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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 -- Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, I appreciate the vote we just concluded. I think what the vote said is that we want the bill on the floor to be in compliance with the Budget Control Act that was passed 15 months ago. This bill, even though it was not a lot of money, violated that. Senators have voted not to waive the budget and spend the money anyway. They decided we should comply with the budget.

I talked with Senator Tester and Majority Leader Reid and assured them that the fundamentals of this bill are good. I like what they have been trying to do with the Sportsmen's Act and I have been supportive of so many of the provisions in it.

We had several little problems. First and foremost, it attempted to spend more than the EKW Committee was entitled to spend under the Budget Control Act. Second, we have a blue slip problem with it. Thirdly, we have given the Interior Department Secretary the power to raise taxes unilaterally without a vote of Congress, and I think that is bad policy. All of those, however, compared to the many other provisions in the legislation are small, and we should be able to work them out. So I hope we can, and I will be working in that regard.

However, I do wish to say to my colleagues, this is the second bill that has had a lot of support on both sides of the aisle but has failed because they violated the Budget Control Act agreement on spending. Some on the other side might think they can simply say Republicans are obstructionists, they are killing bills just because they want to kill them and they don't like them. That is not correct. Republicans want to deal with many of the issues before us, such as veterans jobs, such as issues important to sportsmen, and we are supportive of them, but we want them to be done according to the agreement we reached on spending limits last year, and that can easily be done. We spend almost $3700 billion a year. We ought to be able to find $14 million from waste, fraud, duplication--savings that can be utilized to pay for this new program.

What the bill suggests by the way it is written is that we have looked at all of the spending in the entire U.S. Government and we can't find $14 million less valuable than to spend it on migratory bird conservation. I think that is not true. Of course we can find waste, fraud, and abuse right there. We can find other ways to consolidate programs to fund this. We have to honor the agreement we reached, because it looks to me as though we will soon be headed to some sort of late-night, end-of-the-session monumental bill, and it will be like what we had 15 months ago when the debt ceiling was increased and spending was limited and we promised to raise the debt ceiling but limit spending growth, basically. We voted on that. The majority voted for it. The President supported it. He signed it. It became law. Here we are now 15 months later, having had four bills brought to this floor that violated that spending limit. So we have to be careful. The American people are not going to be very confident, if we reach some sort of other spending limit agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, that we won't, before the ink is dry, start violating it. After all, it only takes 60 votes.

I think it is a very important issue. I am the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee. When we make an agreement, I think we ought to adhere to it, and this is why we had difficulty with the bill.

I enjoyed working with Senator Tester on it. I have had a good conversation with Senate Majority Leader Reid. Hopefully, something can be worked out to fix this problem.

I thank the Chair and yield the floor.


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