Floor Updates

Graham, McCain, Ayotte, Corker, Durbin

Increased Payroll Tax Credit and Bonus Depreciation bill (S. 2237)

Jun 29 2012

12:24 PM

Senator Graham: (11:43 AM)
  • Paid tribute to Sergeant First Class Brad Thomas, Llieutenant Ryan Davis Raoul, and Sergeant John J.D. David Medor, who were killed in Afghanistan on June 20, 2012.

Senator McCain: (11:50 AM)
  • Spoke on sequestration.
    • SUMMARY "We're also facing another crisis as far as the military is concerned, and that is the prospect of sequestration. The Secretary of Defense has stated that sequestration would have a "devastating impact on our national security." We're talking about layoffs and some estimates are of as many as a million workers in the defense industry. We're looking at unknown effects of the strategic thinking that goes on as we plan to defend our nation's security. For example, our shift in emphasis from Europe to Asia-pacific, which requires significant air and naval assets, amongst other things I'm not sure that the American people are fully aware of the effects of something that is supposed to take, as I understand it, beginning of the next fiscal year, which would be the beginning of October of 2012 ... So we're asking the Defense Department to plan on what our force structure will be, what our mission will be, what our capabilities will be beginning the 1st of October, and all I can see so far is a total gridlock on this issue. Now, if somebody wants to say that it's our fault because we refused to "raise revenues" or the other sides insistence on that and a resistance to spending cuts ... Don't think that people understand that we still live in a very dangerous world. You just talked about those who have already sacrificed. Don't we owe it to them and their families to stop something that all of us agree would have catastrophic impact on our ability to defend this nation? And isn't it true, would you agree that it's time we sat down and started having serious negotiations, because there's no greater responsibility that the Congress and the people's representatives have than to defend the security of this nation?"

Senator Graham: (11:54 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "If that penalty kicks in, then we will have cut $1 trillion out of the defense department over the next decade, blindly, across the board. Every account gets affected. What did Secretary Panetta say in he said, sign me up for $450 billion. I think we can get there. We will lose some capability, but we'll be okay as a nation. We could fight Iran and win if we had to. Then I asked him, what if we did $1 trillion over the next decade, if we over-doubled what you are trying to cut? He said, we would be shooting ourselves in the head as a nation. We would not have the ability to go in and take out the nuclear program in Iran because the weapons that we need we could not maintain and afford. And when it comes to personnel costs, we're reducing the army by 80,000 people. Under the $450 billion plan. If you do sequestration Senator McCain, on top of that you're take another 100,000 people out of the army. Under sequestration, the navy would be down to 250 ships. We'd have the smallest navy, the smallest air force in the history of the country and the army would go back to 1940 he feels will. Do you believe the world has gotten that much safer are that we don't need a navy bigger than 1950, given the threats we're facing from Iran, China, North Korea? Do you think now it's good time for the country to basically disarm, given the threats we face from radical terrorism throughout the whole globe? So here's what we're going to do. And our congressional leaders need to be on notice. About a million people would lose their jobs if we put these cuts in place and we would destroy the defense industrial base that provides good jobs to the economy and keeps us free and safe by giving our people technology better than the enemy has If we do sequestration on top of what we're already trying to cut in the Defense Department, we will destroy the finest military in the history of the world at a time we need it the most."

Senator McCain: (12:00 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "If the president of the United States shares the concern that the secretary of defense shares - catastrophic, impossible to plan on, so draconian that it would cripple our ability to defend this nation. All of those are statements that the secretary of defense has made. I would argue that it would be appropriate, and I would sincerely ask that perhaps the president of the United States also be involved and members of his administration or charter members of the administration to sit down with us to see how we could resolve this. So far, the executive branch has not been involved in these efforts with the exception of the secretary of defense, who has told us in the most graphic terms the devastating consequences. And again I want to point out to my colleagues, you have to plan. Especially in national defense. What weapons you're going to procure, what the number of people you're going to maintain in the military, what those missions are going to be. All of those right now, if not held in abeyance in the pentagon as far as planning is concerned, cannot have a great deal of validity if we are staring at sequestration and these draconian reductions."

Senator Graham: (12:03 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "You've just challenged the president - who is the chief, by the way, - to fix a problem that your secretary of defense has said would be the most devastating thing possible to our ability to defend ourselves. He said it would be catastrophic, it would be draconian, there's no way to plan for it, we'd be shooting ourselves in the head. Now, you're the commander in chief. When your department secretary of defense and every general under your command is telling you and the congress you need to fix this before it gets out of hand, why aren't you asking us as republicans and democrats to answer the call of the secretary of defense? You're the commander in chief, my friend. It is your job to make sure that our military has what it needs to go fight wars that we send them to fight and protect our nation. But that's not enough. It is also our job as members of congress to take care of those who serve. So to our Republican and Democratic leader, why don't you convene a group of senators and to our leaders in the house, why don't you get a group of House members and ask us to come up with a plan to do at least one thing - avoid the consequence of sequestration for one year in 2013 to take the monkey off their back. I am willing to meet our Democrats in the middle to offset the nondefense spending but to the leaders, if you think the rest of us are going to sit on the sidelines and let this matter be taken up in lame duck when it becomes a nightmare for the country, you can forget it. So we're challenging our leaders and the president to get a group together to fix this."

Senator Ayotte: (12:06 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I join with my colleagues over the concern, deep concern that keeps me up at night about sequestration because we cannot do this to our national security. And both sides of the aisle have to come together. We need leadership from our commander in chief on this issue. Because to put it in perspective, I asked the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps what the impact of sequestration would be on the marines and you know what he told me? That the marine corps of the United States of America would be unable to respond to one major contingency. Talk about putting our country at risk. And putting ourselves in a situation where, unfortunately, there are still so many risks around the world that our country needs to be protected from. To think that our marine corps wouldn't be able to respond to one major contingency. It's outrageous and it really cries for bipartisan leadership on this issue, and particularly leadership from our commander in chief. And to put it in perspective, it's not just an issue of our national security. You would think that would be enough to bring people to the table, but we are talking about jobs across this country. The National Association of Manufacturers has estimated it would be nearly a million jobs ... This is an issue that will hit every state in this nation, but most importantly, what I'm concerned about, it is going to hit our military in a way that we break faith with our troops. In fact, one general has said we would have to cut an additional 100,000 troops from our army on top of the reductions we're making right now, approximately 72,000 and 50% would have to come from the guard and reserve. You think about the important function not only protecting our country, we could not have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq without our guard and reserve."

Senator Corker: (12:10 PM)
  • Spoke on the Budget Control Act.
    • SUMMARY "Today we're getting ready to vote on to legislation dealing with flood insurance, dealing with student lending, dealing with highways, and these are all very popular programs. What people who are listening to may be paying attention to what the Senate is doing today, what they may not know is that for the third time in a bipartisan way this body is getting ready to spend more money than was deemed by the budget that was ultimately created by the budget control act just last year when the country almost shut down trying to save a mere $900 billion over the next ten years. So a vote today for this piece of legislation is basically a vote to say that the united states senate cannot be entrusted to carry out the things that it laid out last august, to keep us from spending money that we do not have. And so I know there's going to be some budget point of orders that will be brought forth at some point later today. I just want to say as one senator from Tennessee, it continues to be unbelievable to me that this body does not have the courage, does not have the will, does not have the discipline to even live within a very modest budget that was laid out last august. Today I'm certain that we are going to pass legislation that spends billions of dollars more than we agreed to by the Budget Control Act and especially the deemed budget that came after that. The deemed budget that was put in place as a result of what we passed last august. So I would say all those who vote for this today are basically saying we do not have the discipline to live within our means, the problems that our nation faces fiscally are only going to get worse, and I think this is a very sad day for our country if that, in fact, is what happens within the next two or three hours on the Senate floor."

Senator Durbin: (12:12 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I thank the senator from Tennessee for his comments and I share his concern about our deficit. I was a member of the Simpson-Bowles Commission, voted for the report, bipartisan effort to reduce the deficit by $1.4 trillion over ten years. I think we set in place a description, maybe a guide post for how we can do this and I would agree with him that we need to take care in the money that we spend now which will add to the deficit, though I have to say my understanding is this Transportation bill is paid for. There are revenue sources that are part of this. I know that the student loan continued decrease in interest rates to 3.4% for student loans is paid for. And I believe the changes within the flood insurance program which is part of this package as well, the Republican leader spoke to this morning, reforms in that program will move it closer to sustainability and solvency. It is not where it needs to be but it is moving closer."
  • Spoke on sequestration.
    • SUMMARY "What has happened to defense spending since the budget was in balance? Domestic discretionary flat, entitlements 30%. As of this year's budget, defense spending will have risen 73% since the budget was last in balance. So, we created a Supercommittee And we said, find ways to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over ten years. They tried ... At the end of the day, they couldn't reach a bipartisan agreement on a bipartisan agreement on how it would be done. So the law we passed said if you can't reach an agreement, we're going do it automatically. We're going to take $500 billion out of defense and $500 billion out of non-defense spending. That's what this is about. People are coming to the floor and saying, we can't take another $500 billion out of defense spending. I will tell you, I think that is a lot to be taken out in light of what we've already anticipated we're going to reduce spending. I think it will cause some serious problems, but i reject the notion that that $500 billion, if it's taken out of domestic discretionary won't have equally horrible results. So I say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, when you had a chance in the Supercommittee to deal with the spending cuts of a lesser amount or to deal with revenue, closing tax loopholes, you walked away from it. Now you're complaining that we may end up cutting defense spending. Incidentally, if the sequestration number went through, the additional $500 billion in cuts over the next ten years, it would bring the amount of money we spend on defense to the same percentage of the gross domestic product as it was when the budget was in balance. So, my friends who are speaking for the national defense, I join you. But I also speak for investments in America when it comes to education, innovation, and infrastructure, which will help our economy grow. And sequestration of the domestic side is unacceptable from this senator's point of view as well. We need to get beyond this and talk about an honest answer to reducing the deficit. An honest answer, going back to Simpson-Bowles, puts everything on the table - everything. To my friends on the other side of the aisle, it puts revenue on table. It must. My friends on this side. Aisle, it puts entitlement programs on the table, and it must. And it includes spending cuts. That is the only honest way to address this."