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Barbara M.
Democrat MD

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  • Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013—Motion to Proceed—Continued

    by Senator Barbara A. Mikulski

    Posted on 2013-03-12

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    MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Donnelly). Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, other Senators on the Appropriations Committee--and all are welcome to come and comment, but those on the Appropriations Committee actually assigned to do the work will be coming throughout the afternoon to actually describe the content of the bill. I would like to talk about the content.

    We on Appropriations have 12 subcommittees. Of those 12 subcommittees, each has a chair and a ranking member from the other party. The reason I am telling you this is to describe what it takes to do a bill.

    So through all of last week, after we got the guidance of our caucus, the guidance of the authorizing committee, the guidance from the leadership, we began to put a bill together. It is not easy. My own staff and Senator Shelby's staff worked through that first snowstorm we had, took computers home and worked all day and through the evening. I was back and forth. We wanted to make sure there was no fog in our bill. And then out of that the subcommittees gave recommendations.

    The reason I say that is that took us to Thursday. We didn't complete, from our end, the framework and substance of the bill until Saturday. That means me, the Democratic majority--the majority party has the responsibility of putting the bill together, but this is not a one-woman show here. So after we did, we gave it to our counterparts, who have been in consultation on broad principles, negotiations between the subcommittees, consultation with the authorizing committees on policy, where we are heading.

    Then when we got it to Senator Shelby and his staff, they had to exercise their due diligence. We wanted them to do the due diligence. We wanted them to look through every aspect of that bill to make sure with our word of honor, which we have had together for more than 25 years, that there were no hidden agreements, that there were no surprises parachuted in that if we woke up, neither would be happy about.

    I must compliment Senator Shelby and his staff. They worked through the weekend doing every line item to make sure, when they gave Senator McConnell and the Republican caucus their best assessment, they had a chance to look at every single line item, and they sure did it, and they worked hard.

    So there are those who would say: We would have liked to have had the bill sooner. We would have liked to have been able to get the bill sooner. But we are talking about the funding for the entire United States of America. That is a lot of lines and that is a lot of items that had to be gone through methodically, diligently, and meticulously, and we moved as expeditiously as we could.

    So we then had our bill, and I really wanted to share it with the House. I think we have been working with the House in a very constructive way, communicating, but it took until very late yesterday afternoon for us to complete our process as members of the Appropriations Committee.

    I would have really loved getting this bill to the floor and filing this bill sooner, but in order to do it right, and not only the right content but the right way, to make sure the appropriate committees were able to exercise their due diligence, their vigilance, their scrutiny, we now present a bill to the entire Senate.

    So I hope we can move forward on our legislation. We want Members to take a look at it. We hope we can work on amendments this afternoon. I hope we have permission to go to our bill. We have two great amendments lined up--different philosophies, but that is what it is.

    I talked to Senator Ayotte on the floor a couple of weeks ago during sequester. Bring up the amendments. We have an amendment by Senator Harkin on the Labor-HHS content, and we have an amendment to be offered on President Obama's health care bill. There is a Senator who would like to have the full Senate decide whether we should defund it. This is an important national debate. Let it come on out. The only way we can get to that is by letting us go to the bill.

    We have an arcane procedure in the Senate called a motion to proceed. In order to be able to vote, we have to get permission to proceed. I want to get to amendments. I want to have a real debate on real issues. Where are we on Labor-HHS? What is the Senate's full view on the funding of ObamaCare? Let's get out there, and instead of fussing over procedure, let's get to real content. Let's talk about the real issues around funding and what we should be doing to pass the continuing resolution to keep America's funding going but where the majority rules and we have our bill.

    So let's get to the situation where we can move through the bill, where we can offer amendments. Regardless of how you feel about amendments, we all feel Senators have the right to offer amendments. Let's get to it. Let's get the job done. Let's show we can function as the greatest parliamentary body in the world.

    Mr. President, I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.

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