Mr. McCAIN. So here we are, about 6 weeks after an election that repudiated the agenda of the other side, and we are jamming, or trying to jam, major issues through the Senate of the United States because they know they cannot get it done beginning next January 5. They cannot do it next January 5. The American people have spoken, and they are acting in direct repudiation of the message of the American people. That is why they are jamming this through.
My friends, there is a lot of talk about compromise. There is a lot of talk about working together. You think what this ``bizarro'' world that the majority leader has been carrying us in, of cloture votes on this, votes on various issues that are on the political agenda of the other side--to somehow think that beginning next January 5 we will all love one another and kumbaya? I do not think so. I do not think so.
Unfortunately, the majority is using the lameduck session to push an agenda, when the fact is lameduck sessions are supposed to be to finish up the work of Congress so the new Congress can act on the issues of the day.
The American people have spoken in what the President of the United States described as a ``shellacking.'' Everything we are doing is completely ignoring that message. Maybe it will require another election. [Page: S10661] So, for example, I filed two amendments I believe are relevant to this bill, important to this major change. Those will not be in order.
I have always and consistently stated that I would listen to and fully consider the advice of our military and our military leadership. On December 3, the Committee on Armed Services heard from the Chiefs of our four military services--the Chiefs of our four military services.
General Amos said: Based on what I know about the very tough fight in Afghanistan, the almost singular focus of our combat forces as they train up and deploy into theater, the necessary tightly woven culture of those combat forces that we are asking so much of at this time, and, finally, the direct feedback from the survey, my recommendation is that we should not implement repeal at this time.
Then he talks about: Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines' lives.
Cost marines' lives.
[M]arines came back-- After serving in combat-- and they said, ``Look, anything that's going to break or potentially break that focus and cause any kind of distraction may have an effect on cohesion.'' I don't want to permit that opportunity to happen. And I'll tell you why. If you go up to Bethesda ..... Marines are up there with no legs, none. We've got Marines at Walter Reed with no limbs.
General Casey said: I believe that the implementation of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the near term will, one, add another level of stress to an already stretched force; two, be more difficult in our combat arms units; and, three, be more difficult for the Army than the report suggests.
General Schwartz basically said the same thing.
I have heard from thousands--thousands--of Active-Duty and retired military personnel. I have heard from them, and they are saying: Senator McCain, it isn't broke, and don't fix it.
So all of this talk about how it is a civil rights issue and equality, the fact is, the military has the highest recruiting and highest retention than at any other time in its history. So I understand the other side's argument as to their social, political agenda. But to somehow allege that it has harmed our military is not justified by the facts.
I hope everybody recognizes this debate is not about the broader social issues that are being discussed in our society, but what is in the best interest of our national security and our military during the time of war.
Now, I am aware this vote will probably pass today in a lameduck session, and there will be high-fives all over the liberal bastions of America. We will see the talk shows tomorrow--a bunch of people talking about how great it is. Most of them never have served in the military or maybe even not even known someone in the military.
And, you know, we will repeal it; all over America there will be gold stars put up in windows in the rural towns and communities all over America that do not partake in the elite schools that bar military recruiters from campus, that do not partake in the salons of Georgetown and the other liberal bastions around the country. But there will be additional sacrifice. I hear that from master sergeants. I hear that from junior officers. I hear that from leaders.
So I am confident that with this repeal our military--the best in the world--will salute and do the best they can to carry out the orders of the Commander in Chief. That is the nature--that is the nature--of our military, and I could not be more proud of them in the performance that they have given us in Iraq and Afghanistan, and before that other conflicts. They will do what is asked of them.
But do not think it will not be at great cost. I will never forget being, just a few weeks ago, at Kandahar. An Army sergeant major, with five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, in a forward operating base, said: Senator McCain, we live together. We sleep together. We eat together. Unit cohesion is what makes us succeed.
So I hope when we pass this legislation we will understand we are doing great damage, and we could possibly and probably--as the Commandant of the Marine Corps said; and I have been told by literally thousands of members of the military--harm the battle effectiveness which is so vital to the survival of our young men and women in the military.
Mr. President, I yield the remainder of my time.