Floor Updates

Shaheen, Grassley, Whitehouse, Murkowski

Cybersecurity bill (S. 3414)

Jul 26 2012

05:52 PM

Senator Shaheen: (4:21 PM)
  • Honored Olympian Guor Marial.

Senator Bennet: (4:27 PM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "We've passed the five-year Farm bill in this Senate. It was a strong bipartisan bill $24 billion of deficit reduction that's been agreed to by Republicans and Democrats. It ends direct payments to producers, which is one of the most substantial reforms that we've seen in agriculture policy in a long time, and it strengthens the conservation title of the Farm bill, which is very important to my state and to the west ... The producers in Colorado and nationwide are experiencing the worst drought in 50 years. While Colorado is certainly no stranger to water challenges, this year's growing season has been particularly tough, to put it mildly. According to the U.S. drought monitor, nearly our entire state is designated as an extreme drought area. We're experiencing damage to crops and pastureland as well as wide water shortages The damage to our farms and ranches affect other sectors of the economy from transportation to energy to banking to retail. I know, we all know there's nothing Congress can do to stop the drought or protect the next one from coming but what we can do is give our farmers and ranchers the tools they need to manage this drought and plan for the future by passing a five-year Farm bill. You hear a lot about uncertainty in these two chambers. I can't imagine a set of circumstances creating more uncertainty in a more difficult situation than this, and now we hear that the House leadership is planning a one-year punt on this whole conversation. One more expression that Washington, DC has become the land of flickering lights, providing very little opportunity for people to be able to plan and have predictability. I ask what's wrong with the Senate-passed bipartisan Farm bill that had the support of 64 senators?"

Senator Grassley: (4:42 PM)
  • Spoke on free speech.
    • SUMMARY "The salvages decision a few weeks ago affects another first amendment issue pending before this body right now. The salvages case, in that case the Supreme Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act which criminalizes lies concerning winning military medals. It did so on free speech ground. I know that many of my colleagues desire to pass a new law that will accomplish that goal. And if that law is constitutional, I'll probably join them in that effort. Two bills on this subject are now pending in the senate. Senator Brown of Massachusetts introduced the first bill and then Senator Webb did so after the salvages decision. There have been efforts to pass both bills by voice vote. When the Republicans were asked to move the Webb bill, we were told that all Democrats supported the bill. This is a problem. The Webb bill is clearly unconstitutional based upon the salvages decision. It criminalizes some lies about medals that the Supreme Court says Congress cannot criminalize. It would prohibit lies in campaign and in unemployment even when those lies would not produce the tangible material benefit that is necessary to punish them. Yet, no Democrat objected to passing the bill without debate. Of course, Republicans could not agree to such a request. Since he did not have the benefit of the Supreme Court decision when he wrote the bill that Senator Brown put in, right now because of the decision, and he didn't know about it, Senator Brown's bill is also unconstitutional. The difference between his bill and Senator Webb's bill, however, is that Senator Brown now has a substitute amendment that seems to address the problem in a fully constitutional way. But although Democrats want to pass without debate a clearly unconstitutional bill, somehow they object to a clearly constitutional Brown bill. These games should stop. I'm sure that all the members of this body should be willing to support a single constitutional bill that would reenact the prohibition of lying about whether or not you're entitled to certain military medals. In short, this country is facing a disturbing increase in government actions that violate the freedom of speech. That is a vital right of our democracy. Anyone can stand up for speech with which they agree. The test for government officials and the test for free speech is whether they will allow speech with which they might disagree. They may criticize speech, debate the speech and seek to change minds. But shutting people up, denying them benefits, passing bills that would put people in jail for exercising free speech rights, these are never allowable under our constitution. It's time for elected officials to pay greater heed to the oath to support the constitution."

Senator Whitehouse: (5:00 PM)
  • Spoke on climate change.
    • SUMMARY "One positive development of this Rio +20 Conference was its discussion of promoting sustainability. The document adopted entitled "The Future We Want" highlights the role of private companies, the private sector, and their close collaboration with governments in driving sustainable development. It reads in part, "we acknowledge that the implementation of sustainable development will depend on active engagement of both the public and private sectors. We recognize that the active participation of the private sector can contribute to the achievement of sustainable development, including through the important tool of public-private partnerships." A number of Rio's corporate participants have stepped forward to accept this challenge. Many of these global businesses are recognizing that greening their operations is not just good for the environment; it's good for their business as well. Dell, for example, has committed to reducing its worldwide facilities, greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2015. Dell is a computer technology corporation based in Texas that ranks 44th on the Fortune 500 and employs over 106,000 people. I doubt they made that decision rashly. Bank of America is number 13 on the 2012 Fortune 500 list and was the first bank to offer coast-to-coast operations in the United States. They have committed $50 billion over ten years to finance energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy access and other activities that advance the low-carbon economy. Marriott has displayed both internal and external efforts by committing to build ten Fairfield by Marriott hotels constructed to sustainable building materials as well as pledging money for the rainforests in the state of Brazil. Marriott ranks first on the Fortune 500 list in the category of hotels, casinos, resorts. Microsoft has committed to going completely carbon-neutral and will be factoring the costs of carbon output into the company's business operations in over 100 countries. These companies are just a few examples from the effort that is being undertaken in the private sector to meet our responsibilities to address climate change. As leaders in government, we must recognize that the private sector will not, however, be able to halt climate change on its own. But these commitments do signify that action on climate change does not need to come at the expense of economic growth. Governments can and must provide incentives for sustainable production and consumption."

Senator Murkowski: (5:23 PM)
  • Spoke on EPA regulations.
    • SUMMARY "Today I'd like to speak to one example from my state, and this is it is a relates to ECA. ECA is the reference to the emissions control area. The EPA was a major proponent of including the ocean off of ... to reduce emissions from main vessels through lowering sulfur standards within the fuel. The purposes of the emission control area is to require these ships to do their part to curb solution. Absolutely reasonable. Absolutely reasonable. The problem that we're seeing up north is that EPA never gathered any air modeling data to support the claim that we've got a problem from ships that travel up to Alaska. So there has been no air modeling data whatsoever. We've requested, there has been none. Moreover, some of the proposals to work with the EPA - we need to be working with our agencies. We need our agencies to be working with us. But one of the proposals that was advanced was an offer for an equivalent method to comply with the ECA requirements in North America. In Juneau, Alaska, which is our state's capital, the only state in the country that is not accessible by road. Folks come and visit us by air and they come in by ship in the summertime tourism is big business in Alaska. In Juneau the ships that are tied up at the docks there are utilizing shore side services so that there are no emissions when they are in the community. So one of the proposals that was out there, this equivalency method, it would essentially ask for a trade-off. If we have cruise ships that are emitting nothing when they are in dock or at shore, offset that against those emissions that would be emitted from those vessels that are out at sea, essentially an averaging. That was rejected by the EPA but what has made this particularly disconcerting for many Alaskans is the EPA's justification, in their justification they cite a U.S. Forest Service study that purportedly found evidence that emissions from cruise ships in southeast Alaska could impact the lichen in the mountains above Juneau. You see the mountains. There is lichen at the top, a short, mossy green. But the report then went on to worry that if we have impacted the lichen growth in Juneau, it could somehow or other harm the caribou. Well, never mind that lichen and cruise ships may be tenuous, there's a bigger problem with EPA's reasoning and anybody from Alaska would know the problem is there's no caribou in Juneau, Alaska. There's no caribou anywhere in southeastern Alaska."
  • Paid tribute to former-Senator Ted Stevens.