Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I will speak off the topic of the day. Obviously, we are focused on the fiscal cliff. The measure is now over in the House, and the distinguished Senator from Wyoming and the senior Senator from California expressed their hope--and I would say confidence--that the House will act. Given the dysfunction of the House and its Republican leadership, I am perhaps a little bit more cautious than they are about this.
I remember that we did a very good bipartisan highway bill here. It passed with an enormous vote of 70-some, if I remember correctly, and went over to the House. They could not even pass a highway bill. They had no bill at all. They got so snarled up that finally they passed a bill that did nothing but to appoint conferees to argue about our bill. They could not bring a bill of their own into conference.
We worked very hard on a farm bill here. It was a bipartisan farm bill. Senator Stabenow was particularly energetic in that, as was her colleague from Kansas. Again, that was a bipartisan bill, which required a lot of hard work and had many compromises. We are in a terrible drought--which is something I will talk about more in a moment--and they cannot pass the farm bill over there.
The Speaker tried to respond to having withdrawn from his negotiations with the President on the fiscal cliff by coming up with a new so-called Plan B alternative. He could not even get that through his caucus. There is an unprecedented degree of extremism and dysfunction in the House Republican caucus, and I hope that does not disrupt the progress we have made on the fiscal cliff. We will have to wait and see. Today will tell.