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Public Statements

Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KAINE. Madam President, I rise to speak briefly about the Senate budget. At the close of my comments, I will make yet another motion to put the Senate budget into conference with the House.

As we all know, we were here until 5 a.m. on March 23 to pass the first Senate budget through regular budgetary order in 4 years. It was a full, open process both in committee, with numerous amendments, and then on the Senate floor, with over 100 amendments voted on and over 70 passed.

It is now past time, many days past time, for us to begin a budget conference process. This will enable the Senate to return to normal budgetary order, and it is what our voters, both Democratic and Republican, in all of our States expect us to do to have a meaningful conference about this budget with the House.

Good news. We are seeing some recent examples of normal compromise in this body that I think is worthy of some attention: the appropriations bill we passed through a regular order process for the remainder of 2013 in March; the marketplace fairness bill we passed, the problem that had been searching for a solution for 15 to 20 years; the WRDA bill we passed last week; and the debates we are having about the farm bill today. All have involved significant open processes in a committee, significant open processes on the Senate floor. The Senate action then moves in a regular order action into discussion with the House.

I think it is up to this body to show the public we don't just embrace regular order and normal processes on these important issues, but that we also embrace them on something as critically important as the Federal budget.

For that reason, I would ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the consideration of Calendar No. 33, H. Con. Res. 25; that the amendment which is at the desk, the text of S. Con. Res. 8, the budget resolution passed by the Senate, be inserted in lieu thereof; that H. Con. Res. 25, as amended, be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table; that the Senate insist on its amendment, request a conference with the House on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses, and that the Chair be authorized to appoint conferees on the part of the Senate; that following the authorization, two motions to instruct conferees be in order: motion to instruct relative to the debt limit and motion to instruct relative to taxes/revenue; that there be 2 hours of debate equally divided between the two leaders or their designees prior to votes in relation to those motions; further, that no amendments be in order to either of the motions prior to the votes; and all of the above occurring with no intervening action or debate.

I make that motion.


Mr. KAINE. Madam President, I rise to associate myself briefly with the comments of both Senators MCCAIN and DURBIN. This is not primarily about the budget. This is not primarily about Senate rules. This is about compromise. In Congress, a bicameral body, the Framers established compromise was necessary to take action. Will we allow processes to go forward so we can listen to each other, dialog, and find compromise, or will we use procedural mechanisms to block processes of dialog and compromise even from starting?

The Senate budget is a very different budget than the House budget. We are all free to have our preferred option. But the way we get to a final budget is to have Senate and House conferees sit down together, in what no doubt will be a difficult discussion, and to compare budgets and debate and dialog and find compromise.

The Senate acted on the 23rd of March by a majority vote in accord with the rules of this body to pass a Senate budget after 4 years. The effort to object to the beginning of a conference, make no mistake about it, is fundamentally an effort to block processes of compromise. In the living organism of government that was established by our Framers, compromise is the blood that keeps the organism alive. Efforts to block compromise are fundamentally efforts that are destructive of this institution.

So I stand by the motion I have made. I ask my colleagues to allow processes of compromise to go forward.

I yield the floor.


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