Proceedings, Debates of the U.S. Congress
UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST--S. RES. 594
(Senate - September 29, 2006)
Text available as:
Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.
[Congressional Record Volume 152, Number 125 (Friday, September 29, 2006)] [Page S10608] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST--S. RES. 594 Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, just 2 days ago I came to the floor and introduced a bipartisan resolution, the resolution cosponsored by myself, Senator Mark Dayton, Senator Norm Coleman, Senator Tom Harkin, and others. What did the resolution say? It said that we would recognize that we are about to observe the fourth anniversary of the death of our former colleague, Paul Wellstone, who died in an airplane crash during his campaign for reelection to the U.S. Senate for Minnesota. It speaks of his service to Minnesota, the fact that he was a loving father and husband, that he dedicated his life to public service and to education, and that he worked tirelessly to advance mental health parity for all citizens of the United States. This, of course, goes on to explain, in the course of this resolution, that Paul Wellstone died before he could pass the most important bill on this subject, the mental health parity bill. So I resolved that: [O]n the fourth anniversary of his passing, Senator Paul Wellstone should be remembered for his compassion and leadership on social issues throughout his career; Congress should act to help citizens of the United States who live with a mental illness by enacting legislation to provide for equal coverage of mental health benefits with respect to health insurance coverage unless comparable limits are imposed on medical or surgical benefits. . . . That language in this resolution is directly from the Domenici- Wellstone bill on mental health parity. I go on to say: [M]ental health parity legislation should be a priority for consideration in the 110th Congress. The next Congress. Mr. President, I never dreamed that anyone in this Senate would object to this resolution, this resolution acknowledging the death of our former colleague and asking that the great cause he dedicated most of his public life to continue, and that we pass this bipartisan bill which has been pending on the floor. That was the reason I brought this to the floor. I thought it would pass without controversy. I was shocked to learn that someone has put a hold on this resolution. I cannot understand that. I would now ask the clerk if it is necessary--I would like to make sure that this resolution has been filed. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Will the Senator please restate his inquiry? Mr. DURBIN. My question to the clerk is whether this resolution has been filed. So as to expedite this, what I would like to do is send this resolution to the desk that I have in my hand and ask unanimous consent for its immediate consideration and adoption of the resolution. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, there is an objection on this side. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard. Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, imagine that, observing the fourth anniversary of the death of one of our colleagues, acknowledging his life of public service, and simply asking that the next Congress take up his bill to try to make sure those suffering from mental illness will get fair treatment and compensation under their health insurance plans, I find it hard to believe. But if that is the nature of our business, if we have reached that level of partisanship, then it is regrettable. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alabama. Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I understand what the problem is on this resolution. All of us loved Paul Wellstone. What an advocate he was. What a believer he was. But in this legislation, as I understand this resolution, it calls explicitly for the endorsement of those who support the resolution of a mental health piece of legislation that is not universally accepted. Some people, I understand, have suggested we use a different, a general affirmation of the goal of that legislation, and that we could all support. But I think it is a bit much to ask, on a resolution, without any study, that this Senate take a position on a specific piece of legislation. I think that is where we were on it. Everybody who knew Paul Wellstone loved Paul Wellstone. I am sorry and think almost, I have to say, it is a little bit unfair and not collegial to push the legislation or the resolution as worded in a way that makes any of us feel that we would not be acceptable to a resolution to honor Paul Wellstone. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois. Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I submitted the language in this resolution to the Republican side. I have worked on three different versions of the language to find something that mirrors the language, the purpose clause, of the bill that was introduced by Senator Domenici and Senator Wellstone, calling on the Senate to try to enact legislation to meet that goal. There may be Senators who vote for this resolution and want to offer an amendment or change it. That is the way this place works. But to suggest if you call for legislation to give people with mental illness a chance for compensation in your health insurance that it is not collegial--it is not collegial? I have offered this resolution and amended it twice in an effort to be as collegial as possible. But it is hard to understand. Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, will the Senator yield? Mr. DURBIN. I am happy to yield. Mr. SESSIONS. The Senator has asked that this body, through the adoption of this resolution, endorse a piece of legislation that everybody is not prepared to endorse. We would be prepared to endorse the concepts contained in the resolution. And I think that has been communicated to you. I do not see how you could expect--unless you expect unanimous support for the piece of legislation as written--that you could ask everybody to accept it. I think you are overreaching, Senator Durbin, in all due respect. And could we work on that? I would be glad to talk to you about it. Mr. DURBIN. I say to my friend from Alabama, we have been working on it for days. Mr. SESSIONS. Well, I am prepared to-- Mr. DURBIN. Excuse me. I have the floor. If the Senator would like to vote against the resolution, that is his right. But to say that we are not even going to consider this resolution, I think, is regrettable. ____________________