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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. Mr. President, this amendment could have a profound impact on our Nation's energy security by reducing funding for efforts that support finding clean energy replacements for oil.

High oil prices and tensions in the Middle East could not present a better national security case for moving quickly away from our military's overwhelming dependence on oil, especially as currently supplied to critical operations and facilities in the Middle East, the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and elsewhere. The military's dependence on oil is one of its most significant vulnerabilities; as a recent Army release noted, our Nation loses one soldier for every 20 convoys transiting through Afghanistan; fuel comprises 50 percent of the load carried by these convoys.

Last year, the Department of Defense used 4.3 billion gallons of petroleum, and spent about $20 billion on fuel. I encourage the Department of Defense to continue to support efforts that will lower the risks and future costs to our armed forces by supporting technologies like solar energy at forward operating bases, the production and procurement of advanced biofuels and other clean alternative fuels, and improved energy performance of materials to lighten and improve the capability, load, and endurance of our troops.

I will continue to do everything that I can to help move the Nation toward a safer, cleaner, and more secure energy future.


Mr. REID. Mr. President, the week before last, the House of Representatives sent us this important bill to prevent a government shutdown, to fund the government for the next 6 months. I have said it before, I say it again: I commend Speaker Boehner for giving this bill to us at a time where we could do some constructive work on it. The House did their work on time. We are going to do our work on time.

I applaud and commend my counterpart, Senator McConnell. When that bill came from the House, he sat down with me and the two managers of this bill. He said: The House did their work, now we need to do ours. We could not do all the remaining 10 appropriations bills, but we added three. That was good. It would not have happened but for Senator McConnell acknowledging that we needed to get some of this work done. It could not have happened even though Senator McConnell and I thought it was a good idea but for the work of Senator Mikulski and Senator Shelby. They are veteran legislators. They are people who believe in this institution. They know this institution needs to get back where we are doing things the way we used to. The way we used to do things was fund the government in a timely fashion. We have the opportunity to do that now. We are taking care of the next 6 months.

During this 6 months, the government will be functioning because of what we have done here. They will work on having 12 appropriations bills that we will bring to the floor. Everyone should know we are not going to be able to spend a week on every appropriations bill, but we need to do all 12 appropriations bills. That is our goal. It is the goal of the two managers of this bill, it is the goal of the Republican leader, and it is my goal. We need to do this.

I so appreciate--I say it again--the work done by the two managers of this bill. They worked in good faith. They both gave up things they believed in for the greater good. They produced a substitute amendment. We had added a few things to it. I know people are disappointed because they wanted to rearrange things differently. I would like to have rearranged things differently. There are things that are happening in Nevada because of the sequester that I would like to have taken out of this bill. They are not good things that are happening either.

I hope this practical, commonsense leadership will be a good sign for our regular appropriations bills and other work in the future. The work done by these two managers should be and is exemplary for what needs to follow. And what is going to follow immediately is our budget. We are going to have a budget debate. It is going to be a good debate.

We have two differently opposed views as to what should happen to this country economically. But that is what the Senate is all about, to allow us to do that. So I say to Senator Murray--everyone has heard me talk about how good she is, and I really do believe that--I hope she and Senator Sessions are looking at what was done by these two Senators. Senator Mikulski and Senator Shelby have totally different views about how government should operate, but they also have views as to how the legislative process should operate. Legislation is the art of compromise. Everybody here has to understand, you are not going to get everything you want. You cannot throw a monkey wrench into everything just because you do not get what you want on one issue.

We are going to move to the budget. There will be no votes tonight. We have a lot of debate time on this bill, and the two managers are going to determine when the votes will start.

Again, this is a very good day for the Senate. I am very happy we reached this point.

The bill was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading and was read the third time.


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