Omnibus Legislationby Senator Daniel Sullivan
Posted on 2015-12-18
SULLIVAN. Mr. President, I want to say just a few words this
afternoon on the vote that was taken on the Senate floor this morning.
I will certainly admit that this was a difficult vote for me. This
2,200-page, $1.8 trillion spending and tax reform bill certainly does
contain provisions that I have advocated for and will continue to press
for to benefit different Alaskan groups, small businesses, the energy
sector, and others. However, voting in favor of such a massive and
consequential piece of legislation without having the opportunity to
fully understand or fully vet both its positive and negative
implications for Alaska and our Nation or to offer amendments is
something I could not do in good conscience.
Leader McConnell, majority whip Senator Cornyn, and so many other leaders in the Senate have worked hard in terms of this process over the past year. You heard a number of Senators come to the floor to talk about what clearly has been a very productive Senate under their leadership, and I want to commend them for their leadership. I appreciate their leadership. I know that in terms of the budget they tried to get this body to the right place, meaning we actually passed a budget for the first time in many years. We passed 12 appropriations bills--again, for appropriations, the first time in many years--but as the bills came to the Senate floor, they were halted, unfortunately, blocked, filibustered. I remember debating not once, not twice, but three times when the other side filibustered the Defense appropriations bill. This Senator still does not understand what was behind all of that, still is not 100 percent sure why the appropriations and funding process was halted in this body. Then we saw the smash-up the last week when everything came together at the end of the year.
I am not sure what the motivation was to do this, but I do know this: The way in which we fund our Federal Government--in this case, 72 hours to read a 2,200-page, $1.8 trillion, ``take it or leave it'' bill, negotiated by just a few Members of Congress and the White House--is a broken process, and it is not worthy of our great Nation, nor the people we represent. I also believe it is a principal reason why we have seen an explosion of trillions of dollars in debt that imperils our Nation's fiscal stability and certainly imperils our children's future.
Back home in Alaska, we are currently debating through a transparent, open, and contentious process how to best address our State's significant fiscal challenges. We have big fiscal challenges just like this government does. In my view, the Federal Government should be doing the same. The bill we voted on today and the process that produced it demonstrates that we are not.
Going forward, I certainly want to continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the leadership on both sides of the aisle to continue to work to improve this process because the people we represent deserve much better than what just transpired.
Obviously there has been a lot of talk about the omnibus bill in the last couple days on the floor, but I just wanted to say a few words. Sometimes it takes a reminder from home, a reminder from what is going on back home to ground us and to remind us of what is really important in our lives, like family and friends and life itself.