Udall-CO, Boozman, Brown-OH, Menendez

Executive Session (Hurwitz nomination)

Senator Udall-CO: (6:20 PM)
  • Recognized the 25th anniversary of United Way and honored their achievements since their founding 125 years ago in Denver, Colorado.
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "This legislation is critical not just to our farmers and ranchers and rural communities but to every segment of our population and our economy. You've heard from others highlighting that this bill supports more than 16 million jobs across our country. And, in fact, the Colorado Department of Agriculture estimates that in my home state alone, agricultural-related industry generates approximately $20 billion in economic activity, supporting more than 100,000 jobs. And this is a principal reason why I've urged the Senate to consider and pass a 2012 Farm bill. This bill will unquestionably strengthen our economy and help to grow jobs hat support the livelihood of Coloradans and Americans in both rural and urban communities. And that's what our constituents in Pennsylvania and Ohio, Arkansas are demanding that we do, work together across the aisle that will help put people back to work Let me tell you some of the other things the bill will do. It will improve opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers to enter the agricultural sector. It will streamline and maintain valuable programs that support voluntary conservation practices on the farm. And it will responsibly extend important nutrition programs, all the while reducing our deficit by more than $23 billion. Yes, you heard that correctly. While reducing our federal budget deficit by over $23 billion."

Senator Boozman: (6:35 PM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "The forestry title contains important improvements that will benefit Arkansas' forestry industry, the improvements to the USDA biobased U.S. markets program and the manager's package will allow forest products to be included in the program. The current USDA biobased markets program favors foreign products over our American forest products, which puts American workers at a disadvantage. So I'm happy with the progress on this issue and I appreciate the effort to promote and purchase our renewable home-grown products. Crop insurance also contains some improvements, and the provisions for irrigated and non-irrigated enterprise units, supplemental coverage options and yield plugs will help many producers who may have otherwise been left unprotected by the elimination of direct payments in the countercyclical program. At the same time, this is not a perfect bill, and I have serious concerns about the commodity title and the impact it will have on our southern producers and the planning decisions that they will make. I also have concerns about some missed opportunities in terms of eliminating waste and abuse in the nutrition title. The commodity title as is currently written will have a devastating impact on southern agriculture which relies heavily on irrigation and therefore benefits less from the crop insurance. Furthermore, the new revenue plan is designed to augment crop insurance so this new program leaves gaping holes in the southern safety net. Even with the reference price, this revenue plan may not be strong enough for our farmers to get the operating loans that they need. For example, most estimates find that rice would lose more than 70% of its baseline, far more than their fair share. However, this is not just about one crop. Every farm in America knows the real threat of multiyear price declines and we need a commodity title that treats all crops and regions fairly. I'm very concerned that this proposal is couched in the assumption that we will continue to have these high commodity prices. The revenue plan is attractive when prices are high, but I'm not sure there is anything in this plan that protects producers from a multiyear price decline. An untested one-size-fits-all program with no producer choice could leave many producers vulnerable in the future. Throughout this process, I have said that anything that goes too far in any direction can violate the core principles of our effort. I'm afraid that this commodity title does that in its current form It's my opinion that we could have done more to eliminate waste and abuse in a nutrition title and ensure we are getting the most out of these investments and that they are, in fact, going to the neediest among us. We should fully close the Liheap loophole which artificially inflates the benefits for SNAP recipients, and there are other things we could do to save money without reducing benefits and reinvest in other critical nutrition areas and deficit reduction. When we tell Americans that we cannot find more than $4 billion in savings from programs that account for nearly 80% of all agriculture spending, I can't think that they would believe that we are trying hard enough. But just because there isn't full agreement does not mean that our farmers stop needing a safety net. I'm committed to continuing the fight for a safety net that works, not just for Arkansans but for all farmers of all crops in all regions throughout our country. With a responsible producer choice, I believe we can build the consensus necessary to usher a farm bill throughout the entire legislative process and see it signed into law this year. We can do this while preserving the safety net, making reforms and achieving deficit reduction. I'm confident that we can craft a bill we are all proud of."

Senator Brown-OH: (6:42 PM)
  • Spoke on the auto industry.
    • SUMMARY "The auto rescue didn't just save the U.S. auto industry three, three and a half, four years ago, it saved thousands of auto-related jobs in Ohio. Estimates are that some 850,000 jobs in Ohio, in a state of 11 million people, only slightly smaller than the Presiding Officer's home state of Pennsylvania. That 800,000 jobs in Ohio are related to the auto industry. It's clear from the auto rescue with President Obama and the Senate and the House supported that it saved and created tens of thousands of those jobs. New data shows manufacturing is at the forefront of the economic recovery with factories adding 250,000 jobs since early 2010. The first sustained increase in manufacturing employment since 1997. Look at it this way, from 1965 until the late 1990's, America had about the same number of manufacturing jobs in the late 1990's as it did in the mid 1960's. A smaller percent of the work force, smaller percent of GDP, but a pretty constant number of manufacturing jobs with some ups and downs, obviously, during that period. But from 2000-2010, during that philosophy of trade agreements that ultimately cost us jobs, tax cuts and tax policy that contributed to outsourcing of jobs and an economic policy of trickle down during the Bush years, from 2000 to 2010, America lost one-third, more than five million manufacturing jobs. One out of three manufacturing jobs disappeared during those ten years, from 2000-2010. Thousands of factories closed never to be reopened as jobs were outsourced, as jobs left our country. Since 2010 almost every single month, almost every single month in Ohio and across the country we've seen manufacturing jobs increase. The auto industry has led the rebound with more than 20,000 jobs at General Motors and Chrysler saved or created thanks to the 2009 auto rescue, thousands more created in the auto supply chain. To be sure, too many Ohioans are struggling, many are still looking for work, others have seen their wages cut or their hours reduced. But there are important signs of recovery at our manufacturers and auto suppliers and small businesses. Just four years ago, the auto industry, many people thought, was faltering and imploding. But look where we are today."

Senator Menendez: (6:50 PM)
  • Spoke on Jorge Luis García Pérez.