[Congressional Record Volume 150, Number 93 (Thursday, July 8, 2004)]
[Page S7779]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                             A ROCKY START

  Mr. BURNS. Madam President, we all came back from our States after 
the Fourth of July break knowing that we would be working on a short 
timeline. Lots of legislation and policy has to be done before we end 
this Congress and all go home and campaign for election and reelection. 
We are off to kind of a rocky start. Not only do we not have a budget 
and the rules that we must abide by within a budget in order to proceed 
to appropriations and to make any sense out of the appropriations 
process, but we also do not have our appropriations process as being 
sort of supplanted, that we may have to take another tack in order to 
pass them and keep the Nation's Government in business.

  This week, we have witnessed that we are not really ready to pass any 
legislation in this body. We, as 100 Senators, are concentrating on 
votes and issues that lean to doing the business of a political party 
rather than doing the people's business, which we were sent here to do. 
This is the people's forum. All people in this country expect us to get 
our work done. We have issues that are held up, yes, in policy, but the 
business of financing this Government in a direction that faces the 
challenges that we do at this time is also being held up.
  I am sorry we could not move on to the class action legislation. It 
was not the intent of this Senate to do that, as objections were thrown 
out that blocked the legislation no matter what the conditions were, 
let alone amendments--no agreement on them or a timeframe in which to 
finish the legislation.
  This is important for small business. Class action is important for a 
State such as mine, because we are a State of small businesses. We 
don't have any large corporations in the State of Montana. Lawsuits--
and frivolous lawsuits--are just sapping the life out of the people who 
perform the services and deliver the goods for the rest of the 
citizenry in the State of Montana. That is not being allowed to move 
forward. Under any condition, there is an objection. Are we heading 
toward the small end of the tunnel whenever we get down to the end of 
the session, and then everything breaks loose--issues, bills, and 
articles are moved much faster. Sometimes they move so fast there are 
some unintended consequences.
  I am disappointed that we don't finish our business. This is the 
people's house. Issues are on the line. We are just wasting our time. 
In fact, we are doing it to the point where we might as well be home, 
working at home, and whenever we decide we want to do business, then we 
will come back to town and complete the Nation's work.
  It is incumbent upon all of us who share the same responsibility, not 
only to our States but to this country, to complete the work at hand, 
providing economic opportunities for more people, which we have done.
  Look at the statistics. More people own homes now in the United 
States than ever before in the history of this country, and the same is 
true about Montana. More people are working today than any other time 
in Montana history. We gained jobs in the last 4 years, when the rest 
of the country was struggling. We want to keep that trend going, 
expanding. Yet we are held up here on issues that are very important in 
order to make sure that the expansion continues.
  I appeal to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. It is time to 
move from the frivolous discourse that we have heard in the last couple 
of weeks and this week, and get on with the business at hand and vote. 
Let the will of the American people be heard and done. It is our 
responsibility. It falls on each and every one of our shoulders, and if 
we are part of an obstructionist move, we must reassess our position 
and understand what is at stake.
  I appeal to my colleagues. It is time.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa is recognized.
  Mr. HARKIN. Is this Senator allotted a certain amount of time?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Fifteen minutes.