[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 128 (Thursday, September 20, 2012)]
[Senate]
[Pages S6476-S6482]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                           SENATE LEADERSHIP

  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, some say the reason for a do-nothing 
Senate--or the cure for it--is that we need to change the rules. I say 
we need a change in behavior, and I wish to offer a single example.
  We have a big spending and borrowing problem: 42 cents out of every 
dollar we are borrowing. We are headed off a fiscal cliff. The minority 
leader has described that.
  The Australian Foreign Minister has said the United States of America 
is

[[Page S6477]]

one budget deal away from restoring its global preeminence, so one 
would think we would have a budget. Then one would think we would deal 
with the appropriations bills which are the basic work of the Senate.
  I and others on both sides of the aisle came to the floor earlier 
this year to compliment the majority and minority leaders for their 
decision to bring all 12 appropriations bills to the floor. The 
committee did its work; 11 of the 12 have been reported to the floor. 
The House did its work; 11 of the 12 were reported to the floor, and 6 
were passed. But the majority leader said we are not going to consider 
any appropriations bills--no appropriations bills.
  Being elected to the Senate and not being allowed to vote on 
appropriations bills is like being invited to join the Grand Ole Opry 
and not being allowed to sing. We need a Republican majority. If we 
have one we can have a budget, and if we have one we will bring 
appropriations bills to the floor. We will debate them, we will amend 
them, we will vote on them, and we will do our jobs.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from South Dakota.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, there is no question that the premier issue 
for most Americans is jobs and the economy. It is the issue that is on 
the minds of all Americans. They are pocketbook issues that impact 
middle-class Americans all across the country.
  For the past 3\1/2\ years, the President and the Democrats here in 
the Senate have failed to provide the leadership America needs to make 
a stronger middle class. Middle-class Americans continue to face a 
bleak economic picture on this President's watch. We have seen gas 
prices more than double--the highest level in September that we have 
ever seen for the month of September. Middle-class income is down by 
nearly $4,000 since the President took office. Just last week, a Kaiser 
Family Foundation study came out indicating worker health insurance 
costs have increased by 29 percent since the President took office. The 
President promised to lower health care costs by $2,500 per family. 
Instead, average family premiums have increased by over $3,000 since he 
took office.
  Republicans have solutions to grow the economy and to help the middle 
class, strengthen the middle class. We support commonsense solutions 
such as increasing domestic energy, reforming our Tax Code, and 
stopping the job-killing regulations that are killing our small 
businesses. We hope to have the opportunity to work on those solutions 
for America's future.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Wyoming.
  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, the President, the administration, and the 
Senate majority have failed to govern during a crucial time for our 
Nation. There is a willingness to kick our problems down the road, with 
the hopes that the next election will suddenly inspire action. Rome 
burned while Nero fiddled. We have had enough fiddling.
  The President's answer to jobs and the economy was to have his failed 
budget. Three times it was voted on without a single vote in favor--not 
even a single Democrat in favor.
  Over 23 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. Government 
regulations and redtape stunt business growth. That is not leadership, 
that is being asleep at the wheel. Their answer to jobs is a bill with 
a good title and a poison pill that comes right to the floor, and it is 
set up so the poison pill cannot be amended out, and then they wonder 
why the bill does not pass. That is politics. That is not legislating.
  What is their plan for America? We have yet to see one. The lack of a 
budget shows they do not have a plan, and inaction remains the status 
quo. Republicans are prepared to lead today and in the future.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Maine.
  Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, when I talk to employers in my State 
about what Washington could do to get people back to work, they 
inevitably point to the flood of excessive regulation as a major 
barrier. Many of us have offered proposals to reform the regulatory 
process. Even the President's own Jobs Council has put forth ideas such 
as strengthening cost-benefit analysis. This just makes common sense. 
But, regrettably, the Senate has failed to act. Meanwhile, the burden 
of Federal regulation grows ever larger. Right now, Federal agencies 
are at work on 2,700 new rules. These rules will go on top of a pile of 
regulations measuring millions of pages. If we want to put people back 
to work, we have to cut the redtape that is strangling our job 
creators.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Arkansas.
  Mr. BOOZMAN. Mr. President, if you look at any objective measure, 
whether it is unemployment numbers, gas prices, middle-class income, 
college tuition, manufacturing production, home values, and the list 
goes on and on, we are clearly not headed in the right direction. So 
what is the cause of this? The primary cause is lack of leadership 
coming from the administration and from the leadership in the Senate. 
The administration's policies have led to the worst recovery since 
World War II.
  Over 23 million people are unemployed or underemployed. One of the 
main reasons they cannot find work is the economic uncertainty 
Washington has created, stopping the hiring process. Our businesses are 
frozen. As a former small business owner, I understand firsthand how 
economic uncertainty hampers business growth. If you do not know what 
your taxes are going to be, if you do not know what your energy costs 
are going to be, if you do not know what your health costs are going to 
be, the last thing in the world you are going to do is hire a bunch of 
people.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Missouri.
  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, the No. 1 job of this Congress domestically 
should have been more private sector jobs. The President's long-held 
view of redistribution as a goal for the government is not going to 
accomplish that. What is going to accomplish that is more opportunity, 
more independence, as my friend from Arkansas just said, more 
certainty, more American energy.
  These problems are big, but they are not necessarily that 
complicated. We just have to have the willpower to deal with them. This 
Congress has not done that. This Senate, more importantly, has not done 
that. The House has passed bills. The House has passed a budget. The 
House has passed appropriations bills. The House has passed bills to 
get regulation under control. The Senate has not.
  I hope when we get back here--we should stay and do those things, but 
when we get back, we need to be focused on the No. 1 job for the 
country today, which is more American jobs.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from South Carolina.
  Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, President Obama, when you took office 
almost 4 years ago, you promised to create jobs and reduce our deficit. 
Yet 4 years later we have fewer Americans working than in the last 30 
years and we have historic debt and deficits. Now you say raising taxes 
will solve our problems. But those who create jobs disagree.
  Yesterday a businessman from South Carolina came to Washington to 
present a very simple proposition. He had built his business from his 
garage to 150 workers, putting every dime he could back into his 
business. His plan was to add 25 workers next year if we keep taxes the 
same but to do nothing if we follow your plan to raise taxes.
  Mr. President, if you really want to create jobs, help our economy, 
and reduce our deficit, stop threatening to raise taxes.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Ohio.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, we have just heard from a number of my 
colleagues about issues with our jobs and the economy. We have heard 
about the $16 trillion deficit. Unemployment has been over 8 percent 
for over 43 months. These are unprecedented problems. We have again 
learned a lesson we have learned time and time again in America: You 
cannot tax and regulate your way to prosperity.
  Republicans in the Senate have provided an alternative. As this chart 
shows, this is the Republican Senate jobs plan. All 47 Republican 
Senators have supported it. We have introduced legislation that 
incorporates these

[[Page S6478]]

ideas, and yet we have not gotten a hearing on the Senate floor.
  It is pretty simple. We believe we ought to live within our means. 
Fiscal discipline is part of getting the economy back on track. 
Reforming the Tax Code to spur economic growth--we know we can create 
millions of new jobs in this country by getting the Tax Code 
straightened out. The economic situation will not be improved in this 
country until we deal with regulatory relief. My colleagues have talked 
about that. Our ideas include having a more competitive force, changing 
the worker retraining program in this country, improving education to 
have a competitive workforce, increasing exports to create more jobs 
but also to level the playing field, powering America's economy by 
using the energy in the ground in America, and, finally, commonsense 
approaches to health care to get the costs down. These are the 
solutions that Republicans have offered that have not gotten a fair 
hearing on this floor for us to begin to turn this economy around and 
get America back on track.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, today I join my colleagues in expressing my 
disappointment in President Obama, in his failure to provide real 
leadership when our Nation needed it the most. While his failures can 
be observed across the board, when it comes to taxes and the impending 
fiscal cliff, the President has put our entire economy in jeopardy in 
order to serve his own political interests.
  At the end of this year, the bipartisan tax relief signed into law 
not only by President Bush but by President Obama as well is set to 
expire. Virtually every taxpayer in America will see their taxes go up 
if Congress and the President do not act to steer us away from this 
fiscal cliff. Objective analysts, including the CBO, have stated that 
if we were to let the tax relief expire under current economic 
conditions, it would likely lead to another recession. Yet, rather than 
working with the Republicans to extend the tax relief and to aid our 
recovery, the President has once again sought to divide the American 
people by using the top marginal tax rate as political football.
  In 2010 the President acknowledged that raising taxes in the midst of 
a weak economic recovery was bad policy. That is why at that time he 
signed into law the full extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax relief. 
Aside from the fact that the economy is in worse shape now than it was 
then, the only thing that has changed between 2010 and 2012 is that the 
President is now facing the voters, and that means appealing to his 
base, which is committed to raising taxes. The President has put class 
warfare and his own political future ahead of the immediate and long-
term interests of our economy. This is the high-water mark of failed 
leadership for this administration. Our country is at a moment of deep 
economic uncertainty, and America's citizens and taxpayers deserve more 
than the President's decision to prioritize electoral politics over 
sound fiscal policy.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Alabama.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, as the Chairs of the debt commission--
Simpson and Bowles--told the Budget Committee, this Nation has never 
faced a more predictable financial crisis. I would say this Nation has 
never faced a more difficult financial challenge. We have deep, 
systemic demographic problems. They need to be addressed. Yet today 
marks the 1,240th day since the Democratic leadership in the Senate 
adopted a budget. For 3 years, in a time of financial crisis, the 
Senate's Democratic majority has failed to comply with the U.S. Code 
that requires us to bring up a budget and bring it to the floor of the 
U.S. Senate.
  Politico observed on May 15:

       Democratic leaders have defiantly refused to lay out their 
     own vision for how to deal with federal debt and spending.

  I believe that is a colossal failure of leadership, a failure of 
fundamental responsibility, and puts them in a position, in my opinion, 
of being unable to ask to be returned to leadership in this Senate.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Texas.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, as the distinguished ranking member of the 
Budget Committee pointed out, it has been more than 3 years since the 
democratically controlled Senate has passed a budget. That should be a 
national scandal. During the same time, we have considered the 
President's proposed budgets, which have been voted down unanimously--
that is, Republicans and Democrats both realize that the President's 
proposed budgets are unserious attempts to solve some of our most 
serious challenges. The President could not get a single vote from his 
own political party for his own plan because it does not include 
serious efforts to preserve and protect Social Security and Medicare 
and put us on a sound fiscal path without job-killing tax increases.
  When Republicans regain the majority in the Senate, we will pass a 
budget, we will reduce the deficit, we will tackle our long-term debt, 
and we will help grow the American economy by getting our boot off the 
neck of the small businesses and the job creators in our country.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, this year we will spend over $3.5 
trillion, 60 percent of which is taxpayer money, 40 percent is 
borrowed. Over the next 10 years we will spend $45 trillion. We have 
not had a budget in this body for 1,240 days. Not only is this 
dysfunctional--and America looks at us as a dysfunctional body--it is 
an embarrassment. The fact is that we are one fiscal reform package 
away from being able to focus on being a great nation again. Yet many 
around the world look at us as a nation in decline, which affects 
everything from people hiring and producing jobs in this country to the 
activities we see overseas as they relate to our foreign relations.
  What we need in this Nation is new leadership in November that has 
the courage and the will to address the most major issue this Nation 
faces, which is fiscal reform. With that, we will put this malaise in 
the rearview mirror and again be able to focus on being a great nation.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Georgia.
  Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, for 3 consecutive fiscal years, the 
leadership in the Senate majority party has consciously decided not to 
bring a budget to the floor of the Senate. Do you know what the result 
has been? We have spent $10.6 trillion and increased our debt over $4 
trillion, while the American people have cut their debt, cut their 
spending, and gotten their house in order during our worst recession 
since the Great Depression.
  It is time that the leadership of the Senate took a lesson from the 
American people. Let's get back to the business of America. Let's get a 
budget to the floor. Let's balance our budget.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Nebraska.
  Mr. JOHANNS. Mr. President, think about it--$5 trillion of new debt 
under this President. So when he submits a budget plan, what happens to 
it? On the floor of this Senate, the President's budget plan did not 
get a single vote. No Republican, no Democrat, no Independent supported 
the President. What happened on the House side? The same identical 
thing--no Republican, no Democrat, no Independent supported the 
President's plan. Many are working on this. Simpson-Bowles is a good 
example. Many of my colleagues have been working to find a way forward 
on our budget issues. And what happens on the floor of the Senate? No 
budget. Four years, no budget.
  When Republicans come to the majority, we will pass a budget, we will 
work to balance our budget. That is where we are headed.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Wisconsin.
  Mr. JOHNSON of Wisconsin. Mr. President, in 1987, our total Federal 
debt stood at $2.3 trillion. It took us 200 years as a Nation to incur 
$2.3 trillion in debt. Last year, with the debt ceiling debate, we 
increased our debt limit by a little more than $2 trillion. We will 
blow through that limit in less than 2 years. The President of the 
United States has put forward four budgets. He has yet to submit any 
proposals to save either Social Security or Medicare. We are facing the 
most predictable financial crisis in our Nation and our President 
refuses to lead, this Senate refuses to lead. America hungers for 
leadership.

[[Page S6479]]

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. LEE. Mr. President, it is bad enough that this Senate's 
Leadership, led by the Democrats, has not passed a budget in 3\1/2\ 
years. What is even worse than that is the fact they have not offered a 
budget in this Congress. They have not voted for or supported a single 
budget in this Congress. We have had, of course, one budget voted on in 
the Senate during this Congress, written by a Democrat. That was the 
President's plan, which received zero votes from his own party, zero 
votes from the Republican Party last year and this year.
  If we are able to come to the table, if we are to come to a 
compromise, we have to have offers on both sides. We have to have a 
plan on both sides. So all the calls for civility, all the calls for a 
compromise fall on deaf ears unless or until we have two willing 
parties at the table with proposals they are willing to offer.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. KYL. Mr. President, the American people are asking two big 
questions: Why has the Senate not acted to stop the $4\1/2\ trillion 
tax hike that will occur on January 12 unless we act; and, second, why 
has the Senate not voted to replace the across-the-board defense cuts 
that will devastate our national security? The unfortunate answer is 
because Senate Democrats and the Obama administration are too afraid to 
tackle, let alone vote on, the tough issues in an election year.
  For Americans outside the Beltway, the consequences are very serious. 
The Congressional Budget Office tells us that failure to avoid this 
fiscal cliff will shrink the economy next year and push unemployment 
above 9 percent. That means 2 million jobs will be lost and we will be 
back in recession.
  The House has acted. Election year or not, there is no excuse for the 
Senate to not follow the House's action, its lead, to avoid the job-
killing consequence of this fiscal cliff.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Maine.
  Ms. SNOWE. Mr. President, it is astounding to me that after putting 
the Nation through the self-inflicted travesty of last year's debt 
ceiling debacle that we are facing another manufactured crisis this 
year. With a fiscal cliff that never would have existed if the Senate 
had remained in session, had fewer recesses, and maximized every 
legislative day, based on the job we were elected to do, as I have 
argued virtually throughout this entire Congress.
  According to a recent study, illustrated by this chart, deferring 
last year's debt ceiling to the eleventh hour in August produced the 
highest level of policy uncertainty of any event that occurred over the 
last 20 years. That includes 9/11, the financial crisis, the fall of 
Lehman, and the Iraq war.
  We have now heard from CBO as well as Fed Chairman Bernanke. Both 
have indicated we could trigger another recession next year if we fail 
to address the fiscal cliff. Yet here we are in the Senate in September 
scheduled to adjourn sometime this week for nearly 2 months after just 
returning from a 5-week break. When I was running for reelection in 
2000 when the Republicans were in the majority, we had our last vote on 
November 1 and did not adjourn until November 3, a few days before the 
election.
  I call on the majority leader to have us remain in session to lay the 
groundwork for a bipartisan solutions on these monumental issues. I 
have urged this in a letter I sent last April, because it is absolutely 
pivotal for this country. If we had not had the policy uncertainty of 
2006 through 2011, we would have 2\1/2\ million more jobs in America 
today.
  The Senate has wasted years, 2 precious years in the life of America 
with intransigence and inaction. America deserves better.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, the problems in front of our country are 
not unsolvable. As a matter of fact, every one of them is solvable. Our 
country has a history of doing hard things. What we lack is leadership 
to call us to do those hard things. We find ourselves at a point in 
time when the greatest threat to our Nation is our debt and our 
economy. We are risking our future, not only our future economically, 
but our future of liberty. What we have had, I would remind my 
colleagues, is a history in the Senate of doing hard things. Under the 
leadership of Senator Reid, the Senate has not attempted to do hard 
things. What it has attempted to do is abandon the tasks that should be 
in front of us.
  America deserves better. It deserves better leadership. It deserves 
leadership based on bringing this country together rather than dividing 
this country. Not having a fiscal plan to solve the greatest issues in 
front of our country is an absolute failure of leadership. Where is the 
Senate majority leader's, where is the President's plan to solve our 
problems?
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, the fact is our economy could be booming 
right now, should be booming right now. The history of this country is 
that after a serious recession, the economy comes roaring back. That is 
exactly what should be happening right now. In fact, our economy should 
be creating more jobs than there are people to fill them. But that is 
not what is happening because of the failed leadership of the 
Democratic majority in control of this body and the President of the 
United States.
  Our economy cannot come back the way it should as long as the threat 
of a complete fiscal disaster looms over it. As long as everybody who 
might even be contemplating launching a new business or expanding an 
existing business knows this government is running trillion dollar 
deficits as far as the eye can see with no willingness to address this, 
then people will not make that investment. They will not expand their 
business. They will not hire that next worker.

  It is long past time that the Democratic leadership in this body 
accepts its responsibility to address this problem, pass a budget, get 
our fiscal house in order so this economy can grow again and Americans 
can get back to work.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from North Carolina.
  Mr. BURR. Mr. President, 2 years ago we extended the 2010 tax rates. 
Over a year ago, we passed the Budget Control Act, which will trigger 
sequestration unless we pass a budget reduction plan. The point is we 
have known about the fiscal cliff for a long time, and there has been 
no shortage of warnings about the dire economic consequences of doing 
nothing. But that is, in fact, what this body has done, nothing. So let 
me say this. There is a reason President Obama and my colleagues on the 
other side of the aisle are targeting the Romney plan and the Ryan plan 
and the Republican plan. It is because they do not have a plan. They do 
not even have an excuse for what this body has not done.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Kansas.
  Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, we talk about plans and budgets. The 
reality is these bigger concepts that we discuss in our Nation's 
capital have real consequences on the everyday lives of Americans. I 
spoke a few weeks ago to a Rotary club in Junction City, KS, and the 
local CPA was in the audience. We got to questions and answers, and he 
said: Senator, I have a question for you. This is a softball. What is 
the estate tax rate going to be next year?
  It is embarrassing not to be able to answer the simple questions 
about what is going to happen in people's lives. People are having to 
make decisions. That certified public accountant, that lawyer, that 
financial planner needs to be able to explain to that farmer in Kansas, 
to that rancher, to that small business owner what the Tax Code is 
going to look like.
  We are facing a point in time in which we have no opportunities to 
tell someone what the Tax Code is going to be in 3 months. That is 
embarrassing. When people ask me what is necessary to get Washington, 
DC, to work together for us to solve the country's problems and move 
forward, the answer is we desperately need leadership, someone who 
shows us the way, encourages us to come together. It has been lacking. 
It is embarrassing to me for the nearly 2 years I have been a Member of 
the Senate not to see that leadership exhibited in the United States of 
America.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Mississippi.

[[Page S6480]]

  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, this week my home State of Mississippi 
received the sobering news that its economy had slipped back into 
recession. Frankly, I'm concerned that my State might be a harbinger 
for the rest of the country.
  Despite national efforts to create new jobs and opportunities, our 
economy is not getting significantly better. It is a problem in most 
States. Unemployment has remained over 8 percent for more than 3 years 
despite spending nearly a trillion dollars with the President's 2009 
stimulus package.
  Investments and small business growth have languished with a weak 
economy and with tax policies and Federal regulations that seem to have 
made matters worse. The course we are on is simply not good enough. We 
urge the Senate to make a strong stand. Let's get together. Let's push 
a simple, easy-to-follow game plan for economic recovery.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, last night I came to the floor to object 
to a 1-hour debate on a measure that would have had Draconian effects 
on our relations with countries in the Middle East. I am not opposed to 
that measure or debating it. But I said I would think it would be 
important to have an amendment. The majority leader of the Senate said: 
The day of amendments here is over. The majority leader of the Senate 
said: The day of amendments in this body is over.
  Is there a more telling description of how this body has deteriorated 
and degenerated over the years?
  I see my friend from Maine here. It is a far cry from the day we 
first came, when other majority leaders would allow debate, amendments, 
and carry out the functions the people ask us to, and that is with 
vigorous debate and discussion. The day of amendments in this body is 
over.
  So as we debated a bill for veterans jobs programs, of which six are 
already existing, the majority leader, for the first time in 50 years--
for the first time in 50 years in this body--we are not taking up the 
Defense authorization bill. We are in a war. We continue to have 
attacks on American citizens. America's national security is at risk. 
And we cannot even do enough for the men and women who are serving to 
pass legislation that is so vital to their future and their ability to 
defend this Nation? Shameful.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from New Hampshire.
  Ms. AYOTTE. Mr. President, our troops are fighting and being attacked 
in Afghanistan. Iran marches toward the capability of having a nuclear 
weapon. Terrorists have been murdering our diplomats. Innocent 
civilians are being murdered in Syria by a despotic regime. The world 
is a dangerous place.
  President Obama, stop leading from behind. President Obama, lead this 
effort. Right now our military faces devastating cuts about which your 
own Secretary of Defense has said we would be shooting ourselves in the 
head, that we would be undermining our national security for 
generations. We have heard what is happening in the world. Lead. Be the 
Commander in Chief. Your leadership has been absent. You have been AWOL 
on this critical issue and our troops and our Nation deserve better.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from South Carolina.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, lucky you to be presiding today.
  We live in interesting times. You can receive a Nobel Peace Prize for 
not being somebody else. Now, 4 years later almost after the Nobel 
Peace Prize has been awarded, where do we stand as a Nation? In case 
you have not heard, bin Laden is dead. That is good. That is a great 
accomplishment. The President should take pride in that. We should all 
celebrate the death of that evil man. But that is not foreign policy. 
Is anybody deterred from attacking America's interest in the Middle 
East because bin Laden is dead? Is anybody saying: I better not go over 
the wall of that Embassy in Egypt because we killed bin Laden? There is 
no coherent foreign policy at a time when we need one.

  Four years later, after a charm offensive and an apology tour that 
has not worked, our enemies are on steroids and our friends are unsure 
about who we are. I will make a prediction: If this continues, the 
world is going to devolve into chaos, because at a time when we need to 
be certain, we are unsure. The Iranians are not taking anything we say 
seriously and the Russians and the Chinese have corrupted the U.N. So 
much for restarting.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Georgia.
  Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I rise to state the Senate's lack of 
leadership in addressing sequestration will have long-term effects on 
our Nation's robust intelligence community which had to be rebuilt 
after 9/11. These budget cuts will make it very difficult for the 
intelligence community to keep Americans safe in future years.
  America hungers for leadership and, unfortunately, the Senate lacks 
leadership from the majority on these issues that affect the safety of 
all Americans.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Kansas.
  Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. President, I rise to urge the Senate to fully 
investigate the circumstances regarding the attack upon our U.S. 
consulate in Benghazi and the torture and killing of our Ambassador, 
the deaths of three American patriots and the following attacks and 
deaths involving marines in Afghanistan.
  Americans are watching a conflagration of an estimated one-half 
million jihadists in over 30 countries, burning portraits of our 
President, American flags, and threatening attacks upon our consulates 
and embassies while shouting ``Death to America.'' No, Mr. President 
and my colleagues, the war against terrorism is not over. We find out 
now, 10 days later, that al-Qaida was involved in the planned attack in 
Benghazi, and dangerous protests continue in Pakistan and throughout 
the Muslim world.
  This morning, the Commandant of our Marine Corps informed the Capitol 
Hill marines there are 153 marine units at the ready to protect U.S. 
consulates and embassies at the direction of the State Department. They 
should be deployed, and he believes the current danger may well last 
decades.
  The sobering truth hurts. Was there actionable intelligence prior to 
this attack? If there was not, why not, especially given recent 
intelligence reports, press reports and testimony by Matthew Olsen, 
National Counterterrorism Center Director.
  We are on a merry-go-round of excuses with this administration. There 
is no strong horse or weak horse. It is a merry-go-round that has to 
stop.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Idaho.
  Mr. RISCH. Mr. President, today we have heard a lot about the 
financial condition of this country, and certainly that is foremost on 
the minds of everyone. It is in the forefront. But in addition, there 
are national security issues in the world, and, unfortunately, they 
have been pushed to the back page because of the condition of this 
country. But I wish to talk for a minute about the national security of 
the United States. It is something we need to focus on no matter what 
is happening domestically.
  I wish to focus on one small part of our national security. 
Certainly, we have issues going on in 30 different countries, and a 
number of those have our embassies under siege. We have had an 
ambassador killed in recent weeks. This is a foreign policy that is in 
shambles. In the Middle East, it is a foreign policy of apology, it is 
a foreign policy of appeasement, it is a foreign policy of dithering 
and looking the other way. This cannot go on.
  Iran continues down a course which is going to force a confrontation 
with Israel. Israel is the most reliable ally America has--certainly in 
the region and perhaps in the world. We need a President who will stand 
and be clear and be firm about what is going to happen if Iran keeps 
going down the road it is going. That is not happening. It needs to 
happen.
  We need to change foreign policy from a policy of apology to a policy 
of leadership.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Alaska.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, the events of this past week are a very 
clear and direct reminder to us of the need to choose to end our 
Nation's dependence on imported oil. I will remind my colleagues this 
is our choice. It is

[[Page S6481]]

within our power to free ourselves from reliance on OPEC oil.
  In these past few months, I have had an opportunity to visit our oil 
resources in the Gulf of Mexico, in North Dakota with Bakken shale, up 
in Alaska with the offshore as well as ANWR, and National Petroleum 
Reserve out in the Marcellus shale. We have learned one thing for sure: 
There is no scarcity of resources in this country. Technological 
breakthroughs allow us to access these resources in a safe and reliable 
manner.
  This administration may talk a good game on oil production, but words 
and actions are entirely different. Our problems result from a federal 
government that has actions and inactions that indefinitely delay, if 
not prohibit, in many cases, access to our energy resources.
  We are not running out of energy. What we are running out of are 
excuses for continued reliance on OPEC.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Wyoming.
  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, just yesterday, the White House went out 
and applauded the fact that Saudi Arabia is producing more oil. The 
President goes to Brazil and tells the President of Brazil we want to 
be their No. 1 customer. This is at the same time this White House is 
blocking American energy projects and American energy jobs.
  Held hostage by environmental extremists, this President continues to 
block and cause people to lose jobs in the United States. Earlier this 
week, the No. 3 coal producer in the country announced the layoff of 
1,200 workers. So not only are Americans who are working in American 
energy losing their jobs, the President's policies continue to block 
new jobs from being created. The President continues to stand in 
blockade of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would bring back thousands 
of good-paying, family-wage jobs. Yet the President says no.
  Harry Reid, the majority leader, stands at that desk and he blocks 
over a dozen bills passed by the House of Representatives that are good 
American energy jobs that will put people back to work.
  Republicans stand ready to produce more American energy, which will 
put people back to work, will stimulate our economy, and will help 
lower energy costs for American families. The American people deserve 
better than they are getting from the Democratic majority in the Senate 
and from the Democratic President of the United States.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Louisiana.
  Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, the price of gasoline at the pump is 
double what it was 4 years ago. The majority in this Senate has done 
nothing to address that problem, and this administration has done 
nothing to address that problem. In fact, we are moving in the wrong 
direction.
  The President's 5-year lease plan for offshore leases is half what 
the previous plan was. Production in the gulf is down following his 
imposed moratorium and it is beginning to go down further. It has gone 
from 1.55 million barrels a day in 2010 to 1.32 in 2011, and it is 
still headed down to 1.23 in this year. Two years before the 
moratorium, the Energy Information Administration, where all these 
numbers come from, said it would be 1.76 million barrels a day this 
year.
  We are the most energy rich country in the world, but this Senate 
majority, this administration will not allow us to access our own 
resources for our own good.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from North Dakota.
  Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, look at what is going on in the Middle 
East. We have more than 20 countries demonstrating with anti-American 
protests. Look at countries such as Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. 
Look at what is going on in Iraq. Yet at the same time we continue to 
import our energy from the Middle East. So look at what is going on in 
the Middle East at the same time we are dependent on them for our 
energy, when we can produce that energy right here at home and work 
with our closest friend and ally in the world--Canada--and when we can 
create American jobs.
  This is an opportunity. We can produce more energy in this country. 
We can create jobs. We can get this economy going, and we don't have to 
be dependent on the Middle East. It just takes the will to move forward 
with the energy plan we have proposed, but we need an administration 
that will work with us to advance that energy plan.
  Gas prices, which affect every working person, every consumer, every 
family, every business in this country, for the month of September are 
the highest they have ever been for any month of September. What does 
that do to American pocketbooks?
  This is an opportunity. This is an opportunity we need to reach out 
and grab with both hands. The only question I can ask is: Why aren't 
we? Why isn't this Senate acting on that right now and why isn't this 
administration working with us? Why do veterans have to come back from 
the Middle East and go to Canada to get a job to work on something such 
as the Keystone Pipeline? Because the administration is blocking it in 
this country. The question I have is: Why?
  We need to get going on this right now. The American people deserve 
that.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Indiana.
  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, Americans have endured 4 years of the worst 
recession in the last 70 years in this country. We have 23 million 
Americans either unemployed or underemployed, and millions more have 
simply given up finding a job. What is the President's response in the 
face of all this? Reject every plan presented by Republicans and, 
instead, spend $5 trillion of borrowed money leading--so-called 
leading--our country into decline and ultimately into bankruptcy.
  What is the Democratically led Senate's response? Avoid all efforts 
to formulate a plan to address this problem and to vote and debate on 
that plan on one of the most critical--if not the most critical--issues 
facing this country in its history. The American public is desperate 
for new leadership, both from the White House and from the Senate--
leadership that is absolutely necessary if we are to restore our Nation 
to growth and prosperity and get our people back to work.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Mississippi.
  Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, yesterday the New York Times said this: 
``The 112th Congress is set to enter the Congressional record books as 
the least productive body in a generation.''
  This is true, and the responsibility falls squarely at the feet of 
the Democratic Senate leadership. The Senate has taken just 193 
recorded votes this year. The Senate has been more than 3 years since 
passing a budget. The majority leader has shut off the right to amend a 
record number of times. The majority leader has filled the amendment 
tree a record 66 times--more than his 6 predecessors in the Senate who 
did it a total of 40 times. The majority leader has shut off the right 
to debate. He calls up a bill, he files cloture on it, and then he has 
the audacity to call that a filibuster.
  In short, the Democrats have failed to pass a budget, have failed to 
do a single appropriations bill, and have failed to consider a Defense 
authorization bill when we have troops in harm's way. America needs new 
leadership.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Republican leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, a number of our colleagues have already 
spoken about the huge problems we face and the President's complete 
failure to lead. We have a $16 trillion debt, millions out of work, the 
biggest tax hike in history looming, and our military faces crippling 
across-the-board cuts.
  The Nation and the world need strong American leadership and robust 
political institutions to meet these challenges. But the President, 
with a lot of help from the Democratically controlled Senate, has 
deliberately chosen inaction. Why?
  Over the past 2 years, the Democratic Senate has seen itself as an 
extension of the President's reelection campaign rather than a forum 
for solving the Nation's problems. Everything it has and hasn't done is 
meant to help the President, not the American people. So our problems 
have only gotten worse. And the Senate has of course completely broken 
down as an institution, as described by the Senator from Mississippi.

[[Page S6482]]

  Democrats haven't passed a budget in more than 3 years despite the 
fact that, as Senator Sessions pointed out, the law literally requires 
it. It doesn't say, Don't pass a budget if it is hard; don't pass a 
budget if you have to negotiate with the House; don't pass a budget if 
you have to vote. It says, Pass a budget.
  We haven't passed a single appropriations bill, I say to my friend, 
the senior Senator from Mississippi. Apparently all these people on the 
Appropriations Committee are completely irrelevant. Senator Alexander 
pointed out they did their work but are never going to bring up a 
single bill.
  By the way, it is not just the Appropriations Committee. All Senators 
are on committees. Does any Senator remember the last time they 
actually marked up a bill? Most committees are not marking up bills and 
not offering amendments. So I guess the new rule is: No amendments in 
committee and no amendments on the floor.
  There are a lot of Senators around here of both parties wondering 
what their job is. I was elected by the people of my State. What is 
this job I have? I am on committees that don't do anything. Nobody 
votes on amendments. All the legislation we have, if we have any, is 
written in the majority leader's office.
  Senator Isakson or Senator Enzi pointed out that all we do is vote on 
bills that have fancy titles and a poison pill and, of course, only one 
vote. Because you know, if you get on the bill, there won't be any 
amendments. So a lot of Members wonder why they are here. They fought 
hard for these jobs, defeated intelligent, well-funded opponents, got 
here ready to go to work, and nothing happens. And it is not just 1 
week or a month or 6 months, but 2 years.
  As Senator McCain pointed out, no Defense authorization bill. We had 
managed to get around to doing that, no matter what our differences 
were, for half a century. This Democratically controlled Senate gives 
do-nothing Congresses a bad name. It is a complete disgrace. Never 
before has a Senate and a President done less to address such great 
challenges that we have.
  I know I can speak for every single member of the Republican 
Conference in the Senate. Regardless of our philosophical differences 
with our friends on the other side, we take our jobs seriously. We 
think the people who sent us here expected us to function, and we 
intend to do so.
  So if the American people decide they want to make a change, the 
commitment I make to them is the Republican Conference is going to pass 
a budget. It may be hard; we may have to twist a few arms; there may be 
some people who don't want to do it. We may have to do it on a partisan 
basis if our friends on the other side don't want to join with us. But 
the law doesn't say, Don't do it if it is hard. It says, Do it.
  The Appropriations Committee deals with the discretionary budget of 
the U.S. Government. It ought to be allowed to do its job. Not 
everybody is going to vote for every bill, but we are going to 
function.
  We owe it to the American people to do, at the very least, the basic 
work of government. Of course, we have problems beyond the basic work 
of government. Certainly we were going to have differences after the 
2010 election--which could best be described as a national restraining 
order.
  The American people took a look at what this government did under 
this President's leadership over the first 2 years, and they said, We 
have had enough of that. They flipped the House of Representatives and 
made us a more robust minority in the Senate. They understood we 
weren't going to do any more of what we did the first 2 years. They 
were not interested in any more of that. But that is not an excuse for 
not doing anything. They said, We don't want to do any more of all this 
new stuff that was done in 2009 and 2010, the massive spending and debt 
and the takeover of health care and the nationalization of the student 
loan bills.
  But they didn't send us here to do nothing. They assumed we would at 
least do the things we ought to be able to agree on--the basic work of 
government. It is embarrassing.
  For the sake of this institution and for the sake of our country, we 
need to straighten out this place. We need an attitude change. This is 
not about the rules. The rules have remained largely the same over the 
years. This is about us. And this problem can be fixed. All we have to 
do is decide to operate differently. No matter who is up or who is 
down, there are basic things this institution owes the American people; 
that is, to get the basic work of government done.
  So the pledge we make to the American people, if they decide they 
want to try new leadership in the Senate, is we will do these things 
even if they are hard.
  Beyond the basics, let me say to our friends on the other side, we 
have big problems we are never going to be able to solve without some 
bipartisan commitment to do it. We are drowning in a sea of debt. We 
know we cannot save this country unless we make the entitlement 
programs fit the demographics of our country.
  We have a lot of other problems. We have taxes, we have sequester. 
But the way I tend to think of that is those are the chairs on the 
Titanic. You can rearrange the chairs--figure out the tax problems, 
figure out the sequester problems--but the ship is still going down 
unless we make our entitlement programs meet and fit the demographics 
of our country. We probably won't be able to do that one party only. It 
is time for some statesmen to show up.
  We have had an election every 2 years since 1788, right on schedule. 
At any point in American history, people could have said, Oh, we can't 
do that; there is an election coming up. There is always an election 
coming up in America. That is what we do. The fact that we have an 
election coming up is not an excuse for not tackling the tough 
problems.
  So no matter what the American people decide this November, no matter 
what they decide, the problems are there. And our commitment to the 
American people is, if we are in the majority, we will do the basic 
work of government; and our hand will be out to our colleagues on the 
other side and whoever the President of the United States is.
  It is time to tackle the biggest problems in the country, the most 
predictable crisis in American history.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The majority leader.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, has the Republicans' time expired?
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Republicans have 3 minutes 
remaining.
  Mr. McCONNELL. I will yield back the remainder of our time.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The majority leader.

                          ____________________