Video archive of the US Congress

Senate Proceeding on Jan 5th, 2011 :: 3:18:35 to 3:26:40
Total video length: 7 hours 32 minutes Stream Tools: Stream Overview | Edit Time

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John Cornyn

3:18:16 to 3:18:37( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: mr. cornyn: may i inquire how much more time is left on our side? the presiding officer: three and a half minutes. mr. cornyn: madam president, i will ask unanimous consent with the indulgence of my colleagues, to allow me to speak for up to ten minutes. i will probably speak for five minutes or so unless i get particularly wound up which could take ten minutes. but i would ask unanimous consent for an additional ten minutes.

John Cornyn

3:18:35 to 3:26:40( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: John Cornyn

John Cornyn

3:18:38 to 3:18:58( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: the presiding officer: without objection. without objection, so ordered. mr. cornyn: i thank the chair. madam president, i think we are playing with fire when we talk about amending the senate rules. all of us have been here for different periods of time. i have been here for eight

John Cornyn

3:18:59 to 3:19:20( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: years, which actually sounds like a long time, but in the life of the senate is not very long at all, in an institution that's existed for more than 200 years, and i have been here when our side was in the majority. as a matter of fact, we had the white house, we had both houses of congress, and i have been

John Cornyn

3:19:21 to 3:19:41( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: here when we have had president obama in the white house and democrats control both houses of congress, and i can tell you unequivocally, it's a whole lot more fun to be here when you're in the majority, but there are certain temptations that the majority has which i think are exacerbated when, for example,

John Cornyn

3:19:42 to 3:20:02( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: during most of the last two years when one party or the other has the ability in the senate to basically pass legislation by essentially a party-line vote. in other words, as i recall, on that morning at 7:00 a.m. on christmas eve a year ago when

John Cornyn

3:20:03 to 3:20:25( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: the vote on the health care bill came up where 60 -- all 60 democrats voted for the bill and no republicans voted for the bill, my point being the temptation is when you have such a large majority, 60 or more, there is a huge temptation on both parties, not just the democrats. republicans, i'm sure, would be

John Cornyn

3:20:26 to 3:20:47( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: tempted as well to try to go it alone. and thus, i think it -- it detracts from what is one of the great strengths of this institution, which is that this institution's rules force consensus, or unless there is not consensus, then things don't happen. and we are thus the sauce they're cools the tea from the

John Cornyn

3:20:48 to 3:21:08( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: cup and all the various analogies that we have heard. but the important thing is not how this affects us as individual senators. this is not just an abstract discussion about the rules. this is about what's in the best interests of a country of more than 300 million people, and any time, i would submit, where one

John Cornyn

3:21:09 to 3:21:29( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: party or the other is not only tempted but yields to that temptation, to go it alone, to try to push legislation through without achieving that consensus, i think it hurts the institution and i think it provokes a backlash as much as we saw on november 2, because

John Cornyn

3:21:30 to 3:21:51( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: the american people understand that checks and balances are important, and when they didn't -- we didn't have checks and balances, either through the self-restraint of the majority or through recognizing the rights of the minority to offer amendments, to have debates, to contribute to the legislation, then the american people are going to fix that by changing

John Cornyn

3:21:52 to 3:22:14( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: the balance of power as they did on november 2. here again, i don't want to be misunderstood as making a partisan argument. i think republicans would be just as tempted as democrats to do the same thing, but i think that's where we have to show self-restraint and where if we do not show self-restraint, then the american people will change

John Cornyn

3:22:15 to 3:22:36( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: the balance of power and establish those checks and balances. here again, i -- i think for most people who are listening, if there is anyone listening out there on c-span or elsewhere to this debate, this should not be about us. this should not be about the arcania of these rules. this should be about the rights

John Cornyn

3:22:37 to 3:22:58( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: of the american people to get legislation that affects all 300-plus million of us, debated, amended, in a way to try to achieve that consensus and thus achieves broad support by the american people, because any time, again, we try to yield or we do yield to the temptation to

John Cornyn

3:22:59 to 3:23:19( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: go it alone, to do things on a partisan basis, i think it will ultimately provoke the kind of backlash we've seen over the health care bill, just to mention one example. and this is not a small thing. i have the honor of representing 25 million people in the senate, and i -- this isn't just about my rights as an individual senator or even the minority's

John Cornyn

3:23:20 to 3:23:41( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: rights. this is about their rights, their right to be heard through an adequate time for debate, their right to have an opportunity to change or amend legislation and then to have a chance to have it voted on, and i understand the frustration of -- of our colleagues when the majority leader, due to his

John Cornyn

3:23:42 to 3:24:02( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: right of prior recognition, he could get the floor, he can put something on the senate calendar that hasn't gone through a committee markup and that sort of due process and fair opportunity for amendment and participation, and then, again, if he's got 60 votes on his side to be able to push it through,

John Cornyn

3:24:03 to 3:24:23( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: then deny us any opportunity to offer amendments, much less to have a full debate on these important issues, and i think our country suffers from that. i think -- i think the american people suffer when we are denied on their behalf an opportunity to have a fulsome debate and to offer amendments.

John Cornyn

3:24:24 to 3:24:46( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: so i hope that -- i don't doubt the good faith of our colleagues who are offering some of these propositions. there are even some of them that i find somewhat attractive, the idea of secret holds, for example. i think if there ever was a time for that, that time is long past gone. but i know we're not going to agree on everything, but we ought to at least have an

John Cornyn

3:24:47 to 3:25:07( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: opportunity for everyone to be heard and for people -- for individual senators' rights to be respected, not because they are senators but because they represent a large segment of the american people, and it's their rights that are impinged when the majority leader, for whatever reason, decides to deny a senator a right to offer an

John Cornyn

3:25:08 to 3:25:28( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: amendment and a right to have a fulsome debate on the amendment in the interest of getting legislation passed but although there may be, as senator reid said this morning, the 111th congress has to go down in history as being one of the most productive congresses at the

John Cornyn

3:25:29 to 3:25:49( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: same time he complained about republicans filibustering legislation. there seems to be an inhairnt contradiction there. -- inherent contradiction there. i suggest the explanation for that is our friends on the other side have had such a large supermajority, they have been able to muster the 60 votes and go it alone. again, i think that's yielding to a temptation that everyone would understand and the american people have now since

John Cornyn

3:25:50 to 3:26:11( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: corrected that as a result of the november 2 election. so i would suggest in closing, madam president, to all of our friends on both sides of the aisle -- again, i recognize the sincerity of those who have offered these proposals, but i would suggest there is not a --

John Cornyn

3:26:12 to 3:26:32( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: a -- there is not a malfunction malfunction -- or should i say the rules themselves are not broken, but the rules contemplate that there will not -- the rules will not be abused, and i think the temptation to abusive those rules by going it alone is understandable but something that needs to be avoided, and i think the election now since we

John Cornyn

3:26:33 to 3:26:40( Edit History Discussion )

John Cornyn: are more evenly divided so nobody will be able to get to 60 votes unless there is a bipartisan consensus to the extent that 60 votes are needed,

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