Busy Senate Agenda Includes Important Domestic, National Security Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor previewing the busy Senate agenda:
“This week looks to be a busy one in the Senate.
“We’ve got a lot of important legislation to consider. We’re hoping our friends across the aisle will work with us to do so in an expeditious manner.
“We’ll begin the process of finishing our work on the balanced budget the Senate passed just before Easter.
“Passing that balanced budget was a big moment for the new Senate. For years, the budget process was ignored almost entirely in this chamber. And the idea of a balanced budget passing was basically unthinkable.
“But now the Senate is under new management. Things are changing. And soon, we’ll conference with the House to work out a final budget that can be passed by the full Congress.
“That’s just the latest example of Congress getting back to work. I know a lot of Americans are happy to see it.
“But the budget is far from the only item on the Senate’s near-term agenda.
“The Senate will soon consider bipartisan legislation that’s designed to ensure seniors on Medicare don’t lose access to their doctors.
“It’s a solution to a broken Medicare payment system that had vexed congressional leaders of both parties for years. It would mean an end to the annual exercise of Congress passing a temporary ‘fix’ to the problem one year and then coming right up to the very same cliff the next year, without actually solving the underlying problem.
“So the fact that we have a bipartisan reform bill here is significant in itself. The fact that it passed the House overwhelmingly is even more significant still.
“It doesn’t mean the legislation is perfect.
“It doesn’t mean we won’t have some disagreements about it.
“But I do think the bill deserves a vote.
“And it is my hope that the Senate will soon take one.
“We’ll also continue our work to pass the bipartisan Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.
“It’s legislation designed to prevent women and children from being sold into modern-day slavery.
“It was reported out of the Judiciary Committee with the support of every single Democrat. And the Senate took up this bill with the consent of every single Democrat. There’s no reason they should turn around and filibuster this anti-slavery bill now.
“As a victims’ advocate put it, Senate Democrats should stop choosing a ‘phantom’ problem over real victims.
“A large, bipartisan majority of the Senate has voted repeatedly to end a very regrettable Democrat filibuster of this anti-slavery bill. It will only take a few more votes from our friends across the aisle to bring hope to children in chains and women suffering in the shadows.
“So we’ve been reaching out to our friends to work with them to end the Democrat filibuster of human-rights legislation.
“The Senate should pass this bipartisan bill right away. And as soon as that happens, we’ll turn to the Loretta Lynch nomination.
“Committees in the new Senate are also working hard to advance more bipartisan legislation.
“We already saw the Intelligence Committee vote 14 to 1 to approve bipartisan legislation aimed at protecting the personal and financial information of Middle-Class Americans from cybercriminals.
“Over in the Finance Committee, we see the top Republican and top Democrat continue to discuss the best way forward to increase American exports with new trade legislation.
“And today, we’ll see another product of negotiations between a top committee Republican and top committee Democrat — legislation aimed at reforming our education system — considered in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
“We hope to bring all of these issues to the Senate floor for debate in the near future.
“Another important bipartisan bill that will be considered by committee today is the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. The Foreign Relations Committee is set to mark that up.
“The legislation is supported by a large number of Democrats. It’s no wonder why. The bill is aimed at giving Congress and the American people a say in reviewing and approving an international agreement with such wide-ranging consequences.
“And the American people should have a say.
“The interim agreement we saw from the Administration would not only allow Iran to continue to enrich uranium and retain thousands of centrifuges, but also allow it to continue researching and developing even more advanced centrifuges.
“In other words, it seems more like an agreement built around Iran’s terms, rather than a plan to advance what should be our national goal: ending its nuclear program.
“It’s a matter of great concern not just to our country, but to the entire world. The concerns of our allies and partners with regard to Iran’s aggressive behavior throughout the Middle East were made clear when I recently led a Senate delegation to Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
“This is a gravely important matter. And the American people aren’t just spectators here. They and the representatives they elect deserve a seat at the table too.
“Today’s bipartisan action in the Foreign Relations Committee will help ensure they do.
“As I mentioned earlier, there will be a lot of activity in the Senate this week — on a range of issues. It’s good for the functioning of the Senate. But it also helps underline one clear point.
“The new Congress is back to work again, and on behalf of the American people.”
Related Issues: Budget, Back to Work, National Security, Health Care, Restoring the Senate