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Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. REID. Madam President, yesterday the Senate invoked cloture on the appropriations bill we have been working on for several weeks. Now what we are doing is burning, wasting 30 hours postcloture. During the postcloture time, each Senator has the right to speak for 1 hour. It is obvious there are 100 of us, so we all can't speak. Senators who do not like the bill and want to express their views as to why it is a bad bill, they get 1 hour.

This is truly a waste of time. It always is a waste of time, but it is a waste of time now because we have so much important work to do. Next in line is the budget resolution. We have heard speeches over here. Oh, gee, have we heard speeches. We need the Democrats to do a budget. No one mentions, but that is OK--no one mentions we did not have a budget resolution; we had President Obama sign a law that took care of our budget problems. But we want to satisfy the Republicans and we want to get to that budget debate.

I talked this morning about what a terrific job Chairman Murray has done on this bill. It has been outstanding. But the budget is here by virtue of a law that was passed. There is 50 hours permitted for debate on the budget. Then we can have a lot of amendments after all debate time is over.

Republicans said let's do the budget debate and we say let us do it. Why should we sit around here and look at each other and do nothing? My friend, the ranking member of the Budget Committee, the junior Senator from Alabama, said let's do it after Easter. We are going to do this. We are going to do this before we go home for Easter. If we want to use the whole 60 hours, we will start the debate on the budget sometime Thursday morning and we will have 50 hours and a lot of votes. If that is what they want to do, we can do that, but why put the Senate through that? Why put the Senate through wasting 60 hours?

I wish to make clear to all Senators that we are going to continue working on this, the CR and the budget resolution, until we complete them. When we come back, we have lots of stuff to do. We have gun legislation. We have the WRDA bill, which I am told is going to be reported out of that committee, Environment and Public Works, on a bipartisan basis led by Senators Boxer and Vitter.

That is a strange, unusual marriage, but I am happy to hear that. It is an important bill.

We have to do immigration. We have to do appropriations bills. We have a lot to do. The Senate will not leave--the third time I am telling everyone here--for Easter-Passover recess until we complete the budget. If that means because of the delay in this bill we wasted 60 hours, we will be voting here Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday--whenever we have to do it. My hope would be that we can complete this appropriations measure and move on to the budget resolution this afternoon. But the least we should be able to do is begin debate on the budget. The least we should be able to do is the debate. We have been through these lots of times, some of us, and a budget.

During the first 50 hours, not much is going to happen unless there is an agreement that the time for voting will not be counted against 50 hours. If there is no agreement there, there will be no amendments. What I would like to do is have amendments offered during the 50 hours and have whatever the time is for voting, which is usually 10 or 15, sometimes 20 minutes, that will be counted against the 50 hours. But if we do not do that, then what we will have is just 50 hours of Patty Murray and Jeff Sessions talking to each other and whoever wants to join in the conversation.

I hope we can begin debate on this. I have a couple unanimous consent requests. I have alerted the Republicans I would be doing this.

I ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding cloture having been invoked on the Mikulski-Shelby substitute, the following amendments be in order: Mikulski-Shelby No. 98, as modified with the changes that are at the desk; and Pryor-Blunt No. 82, this deals with food inspectors, meat inspectors, an important amendment that these two Senators feel strongly about as do a number of us; that no other first-degree amendments to the substitute or the underlying bill be in order; that no second-degree amendments be in order to any of the amendments listed above prior to the vote; and that there be 30 minutes equally divided between the two leaders or their designees prior to votes in relation to the amendments in the order listed; that upon disposition of the Pryor-Blunt amendment No. 82, the Durbin second-degree amendment to the Toomey amendment be withdrawn--that is amendment No. 115; that the Senate proceed to vote in relation to the Toomey amendment, No. 115; that all amendments, with the exception of the substitute, be subject to a 60-affirmative-vote threshold; and upon disposition of the Toomey amendment, the Senate proceed to vote on the Mikulski-Shelby substitute amendment, as amended; that if the substitute amendment, as amended, is agreed to, the cloture motion on the underlying bill is withdrawn and the Senate proceed to vote on passage of the bill as amended.

That is my request.


Mr. MORAN. Let me ask the majority leader if the two amendments listed in his unanimous consent, No. 98 and No. 82, are considered, then following that we would move to final action on the bill--on the substitute as potentially amended; is that accurate?

Mr. REID. That is correct.

Mr. MORAN. While I am not opposed, certainly, to the Pryor-Blunt amendment--I am a sponsor of that amendment--because that would then waive the 30 hours and move to final action, I object.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.

The Senator from Kansas.

Mr. MORAN. I have objected to the unanimous consent request, and in addition to my concern that while there are amendments that are fine with me if they are made pending and brought before the floor for a vote, I would object because we would move to final action; but I also would object because the amendment I have offered in regard to control towers is not included in the unanimous consent request.

Mr. REID. I am glad the Senator clarified that because it sounded as if he did not have an objection to this, and I was going to say he could still have his 30 hours, but I got his objection.

I ask unanimous consent notwithstanding cloture having been invoked, at 4 o'clock today it be in order for the Senate to begin consideration of S. Con. Res. 8, the budget resolution for fiscal year 2014; that any time used for consideration of S. Con. Res. 8 during the postcloture period on H.R. 933 also count toward postcloture time on H.R. 933; further, that on Tuesday, March 19, at a time to be determined by the majority leader after consultation with the Republican leader, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 933.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? The Senator from Kansas.

Mr. MORAN. Madam President, I object.

Mr. REID. Madam President, this is one of the amazements of the American people. There is nothing--nothing going to happen during how many hours is left in the 30 hours--nothing. Why, logically, would anyone have an objection to going ahead with the budget resolution? We are looking at each other--not very often, because nobody is on the floor. It is things such as this that are going to cause the Senate to have to reassess all these rules. Right now we accomplish so little. I am disappointed in my friend, for whom I have the greatest respect, my friend from Kansas, whom I know and knew in the House very well. He is a fine person. I like him a lot. I know how strongly he feels about this. But strong positive or negative feelings should not stop the progress of what we are trying to do to help the country.


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