Sen. Frist has now joined us.
He noted that the Senate is focused on the following priorities: First, fiscal discipline, slowing spending growth, cutting spending, and other pro-growth policies that will eliminate the deficit and balance the budget.
Second, energy independence: the elimination of our irresponsible dependence on foreign oil.
Third: border security, a national security issue, an issue of fairness and predominantly a national security issue. Over the course of this session, we’ve been focused on reaching this point of fiscal discipline which will culminate in the next 48 hours.
“We need to begin the discussion of energy on the production side, the consumption side and finishing new sources. We’ve started that with the passage of the energy bill.”
On border security, “we’ve taken some good first steps.”
He said that, “This has been a good Congress in terms of moving the President’s agenda onward.”
On litigation reform, Frist noted that this issue “affects our global competitiveness. We addressed litigation reform (after 9 years), lawsuit abuse. Bankruptcy reform — 12 years in the making — got done. Gun liability bill done, asbestos first thing in 2006. The money needs to go to the patients, the ones sick from asbestos, we plan to fix that.”
On judges, Frist said that, “I won’t waiver from the principle that each nominee deserves an up or down vote. Judge Roberts came though in an orderly dignified way and I expect Judge Alito will proceed the same way. If not, we will “do what it takes” to get him that vote.”
On adjournment: “My intention is to keep the Senate here Friday, Saturday, Sunday, until we complete work on the Patriot Act.” I expect a filibuster, we will try to break it.
On asbestos, “I have operated on people with mesothelioma. That the money is not going to them but in the pockets of trial lawyers is absolutely wrong. We are moving quickly, efficiently and on time, are doing a lot of things before the House, and we’ll do that on asbestos. We will have as good a bipartisan bill, a good bill to the floor. The House will have to see if they can make it a better bill. It is not a perfect bill at this juncture, but it’s the best we can do today, getting it through the Judiciary Committee and on the floor. It is an irresponsible system today that has spun out of control.”
On spending: “Too many people want to come here and spend more. One of my jobs is to instill fiscal discipline, grow the economy and not spend wastefully. At the end of the day I need to be able to work with Republicans and Democrats. We cut $21 billion from the mandatory spending side.”
On the War on Terror: “The Republicans in this body are 100% behind the President as Commander in Chief. We will not cut and run. The amendments were crafted as a cut and run, and it sends the wrong signal to our troops, to Al Qaeda. The letter we crafted was intended to address the cut and run approach generated by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). The Administration reports to us on a regular basis about the progress of the war and their plans. Our amendment was crafted to thwart the cut and run strategy of the Democrats.”
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