mr. DeMINT. I say to the Senator, if that were true, I think he has to admit Senator Tester has one that his side pushed this night that has not been through committee, violates the budget, and a number of other things.

The point is this. Senator Paul has been working on this legislation for several months and has been working to try to get a vote on this floor for several months and he could not get it. He was turned down time and time again. This legislation has been out there. The issue of foreign aid has been out there. We have not taken it up as a committee as we should have. The fact that he is not given the opportunity to get a vote on the amendment of his choice, to modify his own amendment, does break the precedent of the Senate and does break the comity we should enjoy here. When a Member offers an amendment, they should be able to modify it.


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