Senate Democrats

Objections to Budget Conference

This afternoon and for the 13th time since March 23rd when Senate passed a budget resolution, Senator Kaine asked unanimous consent the Senate proceed to the consideration of Calendar #33, H.Con.Res.25; the amendment at the desk, which is the text of S.Con.Res.8, the budget resolution passed by the Senate, be inserted in lieu thereof; and that H.Con.Res.25, as amended, be agreed to. Further, that the Senate insist on its amendment, request a conference with the House on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses; and the Chair be authorized to appoint conferees on the part of the Senate; and that following the authorization, two motions to instruct conferees be in order from each side:

- Motion to instruct relative to the debt limit; and

- Motion to instruct relative to taxes/revenue;

That there be two hours of debate equally divided between the two Leaders, or their designees, prior to votes in relation to the motions; further, that no amendments be in order to either of the motions prior to the votes; all of the above occurring with no intervening action or debate.

 

Senator Lee requested to modify Senator Kaine’s request to go to a conference without having the debt limit raised within that conference.  Senator Kaine objected to Senator Lee’s request to modify given that no Senator offered an amendment of that nature during consideration of the Budget Resolution. Finally, Senator Lee objected to Senator Kaine’s original request. Senators Lee and Cruz engaged in a colloquy following the consent requests. The unofficial transcript is below.

 

 

12:36:41 NSP} (MR. KAINE) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

MR. KAINE: MADAM PRESIDENT, I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE SENATE

PROCEED TO THE CONSIDERATION OF CALENDAR NUMBER 33, H. CON.

RES. 25, THAT THE AMENDMENT WHICH IS AND HAS BEEN AT THE DESK,

THE TEXT OF S.CON.RES.8, THE BUDGET RESOLUTION PASSED BY THE

SENATE ON MARCH 23 BE INSERTED IN LIEU THEREOF, THAT H. CON.

RES. AS AMENDED BE AGREED TO, THAT THE MOTION TO RECONSIDER BE

LAID ON THE TABLE, THAT THE SENATE INSIST ON ITS AMENDMENT AND

REQUEST A CONFERENCE WITH THE HOUSE ON THE DISAGREEING VOTES OF

THE TWO HOUSES AND THE CHAIR BE AUTHORIZED TO APPOINT CONFEREES

ON THE PART OF THE SENATE, THAT FOLLOWING THE AUTHORIZATION TWO

MOTIONS TO INSTRUCT CONFEREES BE IN ORDER FROM EACH SIDE, A

MOTION TO INSTRUCT RELATIVE TO THE DEBT LIMIT AND A MOTION TO

INSTRUCT RELATIVE TO TAXES AND REVENUE, THAT THERE BE TWO HOURS

DWAIFT EQUALLY DIVIDED BETWEEN THE TWO LEADERS OR THEIR

DESIGNEES PRIOR TO VOTES, IN RELATION TO THE MOTIONS AND

FURTHER THAT NO AMENDMENTS BE IN ORDER IN EITHER OF THE MOTIONS

PRIOR TO THE VOTES ALL THE ABOVE OCCURRING WITH NO INTERVENING

ACTION OR DEBATE.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: IS THERE OBJECTION TO THE REQUEST?

THE SENATOR FROM UTAH.

MR. LEE: RESERVING THE RIGHT TO OBJECT I’D LIKE TO EXPLAIN

BRIEFLY WHAT THE OVERALL SITUATION. WE’RE NOT OBJECTING TO

BUDGET, WE’RE NOT OBJECTING TO CONFERENCE. WE JUST WANT THE

DEBT LIMIT LEFT OUT. IT’S A SEPARATE ISSUE WHAT WARRANTS ITS

OWN DEBATE. IT’S A SIMPLE REQUEST. NO BACK-ROOM DEALS ON THE

DEBT LIMIT. I’D LIKE TO FOCUS ON ONE PARTICULAR ARGUMENT WE’VE

HEARD FROM THE OTHER SIDE. CRITICS ARGUE THAT CONFERENCE

COMMITTEES ARE TRANSPARENT AND THEY DON’T INVOLVE BACK-ROOM

DEALS. IF THIS WERE EVER THE CASE, TODAY IT IS NOT. THE PURPOSE

OF CONFERENCE COMMITTEES IS TO RECONCILE DIFFERENCES IN SIMILAR

BILLS PASSED BY THE HOUSE AND BY THE SENATE. IT’S NOT THE ONLY

WAY BUT IT IS ONE WAY. IN THEORY, CONFERENCE COMMITTEES ARE AN

OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE AND TRUSTWORTHY MEANS OF RESOLVING BICAMERAL

DIFFERENCES. BUT IN RECENT YEARS, THE CONFERENCE PROCESS, LIKE

SO MUCH ELSE IN THIS TOWN AND IN THIS CHAMBER, HAS BECOME

CONSTRUCTED — CORRUPTED. TODAY CONFERENCE COMMITTEES ARE

ANOTHER MECHANISM TO EXCLUDE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE FROM THE

LEGISLATIVE PROCESS. SECRET, CLOSED DOORS, THEY USUALLY DON’T

EVEN BEGIN UNTIL THE DEAL IS ALREADY COMPLETED AS A PRACTICAL

MATTER. SPEAKER BOEHNER HIMSELF SAID RECENTLY WE DON’T

TYPICALLY GO TO CONFERENCE UNTIL SUCH TIME THAT THEY’RE WELL ON

THEIR WAY. A RECENT EXAMPLE WAS THE CONFERENCE LAST YEAR ON THE

HIGHWAY BILL. THE SENATE PASSED ITS BILL IN MARCH, THE HOUSE

PASSED ITS VERSION IN APRIL. MAY 8, THE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

MET FOR ABOUT TWO AND A HALF HOURS ON C-SPAN BUT NO AMENDMENTS,

NO SUBSTANTIVE LEGISLATING. MEMBERS MOSTLY GAVE OPENING

STATEMENTS. BUT THAT WAS JUST THE FIRST MEETING AFTER ALL.

PLENTY OF TIME TO GET TO THE REAL WORK. BUT THEN AT THE END OF

IT ALL, THE CHAIR OF THE CONFERENCE THANKED EVERYONE FOR COMING

AND THEN SAID SOMETHING PECULIAR. WE WILL BE BACK HERE IF

NECESSARY. MAYBE WE CAN DO THIS, YOU KNOW, OUT OF THIS ROOM

HERE. BUT WE MAY BE ABLE TO AGREE AND GET SIGNATURES ON A

CONFERENCE REPORT. BUT IF NECESSARY, WE WILL BE BACK HERE IN

20-SOME DAYS. STRANGE THING THAT THE CONFERENCE, WHICH HASN’T

DONE ANYTHING YET, WOULD ONLY MEET AGAIN IF NECESSARY. HOW ELSE

COULD THEY DO THEIR WORK IF THEY DIDN’T MEET AGAIN?

BUT THEN WITHOUT MEETING AGAIN, THE CONFERENCE FILED ITS

670-PAGE REPORT IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS OF JUNE 28 AS IF BY

MAGIC WITHOUT ANY DEBATE OR AMENDMENTS OR VOTES, ALL THE

DIFFERENCES SIMPLY GOT IRONED OUT. THE HIGHWAY BILL SUDDENLY

INCLUDED PROVISIONS THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH HIGHWAYS. THE

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE HAD ADDED TO THE HIGHWAY BILL THE FLOOD

INSURANCE PROGRAM AND THE STUDENT LOAN PROGRAM. YOU MIGHT CALL

IT THE MIRACULOUS DECEPTION. AND SO THURSDAY MORNING THEY

PRESENTED TO CONGRESS THEIR MASSIVE BILL INTENTIONALLY WAITING

UNTIL ONLY HOURS BEFORE THE ENTIRE HIGHWAY PROGRAM WAS SET TO

EXPIRE. IT WAS A CLAMBG CLIFF DEAL — CLASSIC CLIFF DEAL,

IMMUNE FROM AMENDMENT, INCLUDED UNRELATED PROVISIONS AIR

DROPPED INTO THE BILL PRESENTED AS A TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT

PROPOSITION UP AGAINST A MANUFACTURED DEADLINE CRISIS. FACED

WITH THIS SITUATION, THE HOUSE AND SENATE PASSED THE REPORT

WITHOUT READING IT AND PATTED EACH OTHER ON THE BACK FOR THEIR

BIPARTISANSHIP. THIS, UNFORTUNATELY, IS HOW WASHINGTON TOO

OFTEN WORKS AND IT’S WHY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HOLD WASHINGTON IN

SUCH LOW ESTEEM. PEOPLE DON’T CRUST TRUST THE GOVERNMENT

BECAUSE THEY KNOW THE GOVERNMENT DOESN’T TRUST THEM. IF MY

COLLEAGUES REALLY WANT A BACK-ROOM DEAL ON THE BUDGET, WE’LL

GIVE THEM THEIR CHANCE TO HAVE IT. WE JUST ASK THAT THEY LEAVE

THE DEBT CEILING OUT OF IT. BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE, MY COLLEAGUES

AND I ARE NOT OBJECTING BECAUSE WE DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW

WASHINGTON WORKS AS SOMEONE SUGGESTED. WE ARE OBJECTING BECAUSE

WE KNOW EXACTLY HOW WASHINGTON WORKS IN THIS REGARD AND WE MEAN

TO CHANGE IT. SO, MADAM PRESIDENT, I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT

THE SENATOR FROM VIRGINIA MODIFY HIS REQUEST SO THAT IT NOT BE

IN ORDER FOR THE SENATE TO CONSIDER A CONFERENCE REPORT THAT

INCLUDES RECONCILIATION INSTRUCTIONS TO RAISE THE DEBT LIMIT.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: IS THERE OBJECTION TO THE REQUEST AS

MODIFIED?

MR. KAINE: MADAM PRESIDENT, GIVEN THAT –.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM VIRGINIA.

MR. KAINE: GIVEN THAT NO MEMBER OF THIS BODY MADE AN AMENDMENT

TO REQUEST SUCH A PROVISION AND OFFERED IT FOR A VOTE, EITHER

DURING THE BUDGET COMMITTEE DELIBERATION OR ON THE FLOOR OF

THIS BODY WHEN WE WERE DEBATING THE BUDGET, I CONSIDER THE

REQUEST BASICALLY AN EFFORT TO MODIFY THE BUDGET AFTER IF VOTE

IS DONE AND THEREFORE I REJECT THE REQUEST AND I ASK — REQUEST

AN OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT ADDITIONALLY.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: DOES THE SENATOR OBJECT TO THE REQUEST

AS MODIFIED?

MR. KAINE: I OBJECT.

 

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: OBJECTION IS HEARD. IS THERE OBJECTION

TO THE ORIGINAL REQUEST?

MR. LEE: MADAM PRESIDENT, IN THAT CASE, I OBJECT.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: OBJECTION IS HEARD. THE SENATOR FROM

VIRGINIA.

MR. KAINE: I WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON MY COLLEAGUE’S

CHARACTERIZATION THAT MEMBERS OF THIS BODY WANT A BACK-ROOM

DEAL BECAUSE IN THAT CHARACTERIZATION MY COLLEAGUE NEGLECTED TO

MAKE CLEAR TO CERTAINLY PEOPLE IN THIS GALLERY WHAT HAPPENS

WHEN THERE’S A CONFERENCE REPORT. SINCE MARCH 23, WE HAVE BEEN

TRYING TO TAKE A BUDGET PASSED BY THIS BODY IN ACCORD WITH THE

BUDGET ACT OF 1974 INTO A CONFERENCE WITH THE HOUSE BUDGET

PASSED THE SAME WEEK AND THAT IS THE WAY IN A BICAMERAL

LEGISLATURE WHERE YOU RESOLVE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO

HOUSES. YOU PUT THE DIFFERENT POSITIONS IN A CONFERENCE

COMMITTEE AND YOU ASK PEOPLE TO SIT DOWN AND DEBATE AND LISTEN

AND DIALOGUE AND HOPEFULLY FIND A COMPROMISE. THERE IS NO

GUARANTEE IN ANY CONFERENCE THAT A COMPROMISE WILL BE FOUND.

ALL WE ARE ASKING IS THAT MEMBERS OF THIS BODY INSTEAD OF

EXERCISING A PREROGATIVE TO BLOCK DEBATE AND COMPROMISE, ALLOW

A CONFERENCE TO GO FORWARD SO THAT WE CAN TALK AND LISTEN AND

SEE WHETHER WE CAN FIND COMPROMISE FOR THE GOOD OF THE NATION.

THE SENATOR HAS INDICATED THEY ARE BLOCKING THAT BECAUSE THEY

WANT TO STOP BACK-ROOM DEALS. THE SENATOR HAS NEGLECTED TO

EXPLAIN WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THERE IS A CONFERENCE. WHEN THERE IS

A CONFERENCE, IF THERE IS A DEAL, IF THERE IS AN AGREEMENT TO

FIND GOOD FOR THE COMMON GOOD OF THE NATION BETWEEN A

REPUBLICAN HOUSE MAJORITY AND A DEMOCRATIC SENATE MAJORITY,

THEN THE CONFERENCE REPORT GETS SUBMITTED BACK TO THE BODIES,

WE HAVE DEBATE IN THIS CHAMBER WHERE EVERY SENATOR, JUST AS

THEY DID DURING THE BUDGET CAN STAND AND EXPLAIN WHETHER

THEY’RE FOR IT OR AGAINST IT AND EVERY SENATOR HAS THE ABILITY

TO VOTE YES OR NO TO THE CONFERENCE REPORT. IF THE SENATOR

WOULD LIKE TO SEE A CONFERENCE AND SEE IF IT WORKS AND IF HE

DOESN’T LIKE IT VOTE AGAINST THE BUDGET, OR THE BUDGET

COMPROMISE, HE’S ABLE TO DO IT. IF ANY SENATOR ALLOWS A

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE TO GO FORWARD AND WHEN IT COMES BACK

BELIEVES IT REPRESENTS SOME KIND OF A BACK-ROOM DEAL, AT THAT

POINT THEY CAN SAY THAT ON THE FLOOR. BUT TO RESTRICT A BUDGET

FROM EVEN GOING TO CONFERENCE SO THAT WE CAN FIND COMPROMISE

BEFORE YOU KNOW WHETHER COMPROMISE WILL BE FOUND, BEFORE YOU

KNOW WHAT THE COMPROMISE MIGHT BE, AND TO

IT A BACK-ROOM DEAL WHEN YOU’RE BLOCKING ANYBODY FROM EVEN

ENTERING THE ROOM AND TRYING TO FIND COMPROMISE, I THINK IS AN

UNFAIR CHARACTERIZATION OF THE PROCEDURES OF THIS BODY. I’VE

STATED BEFORE ON THE FLOOR AS I’VE MADE THE MOTION, THIS IS THE

13th MOTION WE HAVE MADE SINCE MARCH 23 TO BEGIN A BUDGET

CONFERENCE SO WE CAN FIND COMPROMISE. WHEN OUR FRAMERS

ESTABLISHED A BICAMERAL LEGISLATURE, THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE

DOING, BUT THEY GAVE US A CHALLENGE.

AND THE CHALLENGE WAS THIS: IN A BICAMERAL LEGISLATURE THAT

REQUIRES PASSAGE IN BOTH HOUSES, IF THE GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISM

IS TO BE ALIVE, THEN COMPROMISE IS THE BLOOD OF THE ORGANISM.

BECAUSE PASSAGE IN ONE HOUSE IS NOT ENOUGH. THERE HAS TO BE

PASSAGE IN BOTH HOUSES FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF ITEMS,

INCLUDING A BUDGET. BLOCKING A PROCESS OF COMPROMISE FROM

BEGINNING IS TAKING THE BLOOD OUT OF THE LIVING ORGANISM OF

THIS CONGRESS AND OF THIS GOVERNMENT. AND EFFORTS TO BLOCK

COMPROMISE HARM THIS INSTITUTION, THEY’RE HARMING THE

INSTITUTION EVERY DAY IN THE MINDS OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC, BE

THEY DEMOCRAT, REPUBLICAN, INDEPENDENT, WHEREVER THEY LIVE.

I’VE MADE THE MOTION, THE MOTION HAS BEEN OBJECTED TO, I CAN

ASSURE FOLKS THIS MOTION WILL CONTINUE TO BE MADE BECAUSE WE’VE

PASSED A BUDGET IN THIS BODY UNDER REGULAR ORDER, WE NEED TO

GET INTO A COMPROMISE, INTO A CONFERENCE WITH THE HOUSE, SO

THAT WE CAN DO WHAT’S EXPECTED OF US. LISTEN, DIALOGUE,

EXERCISE EFFORTS TO FIND COMPROMISE. WITHOUT COMPROMISE, THERE

IS NO CONGRESS. I YIELD THE FLOOR.

 

MR. LEE: MADAM PRESIDENT?

 

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM UTAH.

 

MR. LEE: MADAM PRESIDENT, TO RESPOND TO MY DISTINGUISHED

COLLEAGUE AND FRIEND FROM VIRGINIA, IN THE FIRST PLACE, IT’S

IMPORTANT FOR US TO REMEMBER YES, WE ARE A BICAMERAL CONGRESS.

YES, IN ORDER TO PASS LEGISLATION YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE SOMETHING

THAT PASSES THE HOUSE AND PASSES THE SENATE AND IS SIGNED INTO

LAW BY THE PRESIDENT. BUT THE FACT IS THAT THERE ARE A NUMBER

OF WAYS TO ACCOMPLISH THIS. YES, IT’S CERTAINLY TRUE THAT ONE

WAY THAT WE RECONCILE COMPETING VERSIONS OF LEGISLATION PASSED

IN THE HOUSE AND SENATE RESPECTIVELY IS THROUGH A CONFERENCE

COMMITTEE. IT IS NOT THE ONLY WAY, IT IS ONE WAY. IT’S ALSO

TRUE THAT UNDER ARTICLE 1, SECTION 5, CLAWS 2 — CLAUSE 2 OF

THE CONSTITUTION, EACH BODY OF CONGRESS HAS ITS ABILITY TO

WRITE ITS OWN RULES FOR OPERATION. THE WAY THE RULES FOR ARE

WRITTEN IN OUR CURRENT POSTURE IN ORDER TO GET TO A CONFERENCE

COMMITTEE, IT REQUIRES UNANIMOUS CONSENT. ALL OF US HAVE TO

AGREE IT’S A GOOD IDEA TO TAKE THAT PARTICULAR ROUTE. BUT WE

DON’T HAVE TO TAKE THAT ROUTE. THERE ARE OTHER WAYS UNDER THE

RULES OF THE SENATE WOULD ALLOW US TO RECONCILE DIFFERENCES

BETWEEN THE HOUSE-PASSED BUDGET AND SENATE-PASSED BUDGET

WITHOUT GOING TO CONFERENCE. WE COULD, FOR EXAMPLE, TAKE UP THE

HOUSE-PASSED BUDGET RIGHT NOW. WE COULD DEBATE THAT AND ADDRESS

THAT. THAT’S A WAY OF ADDRESSING THAT THAT DOESN’T REQUIRE US

TO GOING TO CONFERENCE. BUT GOING TO CONFERENCE RIGHT NOW UNDER

THE RULES OF THE SENATE AS THEY APPLY TO THIS SET OF FACTS DOES

REQUIRE UNANIMOUS CON SCENE. THERE ARE A HANDFUL OF US WHO ARE

NOT WILLING TO GRANT THAT CONSENT IF, IN FACT, THE INTENT IS,

THE POSSIBILITY REMAINS THAT THEY USE THAT AS A BACKROOM EFFORT

TO RAISE THE DEBT LIMIT, A BACKROOM EFFORT THAT WOULD NOT

REQUIRE UTILIZATION OF THE SENATE’S TRADITIONAL RULES,

INCLUDING THE 60-VOTE THRESHOLD THAT OFTEN APPLIES. SO YOU’RE

ASKING US TO AGREE WITH SOMETHING WITH WHICH WE FUNDAMENTALLY

DISAGREE. NOW, MY FRIEND FROM VIRGINIA HAS ALSO MADE THE

ARGUMENT THAT IT IS SOMEHOW UNREASONABLE OF US TO MAKE THIS

OBJECTION BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT NONE OF THESE AMENDMENTS

WERE BROUGHT UP IN CONNECTION WITH THE BUDGET. I ACTUAL THINK

THE ARGUMENT — I ACTUALLY THINK THE ARGUMENT GOES EXACTLY THE

OPPOSITE WAY. BECAUSE THE DEBT LIMIT WAS NOT PART OF THE

DELIBERATIONS IN THIS BODY ON THE BUDGET AND BECAUSE THE DEBT

LIMIT WAS NOT PART OF THE DELIBERATIONS OR THE FINAL TEXT IN

THE OTHER BODY IN CONNECTION WITH THE BUDGET, THERE’S NO NEED

FOR THE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE TO ADDRESS THE DEBT LIMIT. THERE

CERTAINLY IS NO NEED TO CIRCUMVENT THE OTHERWISE APPLICABLE

RULES OF THE SENATE THAT WOULD GOVERN THIS IN THIS POSTURE, IN

THIS CONTEXT. NOW, MADAM PRESIDENT, I’D LIKE UNANIMOUS CONSENT

TO ENGAGE IN A COLLOQUY WITH MY COLLEAGUE, THE JUNIOR SENATOR

FROM TEXAS.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION.

MR. LEE: AND I’D ASK MY COLLEAGUE FROM TEXAS, WHO HAS ON

OCCASION EXPRESSED SIMILAR CONCERNS TO THOSE THAT I HAVE JUST

EXPRESSED WITH THIS KIND OF POSTURE, SO I WOULD ASK MY FRIEND

FROM TEXAS, IS IT, IN FACT, YOUR INTENT, IS IT YOUR OBJECTIVE

TO BE OBSTRUCTIONIST, ARE YOU TRYING TO OBSTRUCT HERE OR ARE

YOU, IN FACT — ARE YOU BEING UNREASONABLE IN RAISING THESE

OBJECTIONS?

MR. CRUZ: I THANK MY GOOD FRIEND FROM UTAH AND — AND I WOULD

NOTE THAT — THAT EACH OF US — A NUMBER OF SENATORS HAVE

RAISED THIS OBJECTION, HAVE FOCUSED ON ONE THING AND ONE THING

ONLY, WHICH IS WHETHER THE SENATE CAN RAISE THE DEBT CEILING

WITH JUST 50 VOTES OR INSTEAD WHETHER THE SENATE CAN DO SO WITH

60 VOTES. THAT IS THE ISSUE HERE. WE ARE PERFECTLY PREPARED TO

GO TO CONFERENCE ON THE BUDGET RIGHT NOW, TODAY. THAT IS A RED

HERRING. THAT’S NOT WHAT THIS PROCEDURAL FIGHT IS ABOUT. EVERY

TIME THAT THIS MOTION HAS BEEN ASKED FOR BY THE MAJORITY, THE

MINORITY HAS RISEN UP TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF THE MINORITY.

BECAUSE ORDINARILY TO RAISE THE DEBT CEILING, IT WOULD TAKE 60

VOTES. AND IF IT TAKES 60 VOTES, WHAT THAT MEANS IS THAT THE 54

DEMOCRATS ARE NOT ABLE TO DO SO ON A STRAIGHT PARTY-LINE VOTE,

FREEZING OUT THE REPUBLICANS. RIGHT NOW THE DEMOCRATS HAVE

STATED THEY BELIEVE THE DEBT CEILING SHOULD BE RAISED WITH NO

PRECONDITIONS, NO NEGOTIATIONS, NO STRUCTURAL CHANGES TO OUR

OUT-OF-CONTROL SPENDING THAT IS BANKRUPTING OUR COUNTRY. AND

WHAT THE MINORITY SENATORS HAVE SAID IS THAT AT A MINIMUM, IF

WE ARE GOING TO RAISE THE DEBT CEILING, IT SHOULD BE SUBJECT TO

A 60-VOTE THRESHOLD SO THAT WE HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT FIXING

THE DEEP FISCAL AND ECONOMIC CHALLENGES IN THIS COUNTRY. AND IT

IS, INDEED, THE MAJORITY WHO — I WILL GIVE CREDIT FOR CANDOR

– DOES NOT WISH TO SAY, NO, WE — WE WILL TAKE THE DEBT

CEILING OFF THE TABLE BECAUSE IT IS, I BELIEVE, THE DEMOCRATS’

INTENTION, IF THIS BUDGET PROCESS GOES TO CONFERENCE COMMITTEE,

TO USE RECONCILIATION AS A BACKDOOR PROCEDURAL TRICK TO RAISE

THE DEBT CEILING ON 50 VOTES. I THINK THAT WOULD BE A TRAVESTY.

BUT I THINK MUCH OF THIS DEBATE IS CLOUDED IN SMOKE AND

MIRRORS. MUCH OF THIS DEBATE IS CLOUDED IN OBFUSCATION. THIS IS

A SIMPLE QUESTION — SHOULD THE DEBT CEILING BE ABLE TO BE

RAISED WITH ONLY 50 VOTES OR SHOULD IT REQUIRE 60 VOTES, WHICH

WILL NECESSITATE SOME COMPROMISE, SOME DISCUSSION?

AND ON THAT QUESTION, I’M QUITE CONFIDENT THAT THE AMERICAN

PEOPLE ARE WITH MY FRIEND FROM UTAH, ARE WITH THE MEMBERS OF

THE MINORITY WHO BELIEVE THAT IF THE DEBT OF THIS COUNTRY’S

GOING TO GO HIGHER AND HIGHER AND HIGHER, WE NEED LEADERSHIP IN

THIS BODY TO FIX THE PROBLEM RATHER THAN SIMPLY PUTTING MORE

AND MORE DEBT ON OUR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS.

MR. LEE: AND IF I MIGHT ASK, MADAM PRESIDENT, OF MY — MY

FRIEND FROM TEXAS, WHY WOULDN’T ONE WANT THE USUAL RULES OF THE SENATE TO APPLY?

THAT IS, WHY WOULD ONE WANT TO BLOCK OR PREVENT THE 60-VOTE

THRESHOLD FROM APPLYING WITH A DEBT CEILING INCREASE, JUST AS

THE 60-VOTE THRESHOLD APPLIES TO SO MUCH OF THE MOST IMPORTANT,

THE MOST CONTENTIOUS AND THE MOST CLOSELY WATCHED LEGISLATION

THAT MOVES THROUGH THIS BODY?

 

MR. CRUZ: WELL, THE 60-VOTE THRESHOLD, AS MY FRIEND FROM UTAH

KNOWS WELL, WAS DESIGNED TO PROTECT THIS INSTITUTION THAT HAS

BEEN CALLED THE WORLD’S GREATEST DELIBERATIVE BODY, AND TO

ENSURE THAT THE MINORITY HAS A ROLE IN THE DISCUSSIONS. AND ON

THIS ISSUE, I THINK THAT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT. THERE ARE

FEW, IF ANY, ISSUES WE WILL ADDRESS THAT ARE MORE IMPORTANT

THAN THE QUESTION OF THE UNSUSTAINABLE DEBT THAT IS THREATENING

THE FUTURE OF OUR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS. THE NATURAL REASON WHY

THE MAJORITY WOULD WANT TO GET AROUND THE 60-VOTE THRESHOLD IS

WITHOUT A 60-VOTE THRESHOLD, THE MAJORITY DOESN’T NEED TO

LISTEN TO THIS SIDE OF THE HOUSE. AND PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS BEEN

VERY, VERY EXPLICIT. THE PRESIDENT HAS SAID HE WANTS THE DEBT

CEILING RAISED WITH NO NEGOTIATIONS, NO DISCUSSIONS, NO

CONDITIONS, NO NOTHING TO FIX THE PROBLEM. AND IN THE LAST 4

1/2 YEARS, OUR NATIONAL DEBT HAS GONE FROM $10 TRILLION TO

NEARLY $17 TRILLION. WHAT WE ARE DOING IS FUNDAMENTALLY

IRRESPONSIBLE, AND THE MAJORITY WOULD LIKE TO BE ABLE TO KEEP

DOING IT WITHOUT MAKING ANY PRUDENT DECISIONS TO STOP THE

OUT-OF-CONTROL SPENDING, STOP THE OUT-OF-CONTROL DEBT, FIX THE

PROBLEM. AND THE ONLY WAY THEY CAN DO IT IS TO USE A PROCEDURAL

TRICYCLE SHUT DOWN THE MINORITY?

– PROCEDURAL TRICK TO SHUT DOWN THE MINORITY. I DON’T BELIEVE

THAT IS CONSISTENT WITH OUR OBLIGATIONS TO THE CONSTITUENTS WHO

ELECTED US AND I DON’T BELIEVE IT’S CONSTITUENT — IT’S

CONSISTENT WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ALL 100 SENATORS TO TAKE

SERIOUSLY THE OBLIGATION OF PROTECTING THE FISCAL AND ECONOMIC

STRENGTH OF THIS NATION FOR THE NEXT GENERATIONS.

MR. LEE: THE SENATOR FROM TEXAS IS A SEASONED CONSTITUTIONAL

SCHOLAR, A GRADUATE OF PRINCETON UNIVERSITY AND OF HARVARD LAW

SCHOOL. HE WENT ON TO CLERK FOR JUDGE MICHAEL LUDICK ON THE

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT, NOW

GENERAL COUNSEL TO BOEING. HE LATER CLERKED FOR THE LATE CHIEF

JUSTICE WILLIAM H. REHNQUIST ON THE UNITED STATES SUPREME

COURT. HAVING ARGUED A TOTAL OF NINE CASES BEFORE THE UNITED

STATES SUPREME COURT, THE SENATOR FROM TEXAS IS A SEASONED

LITIGATOR IN ADDITION TO BEING A SCHOLAR OF THE CONSTITUTION.

AND SO I WOULD — I WOULD ASK MY COLLEAGUE A COUPLE OF

QUESTIONS RELATED TO THAT. YOU KNOW, IT’S OCCURRED TO ME

SOMETIMES AS A — AS A LAWYER MYSELF, THAT THERE ARE SOMETIMES

SOME SIMILARITIES BETWEEN BEING A SENATOR AND BEING A LAWYER.

THEY’RE — THEY’RE NOT PERFECT BUT WE ARE RETAINED FOR A

LIMITED PERIOD OF TIME, IN SIX-YEAR INCREMENTS GENERALLY, TO

REPRESENT A GROUP OF PEOPLE. AND IT’S OUR JOB TO DO WHAT WE CAN

TO ACT IN THE ABSENCE OF THOSE PEOPLE. IN MY CASE, THERE ARE 3

MILLION PEOPLE FROM MY STATE, THE STATE OF UTAH, THEY CAN’T ALL

FIT INSIDE THIS CHAMBER SO I’M ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO’S ELECTED

TO REPRESENT THEM IN THEIR ABSENCE. SO I WOULD ASK MY COLLEAGUE

FROM TEXAS, NUMBER ONE, HOW DO THE PEOPLE OF TEXAS FEEL ABOUT

THE IDEA OF RAISING THE DEBT LIMIT YET AGAIN?

IN PARTICULAR, HOW DO THEY FEEL ABOUT THE IDEA OF RAISING THE

DEBT LIMIT YET AGAIN WITHOUT ANY KIND OF PERMANENT STRUCTURAL

SPENDING REFORM PUT IN PLACE AS A CONDITION PRECEDENT TO THAT

ACTION?

AND FINALLY, HOW WOULD THE PEOPLE OF TEXAS FEEL IF, AS THEIR

ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE, REPRESENTING THOSE PEOPLE HERE IN — IN

THIS BODY, YOU SURRENDERED ONE OF YOUR BIGGEST BARGAINING

CHIPS, YOU ABANDONED ONE OF THE TOOLS THAT ALLOWS YOU TO MAKE

SURE THAT WE DON’T RAISE THE DEBT LIMIT TOO CASUALLY, TOO

CAVALIERLY WITHOUT PUTTING IN PLACE THE ADEQUATE PRECAUTIONS?

MR. CRUZ: I THANK THE JUNIOR SENATOR FROM UTAH FOR HIS OVERLY

GENEROUS COMMENTS AND — AND VERY KIND CHARACTERIZATIONS. AND,

INDEED, I THINK THE ANALOGY HE DREW IS REALLY QUITE APT. EVERY

LAWYER IN REPRESENTING — QUITE APT IN THAT EVERY LAWYER IN

REPRESENTING A CLIENT HAS AN OBLIGATION TO ZEALOUSLY REPRESENT

THAT CLIENT. THAT OWES A FIDUCIARY DUTY TO THAT CLIENT. AND I

WOULD SUGGEST THAT ALL 100 OF US OWE THAT SAME FIDUCIARY DUTY

TO THE MEN AND WOMEN IN OUR STATES WHO ENTRUSTED US WITH THE

OBLIGATION OF COMING HERE AND FIGHTING FOR THEM BECAUSE THE 3

MILLION CITIZENS OF UTAH COULD NOT ALL BE ON THE FLOOR OF THE

SENATE FIGHTING, THE JUNIOR SENATOR FROM UTAH STEPS IN THEIR

SHOES TO FIGHT ON THEIR BEHALF. AND I — AND I FEEL CONFIDENT

THAT — THAT THE CITIZENS OF UTAH, LIKE THE CITIZENS FROM

TEXAS, WOULD BE HORRIFIED AT THE NOTION THAT THIS BODY WOULD

CONTINUE RAISING THE DEBT CEILING OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN

WITHOUT EVEN TRYING TO FIX THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM. YOU KNOW,

THIS SENATE FLOOR HAS A LONG AND STORIED HISTORY. THERE HAVE

BEEN GREAT MEN AND WOMEN, GREAT LEADERS OF THIS COUNTRY WHO

HAVE WALKED ON THIS FLOOR, AND YET EACH GENERATION GOING BACK

FOR CENTURIES HAS MANAGED TO AVOID SADDLING THE NEXT GENERATION

WITH CRUSHING DEBTS. YOU KNOW, I AM REMINDED OF THE SENATOR

FROM UTAH’S VERY DISTINGUISHED LATE FATHER, REX LEE, WHO WAS

THE SOLICITOR GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES, WHO WAS WIDELY

CONSIDERED ONE OF THE FINEST U.S. SUPREME COURT ADVOCATES TO

HAVE EVER LIVED. HE WAS AN INDIVIDUAL WHO TOOK THE OBLIGATION

OF ZEALOUSLY REPRESENTING HIS CLIENT DEEPLY AND NEAR AND DEAR

TO HIS HEART. YOUR FATHER’S GENERATION, MY FATHER’S GENERATION

DID NOT LEAVE US WITH CRUSHING DEBTS, DID NOT LEAVE US WITH

DEBTS FROM WHICH WE COULD NEVER ESCAPE. WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN

THE LAST 4 1/2 YEARS IS QUALITATIVELY DIFFERENT. IT’S

QUALITATIVELY DIFFERENT FROM WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE LAST 2

1/2 CENTURIES IN THIS COUNTRY. NO OTHER GENERATION HAS SAID TO

THEIR KIDS, TO THEIR GRANDKIDS AND TO THEIR GRANDKIDS’

GRANDKIDS, WE ARE GOING TO RACK UP SO MUCH DEBT THAT YOU’RE

NEVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO ESCAPE. MY WIFE AND I ARE BLESSED,

WE’VE GOT TWO LITTLE GIRLS AT HOME, 5 AND 2. THE IDEA THAT

CAROLINE AND CATHERINE ARE GOING TO SPEND THEIR ADULT DAYS

WORKING TO PAY THE TAXES, TO PAY OFF THE DEBT THAT WE ARE

SPENDING RECKLESSLY RIGHT NOW I THINK IS PROFOUNDLY IMMORAL, IT

IS PROFOUNDLY IRRESPONSIBLE AND I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW MANY

THOUSANDS OF TEXANS, MEN AND WOMEN ACROSS THE STATE, HAVE SAID

THE EXACT SAME THING. STOP BANKRUPTING THE COUNTRY. STOP

BANKRUPTING OUR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS. THAT’S THE FIDUCIARY DUTY

WE HAVE TO FIGHT FOR, TO DEFEND, IS TO STAND FOR THE 300

MILLION AMERICANS FOR WHOM THIS BODY, CONGRESS, HAS BEEN

RACKING UP A MASSIVE CREDIT CARD DEBT THAT THREATENS TO IMPERIL

THE SECURITY OF THIS COUNTRY AND THE FUTURE GENERATIONS IN

AMERICA.

MR. LEE: ARE YOU SUGGESTING THAT WE STOP ALTOGETHER THE

PRACTICE OF ISSUING U.S. TREASURIES TO FINANCE THE OPERATIONS

OF GOVERNMENT? ARE YOU SUGGESTING THAT WE GO WITHOUT A BUDGET OR THAT WE

SIMPLY HALT THE ISSUANCE OF

 

ARE YOU SUGGESTING SOMETHING MORE LONG TERM?

MR. CRUZ: OF COURSE WE SHOULDN’T HALT THE ISSUANCE OF

TREASURIES, AND OF COURSE WE SHOULDN’T FORESWEAR ANY AND ALL

DEBT. THE CONSTITUTION PROVIDES THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN

INCUR DEBT. AND THERE HAS BEEN A LONG HISTORY OF INCURRING

DEBT, PARTICULARLY TO MEET EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES. IN

WARTIME, WE HAVE HAD A HISTORY OF INCURRING DEBT AND THEN OF

PAYING THAT DOWN. WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO EMPHASIZE IS THAT THERE

IS A QUALITATIVE DIFFERENCE IN WHAT’S HAPPENED IN THE LAST FOUR

AND A HALF YEARS. WE HAVE ALWAYS HAD SOME DEGREE OF DEBT IN

THIS COUNTRY, BUT ONE OF THE CHALLENGES IS THAT AT TIMES A

MILLION AND A BILLION AND A TRILLION CAN SEEM LIKE THE SAME

NUMBER. THEY ALL END IN ILLIONS, THEY ALL SOUND BIG, AND YET

THE DIFFERENCE OF $10 TRILLION WHERE THE NATIONAL DEBT WAS FIVE

YEARS AGO AND JUST SHY OF $17 TRILLION WHERE WE ARE NOW IS

FUNDAMENTAL, IT IS STRUCTURAL. OUR NATIONAL DEBT EXCEEDS THE

SIZE OF OUR ENTIRE ECONOMY. YOU KNOW, WE LOOK OVER AT EUROPE,

WE LOOK AT GREECE, WE LOOK AT THE NATIONS OF EUROPE THAT ARE

COLLAPSING BECAUSE THEIR ELECTED OFFICIALS WERE NOT ABLE TO BE

RESPONSIBLE, THEY SPENT MONEY THEY DIDN’T HAVE, THEY BUILT UP

SO MUCH DEBT THEY COULDN’T REPAY, AND THERE COMES A POINT WHERE

EVERY DECISION TO ADDRESS THE DEBT IS AN UGLY ONE. WHERE THE

DEBT HOLE IS SO DEEP AS SOME OF THE NATIONS IN EUROPE ARE

DISCOVERING THAT THE ANSWERS ARE EITHER ADDRESS PARTICULAR CUTS

TO SPENDING OR MASSIVE TAX INCREASES OR MASSIVELY INFLATING THE

CURRENCY, AND ANY ONE OF THOSE OUTCOMES IS UGLY, WHICH IS ONE

OF THE REASONS WE ARE SEEN — WE HAVE SEEN RIOTING IN THE

STREETS OF EUROPE. NOW, THANKFULLY THE UNITED STATES IS NOT YET

IN AS DEEP A HOLE AS SOME OF THE NATIONS OF EUROPE, AND THAT’S

WHY WE NEED LEADERSHIP NOW, TO STOP THE OUT-OF-CONTROL SPENDING

BY ADDRESSING THE DEEP STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS. IF YOU KEEP

SPENDING MONEY YOU DON’T HAVE, IF ANY OF US RAN OUR FAMILIES,

OUR HOUSEHOLDS, OUR BUSINESSES THE WAY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

IS RUN, WE WOULD BE BANKRUPT. WE WOULD BE SLEEPING UNDER A

BRIDGE. WHAT IT TAKES, I BELIEVE, IS RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP AND

I HOPE BIPARTISAN RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP, REPUBLICANS AND

DEMOCRATS COMING TOGETHER TO SAY LET’S LIVE WITHIN OUR MEANS.

YOU KNOW, THAT’S NOT A TERRIBLY CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLE. THAT IS

A PRINCIPLE THAT HAS BEEN COMMON SENSE IN THIS COUNTRY FOR

CENTURIES, AND IT’S ONE SADLY WE HAVE GOTTEN AWAY FROM IN THE

LAST FOUR AND A HALF YEARS.

MR. LEE: HERE WE’RE REALLY TALKING ABOUT A PROCEDURAL STRATEGY.

WE’RE NOT EVEN TALKING ABOUT AN OUTCOME HERE. WE’RE TALKING

ABOUT THE FULL UTILIZATION OF THE PROCEDURAL RIGHTS OF EACH AND

EVERY MEMBER OF THIS BODY. WE HAVE BEEN ASKED TO GIVE OUR

CONSENT, EFFECTIVELY TO VOTE FOR A PROCEDURE THAT PEOPLE ON

BOTH SIDES OF THE CAPITOL HAVE NOW ADMITTED COULD AND MAY WELL

BE UTILIZED AS A MECHANISM FOR RAISING THE DEBT LIMIT IN A WAY

THAT CIRCUMVENTS THE 60-VOTE THRESHOLD OF THE UNITED STATES

SENATE. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THAT’S TROUBLING. IF WE ANALOGIZE

THAT YET AGAIN TO OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE YOU HAVE TO

REPRESENT SOMEONE ELSE, THAT CAN BE TROUBLING. SO I — I ASK

THE SENATOR FROM TEXAS, LET’S SUPPOSE WHEN YOU WERE

REPRESENTING CLIENTS IN COURT, LET’S SAY IN THE UNITED STATES

SUPREME COURT, WHEN YOU WERE IN THE PETITION OF THE PETITIONER,

FOR EXAMPLE, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT AS THE PETITIONER, MEANING THE

PERSON FILING THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI, YOU ARE

SEEKING REVIEW BY THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES,

REVIEW IS GRANTED. AFTER REVIEW IS GRANTED, A BRIEFING SCHEDULE

KICKS IN AND YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO FILE THE FIRST BRIEF.

THAT’S YOUR PREROGATIVE AS A PETITIONER. THE OTHER SIDE HAS

THEN ABOUT A MONTH TO FILE ITS BRIEF. AND THEN YOU GET

SOMETHING THAT THE OTHER SIDE DOESN’T GET TO FOLLOW. YOU GET A

REPLY BRIEF. PROCEDURALLY UNDER THE RULES OF THE SUPREME COURT

OF THE UNITED STATES, THAT’S YOUR RIGHT, THAT’S YOUR CLIENT’S

RIGHT. ONCE YOU HAVE GOT A CASE UP IN FRONT OF THE SUPREME

COURT AND YOU’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BRIEFING SCHEDULE, WHAT

WOULD YOU SAY TO A CLIENT IF YOU CAME TO THEM AND SAID, YOU

KNOW, MY OPPOSING COUNSEL HAS JUST ASKED ME TO WAIVE MY RIGHT

TO FILE A REPLY BRIEF, EVEN THOUGH THAT’S MY RIGHT TO DO THAT,

THE CLIENT HAS ASKED ME TO DO IT. WHAT WOULD THE CLIENT THINK

IF YOU ACTUALLY SAID I’M NOT GOING TO FILE A REPLY BRIEF EVEN

THOUGH PROCEDURALLY I HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO DO THAT?

 

MR. CRUZ: MY FRIEND FROM UTAH ASKS A TERRIFIC QUESTION, AND

IT’S A QUESTION — YOU KNOW, PROCEDURAL RULES, WHETHER IN A

ROOM OR IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE, ARE DESIGNED TO PROTECT

SUBSTANTIVE RIGHTS, AND ULTIMATELY THE 60-VOTE THRESHOLD IS

DESIGNED TO PROTECT THE SUBSTANTIVE RIGHTS NOT OF THE SENATORS.

WE ARE NOT HERE ON OUR OWN STEAD. WE ARE INSTEAD HERE

REPRESENTING THE CONSTITUENTS WHO SENT US HERE. WHAT THE

MAJORITY IS ASKING US TO DO BY ASKING FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO

ALLOW THIS TO GO TO CONFERENCE AND TO SET IT UP FOR THEM TO

RAISE THE DEBT CEILING WITH 50 VOTES IS THE MAJORITY IS ASKING

FOR THE 46 REPUBLICANS ON THIS SIDE OF THE AISLE TO GIVE AWAY

OUR RIGHT TO SPEAK, TO SAY WE WILL CEDE TO THE MAJORITY THE

ABILITY TO DO WHATEVER IT WISHES ON THE DEBT CEILING AND GIVING

AWAY OUR RIGHT TO SPEAK, WHAT WE’RE REALLY GIVING AWAY IS NOT

ANYTHING THAT BELONGS TO US. IT IS THE RIGHT OF 26 MILLION

TEXANS TO HAVE THEIR VOICE HEARD. AND FOR US TO AGREE WITH THE

MAJORITY, YES, WE WILL HAND YOU THE ABILITY TO MAKE THIS

DECISION ON THE DEBT CEILING WITHOUT EVER AGAIN CONSULTING THIS

SIDE OF THE AISLE. WOULD BE VERY MUCH LIKE THE SITUATION YOU

ASKED ABOUT. AND I DON’T KNOW HOW THE SENATOR FROM UTAH WOULD

ANSWER A CONSTITUENT IN UTAH WHO SAID SENATOR LEE, WHY DID YOU

GIVE AWAY MY VOICE?

WHY DID YOU SIMPLY HAND TO THE DEMOCRATS THE ABILITY TO DECIDE

HOW MUCH DEBT THE UNITED STATES SHOULD HAVE TO RAISE IT AND WHY

DID YOU ESSENTIALLY GIVE AWAY MY SEAT AT THE TABLE, BECAUSE

IT’S NOT YOUR SEAT, IT’S NOT MY SEAT. IT IS THE SEAT OF THE

MILLIONS OF CONSTITUENTS IN UTAH AND TEXAS AND EACH OF OUR HOME

STATES WHO SENT US HERE. AND THE IDEA THAT WE WOULD WILLINGLY

GIVE UP THEIR RIGHT TO SPEAK IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE

OBLIGATION WE OWE THE MEN AND WOMEN OF UTAH AND THE MEN AND

WOMEN OF TEXAS.

 

MR. LEE: I WOULD SUSPECT THAT IN MOST CIRCUMSTANCES, A LAWYER

GIVING UP THAT PROCEDURAL RIGHT WOULD BE COMMITTING

MALPRACTICE. NOW, PERHAPS A LAWYER IN THAT CIRCUMSTANCE COULD

SAY TO THE CLIENT, WELL, YOU KNOW, I’M GOING TO DO THIS BECAUSE

OPPOSING COUNSEL HAS ASKED IT OF ME AND I WANT TO GET ALONG

WITH HER, I WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT I MAXIMIZE OUR CHANCES OF

SETTLING THIS LITIGATION, PERHAPS BEFORE THE LITIGATION HAS

BEEN COMPLETELY RESOLVED. BUT IF THAT WERE THE ARGUMENT THAT

OPPOSING COUNSEL WAS MAKING TO ME, I SUSPECT I WOULD TELL THE

CLIENT IF THAT’S THE CASE, IF OUR OBJECTIVE IS TO TRY TO SETTLE

THE LITIGATION RATHER THAN WAIT UNTIL THE COURT RESOLVES IT,

THEN BY DOING THAT, BY GIVING UP THAT PROCEDURAL RIGHT TO FILE

THE REPLY BRIEF, I WOULD BE FORFEITING A LOT OF BARGAINING

POWER THAT I WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE. AND SO, TOO, HERE. WE WOULD

BE FORFEITING A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF BARGAINING POWER RELATIVE

TO THE BUDGET DISCUSSIONS, RELATIVE TO THE DEBT LIMIT

DISCUSSION, A DISCUSSION THAT NEEDS TO TAKE PLACE UNDER FULL

SUNLIGHT AND NOT UNDER COVER OF DARKNESS. IT NEEDS TO TAKE

PLACE IN THE TWO CHAMBERS AND NOT IN SOME BACK ROOM DEAL.

THAT’S WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT. THAT’S WHY THESE PROCEDURAL

RIGHTS ARE SO IMPORTANT. YOU CAN DISAGREE WITH THE RULES OF THE

SENATE AND A LOT OF PEOPLE DO. YOU CAN WANT TO CHANGE THE RULES

OF THE SENATE AND THERE ARE SOME WHO DO, SOME EVEN IN THIS

BODY, BUT THE FACT IS THAT THE RULES ARE WHAT THEY ARE. WE HAVE

THE POWER TO MAKE THOSE RULES UNDER ARTICLE 1, SECTION 5 OF THE

CONSTITUTION, AND WE HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THOSE RULES UNDER

ARTICLE 1, SECTION 5 OF THE CONSTITUTION. THOSE RULES BEING

WHAT THEY ARE, THOSE RULES BEING IN PLACE AS THEY ARE TODAY,

THOSE RULES HAVING THE APPLICATION THAT THEY DO AS OF THIS VERY

MOMENT, YOU CAN’T ASK SOMEONE LIKE ME OR MY FRIEND FROM TEXAS

TO GIVE OUR CONSENT TO SOMETHING THAT WE THINK IS FUNDAMENTALLY

WRONG AND THAT WE THINK WILL SUBSTANTIALLY DIMINISH THE

BARGAINING POWER THAT WE HAVE IN UNDERTAKING THAT POLICY

APPROACH THAT WE THINK IS MOST NECESSARY TODAY. NOW, ONE OF THE

QUESTIONS THAT I HAVE BEEN ASKED BY SOME OF OUR FRIENDS ON THE

OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE AND A FEW OF OUR FRIENDS WHO ARE EVEN

ON OUR SAME SIDE OF THE AISLE AS YOU AND I IS, YOU KNOW, YOU’RE

A REPUBLICAN, I’M A REPUBLICAN. WHY CAN’T YOU GUYS JUST TRUST

THAT THE REPUBLICANS WHO CONTROL THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

WILL ADEQUATELY SECURE YOUR INTEREST?

WHY DON’T YOU THEREFORE FEEL COMFORTABLE EFFECTIVELY FORFEITING

YOUR RIGHT TO A 60-VOTE THRESHOLD ON THE DEBT CEILING DEBATE?

 

MR. CRUZ: WELL, I THINK THAT IS A REASONABLE QUESTION TO ASK,

BUT THERE ARE A NUMBER OF POINTS THAT ARE RELEVANT. NUMBER ONE,

THERE IS A CONSIDERABLE HISTORY OF THE DEBT CEILING BEING

RAISED THROUGH RECONCILIATION, AND INDEED IT HAS BEEN DONE IN

1986, IN 1990, IN 1993 AND IN 1997. SO THE DANGER THAT WE ARE

ACTING TO PREVENT IS NOT A HYPOTHETICAL DANGER. IT IS A DANGER

THAT HAS PROVEN ACCURATE. THOSE WHO SAY WE’LL SIMPLY TRUST THE

HOUSE, THE HOUSE, THEY WERE ELECTED TO REPRESENT THEIR

CONSTITUENTS, AND EACH OF THE 435 MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE HAS AN

OBLIGATION TO EXERCISE THEIR BEST JUDGMENT TO REPRESENT THEIR

CONSTITUENTS. WHATEVER THEY CHOOSE TO DO — AND I WOULD NOTE A

NUMBER OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE LEADERSHIP HAVE PUBLICLY ON THE

RECORD SUGGESTED THAT THEY MIGHT WELL BE AMENABLE TO RAISING

THE DEBT CEILING THROUGH RECONCILIATION, SO GIVEN THEIR PUBLIC

STATEMENTS, THE SCENARIO WE ARE RAISING IS A POSSIBILITY THAT

THE HOUSE LEADERSHIP HAS SUGGESTED MAY WELL BE ON THE TABLE.

BUT MORE FUNDAMENTALLY, REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE HOUSE CHOOSES TO

DO, THE SENATOR FROM UTAH HAS AN OBLIGATION TO THREE MILLION

CITIZENS OF UTAH TO REPRESENT THEIR VIEWS, AND I DON’T BELIEVE

IT WOULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR HIM TO GIVE UP HIS VERY ELOQUENT

VOICE, FOR ME TO GIVE UP MY VOICE, FOR ANY OF US TO GIVE UP THE

VOICE OF THE CITIZENS WE’RE REPRESENTING. YOU KNOW, I’M

REMINDED OF MEETING AN INDIVIDUAL AT A GATHERING OF REPUBLICAN

WOMEN BACK IN TEXAS ABOUT A MONTH AGO, AND THIS INDIVIDUAL WAS

A VETERAN WHO HAD FOUGHT IN WORLD WAR II. HE WAS THERE AND WAS

INTRODUCED TO EVERYONE AND THEN RECEIVED A STANDING OVATION. A

STORY WAS TOLD ABOUT HOW HE HAD BEEN INJURED IN WORLD WAR II,

GRIEVOUSLY INJURED, AND HE WAS IN A HOSPITAL, AND TWO DOCTORS

WERE DEBATING ABOUT WHERE TO AMPUTATE HIS LEG, WHETHER TO

AMPUTATE THE LEG ABOVE THE KNEE OR BELOW THE KNEE. THIS SOLDIER

WAS UNCONSCIOUS, AND HE AWAKENED IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS

CONVERSATION BETWEEN TWO DOCTORS ABOUT WHERE TO AMPUTATE HIS

LEG. AND THIS SOLDIER BEGAN TO PARTICIPATE IN THAT DEBATE, AND

UNSURPRISINGLY, HE HAD A VERY STRONG VIEW THAT HE WOULD VERY

MUCH PREFER THEY NOT AMPUTATE THE LEG, AND HE EXPRESSED THAT

VIEW VOCIFEROUSLY TO THE DOCTORS WHO WERE HAVING THAT DEBATE.

AND AS HE EXPRESSED HIS VIEW, HE ENDED UP PREVAILING IN THAT

ARGUMENT AND THEY CHOSE NOT TO AMPUTATE HIS LEG BELOW OR ABOVE

THE KNEE, AND TO THIS DAY, HE WALKS WITH A LIMP, HE DOESN’T

WALK AS WELL AS HE MIGHT IF HE HAD NOT BEEN INJURED, BUT HE WAS

ABLE TO SAVE THAT LEG BECAUSE HE HAD A VOICE IN THAT DEBATE,

BECAUSE HE SPOKE UP AND HIS INTERESTS CONCERNING HIS LEG WERE

ACUTELY DIFFERENT FROM THE TWO DOCTORS WHO WERE DEBATING IT

WITHOUT HIS VOICE. NOW, I THINK HE HAD EVERY RIGHT TO

PARTICIPATE IN THAT DEBATE BECAUSE IT AFFECTED HIM, IT AFFECTED

HIS FUTURE, IT AFFECTED HIS LIFE, AND JUST SO I THINK THE THREE

MILLION CITIZENS OF UTAH HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN

THIS DEBATE AND NOT SIMPLY TO BE TOLD TRUST THE OTHER BODY OF

CONGRESS, THEY HAVE AN INDEPENDENT OBLIGATION, BUT YOU, MY

FRIEND, THE SENATOR FROM UTAH, HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO YOUR

CONSTITUENTS TO MAKE SURE THEIR VOICE IS PART OF THIS DEBATE.

MR. LEE: INDEED, WE EACH HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO UTILIZE OUR OWN

VOICE AND TO MAKE OUR OWN JUDGMENTS WITH REGARD TO THE BEST

COURSE OF ACTION TO TAKE IN ANY DEBATE, IN ANY DISCUSSION. THE

PROBLEMS IN THIS COUNTRY ARE SIGNIFICANT. THERE IS NOT ONE OF

US IN THIS BODY THAT WOULD LIKE TO MINIMIZE THEM. THERE IS NOT

ONE OF US IN THIS BODY THAT ISN’T CONCERNED ABOUT THESE

PROBLEMS. EACH OF US MIGHT TAKE, MIGHT ADVOCATE, MIGHT FIRMLY

BELIEVE IN A DIFFERENT COURSE OF ACTION, BUT IT’S PRECISELY

BECAUSE OF THE DIVERSITY OF OPINION IN THIS NATION THAT THIS

NATION IS GREAT. IT’S PRECISELY BECAUSE OF THE VIEWPOINT OF

DIVERSITY THAT WE HAVE IN THIS BODY THAT THIS BODY HAS BEEN

CALLED THE WORLD’S GREATEST LEGISLATIVE BODY, DELIBERATIVE

LEGISLATIVE BODY. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT THAT REMAINS. IN

ORDER FOR THAT TO BE THE CASE, IT IS APPROPRIATE THAT MEMBERS

OF THE SENATE WHO HAVE A GOOD-FAITH GENUINE DISAGREEMENT WITH

AN ISSUE AS TO WHICH A UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST HAS BEEN MADE,

THAT THEY COME FORWARD AND THEY OBJECT. ON THAT BASIS, I OBJECT

AND I WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO AS LONG AS IT REMAINS NECESSARY TO

ENSURE THAT THE DEBATE THAT WE HAVE SURROUNDING THE DEBT LIMIT

OCCURS UNDER THE REGULAR ORDER OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE.

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