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Public Statements

Minimum Wage Fairness Act -- Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. President, Washington Democrats have controlled the White House and the Senate for years now. They have tried just about every tool in the liberal toolbox to turn the economy around. Yet according to the latest Gallup tracking poll, just 19 percent of Americans think the economy is doing well. Millions are out of work, and close to 60 percent of Americans say things are getting even worse.

By basically any objective standard, we would have to say the Washington Democratic approach hasn't worked. We would have to say it is time for a change, to do something that can work, and that is what Republicans are proposing again this week.

While Senate Democrats dust off the same poll-tested ideas for papering over the symptoms of malaise, Republicans are proposing concrete ideas aimed at igniting the economy and giving people real hope for something more, something better than what they have been getting for the last 5 years, something which speaks to their hopes and their potential. In other words, the other side is doubling down on the status quo while Republicans are offering change.

Specifically, we will be proposing numerous jobs-related amendments which have one unifying purpose; that is, to break through the stagnation of the Obama economy and kick domestic job creation into high gear.

Our approach is simple: Let's give free enterprise and private initiative a chance. Let's use the tools we know can lead to the creation of the stable, well-paying 21st century jobs our constituents want and deserve.

Too often it seems our friends on the other side are single-mindedly focused on treating the symptoms of a down economy rather than actually providing struggling Americans with positive, meaningful paths to a better life. They can't seem to get their minds around any legislative proposal that puts ordinary Americans and private initiative in the driver's seat instead of the government.

To me that largely sums up the difference between the parties. But it goes even further than that, because Washington Democrats are not just reluctant to embrace any idea that doesn't emanate from Washington; they don't even want to hear about it.

If we are going to get this country back on track, that needs to change, and that is what Republicans are arguing for this week. What we are saying is, if all you want is subsistence-level relief, then that is what the party of government is going to give you. But if your goal is to help those who want to truly aspire to join the middle class, if you want to really help people maximize their potential and build a better life, it is time to start looking beyond Washington.

Deep down I think our Democratic friends understand this too. I think they understand that pushing big government legislation with words such as ``jobs'' or ``affordable'' in the title isn't the same as actually creating jobs or actually making things more affordable. It is like handing someone a menu instead of serving them a meal. The tragic effects to this approach are clear: from an Affordable Care Act that turned out to be anything but, to a stimulus bill that seemed better at stimulating late-night punch lines than good paying jobs. But despite all the evidence, Washington Democrats remain stubbornly attached to the same old playbook. If you need proof, just take a look at the poll-tested, campaign-crafted agenda they rolled out this week--an agenda packed to the brim with base-pleasing show votes and few if any real solutions for the middle class. In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office tells us that one of their proposals could cost up to a million jobs--cost jobs, not create jobs.

Look, this prioritization of party-pleasing show votes over actually helping grow the middle class is a tragedy for our country. The American people really deserve two national parties that are serious, and it is long past time for Democrats to start engaging with us in a serious effort to help Americans who struggle so much in the Obama economy.

The good news is they will have their chance this week. The Republicans are filing amendments on a whole range of job-centered policies, amendments that deserve not just a vote but bipartisan support. For example, an amendment from the junior Senator from South Carolina would eliminate ObamaCare's 30-hour workweek rule, which is hurting Americans' take-home pay in our already depressed economy.

One of our Members from Utah is putting forward an amendment to repeal ObamaCare's job-destroying medical device tax. A good number of Democratic Senators have joined us in the past to get rid of this job killer, and they deserve the opportunity to help us eliminate it once and for all.

The senior Senator from North Dakota has an amendment that would speed approval of the Keystone Pipeline. This is a project that would create thousands of jobs right away, and it is just a no-brainer. Senate Democrats need to join Democrats across the country who have already endorsed this commonsense initiative and help us pass it.

I personally plan to file an amendment that would give Congress the ability to stop EPA's back-door national energy tax and would also keep unelected bureaucrats from blocking desperately needed jobs in Kentucky by sitting on surface mining permitting. Remember, this administration's anti-Kentucky policies have helped bring about a depression--that is a depression with a capital D--in many Kentucky coal counties. It is about time they started having a little compassion for the coal families who just want to put food on the table, and that is exactly what my amendment aims to do.

So these are just a few of the many proposals Republican Senators will be putting forward this week. They represent the kind of solutions our country needs right now to finally emerge from this awful economy--real solutions that focus on creating well-paying jobs, increasing take-home pay, training a world-class workforce, and breaking a seemingly endless cycle of chronic high unemployment.

As I have indicated, we have tried the Washington Democratic approach for years now. We know that it just hasn't worked. We know their new agenda isn't serious, that it is nothing more than an ObamaCare distraction strategy. We know this because Democrats actually told us it was created by their campaign committee, that it was designed to appeal to their base.

So if the Democratic majority is finally ready to get down to business and create jobs, this is a moment to prove it. This is the moment to drop the endless campaigning. This is the moment to work with us to actually create jobs and help the middle class, and this is the moment for legislation that would do just that.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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