Floor Updates

Reid, McConnell

Opening Remarks

Apr 18 2012

10:04 AM

Senator Reid: (9:33 AM)
  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill. The first hour will be equally divided, with the Majority controlling the first 30 minutes and the Republicans controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • Pending is S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill.The amendment tree has been filled. All first degree amendments must be filed at desk by 1:00 PM.
  • On Tuesday, Majority Leader Reid filed Cloture on:
    1. Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000, as modified, to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill; and
    2. S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill.
  • Unless an agreement is reached, the Cloture VOTE(S) will be held on Thursday.
  • Spoke on the Postal Reform bill.
    • SUMMARY "I really hope that we can work an agreement out on the postal reform bill. I spoke to Senator Lieberman last night, the Chairman of the Committee, and he is hopeful as I am that we can move forward on this legislation. It's a shame if we can't. As we speak, there is more than half a million men and women working for the Postal Service, 25% of them are returned veterans, and we have 30,000 post offices around the country. We have about eight million people that depend on the post office for their jobs. So to think that we can't move forward on this and be really untoward, something we really, really need to get done. And I'm hopeful that we can get that done. People can offer amendments and we should do that as quickly as possible, move forward on this legislation. If there is no agreement, we'll have to vote on the substitute amendment tomorrow morning. It would be, I repeat, too bad that we can't get it done There's more than 30,000 in America, many of them rural, will close. I've said this earlier today, I repeat it. These rural post offices is only way that people have in those small communities to communicate with the outside world. May be some medicine they're getting, may be keeping this touch with family or friends but it's their way of keeping in touch with the world. Hundreds of mail processing facilities will close. And the jobs of hundreds of thousands of dedicated postal employees are at risk. Timely, dependable mail delivery isn't the only thing at that time at stake in this debate. Today the Postal Service employs as I've indicated more than half a million middle-class workers. And the postal system gives more than 130,000 men and women who volunteered for this country in the armed services a chance to serve again. A quarter of all postal employees are veterans of the United States armed forces. So there's really a lot at stake in this debate. The Postal Service has been playing an important role in the history of this country, and the lives of its citizens for more than 200 years. It has also seen a 21% drop in mail volume over the last five years. And is on the verge of insolvency. Yesterday the Postal Service lost about $20 million. One day. Changing times demand a leaner, more modern post office and to make that possible we must pass legislation, the senate must act. We must change the Postal Service business model. They can't do it on their own. They need legislation."

Senator McConnell: (9:45 AM)
  • Spoke on energy and gas prices.
    • SUMMARY "Ten years ago today, Democrats voted down a bill to open up a tiny area of Alaska known as ANWR to drilling. They relied on the non-argument that it would take too long to get the oil to market. That was ten years ago today. Too long to get the oil to market. Every Democrat who was asked about it said the same thing - it would take too long to get the oil to market. I've got two pages of quotes from Democrats saying it would take at least seven to ten years to get the oil to market. Well, here we are ten years later. In some places, gas prices now are three times what they were in April of 2002. The U.S. still imports half its oil. ANWR is still off-limits. And if you ask Democrats why they oppose more domestic exploration, they'll tell you the same thing they did ten years ago. This is precisely, precisely the kind of thing this president campaigned against for years - four years ago. He was the one who was going to stop kicking the can down the road. He was the one who was going to tackle the problems everybody else was afraid to face. He was the one who was going to rise above petty squabbles and the tired talking points of the past and offer something different. He was a different kind of politician who would usher in a new era of authenticity. And what did the American people get? They got the same gimmicks as before. They got someone whose idea of solving a problem is to give a speech about it or to blame whatever person, place or thing doesn't happen to poll well that day. What the American people got was a president who absolutely refuses to lead. It's the same thing they got from the Democrat-controlled Senate, the same, tired talking points. The same evasion. The same refusal to address our problems head-on."
  • Spoke on Senator Conrad's "budget markup.â€?
    • SUMMARY "Yesterday the Chairman of the Budget Committee made it official. For the third year in a row, Senate Democrats will refuse to do the basic work of governance by refusing to offer a budget blueprint for government spending, by the way, as required by law. After pledging both to me and his Republican counterpart on the committee that he would, in fact, mark up a budget this year, the Chairman of the Budget Committee bowed once again to the political pressure and said he won't put his Democratic colleagues at any political risk by asking them to vote on a plan their constituents might not like; that is, not until after the election. The Democrat Chairman did suggest, however, that if Europe implodes, he might change his mind. Well, with all due respect, the statute doesn't say the majority must present a budget if the European economy implodes. That's not in the statute. It says, it must present a budget, period, so that the American people can see how much they're going to be taxed and how their tax dollars are going to be spent. So I'm having a hard time thinking of a word to describe the level of leadership we're getting from Democrats in Washington these days, whether it's the president or the Democratic Senate. Frankly, it's a disgrace. There isn't a single issue I can think of that we're willing to do anything about. Under this President's watch, Washington has been spending more than a trillion dollars a year more than it takes in and senate democrats don't even have the courage to put it all in black and white. They don't have any problem spending it. They just don't want to be on record voting for it. That's what passes for leadership in Washington these days. Well, something's got to give. Our challenges are too urgent. The status quo just won't cut it anymore."
  • Spoke on the Svinicki re-nomination to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
    • SUMMARY "Here's an excerpt from the Inspector General's Report. Several current and former commission staff members, it says, said the Chairman's behavior caused an intimidating work environment. A former chairman told OIG that the Chairman often yelled at people and that his tactics had a negative effect on people. He described the behavior as ruling by intimidation. Now, Commissioner Svinicki stood up to this guy, who somehow managed to avoid being fired in the wake of all these revelations. In an effort to preserve the integrity of the agency and to protect the career staffers who were the subject of the chairman's tactics. And now for some mysterious reason, she's being held up for re-nomination. Look, the FBI completed its background check on Commissioner Svinicki 15 months ago. Her ethics agreement was approved around the same time. She's been ready to go for more than a year. There is no legitimate reason for commissioner Svinicki not to be re-nominated and reconfirmed by now. And any further delay is unacceptable. If Commissioner Svinicki isn't re-nominated by June 30, the NRC will lose one of its finest members. The Commission's work will be impaired, and we'll be forced to conclude that the reason is related to her honorable actions as a whistle-blowing that she's being held up in retaliation for speaking up against a rogue chairman who bullies his subordinate. There's a reason congress charged five commissioners with the responsibility to protect public health and safety. Ensuring the safety of our nation's nuclear power plants is serious business. So this morning, I'm calling on the White House to re-nominate commissioner Svinicki today to ensure that this well-qualified and widely respected woman remains in place for another term. Public is best served by a commission that is fully functional. There should be no question in anybody's mind that it will be fully functional. We can't wait any longer for this nomination."