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Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013 - Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCONNELL. Over the years we have seen repeated instances of indifference to the rule of law on the part of this administration. It is a consistent and worrisome path. The most recent example, of course, was last week's announcement that the President had simply decided not to enforce a major piece of his health care law--that is, until after the midterm election. What the President was saying in effect was that if he doesn't want to implement the law he has signed, he doesn't have to.

I agree it is a terrible law. I understand why people harmed by it would want it changed. In fact, I think we ought to repeal it altogether and opt instead for real reforms that actually would lower costs. But the fact is--for now, at least--it is the law and it is the President's constitutional duty to enforce the law. Yet, instead of fulfilling this basic duty of his office, the President seems to believe he gets to decide who is subject to the law. He gets to decide who is subject to the law and who gets a pass. So last week businesses had their ObamaCare sentences delayed. Maybe next week it will be some other group, but it is his call. He will decide what the law is. He did it with immigration, he did it with welfare work requirements, and he did it with the NLRB when he took it upon himself to tell another branch of government when it was in recess. He is doing it again with his own signature health care law.

Imagine that the current occupant of the White House was not President Obama but a Republican. Imagine that. Pretend that this Republican had come to office promising an era of inclusion and accountability, but as the years wore on he simply had grown tired of the democratic process.

Imagine that this President, despite securing confirmation for nearly every nominee he submitted, couldn't understand why the elected Senate didn't simply rush them all through even quicker. He couldn't understand why Senators insisted on fulfilling their constitutional obligations to scrutinize each nominee.

Visualize for a moment that this President decided to urge Members of his party to break the rules of the Senate so that he could appoint whomever he wanted regardless of checks and balances.

Imagine the outrage in the media, online, and especially on the other side of the aisle. They would claim the President was a dictator. They would say he was ripping the Constitution to shreds, basically everything they said for so many years about President Bush. But, of course, President Obama isn't a Republican, and so Washington Democrats seem just fine with it. In fact, it appears they are even ready to help this President--actually help him--in his partisan power grab.

I know Washington Democrats are getting a lot of pressure from big labor bosses and from other far-left elements of their base to do this. These folks have told Democrats it is time to pay up, and they do not have much time for things such as the democratic process or the rule of law. They have raised a ton of money for the Democrats and now they want the special interest treatment they believe is owed to them. That is why we see the other side cooking up phony nomination fights. They are cooking up a phony nomination fight because they want to go nuclear, but they know the facts simply aren't on their side to justify doing so. They know their core argument, that President Obama's nominees are being treated less fairly than those of President Bush, is essentially at odds with reality. It is a complete fiction. They have gotten burned by the fact checkers already. President Obama's nominees for Secretary of Transportation and Energy were unanimously confirmed. Secretary of State? Confirmed. Treasury? Confirmed. Interior, Defense, Commerce? Check, check, check.

Already in this Congress the Senate has approved 27 of President Obama's lifetime appointments. That compares to just 10 at a comparable period in President Bush's second term. And, by the way, my party controlled the Senate at this point in President Bush's second term. He got 10, President Obama has 27. In other words, President Obama has just settled back into office and already he has secured nearly three times--three times--more comparable judicial confirmations.

Look, to justify doing something as extreme as the left wants, you better be prepared to make a rock-solid case, and this is the best they can come up with, that we need to change the rules of the Senate because big labor bosses say so; that the left should be allowed to fundamentally change our democracy because the President is only getting nearly everything he wants--nearly everything he wants--rather than everything he wants at the exact moment he wants it? Let's get real here. This is not how a democracy functions.

If this were a Republican President and the shoe were on the other foot, does anyone seriously believe Washington Democrats would be going along with something so utterly preposterous? Of course not. Remember, the current majority leader once said the nuclear option would ``ruin our country.'' That was said by the fellow who sits right over here, the current majority leader of the Senate. And a former Senator from Illinois named Obama said if the Senate broke the rules to change the rules ``the fighting, the bitterness and the gridlock [would] only get worse.'' Boy, he was right about that.

What I am saying to President Obama and his friends on the far left is this: The facts show you are getting treated pretty darn well on nominations as it is. But if you would like more confirmed, if, for instance, you want the Senate to confirm your nominees to the NLRB, then don't send us nominees who have already been declared illegal by the courts. We have already said that is not going to happen. You know you can't look Americans in the eye and say you would vote for such a thing if you were in the minority so don't expect us to. But if you send us fresh picks, we will happily give them a fair hearing, just as we have been doing all along with all of the rest of the President's nominees. Almost all of them have been confirmed. Most have been confirmed almost unanimously, because we in America know that majorities of either party will never get absolutely everything they want. That push and pull is the hallmark of a healthy democracy. And one day--maybe not in the too-distant future--when our Democratic friends in the majority are invariably returned to the minority, they will thank us for standing up for those democratic rights.

Madam President, I yield the floor.


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