Nearly every Republican senator went to the Senate floor Thursday to engage in a near hour-long colloquy, criticizing President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats for what they deemed failures in leadership, especially concerning the budget and the debt, defense cuts and national security, foreign policy and gas prices.
The senators denounced Democrats for politicizing and failing to act on the country’s most important fiscal and foreign policy issues.
“Our constituents didn’t send us here to watch the clock or to offer running commentary on the floor,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said. “Never before have a president and Senate Majority Party done so little when our challenges have been so great; there are no excuses for it.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) denounced Senate Democrats for not having adopted a budget in 1,240 days even though it is required by law. Sessions concluded their actions have made it unable for them to “ask to return to leadership.”
Sessions’ comments on the budget were echoed by others.
Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) vowed, “when Republicans come to the majority, we will pass the budget and we will work to balance our budget,” while Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said America hungers for leadership, but the president and the senate have “refused to lead” on the budget.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said what was even worse than Senate Democrats not having adopted a budget in nearly four years is the fact that “they haven’t offered a budget or voted for or supported a budget.”
On foreign policy and defense cuts, Sen. Kelly Ayotte said the “world is a dangerous place” and Obama should “stop leading from behind.”
“Lead. Be the Commander-in-Chief,” Ayotte said. “Your leadership has been absent.”
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) said because of Obama, “our enemies are on steroids and our friends are unsure about who we are.”
“If this continues, the world is going to devolve into chaos,” Graham said.
Sen Jim Risch (R-ID) said America’s foreign policy of “apology” and “appeasement” “is in shambles” under Obama.
On the economy, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) spoke about how Democrats have failed the middle class, with Thune citing rising gas prices, the decline of middle class income by $4,000. Thune also said health insurance premiums have increased by 29% under Obama and the average family’s premium has increased by $3,000.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said Democrats have used the top marginal tax rate as a “political football” and this would be the high water mark of “failed leadership of this administration” that has prioritized “electoral politics over sound fiscal policy.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) criticized Democrats for supporting regulations that are destroying job creation.
Sen. Rob Portman said Republicans in the Senate have offered plans that would reform the tax code and create millions of jobs but those plans have “not been heard.”
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said “Senate Democrats and the Obama administration are too afraid to tackle tough issues” that matter to people outside the beltway. Kyl said that taking the country over the fiscal cliff would lead to another recessions and millions of more jobs lost, and there was “no excuse” for Obama’s and Senate Democrats’ leadership failures.
Sen Jim DeMint (R-SC) simply warned, “stop threatening to raise taxes” so businesses and job creators could have a more certain economic environment to conduct their affairs. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said “our economy could be booming right now” if it weren’t for the failures of Obama and Senate Democrats because historically, “after a serious recession, the economy comes roaring back.”
Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and David Vitter (LA) spoke about the failure of Democrats on energy policy. Barrasso said Obama and Senate Democrats have blocked legislation that would allow for more energy production and create jobs. He said Obama and Democrats have allowed radical environmentalists to hold energy policy “hostage.”
Other senators spoke about how the Senate was deteriorating as an institution and criticized Democrats for politicizing it during a time when the nation faces a fiscal crisis.
Sen. Roger Whicker (R-MS) called this the “least productive Congress” and has broken down as an institution, a theme taken up by many other senators.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) called on the “Majority Leader to remain in session to lay in groundwork for bipartisan solution for monumental issues” instead of calling for another seven-week vacation. Snowe said when she first arrived in the Senate, the Senate did not adjourn during an election year until the first week of November.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said under Reid’s leadership, the Senate has not attempted to tackle hard issues and has “abandoned tasks.”
“Not having a fiscal plan is a failure of leadership,” Coburn said.
Sen. John McCain said the Senate has “body has deteriorated and degenerated over the years,” and other majority leaders “would allow debate and amendments.” McCain repeatedly cited Reid’s declaration, “the days of amendments in this body are over.”
And McConnell wrapped up the colloquy by saying, “the nation and the world need strong American leadership and robust political institutions” to tackle the tough challenges ahead.
“Over the past two years, the Democratic Senate has seen itself as an extension of the re-election campaign rather than a forum for solving the nation’s problems,” McConnell said. “Everything it's done and hasn't done is meant to help the President, not the American people.”
McConnell said the “Senate has of course completely broken down as an institution,” noting, “there are a lot of senators around here of both parties who are wondering what their job is.”
“I got elected by the people of my state,” McConnell said. “What is this job I got? I’m on committees that don't do anything. Nobody votes on amendments. All the members are wondering why they’re here.”
McConnell said the “Democratic-controlled Senate gives do-nothing Congresses a bad name,” labeling it “a complete disgrace” and “embarrassing.”
McConnell said Republicans would promise not to act like Democrats if voters put them in the majority after the 2012 elections.
“Our commitment to the American people is, if we’re in the majority, we'll do the basic work of government and our hand will be out to our colleagues on the other side and whoever the President of the United States is,” McConnell reiterated. “It is time to tackle the biggest problems in the country, the most predictable crisis in American history.”