For Immediate Release
May 21, 2014
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Aaron Fobes/Julia Lawless (202) 224-4515

Hatch Counters Democrats’ Claims, Says Amendments Are Needed for Tax Extenders

In Speech on Senate Floor, Utah Senator Says, “My vote was never intended to kill this legislation, as the Majority Leader claimed this morning. As I made clear last week, my vote was for a fair, open, and cooperative process. I would have thought the Majority Leader would have been listening last week when Republicans, including myself, made it very clear why we were voting against cloture.”

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor today, Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) called on Senate Democratic leadership to allow an open amendment process for the EXPIRE Act, which failed to gain cloture last week after Senate Democratic leadership blocked amendments from being considered.  

The distinguished Majority Leader could solve this impasse today if he would simply allow the Senate to operate in a way that it always has.  He can come to the floor as often as he wants to attack Republican Senators or anyone else, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is the one in control here. He is the one who will decide if the Senate will live up to its legacy of being the greatest deliberative body in the world or if it will continue to be what it has become – a graveyard of ideas,” said Hatch. 

Below is the text of Hatch’s full speech delivered on the Senate floor today:

Mr.  President, I want to take a few moments this afternoon to correct the record on something very important. 

In his opening remarks this morning, the distinguished Senate Majority Leader made a number of claims and accusations relating to the tax extenders legislation. 

As you’ll recall, last week the Senate voted not to invoke cloture on a substitute amendment to the tax extenders vehicle.  

Since that time, the Senate Majority Leader has been accusing Republicans of voting against tax relief. 

He’s said we’re obstructionists and that we “work so hard to do nothing.” 

This is, as we know, par for the course. 

When, the Majority Leader isn’t calling out American citizens by name and attacking them for getting involved in the political process, he’s usually accusing Senate Republicans of one thing or another. 

Today, he attacked me personally for my vote against cloture on the tax extenders substitute, saying: “The primary Republican who negotiated this, the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, voted against his own bill.”  

Needless to say, Mr. President, I can’t let this go unanswered.  I’m here now to set the record straight. 

First and foremost, I want to make clear that I support the tax extenders legislation.  I want to see it passed.  And, I believe we should pass it sooner rather than later.  

I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I suspect that the majority of Senate Republicans feel the same way.  But, there are serious and legitimate process issues at stake here. 

At the time of last week’s cloture vote, the substitute amendment had been available to the full the Senate for a little more than a day.  

And, though there were 167 amendments filed – including about 70 Democratic amendments – the distinguished Majority Leader blocked the consideration of any and all amendments.  

This, unfortunately, has become the norm here in the Senate, where we have voted on a grand total of nine Republican amendments in the last ten months.  

By contrast, in the House of Representatives, the Democrats, who are in the minority, have had votes on 242 of their amendments in that same time frame. 

Sheila Jackson Lee, a single Democratic House member, has received votes on 22 separate amendments in the same time frame that all Republican Senators have, combined, received votes on only nine.  

So, yes, I, along with almost all of my Republican colleagues voted against cloture on the tax extenders substitute.  But, I made it clear before and after the vote that my vote against cloture was a vote to allow Senators – both Republicans and Democrats, especially those that don’t serve on the Senate Finance Committee – an opportunity to amend the tax extenders legislation.  

Like I said, at the time of the cloture vote, there were a total of 167 amendments filed.  Yet, the Senate majority attempted to close off debate on the bill without considering or voting on a single one.  

That’s no way to operate the Senate, Mr. President, particularly on a bill as broad and as consequential as the tax extenders bill.  

There are a lot of interests at stake with the expired or expiring tax provisions, a number of voices that deserve to be heard.  Why, then, would we want to rush through the debate without considering a single solitary amendment?  

It just doesn’t make sense.  

My vote was never intended to kill this legislation, as the Majority Leader claimed this morning.  As I made clear last week, my vote was for a fair, open, and cooperative process.  

I would have thought the Majority Leader would have been listening last week when Republicans, including myself, made it very clear why we were voting against cloture.  

But, either he wasn’t listening or he forgot everything we said, because this morning he came to the floor to attack us, once again, claiming that, somehow, our votes against the tax extenders legislation were related to President Obama. 

So, let me make it clear for our distinguished Majority Leader and everyone else who may be misunderstanding what’s going on with the tax extenders bill.   

This has nothing to do with President Obama.  

There is only one person who is stopping the tax extenders bill from moving forward. 

It’s not me. 

It’s not the Minority Leader. 

It’s not anyone in the Republican caucus.  

The distinguished Majority Leader could solve this impasse today if he would simply allow the Senate to operate in a way that it always has.  

He can come to the floor as often as he wants to attack Republican Senators or anyone else, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is the one in control here. 

He is the one who will decide if the Senate will live up to its legacy of being the greatest deliberative body in the world or if it will continue to be what it has become – a graveyard of ideas.  

Once again, I stand willing and able to work with the Democrats to get this bill across the finish line.  I want this legislation to pass.  

But, like I said, Mr. President, it’s not up to me. 

I yield the floor.  

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