Alexander on Debt Ceiling Negotiations: “I Hope …We Spend More Time Working Together To Come Up With Ways to Reduce Spending And Honor Our Obligations”

Says of Senate Majority Leader’s bill: “To suggest that [it’s] a compromise is a little hard to accept--it's a Democratic proposal…We have to come up with something that both [Houses] can pass and the president will sign.”

Posted on July 29, 2011

“I hope that the spirit of today and of tomorrow and of Sunday is that we spend less time plotting about how we can defeat each other's proposals as quickly as possible and more time working together to come up with ways to reduce spending and honor our obligations.”

– Lamar Alexander 

WASHINGTON –In a speech today on the floor of the United States Senate (VIDEO HERE), U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said of the Senate and House last-minute negotiations on the debt ceiling, “I'm hopeful, I believe all of us are hopeful, that we can find a way for the Majority Leader and the Republican Leader to recommend to us and the House a solution that the president will sign that will reduce our debt and honor our obligations.”

The transcript of his speech is below:

“As one Senator, I thank the Majority Leader and the Republican Leader for their comments.  We all know what we need to do.  We have two objectives.  At a time when we are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend, we need to reduce the debt.  We also need to honor our obligations, and we know why.  There is nobody on the Republican side of the aisle I know of who thinks we should not honor our obligations. 

“We know that on August 3 there will not be enough money to pay all the bills.  We don't want the most creditworthy nation in the world to go to a place where it begins to pay its bills selectively out of a cigar box, which is why I am hopeful -- and I believe all of us are hopeful -- that we can find a way for the two leaders to recommend to us and the House a solution that the President will sign, which will reduce our debt and honor our obligations.

“But to suggest that the Majority Leader's proposal -- his bill -- which he offers in good faith, I know that -- is a compromise, that is a little hard to accept.  It is a Democratic proposal.  The other side has spent most of its time this week saying:  We can get 53 of us to make sure that as soon as the Republican proposal passes the House, if it does, we will beat it in an hour.  We will not even consider it.  We will kill it.  We are not going to vote on it.  We will table it and put it away. 

“That is not the spirit of compromise.  The proposal the Speaker is trying to pass may be about the only thing he can pass in the House of Representatives.  That may not be what a Democratic Senate would like, but this is a Democratic Senate and that is a Republican House.  We have to come up with something that both can pass and the President will sign.  We all know that. 

“I hope the spirit of today, tomorrow, and Sunday is that we spend less time plotting about how we can defeat each other's proposals as quickly as possible and more time working together to come up with ways to reduce spending and honor our obligations. 

“The Democratic whip is on the Senate floor.  I have probably undermined his support in some groups for complimenting him for his courage.  I support the same thing he does.  For example, the work of the Gang of Six is supported by one-third of the Senate, a very good example for the rest of us in the Senate about what can be accomplished when we work together.

“I hope we will recognize the Speaker is trying as hard as the majority leader to come up with something that can pass the House.  The Majority Leader wants something that can pass the Senate, but it must pass both and be signed by the President.  We must reduce our spending and we must honor our obligations, and every single Republican Senator as well as every Democrat knows that, I think. 

“I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.” 

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