Floor and Committee Statements

"Madam President, I thank the senator from Washington very much for her courtesy. I will be brief, and I will be very succinct. In fact, I will be responding to some of the things that Senator Schatz from Hawaii and others have said on the floor.

“I am going to respond to myself. I made a speech here only yesterday, about 2:30 p.m., in which I talked about the frustration that I have and that most Georgians have with the fact that the government is shut down, and I talked about who is losing.

“We are losing. The government loses more money when it shuts down than it makes any other time. Shutting down is a losing proposition all the way around, and we are exemplifying the best way to lose because we are not doing anything to solve the problem.

“I have a solution I am going to propose, specifically, right now. I am not going to put my name on it to be the lead name. I don’t care who gets the credit. I am ready for some solutions. I am going to talk about some very serious things right now and some very difficult things, but we are in a serious, difficult problem. We have serious problems, and we need serious people to solve them.

“In the United States today, at our ports, our airports, and our highways--every way you can cross the border to come into the United States of America--we charge fees for all kinds of things, and we have for years. We have trust funds, like Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and things like that. People come across our borders all the time. In Smuggler’s Gulch in San Diego, they come in on an eight-lane highway, flooding into America in the morning to go to work and flooding out of America in the afternoon to go home to bed, and we charge for that.

“A constituent of mine called me last night, a gentleman I know very well, who is a very successful business person. He said, ‘Johnny, you all are fighting over this border wall or how you fund it or who gets credit for it. I saw your speech. Have you ever thought of this?’

“I listened.

“I listened, I thought, and I said: You know, I haven't.

“I got my staff to get me the information, and it all works. It makes sense, and I think it would make sense to the American people. I think it would make sense to the President of the United States, the Democratic Party, and the Republican Party as well. If we all start tonight, even, and decide whether we want to sign it or not, we can do it together. Who gets the credit for it stops, and we fight over something that makes more sense fighting over than having a border that leaks and an immigration program that doesn’t work.

“Here is the idea. We establish a fee in the United States of America through our ports, through our airports, through all the different ways you come here. You create a trust fund for that money to go into, and it is designated for the security of our borders--our Canadian border and our Mexican border.

“That is it. They charge. Someone entering the country pays. If it is a bus that comes in 10 times a day, you know they don’t pay 10 times the amount that somebody comes in once a day. We will figure that out, but create a mechanism.

“If you use the current mechanisms that are being used to collect moneys today in our Departments, we would raise $2.5 billion a year doing that. Did you hear me? $2.5 billion. If we had $2.5 billion, we wouldn’t have a problem anymore.

“You could argue over what you build. That doesn’t matter when we have security. Security is what we want. This Senate and House can get together at the White House, we get in a room, and we say: ‘What do we want to charge? To whom do we want to give the responsibility? What is the goal?’

“The goal is to secure the border--a mechanism to fund securing the border--and to get off this argument of who is right, whether it is Democrats or Republicans. We are just arguing about something that doesn’t matter. What matters is the American people. What matters is how their Representatives are handling their problems. What matters is what you and I are doing to get this whole argument that is going on and put it aside.

“I am here to tell you, I am throwing an idea out that I think is a good idea. A very smart man gave it to me. I didn’t think of it. I thought about it all last night. I couldn’t think of anything wrong with it. I am sure somebody will be able to come up with something that is wrong with it.

“It pays for it. We decide where the money goes, and it goes for security. We don’t argue over what type of security because that is not the issue. The issue is we want it secure.

“What we have had is that we have had a couple of leaders who argued about how you secure it, not whether or not you can secure it. You can always argue about how. I like pink better than purple, but I don’t let that stop me from buying a black shirt if it is the only shirt I can get.

“It is time we decide what it is we want. We want security. We want to put the government back to work. We want the American people to get the benefits they deserve, and we want a mechanism to do it--that is, a simple mechanism to do it. We already do it everywhere. We do the passenger facility charge.

“The distinguished speaker sitting in the chair today knows that. He flies here every week and pays $7.50, I think, per ticket here and per ticket out. It pays for the security of airports. We do this all over the place. Let’s do it here.

“When you ask anybody what is probably the biggest problem in America, they say the biggest problem is that the American Senate and the American House will not sit down and get the work done.

“After that, we haven’t even opened the door to see if we can find a solution. This opens the door to a solution. I am telling you, as a representative from the state of Georgia, representing 10.5 million people in this Senate, we can solve our problem today--not tomorrow, but today--with the action of our Finance Committee and our leadership and the president of the United States, by not deciding who gets credit or who gets blame but deciding it is time enough for funding games to be over with. It is time for us to get down to business.

“We all took an oath when we were sworn in, saying that is what we wanted to do, and now we are avoiding it every single day.

“I will not take any more time. I know the senator from Texas is here, and the senator from Minnesota is here, and they are two very good representatives in the Senate of the United States of America.

“Don’t forget about this idea. I am going to talk about it a lot. I don’t want it to be the Isakson amendment or the Isakson idea. I want it to be our idea, America’s idea. I want to fund it with Americans’ money, to solve America’s borders and get our immigration system solved and get us off of dead center and talking about nothing and mainly down center lane.

“I want to end with what Zell Miller told me. Zell was a senator at one time. He beat me for governor of Georgia in 1990. In our last debate in that Senate race--it was a pretty good race. I had gotten pretty close. In fact, if my grandchildren had been old enough, it would have almost been won by me, if I could embellish the stories a little more.

“At the end of the story, we had a minute each to close our speech. I closed my remarks with a 1-minute statement. I thought it was pretty good. Zell leaned back, with that twang of Zell’s and said: ‘You know, ladies and gentlemen, if you see a turtle sitting on a fence post on a country road, there is one thing you know for sure: He did not get there by himself.’

“I know for sure right now we are going nowhere because we are not talking about the problem. I know for sure that it is time for us to do the simple thing; that is, to solve it. It is not the hard thing, and that is to think of other reasons why we can’t solve it. I, for one, will do everything I can do to let the people I am representing here know I am doing everything I can to get it open. I don’t care what we have done. I am not going to call anybody a name. I am not going to do anything like that. I am not going to claim it for my idea. I hope nobody will steal it and claim it for theirs and cause us problems.

“Let’s just get to work. There is no problem we can’t solve that we don’t want to, and there is no problem we can solve if we don't want to solve it.

“God bless you, Mr. President, for presiding today, and God bless the United States of America.

“I yield back the balance of my time.”