Sen. McCain’s Floor Remarks Slamming Majority Leader Reid for Attaching ‘Hate Crimes’ to Defense Bill

john_mccain.jpgCourtesy Restore America (emphasis theirs):

McCain Exposes Democrats’ ‘Gay’ Political Payoff Priorities over the Best Interests of our Men and Women in Uniform

The following are Sen. John McCain’s floor remarks,  July 15, 2009, regarding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) decision to tack a “hate crimes” amendment (S 909) on to an unrelated defense appropriations bill:

“Mr. McCain:  Mr. President, we have just seen, I know there are a lot of other issues that are consuming the interest of my colleagues and the American people such as the confirmation hearings of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the “Help” committee of which I am a member, is reporting out one of the most massive takeovers and expenditures of taxpayers’ dollars in history and we have this bill on the floor and there are other issues so it has probably gone unnoticed we’ve seen another really, if not unprecedented, certainly highly unusual action on the part of the majority.

Frankly, to my colleagues on this side of the aisle and the American people, elections have consequences.  What we have just seen is an amendment before this body that I think you could argue is probably of more importance than any other that we consider because it authorizes the measures necessary to preserve the security of this nation, care for the men and women who are serving in the military and future threats that we will face in the 21st century.

So what has happened here is that the majority leader with the agreement of my friend from Michigan who I highly respect and regard have made it clear that their highest priority is not that.

Their highest priority is a hate crimes bill, a hate crimes bill that has nothing to do whatever with defending this nation. 
Now, my friend from Michigan just complained we haven’t had time for a vote.  Of course we haven’t had a time for the vote on the pending amendment because we have been made aware a hate crimes bill, 17 pages, encompassing piece of legislation before this body that has not moved through the judiciary committee, the Appropriate Committee of oversight.

So the majority leader of the United States Senate comes to the floor after prevailing upon the distinguished chairman to withdraw his amendment – an amendment of some consequence, $1.75 billion expenditure and a far more important than even the money, a real confrontation between special interests and the national interests so that we can move to the hate crimes bill.  Now, the hate crimes bill is not without controversy, I say.  In fact, it’s interesting that on June 16, 2009, the United States Commission on Civil Rights sent a letter to the Vice President, to the leaders of the Congress, opposing — opposing — the hate crimes bill.  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent this letter be made part of the record.

The presiding officer:  Without objection.

Mr. McCain:  The United States Commission on Civil Rights sends a letter saying Dear Mr. President, Distinguished Senators, we write today to urge you to vote against the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Prevention Act. That’s basically the bill that the majority leader has just inserted into the process of the legislation designed to defend this nation’s national security.  And of course there are strong feelings on it.

This is a complete abdication of the responsibilities of the judiciary committee but more importantly could hang up this bill for a long period.  While we have young Americans fighting and dying in two wars we’re going to take up the hate crimes bill because the majority leader thinks that’s more important — more important than legislation concerning the defense of this nation.

I’m sure the men and women in the military serving in his home state would be interested to know about his priorities.  So here we are.  Now we will go through – I’m sure the majority leader will file cloture and we’ll go through 30 hours of debate and have another vote and all of this is unnecessary.  Why couldn’t we move the Hate Crimes Bill?  Remember, this is not a single shot amendment on a small issue.  This is a huge issue, the whole issue of hate crimes is a huge issue.

This is a complete abdication of the responsibilities of the judiciary committee but more importantly could hang up this bill for a long period.  While we have young Americans fighting and dying in two wars we’re going to take up the hate crimes bill because the majority leader thinks that’s more important — more important than legislation concerning the defense of this nation.

It requires citizens hearings, and debate. But what are we going to do?  For reasons that I guess the majority leader can make clear because I don’t get it, wants to put it on the national defense authorization bill and pass it that way.  Now, [he will] probably succeed and he’s calling it bipartisan.  The last time I checked it has 44 Democrat sponsors and two Republicans.  That’s the definition around here of ‘bipartisan’ bills.  That’s the way the stimulus package was bipartisan.  That’s how the omnibus spending bill was bipartisan.

And I’m confident if the health care reform – “reform” – it will be reasonable in another “bipartisan” fashion.  So we’ll have some hours of debate.  We’ll have more exacerbated feel ensure between this side of the aisle and that side of the aisle.  I would imagine that the hate crimes bill, given the way, the makeup of this body, may even be put on a defense authorization.  A huge issue.  A huge issue.  It will now be placed on a defense authorization bill and passed through the congress and signed by the president.  That’s a great disservice to the American people, Mr. President.  The American people deserve debate and discussion and hearings and witnesses on this legislation.

They don’t deserve to have a hate crimes bill put on this legislation which has no relation whatever to hate crimes.  Now, I’ll probably have a lot more to say about this in the hours ahead but I’ve been around this body a fair amount of time.  I’ve watched the defense authorization bill move its way through Congress and occasionally, including at other times.  I’ve seen amendments put on the bills which are non germaine.  But I haven’t seen the majority leader of the Senate whose responsibility is to move legislation through the Senate – take a totally nonrelevant, all encompassing controversial piece of legislation and put it on a bill that is as important to the nation’s security as this legislation is.  We’re breaking new ground here, Mr. President. Let’s have no doubt about it.

Its one thing to have one member or two or others propose amendments that happen to be their pet project or their pet peeve, sometimes; it’s an entirely different thing, an entirely different thing, and I have never seen it before that the majority leader of the United States Senate comes to the near and introduces an irrelevant piece of legislation that is controversial., that is fraught with implications for this and future generations to a bill that is totally nonrelevant and after 30 hours of debate we’ll have a vote on closing that debate and including it in the legislation.  I’m deeply, deeply disappointed.  And I would question anyone’s priorities, anyone’s priorities who puts this kind of legislation ahead of the needs of the men and women who are serving our military with bravery, courage, and distinction.  Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.”

This article was posted on Thursday, July 16th, 2009 at 2:18 pm and is filed under Candidates & Elected Officials, Democrat Party, Government Promotion, Hate Crimes Prosecution, News, Republican Party. You can follow any updates to this article through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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