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Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 -- Motion to Proceed -- Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, earlier this morning it was suggested that Republicans are creating a problem on the Portman-Shaheen bill because we are insisting on amendments. I am stunned that anybody would think that insisting on amendments would be unusual or out of order. That is what we used to do in the Senate. We had amendments offered and we had votes on them by both sides.

One Senator, it was suggested, insisted on an ObamaCare amendment. That was dropped 5 days ago. Nobody is insisting on an ObamaCare amendment on the Portman-Shaheen bill. Senator Vitter had suggested that earlier but decided that was not a good idea on this particular bill because it was the opportunity, we hoped, to get four or five votes on important energy-related amendments. Senator Durbin actually objected.

So I think it is important to set the record straight this morning. What Senate Republicans are asking for is four or five amendments related to the subject of energy. I would remind our colleagues that the minority in the Senate has had eight rollcall votes on amendments it was interested in since last July--since last July.

During that same period the House of Representatives, where it is often thought the minority has no influence at all, has had 125 rollcall amendment votes. So what is going on is the Senate is being run in a way that only the majority leader gets to decide who gets to offer amendments. He says: Maybe I will pick one for you.

That is not the way the Senate used to operate, not the way the Senate should operate, and I hope not the way the Senate will operate starting next year.

The majority leader, as I indicated, is basically shutting down the voice of the people here in the Senate; that is, the people who are represented by 45 of us. For 7 long years he has refused to allow truly comprehensive debate on energy in this Chamber. We have not had a comprehensive debate since 2007. He had a chance to change that yesterday. Dozens of Senators asked him to do that. We know the American people want us to do it. But he refused. Apparently he does not think the American people deserve a vote on a single energy amendment. Apparently he does not think the American middle class, which is being squeezed by rising energy costs and over-the-top government regulations, needs the kind of relief Republicans are proposing. He clearly must not think the people of eastern Kentucky deserve our help either. Kentuckians in the eastern part of my State are experiencing a depression--that is a depression with a ``D''--that the President's energy policies actually created and are making worse.

The administration has proposed new rules that would make life even harder for those folks, rules that would make it effectively impossible to build another coal plant anywhere in the country. Coal is a vital industry to the livelihood of literally thousands of people in my State. We should be allowed to help them, but the majority leader said no.

Let's be honest. He does not seem to think the people we represent deserve a say on much of anything anymore. Democrats over in the Republican-controlled House, as I indicated earlier, have had 125 amendment votes since last July, but here in the Senate the Democratic majority has allowed us nine. I said eight earlier. It is actually nine amendments since last July, that is, rollcall votes. It is shameful. But it says a lot about which party is serious these days and which one is literally playing games. It says a lot about the complete lack of confidence Washington Democrats have in an open debate. What is wrong with having an open debate? They are completely out of ideas, and apparently they do not want anybody to know that Republicans have suggestions to be made. So they are attempting to muzzle us at a time when middle-class Americans are in need of some relief. Do they really think that Americans who have had to cope with rising electricity prices, stagnant wages, and growing hopelessness in the Obama economy--do they really believe the Senate should not even be debating ideas that might help them?

It is hard to think otherwise. So I think middle-class Americans, looking at the Senate these days, are left to draw an obvious conclusion: That their concerns matter far less to today's Senate Democrats than the political imperatives of the far left. We know the President's political team must be pleased. One White House aide said they plan to lean on Senate Democrats to ``get the right outcome'' this week; in other words, to stop the American people from having a real debate on energy policies.

For the President and his political pals, it must feel like ``mission accomplished.'' This means he can avoid having to sign or veto legislation that might be good for the middle class but offensive to the furthest orbit of the left. It also means he can continue to impose energy

regulations such as the one I mentioned earlier, through the back door, to govern by executive fiat, without having to worry about niceties such as Democratic accountability.

After all, far-left activists presumably demand that the President impose those regulations because they do not want the American people getting in the way again. They know what happened the last time they let that happen, when a fully Democratic-controlled Congress could not even pass a national energy tax.

As long as it has a Senate Democratic majority on its side, the far left knows it will not have to worry about the American people messing up its plans again. The majority leader proved that again this very week. The far left will not have to worry about the representatives of the American people voting through the Keystone XL Pipeline either.

Here you have a project the American people support overwhelmingly that would create thousands of jobs when we have rarely, rarely needed them more, and that would pass Congress easily if the majority leader would allow a vote, but he will not because the far left will not let him. If we do get a vote, the Democratic leadership will be sure to filibuster against the jobs the Keystone XL Pipeline will create.

Activists on the left positively hate this energy jobs initiative. They rail against it constantly, even though they cannot seem to explain in a serious way why it is a bad idea. But it is a symbol in their minds, so they demand Senate Democrats block its approval and Senate Democrats dutifully do just that.

Again and again we see the needs of the middle class subsumed to the whims of the left. That has become the legacy of today's Democratic majority. They have diminished the vital role the Senate plays in our democracy. We do not seem to debate or address the most serious issues anymore, even with significant events at home and abroad that deserve our attention, because for the Senate Democrats who run this place, the priority is not on policy, it is on show votes and political posturing 24/7. This reflects a party that has simply run out of ideas, that has failed to fix the economy after 5 1/2 years of trying, and now sees its political salvation not in making good policy for the middle class but in exciting the left enough to save the day come November.

I guess we will see if this strategy pays off. But that is not what truly matters around here. What matters is that millions in our country are hurting and that Senate Democrats do not seem to want to act. Look, they should be joining with us to help our constituents because the American people did not send us here to play games or to serve the far left. Our constituents sent us here to have serious debates on issues that matter to them, such as energy security, national security, economic security. All three can be addressed if the majority leader would simply allow Republican amendments to be considered.

Our constituents want Congress to make good policy. The fact that we do not seem to do that under the current majority is quite tragic. The American people deserve better. They deserve a debate and they deserve to be heard.



Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I want to pay tribute to a brave and honorable young man from Kentucky who was tragically lost in the performance of his military service. SPC Russell E. Madden, of Bellevue, KY, was killed on June 23, 2010, in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Specialist Madden volunteered for his final mission and was in the lead vehicle in a convoy that was attacked by the enemy. His vehicle was struck by a rocket shell. He was 29 years old.

For his service in uniform, he received the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, and the Combat Action Badge.

Russell Madden joined the Army just under 2 years before his death. His father Martin Madden reflects on his son's time in service by saying:

Nineteen months is not a long military career. But 19 months was long enough to graduate basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, with honors.

His dad continues:

Nineteen months is long enough to be running and gunning as a lead convoy gunner on convoys that sometimes took 16 hours to move 40 miles to replenish forward operating bases, completing over 85 missions outside the wire in nine months .....

Nineteen months may not represent a prolonged period of time in the minds of most Americans; however, it is just long enough to create a patriot, to define heroism, and accept a place of honor among those who stand in silent testimonial to the strength of this great nation.

The bond between father and son that moves Martin to speak these words was forged, of course, not just over 19 months but over Russell's entire lifetime. Like so many of the extraordinary heroes who hail from Kentucky, Russell's childhood is full of examples of a young man devoted to a cause greater than himself.

He was the oldest of three children, along with his younger sister Lindsey and younger brother Martin. Like most young siblings, at times the kids would fight. Russell's parents had a unique way to defuse family tussles. Martin said:

In order to settle [disagreements], we placed both [Russell and Lindsey] in the middle of the living room and told them to stand there hugging each other. After about 20 minutes of standing there hugging, we would begin to hear them laughing and having a good time, and we would go in and tell them if they could get along they could stop.

Little sister Lindsey remembers childhood stories like these, just as she remembers her brother's dedication to service. She said:

All he ever told me, every time I talked to him, was that he wanted to make me proud. And he has. He always made me proud.

Russell attended Bellevue High School, where he displayed his dedication to serving on a team as a star athlete in football, baseball, and track. During his senior year, the track team was 1 week away from the State meet when the top hurdler was injured. The whole team was in danger of not qualifying unless someone stepped in. Russell volunteered to run the hurdles, even though he had never run a hurdle event in his life.

Martin Madden recalls:

Russell took off running at full sprint, stopped when he got to the hurdle and jumped over it, then took off running at full speed until he reached the next hurdle and stopped and jumped over that one, throughout the track. It was the most unorthodox style the coach had ever observed, but with the state qualifier taking place next week, the coach allowed Russell to represent the team.

As a result, Russell's first-ever hurdle event was the State-qualifying match. Even using what his father calls his ``God-awful ugly style,'' Russell qualified and ran in the final State competition, where he placed sixth.

Russell was a winner on the football field just as he was in track and field. Every Friday night, during the 1999 season, fans packed Gilligan Stadium to watch Bellevue High play out what would be an undefeated season. Russell played running back and was such a talented athlete that he could also kick field goals and extra points, return kickoffs, punt, quarterback, and play wide receiver--and that is only on the offensive side of the ball. He also played linebacker on defense.

As a result of his all-around athletic success, volunteer work, and coaching of youth football teams, Russell was inducted into both the Bellevue High School Sports Hall of Fame and the Northern Kentucky Youth League Football Hall of Fame. He was also recognized by the Northern Kentucky High School Football Coaches Association for his sportsmanship. Russell graduated from Bellevue High School in 2000.

In 2008 Russell and his wife Michelle learned that their son Parker had a preliminary diagnosis indicating a high potential for cystic fibrosis. Martin said:

Russell joined the Army to fight for his country and provide the medical treatment necessary for his young son.

Russell enlisted in 2008, and during his deployment to Afghanistan was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team based out of the Conn Barracks in Germany.

Russell's father Martin recalls how Russell's fellow soldiers felt about Russell's dedication to them and their team--a dedication that echoed the drive of the young man who volunteered for the hurdles and excelled on the gridiron.

``This ..... is what the soldiers in his platoon told me,'' Martin said.

Russell said to them:

Guys, I will not let you down. We will get there. .....

If ever there was going to be a problem, they wanted to be with Russell because they knew he would never let them down.

Respect and admiration for Russell's dedication to a cause greater than himself even reached the halls of the Kentucky General Assembly, which passed a joint resolution to designate Kentucky Route 1120, within the city limits of his hometown of Bellevue, as the ``SPC Russell Madden Memorial Parkway.'' Russell's family was present as the new street sign was unveiled for the first time.

Russell's wife Michelle said:

It is an awesome tribute to my husband. He deserves it. I want this sign for my son to say, ``Hey, that's my dad's sign. That's what my dad's done for us.'' This is what is going to carry on his legacy.

We are thinking of SPC Russell E. Madden's family today, including his wife Michelle, his son Parker, his stepson Jared, his parents Martin Madden and Peggy Davitt, his sister Lindsey, his brother Martin, and many other beloved family members and friends.

It is important that Russell's family knows that no matter how long or how short his time in uniform may have been, Martin Madden is absolutely right that his son will and must be forever remembered and revered for the sacrifice he has made on behalf of our country.

I know SPC Russell E. Madden certainly will be remembered by this Senate. I ask all of my colleagues to join me in expressing the utmost respect for his life and his service.

We extend our greatest condolences to his family for a loss on behalf of our Nation that can never truly be erased.

I yield the floor.


Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, it has been my position since late last week that it would be appropriate for the minority--not having had but eight rollcall votes since July--to have five amendments of our choosing on this bill, and therefore I am going to propose a counter consent request at this time.

I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of Calendar No. 368, S. 2262; that the only amendments in order be five amendments to be offered by myself or my designee related to energy policy, with the first amendment being my amendment No. 2982 on saving coal jobs, and with a 60-vote threshold on adoption of each amendment; that following the disposition of these amendments, the bill be read a third time and the Senate proceed to a vote on passage of the bill, as amended, if amended.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

Mr. REID. Reserving the right to object, Mr. President, I incorporate by reference the statement I made earlier today on this bill and reluctantly object.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard to the request of the Republican leader.

Is there objection to the original request?

Mr. McCONNELL. I object.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.

The Republican leader.

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, earlier this morning I noted that the majority leader has refused for 7 years to allow a serious debate on energy in this Chamber. I said he has tried to stifle the voice of the American people again this current week as well, at a time when so many middle-class Americans are suffering from high energy costs, lost jobs, and stagnant wages in the Obama economy; at a time when global crises clarify not just the need but the opportunity for America to establish a greater energy presence overseas that would grow more jobs here at home; at a time when eastern Kentuckians are suffering a depression, made so much worse by this administration's elitist war on coal.

Well, Republicans are going to keep fighting. Even if Senate Democrats would rather pander to the far left and shut down debate, Republicans are going to keep fighting for the middle class. That is why we had hoped to offer forward-leaning amendments today which aim not just to increase energy security but also to improve national security and economic security for our middle class.

One amendment I had hoped to be able to offer would approve construction of the Keystone Pipeline, which everyone knows will create thousands of jobs right away.

One amendment would expedite the export of American energy to our global allies, which would create more of the jobs we need right here in the United States.

One amendment would have prevented the administration from moving forward with its plans to impose a national carbon tax through the back door, even though Congress already rejected the idea several years ago and even though we know it would devastate an already suffering middle class.

There is another amendment too, one I had planned to offer personally, along with the junior Senator from Louisiana and the senior Senator from North Dakota. It would halt the administration from moving forward with new regulations on coal-fired powerplants until the technology required to comply with the regulations is commercially viable, which it currently is not.

The Obama administration's extreme regulations would hammer existing coal facilities too, taking the ax to even more American coal jobs in the midst of an awful economy. These coal regulations are especially unfair to the people of my State. We know they would hit Kentuckians who are already suffering--constituents of mine who just want to put food on the table and feed their families. Congress needs to do something to help. That is why I would have offered that amendment today.

I remind my colleagues that the amendment we had hoped to offer is almost identical to legislation offered by the Democratic senior Senator from West Virginia that already passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan basis. So there is no excuse not to pass it here. We hope the Senator from West Virginia and his Democratic colleagues will stand with us to do just that.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.


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