WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the need for swift, bipartisan action to prevent the country from going over the Fiscal Cliff:
“You’ll excuse me if I’m a little frustrated at the situation we find ourselves in. But last night, President Obama called Congressional leaders from Hawaii and asked if there was something we could do to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.
“I say I’m a little frustrated because we’ve been asking the President and Democrats to work with us on a bipartisan agreement for months — months. A plan that would simplify the tax code, shrink the deficit, protect the taxpayers, and grow the economy. But Democrats consistently rejected those offers.
The President chose to spend his time on the campaign trail instead — even after he got re-elected — and Congressional Democrats sat on their hands.
“Republicans bent over backwards. We stepped way out of our comfort zone. We wanted an agreement. But we had no takers. The phone never rang. And so now, here we are, five days from the New Year, and we might finally start talking.
“Democrats have had an entire year to put forward a balanced, bipartisan proposal. If they had something that fit the bill, I’m sure the Majority Leader would have been able to deliver the votes the President would have needed to pass it here in the Senate. And we wouldn’t be in this mess. But here we are, once again, at the end of the year staring at a crisis we should have dealt with months ago.
“Make no mistake: the only reason Democrats have been trying to deflect attention onto me and my colleagues over the past few weeks is that they don’t have a plan of their own that could get bipartisan support. The so-called Senate bill that the Majority Leader keeps referring to passed with only Democrat votes. And despite his repeated calls for the House to pass it, he knows as well as I do that he himself is the reason it can’t happen. The paperwork never left the Senate, so there’s nothing for the House to vote on.
“As I pointed out before we took that vote on July 25th, the [Democrat bill is] ‘a revenue measure that didn’t originate in the House, so it’s got no chance whatsoever of becoming law.’ The only reason we even allowed a vote on that proposal, as I said then, was that we knew it didn’t pass constitutional muster. And that if Democrats were really serious, they’d proceed to a revenue bill that originated in the House, as the Constitution requires, and as I called on them to do again last week.
“To repeat, the so-called Senate bill is nothing more than a glorified Sense of the Senate resolution. So let’s just put that convenient talking point aside from here on out.
“Last night, I told the President that we’re all happy to look at whatever he proposes. But the truth is, we’re coming up against a hard deadline here, and, as I said, this is a conversation we should have had months ago. And Republicans aren’t about to write a blank check for anything Senate Democrats put forward just because we find ourselves at the edge of the cliff. It’s not fair to the American people.
“That said, we’ll see what the President has to propose. Members on both sides of the aisle will review it, and then we’ll decide how best to proceed. Hopefully there is still time for an agreement of some kind that saves the taxpayers from a wholly preventable economic crisis.”