Workforce Investment Act of 2013—Motion to Proceed—Resumedby Senator Harry Reid
Posted on 2013-12-18
REID. Mr. President, I move to proceed to Calendar No. 243, S.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the motion.
The legislative clerk read as follows: Motion to proceed to Calendar No. 243, S. 1356, a bill to amend the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to strengthen the United States workforce development system through innovation in, and alignment and improvement of, employment, training, and education programs in the United States, and to promote individual and national economic growth, and for other purposes.
Schedule Mr. REID. Mr. President, following my remarks and those of the Republican leader, the Senate will resume consideration of the motion to concur in the House message with respect to the bipartisan budget agreement postcloture.
Rollcall votes are possible throughout the day. We will notify Senators as soon as we know that votes will be forthcoming.
Measures Placed on the Calendar--S. 1845, S. 1846 Mr. REID. Mr. President, I am told there are two bills at the desk due for a second reading.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will read the bills by title for the second time.
The legislative clerk read as follows.
A bill (S. 1845) to provide for the extension of certain unemployment benefits, and for other purposes.
A bill (S. 1846) to delay the implementation of certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, and for other purposes.
Mr. REID. Mr. President, I would object to any further proceedings with respect to these two bills.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Objection is heard. The bills will be placed on the calendar.
Unfinished Business Mr. REID. Mr. President, today the Senate is debating the House- passed budget agreement which was an important step in avoiding another dangerous and costly government shutdown to our economy such as we had in October. Another shutdown caused by the Republicans would undercut the economic progress of the last 4 years. When Republicans closed the Federal Government for business in October, it cost $2 billion in lost productivity alone. The combined cost of the shutdown and the Republican threats to force catastrophic default on the Nation's bills cost the economy 120,000 private sector jobs in the first 2 weeks of October alone--120,000 jobs.
But the agreement the Senate is considering today will help us avoid another costly shutdown. The bargain rolls back the painful and arbitrary cuts of sequester, including devastating cuts to education, medical research, infrastructure investments, and defense jobs.
This is not a perfect bargain. No compromise is ever perfect. But the Senate should pass this agreement quickly so the Appropriations Committee, under the leadership of Chairwoman Mikulski, can begin crafting appropriations bills.
It is unfortunate the Republicans have forced the Senate to run out the clock on this measure, even though it passed the House on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis and has the support of the majority in the Senate. Why are we wasting time? It is time to get back to setting fiscal policy through the regular order of the budget process rather than the hostage taking which takes place so often here by my Republican colleagues. It is time for Congress to show the American people that Democrats and Republicans can compromise rather than lurching from crisis to crisis. Yet Republicans have insisted on wasting 30 hours of the Senate's time before allowing a final vote on this measure, even though they know it will pass with bipartisan support.
I read that the Republican leadership may also force the Senate to work through the weekend and next week by dragging out the consideration of several important executive nominations. That would be unfortunate. But if it happens, it happens. The Senate could wrap up work on the budget bill, pass a defense authorization legislation, and confirm these nominees by tomorrow afternoon. The only thing keeping us here is more Republican obstruction.
I was also troubled to hear the senior Senator from Kentucky say that the nominations we have considered this session and those on which I filed cloture yesterday are nonessential. Nonessential? How about the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security? That is nonessential, the person assigned the task of protecting us from terrorist attacks is nonessential? I think that is wrong.
Does the Republican leader consider the Secretary of the Air Force or the diplomats who run the State Department nonessential? There is a long list of people who have been confirmed who are essential to running this government.
Does the Republican leader consider the judges who try criminal and civil cases in overcrowded courtrooms across the Nation nonessential? We confirmed talented and dedicated individuals to all of those essential posts last week.
Does the Republican leader consider the Chairman of the Federal Reserve who sets this Nation's monetary policy to be nonessential? We will consider Janet Yellen's nomination to lead this very important part of our government, the Federal Reserve--we will do it this week. We will also vote on a number of other nominations, including a new Director of the Internal Revenue Service. Nonessential? And the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
We will consider the nomination of Brian Davis of Florida--a perfect, classic example--to fill a district court seat that has been declared a judicial emergency. His nomination has been pending for more than 650 days. Nonessential? I do not think so.
On the contrary, these are absolutely essential nominees. It is their job to carry out justice, protect our country, and safeguard the economy. It is the Senate's job to confirm them. But how long will it take the Senate to complete its job? It is up to my Republican friends.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.