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Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act

Under the previous order, all postcloture time with respect to the motion to proceed to S. 1845 is considered expired.

The clerk will report the bill by title.

The legislative clerk read as follows:

A bill (S. 1845) to provide for the extension of certain unemployment benefits, and for other purposes.

The majority leader.

Sen. Harry Reid

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This is similar to ``Groundhog Day'' because this is a picture we have already seen in the very lucid speech given by my friend from New Hampshire.

She should have gone back through the Congressional Record. We have been through this before.

We are not going to hurt American children, and that is what it does. We have been through this. This is something we have tried to use in the past to pay for things that are very unfair to American children.

The other issue is there have been some efforts made, and good-faith efforts made by the Senator from Ohio, to stop double dipping--people who are on disability and are drawing unemployment insurance. We agree with him. We can take care of that, but it does not save $5.4 or $5.6 billion.

The disability community at this point is outraged that anyone will even suggest this. We can stop the double dipping. We are happy to join with them in doing that, but that savings is a little over $1 billion. We are pleased, and that is part of the proposal we will all have in a little bit.

I received a phone call from a person who has done more for helping people who are disabled than any person in the history of this body, the senior Senator from the State of Iowa. He had been previously engaged and he heard about this. Those of us who know Tom Harkin know what he does to protect the disabled. I know my friend from Ohio has good intentions, but the disability community will never allow this to happen, and they are right.

My friend, the junior Senator from Nevada, as some of us know, has had casts on one leg and now the other leg. He has had some surgery on his ankles. He has had to replace the Achilles tendons in both of his legs. A cast broke, I think it was on his left leg--maybe it was his right leg. I don't remember.

I talked to him this morning and he had to go to the emergency room to get his cast replaced. I am waiting to hear from him. I have explained this proposal in some detail to him and his staff, but he hasn't had an opportunity to speak to his staff since he had to rush to the emergency room--at least that is my understanding--so I am waiting until he gets back.

The proposal Senator Reed has come up with extends unemployment insurance through mid-November. The package does what the Republicans wanted. It is entirely paid for. There are structural changes which they have been demanding, and we have done that. It has reforms that reduce slightly the number of weeks an unemployed person can remain on the unemployment insurance, while all along preserving extending the weeks of high-unemployment States.

The legislation proposed by Senator Jack Reed tightens the rules for unemployment insurance. It would include a proposal, much like that advocated by the Senator from Ohio Mr. Portman, that would prevent people from collecting both unemployment insurance and disability insurance at the same time. That is clear.

Much of this offset is simply an extension of the Murray-Ryan agreement we all voted for--or a lot of us voted for earlier. This provision would extend the sequester on mandatory programs for another year. If Republicans have a complaint about this, don't call and complain to Jack Reed. Call Paul Ryan. This is his. This is his idea--maybe not on this specific issue, but this is his proposal, his idea.

We believe if it is good enough to help other proposals propounded by my Republican friends in the House, it is good enough to help the unemployed.

In this proposal, there has been a desire to address the concerns of the Republicans and Democrats. Is it perfect? Of course not, but Jack Reed has done a remarkably good job, and we believe this is a sound and balanced proposal.

I would also say this takes care of it for the good part of this year. I wish we could have done it until the first of the year. We can't find enough money. I have been waiting here for more than 24 hours for a reasonable proposal by my Republican friends to pay for this. We don't have one yet.

We are not going to strip the rights of people who have health insurance, and we are certainly not going to go after little boys and girls in America who have the child tax credit. There comes a time when we have to move forward.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

The clerk will call the roll.

The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

The Senator from Ohio.

Sen. Rob Portman

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I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

Is there objection?

Sen. Harry Reid

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I object.

Objection has been heard.

Sen. Rob Portman

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Is there objection?

Yes, objection was heard.

The clerk will continue to call the roll.

The assistant legislative clerk continued with the call of the roll.

Sen. Rob Portman

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I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

Is there objection?

Sen. Harry Reid

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I object.

Objection is heard.

The clerk will call the roll.

The assistant legislative clerk continued with the call of the roll.

Sen. Harry Reid

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

Without objection, it is so ordered.

Sen. Harry Reid

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Madam President, I first of all appreciate everyone's cooperation here--patience more than cooperation. We are doing our best. I have already said what we are trying to do here, and I will repeat just a part of it.

We have a proposal that is paid for. It is a pay-for that we have used and it is something I think is totally valid. The original idea came from Paul Ryan, but we have used it on another occasion. This has nothing to change that original proposal except to extend it for 1 year. The proposal of my friend from Ohio--an issue he has alerted us to--we think we have taken care of in this amendment. I think it is a fine proposal, but the breadth of what he is trying to do is really unfair and we can't do that. So we are doing our utmost.

We have structural changes in this. It is paid for--a pay-for for almost to the first of the year, as much money as we are able to find. But we have done everything the Republicans have wanted: It is paid for, there are structural changes, and we have taken care of the double dipping of those in the disability community on unemployment.

Sen. Harry Reid

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Madam President, on behalf of Senator Reed of Rhode Island I have an amendment at the desk.

The clerk will report the amendment.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Nevada [Mr. Reid], for Mr. Reed of Rhode Island, proposes an amendment numbered 2631.

(The amendment is printed in today's Record under ``Text of Amendments.'')

Sen. Harry Reid

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I ask for the yeas and nays on that amendment, Madam President.

Is there a sufficient second?

There appears to be a sufficient second.

The yeas and nays are ordered.

Sen. Harry Reid

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I have a second-degree amendment at the desk.

The clerk will report the amendment.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Nevada [Mr. Reid] proposes an amendment numbered 2632 to amendment No. 2631.

The amendment is as follows:

At the end, add the following: This Act shall become effective 1 day after enactment.

Sen. Harry Reid

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I have a cloture motion on the Reed of Rhode Island amendment.

The cloture motion having been presented under rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.

The legislative clerk read as follows:

We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, hereby move to bring to a close debate on amendment No. 2631 to S. 1845, a bill to provide for the extension of certain unemployment benefits, and for other purposes. Harry Reid, Jack Reed (RI), Martin Heinrich, Richard Blumenthal, Michael F. Bennet, Richard J. Durbin, Patty Murray, Max Baucus, Debbie Stabenow, Bill Nelson, Amy Klobuchar, Thomas R. Carper, Edward J. Markey, Benjamain L. Cardin, Sheldon Whitehouse, Charles E. Schumer, Patrick J. Leahy.

Sen. Harry Reid

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Madam President, I have a motion to commit on S. 1845 and it has instructions.

The clerk will report the motion.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Nevada [Mr. Reid] moves to commit the bill to the Committee on Finance with instructions to report back forthwith with an amendment numbered 2633.

The amendment is as follows:

At the end, add the following: This Act shall become effective 3 days after enactment.

Sen. Harry Reid

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I ask for the yeas and nays on that motion.

Is there a sufficient second?

There appears to be a sufficient second.

The yeas and nays are ordered.

Sen. Harry Reid

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I have an amendment to the instructions at the desk.

The clerk will report the amendment.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Nevada [Mr. Reid] proposes an amendment numbered 2634 to the instructions of the motion to commit S.

The amendment is as follows:

In the amendment, strike ``3 days'' and insert ``4 days''.

Sen. Harry Reid

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I ask for the yeas and nays, Madam President.

Is there a sufficient second?

There appears to be a sufficient second.

The yeas and nays are ordered.

Sen. Harry Reid

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I have a second-degree amendment at the desk.

The clerk will report the amendment.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Nevada [Mr. Reid] proposes an amendment numbered 2635 to amendment No. 2634.

The amendment is as follows:

In the amendment, strike ``4 days'' and insert ``5 days''.

Sen. Harry Reid

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I have a cloture motion at the desk.

The cloture motion having been presented under rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.

The legislative clerk read as follows:

We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, hereby move to bring to a close debate on S. 1845, a bill to provide for the extension of certain unemployment benefits, and for other purposes. Harry Reid, Jack Reed, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Richard J. Durbin, Sheldon Whitehouse, Edward J. Markey, Tammy Baldwin, Patrick J. Leahy, Christopher A. Coons, Barbara A. Mikulski, Patty Murray, Mark R. Warner, Mazie K. Hirono, Christopher Murphy, Tom Harkin, Sherrod Brown.

Sen. Harry Reid

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Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

The clerk will call the roll.

The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

Sen. Rob Portman

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

Is there objection?

Sen. Harry Reid

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I object.

Objection is heard.

Sen. Harry Reid

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

Is there objection?

Without objection, it is so ordered.

The Senator from Ohio.

Sen. Rob Portman

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I thank the Chair.

Madam President, I tried to be recognized before the majority leader decided to fill the tree, which means taking away the opportunity for amendments to be offered--although there will be an attempt in a moment to offer some. I am disappointed in that, because I think we were very close to reaching an agreement which would have enabled us to move forward with allowing Senators on both sides of the aisle to offer some of their ideas on the unemployment insurance extension.

Recall. This is an important debate we are having for the American people. It is about whether we go beyond the roughly 26 weeks in unemployment insurance to having an emergency extension again. On this side of the aisle, there were a few of us who, in fact, crossed over to vote with the entire Democratic majority to say let's have that debate. We thought we were doing so in good faith in that there would actually be a debate on two issues. One is whether it should be paid for and how it should be paid for, which I will address in a second, but second is how we should reform the unemployment insurance program and do other appropriate policies to get at the underlying problem, which is a record level, a record number of Americans who are long-term unemployed.

Clearly what we are doing isn't working, and we believe this is an opportunity for us to help improve the program to actually address the real problem. The President of the United States wants us to do that. He called me on Monday and told me he had hoped we would be able to address this issue by voting for the motion to proceed to begin the debate so that over the next few months, while we had a short-term extension of this program, there could be even more detailed discussions about how to improve the legislation and how to add other elements to it--specifically, on how to give people who are long-term unemployed the skills they need to access the jobs that are available. Unfortunately, we are not going to have that opportunity now, it appears, to have the debate over how to pay for it, what the pay-fors ought to be, and, again, how to improve the program.

But let me say this is unfortunate, because we had 60 votes to proceed. That includes certainly three of us who are here on the floor today, and all three of us are willing to move forward with this with a reasonable provision to pay for this over the 3 months, and again, during that period to come up with a better and improved unemployment insurance program. We were not part of the discussion as to the pay-for that the majority leader has just put forward.

I appreciate his good faith in wanting to include one of the proposals I had in my amendment. I honestly do appreciate that. I will say the offset he has put in, which I have just learned about because I didn't have an opportunity to see until now, has an important difference--a difference between what was just offered in the new Democratic proposal and what is in my proposal. My proposal, which I have come to the floor to talk about three times now, has been previously proposed by the House. It says that if you get unemployment insurance or you get trade adjustment assistance, then you also do not receive Social Security disability insurance in that same month.

Why? Because these programs are mutually exclusive. If you are on Social Security disability--SSDI--that means you are not working, by definition. If you are working and lose your job, you are then continuing to look for work and you get TAA. If you have lost your job and you are continuing to look for work, which is required, you get unemployment insurance.

This is why this same general program is laid out in the President's budget, and in fact it is something I believe the administration supports in others.

The proposal the Democrats included says that if you receive unemployment insurance in the month you receive Social Security, then your SSDI is reduced by the amount of unemployment insurance received.

Why does that matter? It is not the same. And it matters because the proposal the majority leader has proposed it saves a lot less money. According to the Congressional Budget Office, my proposal would save about $5.4 billion; theirs, as I understand it from the distinguished majority leader today, will save about $1 billion.

So again, I appreciate his wanting to include it, and I think it is in the same spirit as the amendment I offered, but honestly we haven't had the chance to talk about this. I tried today to sit down with the Democratic sponsor of the underlying legislation, the other Senator Reed, who in good faith said he wanted to talk about it, but we haven't been able to schedule that. So we have not had the discussion. So we are just learning today what is again the sort of take-it-or-leave-it proposal that is in the majority leader's proposal in filling the tree.

There is a possibility, I think procedurally--and the majority has expressed some interest in looking at this--in taking that agreement and altering it somewhat over the next couple of days, because the cloture would not ripen, as I understand it, until Monday afternoon, but that still doesn't give all of our other colleagues a chance to offer their good ideas, and there are a bunch of them out there.

The Senator from New Hampshire offered hers day before yesterday, and she talked about it today on the floor, where she wants to take away some of the existing missed payments that are in the child tax credit. I would think all of us would want to do that--to preserve child tax credits for those who are truly eligible. For those who are not eligible, obviously, they shouldn't have access to it. It seems like a sensible amendment to me. I am a cosponsor of that amendment.

Senator Coats raised his ideas today, and I think he has some good ideas that ought to be debated.

So my hope is we would be able to go back to where we were prior to filling the tree and to say let's have a discussion. It can be limited. I think there are a very limited number of amendments.

I see the distinguished Republican whip on the floor, and he indicated to me today there are something under 20 amendments offered by the Republican side. I don't know how many of those have actually been filed, but it seems to me we could have had a good debate on that and still should.

So my hope is that we can come up with a solution here. I do think it is going to require us providing some opportunity for other people to be engaged, and specifically those who want to get to a solution, which is a lot of people on this side of the aisle and that side of the aisle--both sides of the aisle. Let's sit down and talk. We are adults. We have been elected by millions of people to represent them, and it is our responsibility, indeed our commitment to them, we would sit down across the aisle and work these things out, as you would in any other relationship--in your marriage, in your business, with your neighbors.

We had some discussion about this yesterday, that for some reason in the Senate it seems we are unable to have even the most basic level of discussion and debate. So I am open to that. I had hoped to do it today. I put my ideas out there; parts of them have been accepted, and I appreciate that, but, frankly, not the way we had laid it out in my own amendment. I do believe, if we have the opportunity, if we were to back up and to actually solve this problem, meaning to provide what the President says he wants, which is a 3-month extension of long-term unemployment, we can sit down, roll up our sleeves as Republicans and Democrats, and come up with a better way to address what is a crisis in this country, which is more long-term unemployed people than ever in the history of our country.

Those people are hurting, and clearly the current system isn't working. So to just extend it is not the answer. The answer is to allow the Senate to do its job; that is, to reform these programs so they work for the people we represent.

The majority leader.

Sen. Harry Reid

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It is the same time and time again. Things are never quite right. They want to offer amendments. We have been waiting here since Monday for pay-fors. The only pay-for we have heard realistically to take care of this is something everyone knows we disagree with--to take away health care benefits from the American people.

The proposal by my friend from Ohio is not a good proposal. It hurts people who are disabled, and that is the fact. We have stopped dual payments. That is what our amendment does.

This is something we have been going through--the American people have been going through now for years.

My friend worked with the senior Senator from New Hampshire on energy efficiency. Now, if that wasn't quite a show. I had conversations on numerous occasions: Yeah, we have it all taken care of. Republicans are trying to move forward on this.

It went on for weeks and weeks. We never got anything done.

So we are where we are. Democrats don't need a memo to tell them to have a good conscience about people who are disabled, to be compassionate about people who are unemployed. We don't need a memo. We know that people who are long-term unemployed are desperate for help. We are compassionate. We don't need a memo to tell us that.

The American people want to know where we stand. Are we going to extend unemployment benefits for people who have been out of work for a long time? That is the issue before this body. And we have bent over backward, through Jack Reed, to come up with a proposal to pay for this, to get rid of this issue for this year. We have structural changes in this amendment. We have a pay-for which came from Paul Ryan, the Republican Vice Presidential candidate this last election cycle. He is chairman of the Budget Committee. So I think we have done a yeoman's job through Jack Reed, we need to move on, and that is what we are going to do.

If there is a proposal my friend has--and we know his expertise, but the problem with his expertise is it is never quite right. It is almost but not quite right.

So the time is now to fish or cut bait. And they can make all the motions they want to try to complain about ``We didn't offer enough amendments. We need to be more like the Senate used to be.'' Well, I know what the Senate used to be because I was a used-to-be Senator, and it doesn't work the way it used to not because of anything we do wrong but because of the obstruction of President Obama's agenda. Every day it is more obstruction.

Sen. John Cornyn

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Madam President, would the Senator yield for a question?

Sen. Harry Reid

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Of course.

The Senator from Texas.

Sen. John Cornyn

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Madam President, I ask the distinguished majority leader whether it is the position of his caucus and his position personally that people ought to be able to collect unemployment compensation and disability benefits simultaneously?

Sen. Harry Reid

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No. And that is why Jack Reed's proposal stops it.

Sen. John Cornyn

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I would further ask the majority leader, it is my understanding that the amendment of the distinguished Senator from Ohio would discontinue the simultaneous collection of disability and unemployment benefits. But the majority leader objects to that amendment and instead is blocking that amendment and other amendments by the Republican side of the aisle by one which changes the effective date of the bill 1 day. In other words, it is purely a blocker amendment, has zero substance whatsoever, and does nothing to improve the underlying bill.

Sen. Harry Reid

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Is there a question in all of this?

Sen. John Cornyn

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Isn't that right?

Sen. Harry Reid

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Is what right?

Sen. John Cornyn

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What I just said.

Sen. Harry Reid

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No, it is not right, because what the amendment of the Senator from Ohio does is hurt people who are disabled. Part of Jack Reed's amendment stops people from drawing both benefits at the same time.

Sen. John Cornyn

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I would ask the distinguished majority leader one more question.

The majority leader.

Sen. Harry Reid

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I would be happy to.

The Senator from Texas.

Sen. John Cornyn

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Is the majority leader aware there are 24 Republican amendments on file, almost all of which deal with the underlying bill in an attempt to either improve workforce education and training, provide other reforms to the unemployment compensation system, or otherwise help the economy recover so that people won't have to depend on unemployment insurance and they can get a job? Is the majority leader aware that there are those amendments and those ideas on this side of the aisle?

The majority leader.

Sen. Harry Reid

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I don't know the exact number, but there are always a lot of proposed amendments around. What I would say is this: Rather than continually denigrating our economy, our President, and, frankly, I believe, our country, I think we should have some more constructive things around here.

For example, we had today a conversation for 1\1/2\ hours with Chairman Bernanke. He is going to be there until the first of next month. It was a very good discussion. He talked about the vibrancy of this economy now. He said, as we have been saying here, it is not as good as it should be, but with a little bit of help, it would be on fire. Now, why isn't it on fire? Because of the obstruction over here.

As the Presiding Officer knows, the new Fed chair, Chairman Yellen, has also said unemployment benefits are a great impetus in helping the economy. For every $1 put into the economy in unemployment benefits, we get $1.50 back.

This bill recognizes that these benefits don't go on forever. That is why we make structural changes. We would be happy anytime to sit down and have a good discussion with the senior Senator from Texas and anyone else to talk about things we can do.

We have had a lot of programs that deal with job retraining. In 1998 when we did that, it wasn't a bad deal. Here it is all these many years later, and of course we need to sit down and talk about ways to improve retraining. This whole country needs that. That is also something Chairman Bernanke said today.

So I repeat, let's start being constructive around here, and instead of talking about how terrible things are, let's talk about how things are improving. We have had 8 million new jobs since Obama has been President. We have a lot of good things that have happened. Has it been perfect? Not even close to perfect.

Sen. Mitch McConnell

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Would the majority leader yield for a question?

Sen. Harry Reid

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Of course.

Sen. Mitch McConnell

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Is it the majority leader's intent to allow votes on any Republican amendments?

Sen. Harry Reid

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On what?

Sen. Mitch McConnell

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On the bill we were just discussing.

Sen. Harry Reid

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This is Thursday. We have been waiting since Monday to get a proposal from the minority, the Republicans, as to what they believe would be a good way to pay for this.

Nothing, other than whack ObamaCare. So the answer is that we are where we are now. We have tried a number of different ways on many different pieces of legislation to say, OK, let's just do germane amendments. No. How about relevant amendments? No. How about having a specific number of amendments and giving the minority more than the majority? No, can't do that either. We want unlimited amendments on everything. As a result of that, we have continued obstruction which has taken place in this body for 5 years. It is time we get back to legislating the way we used to.

Sen. Mitch McConnell

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Is the answer to my question, I would say to the majority leader, no?

Sen. Harry Reid

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The answer to the Senator's question is no.

Sen. Mitch McConnell

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No.

The Senator from Ohio.

Sen. Rob Portman

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Madam President, I wish to make two corrections quickly and then yield to my colleague from Indiana.

One is that the proposal I did offer had nothing to do with ObamaCare, as I thought the majority leader understood, and others do not, including the amendment from the Senator from New Hampshire. So we do have a number of amendments and a number of good ideas. We had a debate.

Second, it is in the President's budget. So if it is such a terrible proposal, I am surprised the President would have proposed it.

Sen. Harry Reid

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Would my friend yield for a question?

Sen. Rob Portman

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Of course.

Sen. Harry Reid

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Does the Senator also understand that in the President's budget, he calls for revenue, does he not?

Sen. Rob Portman

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Yes, he does. He calls for major tax increases.

Sen. Harry Reid

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And my friend would also acknowledge that when Presidents submit these budgets, don't they propose a budget rather than nitpicking different pieces of the budget one at a time?

Sen. Rob Portman

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The Senator is correct. After having put together a budget myself, I would say you have to stand by all those policies. And I think if we were to call on the Office of Management and Budget or the Treasury Department, they would tell you they stand by these proposals. So, yes, it is a package, but they put them in because they think they are good policy.

So my point is that we have some good ideas not related to ObamaCare, since that seems to be an objection by the majority leader, and I hope we can work something out. I do think there is an opportunity for us to do so. But I don't think we can do it unless there is a little bit of give-and-take and some discussion, at least, which we have not been able to have yet.

With that, I yield for my friend from Indiana.

The Senator from Indiana.

Sen. Daniel Coats

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Madam President, I will be brief. I know my colleagues probably have travel plans. But this is something we had earnestly hoped that by six of us supporting the motion to proceed, we would have the opportunity to offer an amendment, debate that amendment, and have our colleagues vote on that amendment.

For the majority leader to simply say--and I quote him: I have looked at these amendments that Republicans have offered, and none of them are reasonable.

Isn't that something this body is supposed to achieve by something called a vote? Do we have one person here who runs the place and says: I will decide whether your amendment is not reasonable. And if I decide your amendment is reasonable, along with all the other 23, then we won't have any vote or debate or the ability to offer any amendment whatsoever.

I thought the way we settle things here as to whether this body thought something was reasonable or helpful or might correct some of the inequities which have been talked about here was decided by a vote of 100 Senators. But it has been decided by the decision of one Senator who has the power to do what he is doing. But this just perpetuates.

The majority leader said he has been waiting since Monday for Republicans to offer a pay-for. I was down here Tuesday offering four options to pay for.

I know the majority leader doesn't sit in the office and come to the floor when I come down to speak or turn on the television, but I think his staff would have told him: Well, Coats has four pay-fors.

And I said: I am not asking for all four, Mr. Leader. You select the one you think best fits the thoughts and ideas and values of your caucus.

So I put four out. The majority leader said we are delaying time. We have been waiting for nearly 2 days now for the majority leader to make up his mind in terms of what he wanted to do.

The three of us who were listed as surprise votes for the motion to proceed weren't even asked to be part of any negotiations. We were trying to look for a solution to the problem, come together and have something to offer to our colleagues to vote on, but we weren't even asked to be part of that.

So here we are. I am representing the people of Indiana. Their voice is shut down. I don't even have the ability to offer an amendment, which my constituents sent me here to do. They didn't send me here just to be told: Sit down and forget it; one person decides. So I am very disappointed.

With that, in the interest of time I ask unanimous consent to call up my amendment No. 2611.

Is there objection?

Sen. Harry Reid

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Yes.

Objection is heard.

The majority leader.

Sen. Harry Reid

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If he will just withhold--and he can offer his amendment--I do want to say this. We get nowhere with dueling amendments. We have learned that in the past. Dueling amendments don't do the trick.

The issue is pronounced, it is here before us, and we went a step further. In the past we haven't paid for this. Five times, President Bush signed bills extending unemployment benefits not paid for.

Again, we have done a good job reducing the debt. We have a lot more we can do, but we have reduced it almost $3 trillion already. The issue now before us is are we going to extend benefits for people who have been unemployed for a long time. That is the question. We bent over backward to try to come up with a compromise, a bipartisan piece of legislation. I repeat, it is paid for with a Paul Ryan pay-for. There are structural changes. It is a pretty good deal. I am very disappointed we are at a point now where we have been for 5 years. Nothing is ever quite good enough. They always want more amendments. They always want more amendments.

But the issue is before us. Is this body going to vote to extend unemployment benefits paid for with Paul Ryan's pay-for and with structural changes or are they going to turn their back on people who are desperate?

Sen. Daniel Coats

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Madam President, may I ask the majority leader to yield for just one question?

Sen. Harry Reid

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Sure.

Sen. Daniel Coats

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The majority leader just said this body gets nowhere by offering amendments. Does he mean throughout this year it is worthless, meaningless for Republicans to offer any amendments to any bill to try to make improvements to the bills or to try to make their voice heard or the voice of the people I represent, the people of Indiana, heard on this floor?

Sen. Harry Reid

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My friend, the Senator from Indiana, is of those Senators who used to be here when the good old times were here. We didn't have ``gotcha'' amendments. Every amendment offered, with rare exception, is a ``gotcha'' amendment. That is not what we do here.

I have been waiting since Monday to get pay-fors as to how we can extend unemployment benefits for people. They come up with stuff that doesn't even pay for 3 months' worth of extensions. Amendments are important, but I think we have to go back to the time when Senator Coats was here the first time and start working together to get things done in this body.

The Senator from Indiana.

Sen. Daniel Coats

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Madam President, this is 100 percent different from the time I was here the first time. We were able to offer any amendment to any bill at any time and the majority leader, both Republicans and Democrats, allowed us to do that. This is the first time I have had the experience of not being able to offer an amendment.

I think I heard the majority leader object, but I was not sure. Did he object to my unanimous consent request?

The objection was heard.

Sen. Harry Reid

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I was there, just like my friend. Things were different then, they certainly were, because we did not have hundreds of filibusters that would take place. Filibuster was something that was used rarely. In those days would you ever filibuster the Secretary of Defense or all the other Cabinet officers? Of course you would not. That is why action had to be taken.

But what my Republican friends have to realize is that filibuster is not a right, it is a privilege. It has been abused. My friend can lecture me, and I am happy to listen to his many lectures, but I was here. I know how things used to work and what has gone on in the last 5 years would never have taken place in those days.

Sen. Mitch McConnell

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Will the majority leader yield for a question?

Sen. Harry Reid

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Yes.

Sen. Mitch McConnell

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He brings up the Secretary of Defense frequently. Was the Secretary of Defense defeated or confirmed?

Sen. Harry Reid

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No, he was only delayed while we had two wars going on in this country.

Sen. Mitch McConnell

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Has a member of the President's Cabinet ever been defeated on a filibuster in the history of the Senate?

Sen. Harry Reid

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Mr. President, in response to the question of my friend, in fact what has happened--and we find this with the judges--they stall for weeks, months, and sometimes years. When the vote comes it is pretty good, but in the meantime they have done significant damage to this institution and our country by stalling and making it so the President of the United States has a very difficult time doing his job because he doesn't have his people there when he needs them.

Sen. Mitch McConnell

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I ask my friend, the majority leader, then is what he finds offensive the fact that there are debates about these matters? Since none of these members are being defeated, what is the issue? I am having a hard time understanding it. Is it the fact that there is controversy, that there is debate? Since none of them are being defeated, is he also suggesting we have no controversy about anybody sent by the President of the United States?

Sen. Harry Reid

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Mr. President, of course that is a question that is a great big softball--of course not. We need debate. We need good, strong debate about nominations and everything else. But what we don't need is hours and days and weeks and months of obstruction. That is what we have here.

My friend, the Republican leader, is picturing to everyone within the sound of his voice something that doesn't exist. There has been obstruction that has been carried to an extent that no one ever dreamed would happen in this great Republic.

That is what the objection is. The objection is to obstruction. Was it only a debate when my Republican colleagues decided the DC Circuit--some say the most important court in this country, even, some say, more important than the Supreme Court--when they decided there were vacant seats there and for 5 years held up filling those seats? Is that a debate? No. It is obstruction.

If we turn to the dictionary and look up ``obstruction,'' they would point right over here.

Sen. Mitch McConnell

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Will the majority leader yield for another question?

Since he has conceded that no Cabinet members have been defeated prior to the decision of the majority leader to break the rules of the Senate to change the rules of the Senate, is it not the case that 215 of President Barack Obama's judges have been confirmed and only 2 have been defeated?

Sen. Harry Reid

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Mr. President, during the time we have been a country, and I don't know exactly long it has been, more than 230 years--I can't come up with it this second--there have been 23 district court nominees filibustered. Twenty of them have been during the 5 years of the Obama administration, and that example is throughout the government.

The American people know what is taking place in this body. They can try to paint over a picture that things are just fine, all we are doing is wanting a little bit of debate. There has been stalling, obstruction that is untoward and never considered. I just can't imagine how my Republican colleagues can justify what they have done. But they do. I accept that.

But we have an issue before this body. Again, they are trying to divert attention and go to how many amendments, what are the rules. The issue before this body is whether the long-term unemployed get an extension of their benefits. As we speak, there are people all over this country who are desperate to be able to get $300 a week to be able to survive for another week, hoping they will find a job. The sad part about that--my friends say we need to do something about making sure these people fill these vacant jobs. There are lots of places people find work. For every job opening there are three people unemployed trying to find a job.

I have answered the question to the best of my ability.

The Senator from New Hampshire.

Sen. Harry Reid

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Mr. President, my friend from Indiana had a consent request? Oh, I wanted my friend from Indiana to know I was not trying to object to something he has a right to do.

The Senator from New Hampshire.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte

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Mr. President, let me just say I share in the comments of my colleague from Indiana and my colleague from Ohio. The three of us voted in good faith to debate this bill. I did so because I thought we should try to debate this issue; that both sides, if they had an idea about how to pay for this in a responsible way, we should bring it forward. When I hear the majority leader say I have been waiting since Monday, I filed an amendment on Tuesday. That amendment is straightforward. That amendment is one that would fix fraud in our Tax Code that came to light in 2011 in a Treasury IG report. What it would simply require is those who seek the additional child tax credit to file a Social Security number just like those who seek the earned-income tax credit in this country.

Why is that? Because the investigations of this tax refund people receive found they were claiming it for people who, No. 1, were basically not authorized to work in this country but were claiming it and, second, for children who may not even exist. Investigations found that for children who do not even live in this country. So a commonsense amendment that--by the way, would it pay for it? It would pay for 3 months of unemployment insurance for American workers and for this issue we have before this Chamber. It would pay for it to fix the military retirement cuts to the COLAs--that also impacted our wounded warriors--that were done in the most recent budget that were unfair, that Members of both sides of the aisle have come together to say we should fix and agree it is unfair.

What else would it do? It would reduce the deficit. What I hear from the majority leader is: I hear that idea. We have heard that before. You may have heard it before, but we have not been allowed a vote on it.

Are they so afraid of having a vote on something such as this that the people of New Hampshire whom I represent can't get a vote on, trying to fix this abuse in our Tax Code, on trying to solve this issue pending on the floor and to pay for it so we do not add to our $17 trillion in debt?

By the way, is it so unreasonable? I happened to sign a letter from a Member of the Democratic conference who, after the Treasury IG report was issued that I am citing, was equally as concerned as I am about this abuse in the Tax Code, in fact, described it as improper payments and said it seemed reasonable to presume that unauthorized workers were not eligible for this tax credit and called on the Commissioner of the IRS--this is a respected Member of the Democratic conference who expressed concerns about it. That Member said: ``We need to stop these unauthorized payments immediately.''

That was in 2011 and we cannot even get a vote on this? We can reasonably disagree, but the only way we can express those disagreements in this body, as my colleagues have said, is to be allowed to vote and to be able to represent our States and to get votes on amendments.

With that, I will ask unanimous consent to call up my amendment No.

Is there objection?

Sen. Barbara Boxer

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Reserving the right to object.

The Senator from California.

Sen. Barbara Boxer

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Mr. President, talk about fiddling while Rome burns. If you are one of the 1.3 million people in this country, 222,000 in my State, whose house is burning down because they are going to lose the safety net of $300 a week to feed their family, to take care of their kids, to heat their homes, and my colleague talks about letters? I will tell you about a letter I got from a woman who sets her thermostat at 55 degrees and she has a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old, and all they do on that side is complain that their amendments, they are so important--24 of them. They know they are all partisan.

We are trying to work on a bipartisan solution. Somebody explain to me why the Republicans never objected to extending unemployment so many times when George W. Bush was President. Not a one. It was fine.

So do we make economic policy by who is in the White House or by the needs of our people?

This idea of going after children is one of the worst ideas I have ever heard, and I am shocked. I am shocked. You are going to hurt children. You are going to take food out of their mouths. It is outrageous. If there are abuses, I say to my friend, put those people in jail.

If there were one corrupt Senator--and there could be and there might be and there was in the past--and every one of us got painted with that brush, which is what the Senator did in her speech, is to taint every poor child who happens to benefit from that credit. Let us not go down that partisan route. Let us support our leader and let us work through the weekend to come up with a plan. I think the majority leader has one.

I object.

The objection is heard. The Senator from New Hampshire.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte

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Mr. President, I would say, first of all, I voted in good faith, one of six Republicans, to debate this bill to solve this problem. I cannot get a vote. If the Senator from California objects to this amendment, then why don't we vote on it? This is nothing about protecting children--unless the Senator is trying to protect children who may not exist or trying to protect children who do not live in the United States of America. This is about protecting abuse within the Tax Code which, again--I have a letter from a Member of her caucus who recognized this problem as well, based on a Treasury IG report done during this administration. This amendment is about protecting the American taxpayer, and the American taxpayer needs some protection in this body when it comes to tax fraud.

Let me say that we need to be able to have votes on behalf of our States and on behalf of the American people, and if we disagree, let's vote them down. I don't see what the issue is unless they are worried it is going to pass because it just makes too much sense.

I have a parliamentary inquiry. Is it correct that no Senator is permitted to offer an amendment to the unemployment insurance bill while the majority leader's motion to commit with instructions with further amendments is pending?

The Senator is correct.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte

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I have a further parliamentary inquiry. If a motion to table the Reid motion to commit with a further amendment is successful, would there still be Reid amendments pending that would prevent me from offering my amendment or any of my colleagues from offering their amendments which would pay for this and improve it and try to address the problems we are supposed to be debating on this floor?

The Senator is correct.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte

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I have an important amendment, and that amendment would fix the abuse within the Tax Code that has been identified by a Treasury IG report and subsequent investigations. My amendment would pay for this 3-month unemployment extension for American workers--those who are struggling to find work. It is an amendment that would fix the unfair cuts to our military retirees and wounded warriors. I am concerned about the $17 trillion in debt and what it will do to the future of our children and this country, and this amendment would reduce the deficit as well.

I would ask for a vote on my amendment, amendment No. 2603, but in order for the Senate to consider my important amendment and amendments that my colleagues have talked about--and I hope amendments on the other side that we should be voting on--I move to table the pending Reid motion to commit with instructions, and I ask for the yeas and nays.

Is there a sufficient second? There appears to be a sufficient second.

The question is on agreeing to the motion.

The yeas and nays have been ordered.

The clerk will call the roll.

The legislative clerk called the roll.

Are there any other Senators in the Chamber desiring to vote?

Sen. Richard J. Durbin

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I announce that the Senator from Pennsylvania (Mr. Casey) is necessarily absent.

Sen. John Cornyn

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The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator from Oklahoma (Mr. Coburn), the Senator from Kansas (Mr. Moran), and the Senator from Kentucky (Mr. Paul).

The result was announced--yeas 42, nays 54, as follows:

[Rollcall Vote No. 3 Leg.] YEAS--42 Alexander Ayotte Barrasso Blunt Boozman Burr Chambliss Coats Cochran Collins Corker Cornyn Crapo Cruz Enzi Fischer Flake Graham Grassley Hatch Hoeven Inhofe Isakson Johanns Johnson (WI) Kirk Lee Manchin McCain McConnell Murkowski Portman Risch Roberts Rubio Scott Sessions Shelby Thune Toomey Vitter Wicker NAYS--54 Baldwin Baucus Begich Bennet Blumenthal Booker Boxer Brown Cantwell Cardin Carper Coons Donnelly Durbin Feinstein Franken Gillibrand Hagan Harkin Heinrich Heitkamp Heller Hirono Johnson (SD) Kaine King Klobuchar Landrieu Leahy Levin Markey McCaskill Menendez Merkley Mikulski Murphy Murray Nelson Pryor Reed Reid Rockefeller Sanders Schatz Schumer Shaheen Stabenow Tester Udall (CO) Udall (NM) Warner Warren Whitehouse Wyden NOT VOTING--4 Casey Coburn Moran Paul

The motion was rejected.

NOMINATION OF ROBERT LEON WILKINS TO BE U.S. CIRCUIT JUDGE FOR THE

Sen. Harry Reid

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I now move to proceed to the motion to reconsider the vote by which cloture was not invoked on the nomination of Robert Leon Wilkins to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia.

The question is on agreeing to the motion.

Sen. Mitch McConnell

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I ask for the yeas and nays.

Is there a sufficient second? There appears to be a sufficient second.

The clerk will call the roll.

The assistant legislative clerk called the roll.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin

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I announce that the Senator from Pennsylvania (Mr. Casey) and the Senator from California (Mrs. Boxer) are necessarily absent.

Sen. John Cornyn

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The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator from Oklahoma (Mr. Coburn), the Senator from Oklahoma (Mr. Inhofe), the Senator from Kansas (Mr. Moran), and the Senator from Kentucky (Mr. Paul).

Are there any other Senators in the Chamber desiring to vote?

The result was announced--yeas 53, nays 41, as follows:

[Rollcall Vote No. 4 Leg.] YEAS--53 Baldwin Baucus Begich Bennet Blumenthal Booker Brown Cantwell Cardin Carper Coons Donnelly Durbin Feinstein Franken Gillibrand Hagan Harkin Heinrich Heitkamp Hirono Johnson (SD) Kaine King Klobuchar Landrieu Leahy Levin Manchin Markey McCaskill Menendez Merkley Mikulski Murphy Murray Nelson Pryor Reed Reid Rockefeller Sanders Schatz Schumer Shaheen Stabenow Tester Udall (CO) Udall (NM) Warner Warren Whitehouse Wyden NAYS--41 Alexander Ayotte Barrasso Blunt Boozman Burr Chambliss Coats Cochran Collins Corker Cornyn Crapo Cruz Enzi Fischer Flake Graham Grassley Hatch Heller Hoeven Isakson Johanns Johnson (WI) Kirk Lee McCain McConnell Murkowski Portman Risch Roberts Rubio Scott Sessions Shelby Thune Toomey Vitter Wicker NOT VOTING--6 Boxer Casey Coburn Inhofe Moran Paul

The motion was agreed to.

Sen. Mark Pryor

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Mr. President, I move to reconsider the vote.

Sen. Carl Levin

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Mr. President, I move to lay that motion upon the table.

The motion to lay upon the table was agreed to.

The majority leader.