Videos & Speeches

I thank the Senator from Maryland, my chairwoman. I spoke last night on an amendment I have continued to ask be made in order on this continuing resolution. As I indicated last night, we are going to spend in excess of $1 trillion in this bill, and I am hoping that my amendment, and perhaps others, could be made in order yet during this post cloture 30-hour period of time.

One of the concerns that has been raised is whether, if my amendment were adopted, this would create difficulties in the House of Representatives for the final passage of the continuing resolution. I am pleased to be on the floor, particularly with the chairwoman being here, the Senator from Maryland, to indicate that I now have indications from the Speaker's Office that they would have no objection to the amendment I continue to offer, that I hope will be made in order, that I hope a vote will be taken on related to the air traffic control towers.

Also in the period of time since I last spoke, we have numerous members of the Senate who have now joined as cosponsors of this amendment. The number is now 14 Democrats and 12 Republicans. The number continues to grow. And I have had a number of conversations with particularly Democratic Members of the U.S. Senate who indicate to me: Why can't your amendment be made in order?

So I am hoping, as members of the Democratic Caucus and the Republican Conference meet during this 12:30 lunch period, that perhaps there is still an opportunity for this issue to be resolved.

I would indicate once again that, while I listened to the suggestion of the majority leader this morning that we move to the budget during this 30 hour post cloture timeframe, in the absence of some agreement related to this amendment, I will object to moving to the budget until the 30 hours expire.

I also have indicated publicly that I will object to the next 30 hours—the next opportunity in which unanimous consent is requested as we get back to the base bill. It is not my nature to be an obstructionist. This is an amendment that matters greatly. It has been determined by the Parliamentarian to be germane and, in my view, ought to be made in order.

Just as the chairwoman talked about bipartisan efforts, this is one that clearly is bipartisan and apparently bicameral. So I am hoping to utilize the rights as a Member of the Senate to see that there still is an opportunity for this amendment to be considered. I would say that the reason this matters so much in this timeframe is that I am of the view, and I think it is shared by many, in the absence of this amendment being adopted and included in this continuing resolution, and the continuing resolution being passed, that the control towers will be eliminated on April 7, and there will be little if any opportunity for the Appropriations Committee then to restore funding to, in a sense, a program that no longer exists.

There are many of the topics I share with my colleagues here about the consequences of the sequester. I am willing to work with them to see that we move money from one place to another to solve that problem. In the absence of that happening, there is still an opportunity for the Appropriations Committee and ultimately the Congress in the appropriations process to solve those problems. But should April 7 come, the 179 plus contract towers are eliminated. Then it seems highly unlikely to me that any appropriations process would include money for a program that is no longer in existence.