Reid, McConnell

Opening Remarks

Senator Reid: (10:02 AM)
  • Today --
    • The Senate will proceed to a period of Morning Business for 1 hour, with Senators permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each. The time will be equally divided with the Majority controlling the first 30 minutes and the Republicans controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • Thereafter, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 1813, the Highway bill.
    • At 12:00 PM, the Senate will proceed to 2 ROLL CALL VOTES on:
      • (1) DeMint amendment #1756 (state authority); and
      • (2) Bingaman amendment #1759 (privatized highways).
    • Following the ROLL CALL VOTE on the Bingaman amendment, the Senate will recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus luncheons.
    • At 2:15 PM, the Senate will resume a series of ROLL CALL VOTES on the remaining 20 amendments to S. 1813, the Highway bill:
      • Roberts amendment #1826, as modified (side-by-side to Stabenow amendment #1812, as modified) (60 votes required);
      • Stabenow amendment #1812, as modified (energy tax credits) (60 votes required);
      • DeMint amendment #1589 (repeal certain energy tax subsidies) (60 votes required);
      • Menendez/Burr amendment #1782 (Natural Gas Act) (60 votes required);
      • Coats amendment #1517 (make percentage of gas taxes equal to percentage of apportioned funds);
      • Brown-OH amendment #1819 (Buy America provisions);
      • Blunt amendment #1540 (off-system bridges);
      • Merkley amendment #1814 (farm vehicle exemptions);
      • Portman amendment #1736 (state transportation spending flexibility);
      • Klobuchar amendment #1617 (transportation of agricultural commodities and farm supplies);
      • Corker amendment #1785, as modified (adjust FY13 discretionary spending cap);
      • Shaheen amendment #1678 (increase funding for public transportation systems with less than 50 buses);
      • Portman amendment #1742 (non-highway uses in rest areas);
      • Corker amendment #1810 (limit expenditures to amount in Highway Trust Fund);
      • Carper amendment #1670 (removal of federal program limitations);
      • Hutchison amendment #1568 (prohibit new tolls);
      • McCain amendment #1669, as modified (noise abatement over Grand Canyon);
      • Alexander amendment #1779 (overflights of national parks);
      • Boxer amendment #1816 (sense of Senate re: expeditious environmental reviews); and
      • Paul amendment #1556 (emergency exemptions).
  • A managers' package will also be in order, along with applicable budget points of order and applicable motions to waive. Upon disposition of all amendments, the Senate will VOTE on passage of the bill, as amended.

  • Spoke on the Highway bill.
    • SUMMARY "Today we resume consideration of the most important piece of jobs legislation we've had here in a long time, and that's the highway bill but it's more than a highway bill. It's a surface transportation bill. It deals with all aspects of helping our failing bridges - there are 70,000 of those. We have 20% of our highways in non-safe condition. We have problems with our mass transportation system, rails, and other such things. So we have to move forward building this nation's infrastructure with this legislation alone. It will save or create 2.8 million jobs. This is an effort to build a world-class transportation system that was started during the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower and every President since then has recognized the need to go forward with the vision that General Eisenhower had."
  • Spoke on the JOBS Act.
    • SUMMARY "We have a small business jobs bill that was passed overwhelmingly by the House and supported by President Obama and we are - I had a conversation on the floor publicly here last night with the Republican Whip, Senator keel of Arizona, and we talked about the need to get this done and we're going to move forward with this expeditiously. There are obviously bumps in the road and I hope there will be very few bumps in the road We need to move forward. I think you kind of get the message when there's about 390 vote for a bill and 20 against it. So I think we have to move forward on this. The one thing I am going to do is have a perfecting amendment prepared that will allow us to move forward on reauthorizing ex-im bank It's an important piece of legislation, and I hope that we can add that to the small business jobs bill. If we can't, I understand that but it would be a shame to miss that opportunity to do that. We are interested in this IPO bill that has been supported by the House and the President of the United States. I'm convinced it'll spur small business growth. It's not going to create the jobs that we have in the highway bill, but it's good for job growth. It will bring more capital into the business world and that's what we've needed for several years now and it would streamline the way companies sell stock."
  • Spoke on GOP obstructionism of judicial nominations.
    • SUMMARY "With the length of time that judges are reported out of committee, Clinton a few days, Bush a few days and of course now we're talking about many months with Obama's nominations. That's not fair. They should all be entitled to up-or-down votes, especially when they came out of the committee so overwhelmingly with rare exception. There's no reason that we should eat up one day of precious time that the senate has to pass these commonsense measures. The Senate wants to confirm 18 of President Bush - the Senate once confirmed 18 of President Bush's nominations in a single day. There's too much to do. The Senate doesn't have the luxury to waste anymore time."

Senator McConnell: (10:12 AM)
  • Spoke on the JOBS Act.
    • SUMMARY "Once we finish the Highway bill, we ought to immediately turn to the bipartisan jobs bill that passed the House last Thursday. The vote was 390 to 23. Let me say that again. The vote in the House was 390 to 23. The President has also indicated he would sign the House bill, so it strikes me with the jobs emergency that we have in this bill with 8.3% unemployment, many more millions of Americans having given up trying to get into the workforce, the thing to do is to pocket this broad, bipartisan bill and rye to create jobs immediate - and try to create jobs immediately. I've heard my friend, the Majority leader, say he wants to re-craft it. All that will do is slow down the process and make it more difficult to get this important jobs legislation to the President's desk rapidly. So I hope the Majority leader will reconsider whether we need to kind of reinvent the wheel here. I mean, this is already broadly supported, bipartisan bill which the President has said he will sign as soon as we send it to him. I don't know why we would want to make something that is simple extraordinarily complicated. The Majority leader has indicated that instead we're going to turn to something contentious instead of trying to do something that almost all of us agree on, certainly in the house, and the president agrees on, that would focus us on jobs and actually do some good. The american people think we spend a lot of time spinning our wheels around here. I think they'd - rather than sort of try to manufacture gridlock and create the illusion of conflict where none should exist, why don't we demonstrate we can actually get something done together. In a moment when millions of Americans are looking for work and millions more are struggling with the high price of gas, we have an opportunity to do something together right now. As soon as we finish this Highway bill. We could send a small but important signal to job creators."
  • Unanimous Consent: Not withstanding any other rule of the Senate that immediately following the disposition of the pending Transportation bill the Senate proceed to consideration of H.R. 3606, a bill received from the House which would increase American job creation and economic growth by improving access to public capital markets or emerging growth companies (JOBS Act). I further ask consent that the bill remain the pending business to the exclusion of all other business until disposed of. (Reid objected).

Senator Reid: (10:19 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I know when people talk, they're always afraid that people aren't listening. Maybe my friend, the Republican leader, didn't hear my presentation this morning. There's nothing to fight about. I just said we're going to move this bill as quickly as we can. I said that I've heard that the Ranking member of the Banking committee wants to take a look at this. I encourage him to do so, talk to Senator Johnson. I said that we're going to have an opportunity on a perfecting amendment to vote on something I thought everyone wanted. Republicans want it. Democrats want it. The business community wants it. The workers of this country need it and it's an Ex-Im bank, to reauthorize that which goes out of business at the end of may. That will take, it will slow this bill up maybe a half an hour, one half-hour. So, there is no - I've said many times, let's - if we're going to have a fight, make it over something worthwhile. There's nothing to fight about here. We're going to move through this as quickly as we can."

Senator McConnell: (10:21 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "Not to continue the debate interminably, but it is a question of priorities. We do agree that we ought to pass this jobs bill. Certainly if it were called up, it would be open for amendment, and the Majority leader could offer the Ex--Im bank. It's a question of priorities. we've had some differences which I'll address later, not now but later, relating to the confirmation of judges and the responsibility of the Senate under the constitution of the united states, or do we want to turn immediately to a jobs bill that we overwhelmingly agree to as the Majority leader has just conceded in his remarks. So it's a question of priorities. Do you want to have the Senate in a big fight in procedure off we finish the highway bill or do you want to turn to an overwhelmingly bipartisan jobs bill supported by the President, passed by the House? It's a question of priorities. What do we want to do next for the American people?"

Senator Reid: (10:22 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I am stunned by our controversy over nothing. Under the rules of the Senate, we filed, because there's been stalling, obstruction on the lives 17 men. I didn't file on the appellate judges. Only the trial court judges. Each one of these men and women life has been brought to a standstill. They have the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to become a federal trial court judge. They shouldn't have to wait until October. I say to my friend, let's - we can approve these judges in one minute. Let's do that. It's not fair just to say that the lives these 17 men and women is unimportant, put it over until some later time. We have no problem with the IPO bill we got from the House. How could we? It got 390 votes in the House. The President of the United States supports it. We support it. We want to get this done, and we'll do it just as quickly as we can. It may not be ten minutes from now or 24 hours from now, but we'll move to it just as quickly as we can but we can move to it very quickly. As soon as we finish this Highway bill, we could move to those judges, get those disposed of. We could be on this - it might take an hour after the Highway bill, but that's about all."

Senator Reid: (10:28 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "Before my friend leaves, how about a deal on that? We'll go to that as soon as we finish this Highway bill. We will move to the IPO bill, and as soon as we finish that, get it out of the Senate, we will then have up-or-down votes on those 17 judges. This does not include an agreement on the appellate judges. We'll deal with those at a subsequent time. How about that deal?"

Senator McConnell: (10:29 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "The point is this: we have been processing judges. It is highly unlikely any of these district judges are not going to be confirmed. We've done a number of them this year. We've done seven this year. District judges are almost never defeated. This is just a very transparent attempt to try to slam dunk the minority and make them look like they're obstructing things they aren't obstructing. We object to that. We don't think that meets the so any effort to make the minority look bad or slam dunk them that is manufactured as this is, is going to of course be greeted with resistance. It could be that is precisely what my friend the Majority leader has in mind, to try to make the Senate look like it's embroiled in controversy where no controversy exists. So my suggestion is, why don't we do first things first. First things first and it strikes me that an overwhelming bipartisan jobs bill cleared in the House would be something the American people would applaud, supported by the President. Why don't we take that up."

Senator Reid: (10:31 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "It is obvious that the jobs bill has nothing to do with the holding up of these judges, as has been articulated by my friend. It is just a case of stalling things, as has happened all this congress. We have, as indicated, more than half the American people are in areas where there's judicial emergencies The controversy on the IPO bill does not exist. I would suggest to my friend, though, I don't think we should have a - if this bill is so important - and I believe it is - though we have very many things to do - the post office, don't want it to go broke; we have the violence Americans women to get done; we have all these judges, of course; we have cyber security. So if we move quickly and I'm going to move quickly to this IPOD bill, I can't imagine why we would need any amendments. I can offer a perfecting amendment and that would be to find out if the body, who feels strongly about what they've said publicly, that the Ex-Im bank should be part of the deal. That takes about 15 minutes but in addition to that, we're not going to have a knock down, drag out on the IPO if everybody loves it so much, we should get to the desk just as fast as we can."