(Senate - September 29, 2006)

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[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 
  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 
  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 
  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.