(WASHINGTON) — With Washington waiting to close the fiscal cliff deal – regardless of the outcome – some Senators took to the floor Monday to already express who really the big loser is in all of this: Congress.
A normally restrained Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., waved his arms, raised his voice and yelled from the floor, emphasizing every word: “It’s. December. Thirty. First.”
“We’re sitting here because we have twiddled our thumbs for month after month after month and here in the United States Senate,” Thune ranted from the Senate floor, “we’ve known about this for a long time, yet for month after month after month after month this year nothing was done about it.”
Thune said if the nation goes over the fiscal cliff it will be a “disaster” that will “ruin” the economy.
“But where were we? Where were we for the past month and the month before that and the month before that? Dealing with what we knew was going to be this very set of circumstances that we face today,” he continued. “And so I just find it really hard to sit and listen to people come up now and wring their hands and talk about gee whiz, I hope we can get something done here in the last day.”
As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Vice President Joe Biden worked during the last day of the year towards a deal, Thune chastised the process that led the negotiating process.
“There are two people in a room deciding incredibly consequential issues for this country while 99 other United States senators and 435 members of the House of Representatives, elected by their constituencies to come to Washington are on the sidelines,” Thune said. “Why didn’t we have a bill on the floor of the United States senate that we could actually debate? Why didn’t we put something out here under regular order?”
Thune concluded, “We are where we are because this process was grossly mismanaged up until this point. And so now we’re faced with a crisis.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., took a sarcastic tone on the floor, pointing out that any deal should not be celebrated as solving any problems.
“By all means, let’s complete a deal today so we can go home,” Paul said. “Let’s complete a deal. Let’s raise taxes. Let’s stick it to those rich people. Let’s not touch spending. And let’s pretend as if we’ve done something. The deal will do absolutely nothing to save this country.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said that something has gone “terribly wrong when the biggest threat to our American economy is our American Congress.”
“I can’t think of anything more irresponsible than to let this great country go over the fiscal cliff, to play games with the lives of Americans in such a callous way, to jeopardize the financial standing of our country and to alarm our financial narcotics ways that could trigger another recession,” Manchin said Sunday night on the Senate floor. “Something has gone terribly wrong when the biggest threat to the American economy is the American congress. I repeat, sir, something has gone terribly wrong when the biggest threat to our American economy is our American congress. It doesn’t have to be that way.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Tom LoBianco, Deirdre Walsh and Tal Kopan, CNN
Allie Malloy and Kevin Liptak, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN