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John T.
Republican SD

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  • Nomination of Sarah R. Saldana to Be an Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security

    by Senator John Thune

    Posted on 2014-12-16

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    THUNE. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    New Era in the Senate Mr. THUNE. Madam President, the American people made one thing clear in November, and it was this. They are ready for change in Washington. The Senate Republicans are too. In fact, I think even some Senate Democrats are ready for a change in Washington.

    When the Republicans take the majority in January, things will look very different here in the Senate. The start of our majority will mark an end to the dysfunction that has characterized the Senate under the Democrat's leadership. Under Republican leadership, the Senate will return to regular order.

    We will once again empower the committee chairmen to start the legislative process. Bills will be drafted in committee with input from Members of both parties before the bills are fully debated on the Senate floor, and Members of both parties will be able to offer amendments, which is in strong contrast to the Democratic Senate, where the minority party has been almost entirely prevented from getting amendment votes.

    History shows us that the Senate functions best when all Members are allowed to have amendments and votes. In the early years of the Reagan administration, President Reagan aggressively pursued tax cuts that faced opposition from Republicans as well as Democrats. However, after 2 weeks of debate and consideration of 141 amendments, the Senate passed the bill by an overwhelming vote of 89 to 11.

    In President Reagan's second term, the Tax Reform Act of 1986 saw 3 weeks of debate on the Senate floor. After the consideration of 109 amendments and 24 rollcall votes, the bill received 97 votes in the Senate.

    These are just a couple of examples of a Senate functioning as our Founders intended. An open amendment process softens division among Members and builds bipartisan support for major legislation. The result is reforms which are not only historic but longstanding.

    In addition to returning to regular order, the Senate will also focus on its oversight responsibilities. Our job is not just to pass legislation. We also have a responsibility to take a look at all government programs and existing legislation to make sure the government is doing its job in the most efficient and effective way possible.

    [[Page S6880]] Whether it is the IRS targeting conservative groups or a Department of Veterans Affairs that is failing our veterans, Senate Republicans will conduct aggressive oversight to hold unelected bureaucrats and executive branch political appointees accountable for their actions.

    Finally, and most importantly, Republicans are going to change the Senate's priorities. No longer will the Senate's time be tied up with partisan legislation designed to please the Democrats' far left constituencies. Instead, Americans' priorities will be our priorities-- jobs, the economy, and the middle class.

    As even the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate admitted recently, Democrats have not done too well at focusing on the people's priorities.

    The senior Senator from New York said: Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them. We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem--health-care reform.

    Republicans do not intend to blow the opportunity the American people have given us. We will get right to work on legislation to create jobs, grow the economy, and expand opportunities for hard-working Americans. We will take up the dozens of jobs bills that have passed the House but have been collecting dust on the Democratic leader's desk here in the Senate.

    We will take up legislation to improve the Keystone XL Pipeline and the more than 42,000 jobs that it would support. We will work with the President to reauthorize trade promotion authority to open new markets to American farmers and manufacturers and make sure that American goods are competing on an equal playing field internationally.

    We will take up legislation to improve flexibility for working families so Americans can meet their responsibilities at work while still having the time they need for their families at home. And, of course, we will take up legislation to address ObamaCare.

    The President's health care law is not only making our health care system worse, it is also hurting our already sluggish economy. Senate Republicans want to repeal and replace this law with real health care reforms--reforms that will actually lower costs and improve America's access to care.

    In the meantime, however, we will chisel away at the law's most damaging provisions--provisions like the medical device tax, which has eliminated thousands of workers' jobs in this industry and is driving up the price of lifesaving devices such as pacemakers and insulin pumps, and the 30-hour workweek, which is forcing employers to cut workers' hours and wages in order to afford ObamaCare-mandated health care costs. We will also work to repeal the health care law's individual mandate. The Federal Government should not be in the business of forcing Americans to buy a government-approved health insurance product.

    Finally, Republicans will tackle some of the big challenges that need to be addressed if we are going to put our country back on a path to long-term prosperity. We want to make our Nation's costly and inefficient Tax Code fairer and simpler for families and businesses. We also intend to take up regulatory reform.

    Recent regulations released by the President's EPA illustrate just how pressing the need is to reform our country's out-of-control bureaucracy. Just one of the recently proposed EPA regulations--the President's national energy tax--would eliminate tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of jobs and devastate entire communities. No executive agency should be able to damage our economy in that way or to destroy the livelihoods of so many hard-working Americans. It is time to get America's regulatory agencies under control.

    Republicans heard what the American people said in November, and we are not going to let them down. January 6 marks the start of a new era in the Senate. The Republican majority will focus on the American people's priorities: creating jobs, growing the economy, and increasing opportunity for middle-income American families. We hope the Democrats will join us.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.

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