Floor Updates

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Aug 02 2012 9:30 AM

The Senate Convened.

McConnell, McCain, Reid

Opening Remarks

Aug 02 2012 10:02 AM

  • Today --
    • The Senate will begin consideration of S. 3326, the AGOA/CAFTA-DR/Burma Sanctions bill, for 30 minutes of debate, equally divided. A Coburn amendment (AGOA/pay-for change) will be in order. Thereafter, the time until 11:00 AM will be equally divided.
    • Pending is S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill. The amendment tree has been filled. All second-degree amendments must be filed at the desk by 10:00 AM.
    • At 11:00 AM, the Senate will conduct 2 ROLL CALL VOTES on:
      1. Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill; and
      2. Coburn amendment (AGOA/pay-for change) to S. 3326, the AGOA/CAFTA-DR/Burma Sanctions bill.
        • If the Coburn amendment is Not Agreed to, S. 3326 will be Agreed to by Unanimous Consent. Further, when the Senate receives H.R. 5986 from the House, if the text is identical to that of S. 3326, the bill will be Passed by Unanimous Consent.
        • If the Coburn amendment is Agreed to, the Senate will take up H.R. 9, the text of S. 3326, as amended, will be inserted, and the bill will be Passed by Unanimous Consent. In addition, when the Senate receives H.R. 5986 the text will be stricken and the text of sections 2 and 3 of S. 2236 inserted, and the bill will be Passed by Unanimous Consent.
    • At a time to be determined, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 1 hour of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar #518, Carol J. Galante, of California, to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Following the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on confirmation of the nomination (60 votes required).

Senator McConnell: (9:34 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "No one doubts the need to strengthen our nation's cybersecurity defenses. Open-source reporting clearly shows that our industrial base, financial sector and government networks are all under attack by nation states as well as independent hackers. The U.S. Cyber Command, the NSA, and the FBI are working hard to counter these threats. So we all recognize the problem. That's really not the issue here. The issue is the manner in which the Democratic leadership has tried to steam roll a bill that would address it. Members on both sides of the aisle have recommendations for improving our cyber defenses, and some of them thought this bill would provide an opportunity to propose those ideas through amendments. Especially since Democrats didn't allow for an opportunity do so in committee. Yet despite preventing members from amending the bill in committee, the anticipated open amendment process once this new bill got to the Senate floor never happened. It just never happened. Despite being on the bill now for the third day, no senator from either party has been allowed a vote on any amendment. Look, this is a big, complicated, far-reaching bill that involves several committees of jurisdiction. Democratic leaders haven't allowed any of those committees to approve the bill or even vote on it. An issue of this importance deserves serious consideration and open debate. Instead, the majority leader waited until the last week before august to even take it up. Rather than give this issue the time and attention it deserves, democratic leaders brought it up with only three days left before recess and then tried to jam something through without any chance for amendment. The few days the bill was on the floors the majority limited its consideration to debate only and then filled the tree and filed cloture. But of course that's par for the course around here. This is the 56th time the majority leader has filled the amendment tree and filed cloture. The 65th time. Just to give you a point of comparisons the last six party leaders did it 40 times combined. The last six party leaders did it 40 times combined. So the majority leader has set an historic pace of blocking amendments. No amendments in committee, no amendments on the floor. Take it or leave it. That's the story of the Senate under the current leadership. And the notion that we should just roll over and wave through these bills without having a chance to improve them and that Democratic senators who would be willing to be rolled in such a way is ridiculous, especially on a bill of this significance."

Senator McCain: (9:41 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "There has been a series of meetings, including the sponsors of the bill, those of us who felt significant modifications need to be made, large numbers of senators have at least tentatively come to some agreement that we think could move this legislation forward in a fashion that recognizes the importance of the issue and yet dramatically, in our view, improves the legislation So I would hope that the Republican leader and the majority leader would not interpret this vote, which clearly cloture will not be invoked, as an impediment to the process that I think was moving on a path where we could have reached some agreement and addressed this issue and this legislation conclusively."

Senator McConnell: (9:42 AM)
  • Spoke on the Obama economy.
    • SUMMARY "Two years ago tomorrow Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner declared in an op-ed entitled Welcome to the Recovery, that because of actions taken by the Obama administration during its first year and a half, the U.S. economy washings as he put it, "on the road to recovery." Well, I think it's pretty obvious that the treasure secretary jumped the gun on that one. Far from putting us on a path to recovery, it is now obvious that President Obama's policies have made a bad situation worse. Secretary Geithner was right to say that the president's policies were having an effect on the economy. He was clearly wrong to conclude that they were anything approaching a lasting, positive effect on the economy. On the contrary, we can see that the policies of the president's first two years in office put us decidedly on the wrong path. Two years after Secretary Geithner's op-ed, 23 million Americans are either unemployed, underemployed, or have given up looking for work altogether. Half of colleges graduates can't find a decent job and with little or no income, many have decided to move back home with mom and dad. Two years after Secretary Geithner all but declared victory, GDP growth is still at an anemic 1.5%. Foreclosures are still quite common. More Americans than ever are on food stamps. And two years after Secretary Geithner welcomed Americans to the recovery, more Americans are signing up for disability than finding jobs. More Americans are signing up for disability than are finding jobs. All of this after the president and a Democrat-led Congress passed his major policy initiatives The treasury secretary had it right two years ago. The president's policies have had a big impact on the economy. What he got wrong was the fact that the impact was actually negative. If we were to ask ourselves whether Americans are better off now than they were two years ago, the answer would be obvious. The president's policies have clearly made it harder for Americans to find jobs and to keep those jobs. If the president wants to cast blame for the economic mess we're in, he should look no farther than his own policies. If he's more concerned about the future of the country than his own election, he'd work with us to go in a different direction. For three and a half years, Republicans stood ready to work with him on the kinds of policies that will empower the private sector to lift us out of this recovery once and for all."
  • Paid tribute to Carl Kaylin, National Inspector General of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States at the National Convention in Nevada.

Senator Reid: (9:50 AM)
  • Spoke on Governor Romney's tax plan.
    • SUMMARY "To talk about Republican tax plan would have to bring a smile to one's face. Yesterday an organization called the Tax Policy Center Remember, last year Mitt Romney called the Tax Policy Center "an objective third party and cited one of their studies to bash Rick Perry at the Republican primary. So this objective third party yesterday said this about Romney's tax plan that my friend, the Republican leader, wants the American people to grab. Well, the only people to be grabbing that are really rich people. The vast majority of Mitt Romney's tax plan would go to people just like him, people making millions of dollars every year. Under Romney's plan, folks making more than $3 million a year would get a tax break, a quarter of a million dollars per year. How would you pay for this massive handout to the top 1%? He'll hand you, 95% of the American people, the bill. Under his plan, my friend the Republican leader wants, I hope everyone listens to this within the sound of my voice, because the Republican plan would require the average middle-class family with children to pay $2,000 more in taxes to take care of the millionaires. 95% of families in this country would be asked to pay more so that people like Mitt Romney can get a tax break. Now that's a great program, a wonderful program. Last year, I repeat, Mitt Romney called this Tax Policy Center an objective third party when he was once again changing his position during the Republican debates leading up to his nomination. Now that the group has exposed his plan to hike taxes for 95% of American families while handing out more giveaways to millionaires, the tax policy is too liberal, his spokes people say, to be trusted. I would sawing when we talk about trust, we look - I would suggest when we talk about trust, we look no farther than my friend the Republican leader wants to be president of the United States. He refused to release his tax returns, as we know. If a person coming before this body wanted to be a cabinet officer, he couldn't be if he did the same refusal Mitt Romney does about tax returns. So the word's out that he hasn't paid any taxes for ten years. Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn't. We already know from one partial tax return that he gave us, he has money hidden in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and a Swiss banking account. Mitt Romney makes more money in a single day than the average middle-class family makes in two years or more. So let's not talk about this great plan the Republicans have to create jobs. The number-one goal in this body by the Republicans has been to damage the president of the United States."
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "We know how important this legislation is. We know. We believe this legislation is more important than getting a pat on the back from the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce does not support this legislation. And that's why the Republicans are running like scared cats, because the Republicans won't endorse doing something that's good for our country. That is protecting us against attacks, cyber attacks. The statements made by the Republican leader speaks volumes, volumes. This is another filibuster that could have been prevented by their working to get a list of relevant amendments to show how serious the republican leader is about cybersecurity, let's just take a few days of this week. We've been stalled and stalled and stalled in months past trying to get a bill. We could never get the Republican leader to endorse a bill. We worked with the White House, they came aboard. We begged, pleaded, let's do a bill together. No, no, because the Chamber of Commerce doesn't want a bill. The first thing we hear about cybersecurity, to show how serious they are, is they've decided as one of their amendments, they want to repeal Obamacare."

Aug 02 2012 11:02 AM

Senator Coburn: (10:02 AM)
  • Spoke on the Coburn amendment (AGOA/pay-for change) to the AGOA/CAFTA-DR/Burma Sanctions bill.
    • SUMMARY "My objection was not with the AGOA package. It is not with Miramar, it is not with CAFTA. My objection is, we are addicted to not fulfilling our responsibilities and delaying. So this is a very simple, straightforward amendment that does two things. One is it recognizes a recommendation of the Obama administration in terms of the duplication of things and the need for consolidation. That's how we're eventually going to get out of the hole. We've got $130 trillion in unfunded liabilities and $16 trillion in debt. We've ignored it. Nothing has happened on what they've recommended. There's been no hearings on what the Obama administration recommended in terms of combining some departments at OMB so this is just a step towards trying to meet in the middle what the Obama administration has recommended and us actually paying the $200 million in costs over two years with $200 million worth of savings in two years. The bill, as it presently is set up, takes ten years to pay for $200 million. Now, you know, we have a $3.7 trillion budget - or CR and we can't find - you know, it's less than .001%. So this delays the payment for this bill over a period of years, all the way out to 2023. No family gets to operate that way that's broke - and we are. Nobody that's maxed out their credit cards gets to do that, and maxed them out. So what we're saying there is a ton of money that's available that we can use. Everybody that's going to be in opposition to this has voted to eliminate duplication. The vast majority of my colleagues on the other side have voted for t the vast majority of my colleagues on my side have voted for and so we're going to use that same skill where we know there's waste, inefficiency, we have tons of GAO reports, tons of IG, and tons of oversight at the Homeland Security Committee in the Senate that shows where the duplication is. And all we're asking is, let's pay for it. Let's pay for it. This place is so manipulated, I couldn't get a score until yesterday because somebody was telling, don't give him a score. And then when we change the amendment, all of a sudden when we want to know, CBO say, wait a minute. That might not work. The fact is that CBO didn't read our amendment right. They know it. OMB was consulted. They said this amendment fits with the consolidation of the program. So what it really does, let's make this a start today. Let's actually start paying for things."

Senator Coons: (10:09 AM)
  • Spoke on the AGOA/CAFTA-DR/Burma Sanctions bill.
    • SUMMARY "What I'm speaking to is the third-party fabric provision which expires in September. This chamber is about to go out of session later today and every day that we delay in the reauthorization of this critical provision costs jobs, costs opportunity, and costs future. Let speak to that for a few minutes. Creating American jobs and fueling our economic recovery is my top priority and I know it is for many members of this body. That's why I'm here to talk about one of the things we can do to strengthen our economic security. The truth is, one of the best ways to look for that future opportunity is one that was considered among the least likely just a few years ago in sub-Saharan Africa. Access to America's markets is critical to America's growth. Africa is one of the most promising continents for partners willing to invest in a long-term partnership with the United States. In AGOA and its third-country fabric provision, the U.S. has seized this opportunity to pursue broad and mutually beneficial economic relationships that give American consumers and businesses economic security by allowing eligible countries to export apparel from Africa that's more affordable to the American consumer and create jobs in Africa that otherwise would be elsewhere in the world. Mr. President, this key provision expires in September and our delay in moving forward with reauthorization that has earned strong bipartisan support is already disrupting production for American apparel companies along with the supply chain their customers depend on. In my view, we cannot wait to take action. America can't afford to turn its back on African markets and Congress can't afford to turn its back on extending this provision."

Senator Isakson: (10:16 AM)
  • Spoke on the AGOA/CAFTA-DR/Burma Sanctions bill.
    • SUMMARY "South Sudan will become, if AGOA passes today, one of the parties to this agreement which is critical to the developing economy of the South Sudan as an independent nation. Further, the other nations that are included are nation that is depend on this legislation to raise a middle class in Africa that will become the customers of the United States of America and our businesses. I say often in my speeches about Africa that it is true that Europe was the continent of the 20th century in the first 50 years and true Asia was the most important continent in the last 50 years of the 20th century. Africa is the continent of the 21st century. This is an agreement that is important to our relationship with Africa. It is important to our economy. It is important to American textiles and it's important to jobs in Africa."

Senator Coburn: (10:18 AM)
  • Spoke on the Coburn amendment (AGOA/pay-for change) to the AGOA/CAFTA-DR/Burma Sanctions bill.
    • SUMMARY "We heard the senator from Delaware absolutely assure us that if we defied this that the House isn't going to do the right thing. My conversation with Chairman Camp was different than that. I don't know what the timing was between our conversations. But it's never the right time in Washington to fix our problems. And we do a lot of great things. You want to talk about job creation? Job creation has decreased by a million jobs a year in this country simply because we continue to add to our debt. And this bill adds to our debt. It's not paid for. It has another trick in there that actually charges more in corporate taxes just to get around pay-go. So the point is - and I won't have anything more to say on this bill so we can get to the other. The point is if we did the right thing by actually paying for something at the time, the House would change it just for the very reasons that the senator from Delaware said. It is important. And if we had a strong vote that said, yes, it's important, but by dingy, we're not going to keep doing the same thing that bankrupted this country, but now we use an excuse to say here's our reason why we can't do what's right. America should spit us out of their mouth. We never find the right time to actually have the fiscal discipline that will solve our country's problem and create a viable future for our children, let alone African children. That's a real choice today. I don't expect to win this because this place isn't going to change until the people who are here decide that the future of our country is more important than anything else, and we start acting like it. And we can do good things internationally, but we can do them the right way that will not put at risk our children."

Senator Coons: (10:24 AM)
  • Spoke on the Coburn amendment (AGOA/pay-for change) to the AGOA/CAFTA-DR/Burma Sanctions bill.
    • SUMMARY "The senator from Oklahoma essentially directs the administration to find $192 million in reductions in spending in the following agencies: the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, the Export Import bank and the Trade and Development agency. In my role as the chair of the African Affairs Subcommittee, we recently held a hearing on expanding U.S. trade opportunities in Africa for exactly the reasons that i elucidated previously, that there is enormous growth, there are great opportunities across the continent. Our competitors from all over the world, not just China but Brazil and Russia and our European countries are expanding their investment and their seizure of these opportunities in a way that we are not. The structure of this amendment would simply declare that there's $200 million of waste and duplication at several important trade agencies and direct the administration to slash their budgets for that amount and then hope for the best. That is what Senator Coburn's proposed offset would do. These are agencies that promote and finance U.S. exports and help small and large U.S. businesses export and compete in a global market. And in my view, exports particularly to this market mean jobs. So I am not convinced that now is the time to blindly slash our ability to export. I think we should instead be encouraging exports."

Senator Collins: (10:27 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I find it incredible and, indeed, irresponsible that this body is unable to reach an agreement to allow us to move forward on this important legislation. It is astonishing to me that irrelevant, non-germane amendments have been filed to this important bill, on both sides of the aisle. It is unacceptable that we have worked hard and have come up with a list of relevant and germane amendments, and yet we cannot seem to reach an agreement to proceed. American officials - our government officials have already documented that our businesses are losing billions of dollars annually and millions of jobs due to cyber attacks, attacks that are happening on our government and business computers and individual computers each and every day. And yet our defenses are not there. General Alexander, who knows more about the cyber threat than any individual in this country, was asked to rank our preparedness for a large-scale cyber attack. On a scale of one to ten, do you know what he said? He deemed us to be at a three. Is a three adequate to protect this country from a threat that we know is coming, that it's only a matter of time? Now, there have been all sorts of suggestions for improving this bill, and we have adopted many of those suggestions. Indeed, we have made major changes to make this bill more acceptable to those on my side of the aisle. And what has been our reward? To be criticized for making changes in the bill, for having members on our side of the aisle - my side of the aisle - say, well, now it's a different bill. Well, it's a different bill because we took their suggestions, and we took the suggestions of a bipartisan group, acting in good faith Let me just say that rarely have I been so disappointed in the Senate's failure to come to grips with a threat to our country that, as all these officials have warned us over and over again, is urgent and must be addressed now; not maybe in September, not possibly by the end of the year, not in the next Congress, but now."

Senator Hutchison: (10:37 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "Let me just state some of my concerns on the bill before us. First, it will actually undermine the current information-sharing between the government and the private sector. The biggest priority we have is to get the private sector to the table and to make sure that they have the ability to not only give information to the government but get information from the government and, furthermore, be able to share among the other industries if they see a cyber threat on an expedited basis. Number two, the Department of Homeland Security would be granted authority over standard-setting for private-sector systems. That's unacceptable in the private sector and most certainly is not going to produce what is a consensus for getting the information that we need. It assumes that government must take the adversarial role against private network owners in order to get cooperation when informing both the government and private sector share the same goal of increased cybersecurity."

Senator McCain: (10:43 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "We've had large meet, small meetings, medium-sized meetings, discusses with various groups. That I believe we sort of had the outlines of a framework that we could have had a certain number of amendments that we all agreed to that would be voted on and at the same time prevail upon some of our colleagues not to have non-germane amendments. Unfortunately, the first amendment proposed by the majority leader has to do with tax cuts. Look, I think - I say to my colleagues, I think we have developed a framework where we can move forward with a certain number of germane amendments. All of us appreciate how important this issue is and so I don't see the need for this vote. Cloture will not be invoked. All it will do is embed people in their previously held positions. What we should be doing is continuing the productive negotiations and discussions ... Put off this cloture vote and try to - to some agreement in recognizing that cybersecurity is vital security. We all recognize that. I think there have been some agreements made which I view as significant progress. So I regret, I say to Senator Lieberman and Senator Collins and the rest of my colleagues, that we are taking this vote when we should be spending our time at least certainly the rest of the day setting a framework that we could address cybersecurity during the first week that we are back in September."

Senator Chambliss: (10:46 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "Everybody in this body recognizes the seriousness of this issue. But it's also a recognition of the complexity of this issue. There are about four or five committees of jurisdiction ... We did not go through the regular order of giving the committees the opportunity to go through the regular markup process. That may or may not have solved some of the issues we are dealing with. But we're down to the very final minutes before a cloture vote, and unfortunately I'm going to vote against cloture, and I would recommend that my colleagues do likewise and that we continue over this break to negotiate on the remaining issues that we have, which certainly have been narrowed in number as well as in scope. Both sides are negotiating in good faith because we all understand that this is such an issue of such critical importance. The basic philosophical difference we have is that we all seek to protect the private sector from cyber attacks that may have a huge impact on life or on our economy. And the issue is primarily does the government know better how to do that or does the private sector know better how to protect itself as we think? And while we understand the government has a role to play, we have capabilities and capacities within the federal government that the private sector does not have. We recognize that. And that's why we've been negotiating in good faith to try to find that common ground to ensure the protection of the basic infrastructure of this country."

Senator Lieberman: (10:49 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "We've descended once again to gridlock, to partisan attack and counterattack. And the end result of that is a lot of sound and fury that will accomplish nothing, and we will leave our country vulnerable. The fact is, as the majority leader announced earlier in the week, that we've been on this for a long time. Senator Collins and I have tried to be flexible. We've been open to compromise, not of principle but how much we thought we could get passed through the Senate, because the threat is so urgent, we can't afford to insist on everything we thought was in the best interest of our country. So we made a mandatory system voluntary. But still that's not been enough. Senator Reid said if there is an agreement on a finite list of amendments, and they're germane and relevant to the bill, not taking your favorite political shot through this bill message opportunity, political message opportunity, then he would take it up in September as soon as we came back we'd have a limited time on it, we'd go to final passage, and the Senate would work its will. Unfortunately we haven't been able to agree on such a list. There's still non-germane, irrelevant amendments that are on the list. Our friends in the Republican caucus have whittled their list down to 58 amendments. Frankly I don't worry about the number as much as the fact that Senator Reid was right. The majority leader was right. This bill and the threat of cyber attack, cyber theft are too important to use as yet another vehicle for partisan ideological shots at one another. Save those for another day. So here we are, we're heading to a cloture vote. And right now it looks like it's going to lose. I hope not."

Senator Coats: (10:57 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I want to first of all commend all Republicans and Democrats that have worked so hard together, nearly a fifth of us, hour after hour, meeting after meeting, the flexibility provided by both sides It's truly a threat that needs to be addressed. It is despicable, I think, that the majority leader of the United States Senate, when we were so close to putting together something to bring joint support for what everybody knows we need to do and wants to do, so close with agreements from Democrats and Republicans, ranking members and chairmen, chair woman of the relevant committees and presenting a package which would grant limited time and limited germane amendments, to deny us that opportunity. And yet here we are faced with a dilemma of an imminent threat facing the people of the United States of America, and a vote whether to continue the process, to continue to work on something that potentially could kill this for the rest of the session or maybe next year, or something that grants to the White House an abuse of executive power, to mandate things through executive order that we've seen on a number of other provisions. Maybe that's the motive. Maybe it isn't. I don't know. Nevertheless, we're face with a very critical choice here in terms of a very imminent threat to the security of the United States and to the American people. And I hope all my colleagues will take that into consideration when we decide what to do here. But I do thank people from both sides for the tremendous efforts that have been made and we shouldn't be pointing fingers of blame here at each other. There is a real effort here to address this very, very real threat to the United States."

Vote Results (Motion to Invoke Cloture)

Cybersecurity bill (S. 3414)

Aug 02 2012 11:31 AM

Not Agreed to, 52-46:
Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Coburn amendment (AGOA/pay-for change))

AGOA/CAFTA-DR/Burma Sanctions bill (S. 3326)

Aug 02 2012 11:56 AM

Not Agreed to, 40-58:
Coburn amendment (AGOA/pay-for change) to S. 3326, the AGOA/CAFTA-DR/Burma Sanctions bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Reid (UC)

Veterans Jobs bill (S. 3457)

Aug 02 2012 12:03 PM

Senator Reid: (11:55 AM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • S. 3326, the AGOA/CAFTA-DR/Burma Sanctions bill, is Agreed to by Unanimous Consent. When the Senate receives H.R. 5986 from the House, if the text is identical to S. 3326, the bill will be passed by Unanimous Consent.
    • At 12:50 PM, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for 1 hour of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar # 651, Gershwin Drain, of Michigan, to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan.
    • Circa 1:50 PM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on confirmation of the nomination.

Brown-OH, Conrad, Whitehouse, Udall-CO

Veterans Jobs bill (S. 3457)

Aug 02 2012 1:03 PM

Senator Brown-OH: (12:06 PM)
  • Spoke on the Safe Banking Act.
    • SUMMARY "We must face the reality that too big to fail is simply too big. We must enact the Safe Banking Act because too big to fail and too big to manage and too big to regulate have become the norm, especially among these large six behemoth institutions. Safe Banking Act, my legislation, would place reasonable limits on the share of deposits and the volatile non-deposit liabilities that any one institution can take on. It would require the largest financial companies to fund themselves with more of their own shareholder's equity and less leverage. It would put an end to the government's implicit and explicit support for megabanks, specifically the six largest Wall Street institutions. That, as I spelled out earlier, are in a class by themselves. Remember those numbers. The six largest banks, 35% of all deposits, 53% of all U.S. banking assets, 56% of all mortgages, 93% of trading revenues. Those six institutions that have that kind of power in the economic marketplace in large part because of actions here. Our legislation would put an end ... This legislation would protect taxpayers by putting megabank shareholders on the hook for losses, ending bailouts for good. At a time of increasing fiscal constraint, our nation can ill afford to waste precious taxpayer dollars bailing out our largest banks and their recklessness. My legislation would benefit the community banks that are at an unfair competitive disadvantage because megabanks have access to cheaper funding based upon the studies estimate this support gives megabanks a 70 to 80-point funding advantage. 70-80 basis points means three-fourths, four-fifths of a percent on interest advantage, if you will, a subsidy encouraged - provided, for that matter - by the expectation of taxpayer support of up to $60 billion per year. So if you're one of the six big banks, you can borrow money in capital markets at a lower cost than if you're a community bank or a mid-sized bank Because the market knows that we won't let those six biggest banks fail so their lending is a little less expensive because there's a lot less risk. My legislation benefits investors. As many experts agree that the sum of the parts of the largest megabanks is more valuable than the banks as a whole. So when they begin, under our legislation, these six me megabanks, assets from $800 billion to $2.2 trillion, when they begin to divest themselves, there's a reasonably good chance that they will be worth more in the aggregate that they were in the whole."

Senator Conrad: (12:26 PM)
  • Spoke on the Budget Control Act.
    • SUMMARY "Some have suggested that the Budget Control Act indirectly authorized the senate to use a fast-track process to modify the across-the-board cuts scheduled to go into effect next year due to failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. If that claim were true, it would result in a fundamental change in Senate procedures and prerogatives. However, it is clear in looking at both the statutory language and congress's intent in passing the Budget Control Act. That this claim is completely without merit. First, let's look at what the law actually says. The key provision at issue is section 258-a of the Deficit Control Act of 1985. Section 258-a would allow the majority leader to introduce a joint resolution to modify or provide an alternative to a sequestration order, "issued under section 254. " That joint resolution could not be filibustered and would pass the Senate with a simple majority vote. The sequestration orders under section 254 were put in place over two decades ago to enforce deficit targets and discretionary spending limits that have long since expired. A sequestration order under the Budget Control Act is not an order issued under section 254. The Budget Control Act created a new sequestration process under a completely different section of the law, section 251-a. Section 251-a explicitly authorized a new set of presidential sequestration orders in fiscal year 2013 for both discretionary and direct spending and did so without any reference at all to the old section 258-a procedures. The statutory language is clear, therefore, that these old procedures do not apply to sequestration under the Budget Control Act. It's also clear that Congress never intended for section 258-a procedures to apply. There was no discussion of this issue on the floor of either house. There was no discussion of this in the Budget Control Act negotiations between congressional Republicans and the White House. And there was no discussion of this among democratic senators. Moreover, the Budget Control Act and the deficit control act of 1985 are completely separate budget enforcement mechanisms enacted 26 years apart and under entirely different circumstances. Simply put, there is zero evidence of any congressional intent to apply the 258 procedures to the Budget Control Act sequestration."

Senator Whitehouse: (12:30 PM)
  • Spoke on the sequester (NIH).
    • SUMMARY "The Appropriations Committee recently reported a bill to the floor that would increase the NIH budget by $100 million for the coming fiscal year. I applaud my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee for their commitment to this vital agency, and I hope that we will soon be able to vote on their measure, but there is something looming on the horizon that will render this $100 million increase all but meaningless. I am talking, of course, about sequestration under which it is estimated that the NIH will face not a $100 million increase but a $2.4 billion cut. I know a lot of my colleagues have discussed the effect that the sequester will have on defense spending, but it's important to remember that 50 cents out of every dollar of cuts that will occur under sequestration will come out of nondefense spending, including specifically the NIH devastating is the word that keeps being used when people are asked how sequestration would affect our national institutes of health. That's how NIH director Dr. Francis Collins described the effect of a nearly 8% cut to the agency's budget. Those who are familiar with science know how important it is in ongoing experiments that there be a consistent data set through the period of the research. When you interrupt research for financial reasons, you can damage the value of research conducted in other years. I agree with my colleagues that we must reduce our long-term deficit, but when we cut funding that creates jobs and leads to life-saving medical breakthroughs, we are pursuing policies that are the epitome of penny wise but pound foolish. I hope we in the senate can work together to find sensible solutions that reduce the deficit while maintaining our long-standing commitment to medical research and innovation."

Senator Udall-CO: (12:40 PM)
  • Spoke on the WPTC.
    • SUMMARY "This is about jobs. If we don't extend the production tax credit as soon as possible, we will lose good-paying American jobs. It's that simple, it's that straightforward. I am going to keep speaking on the floor of the Senate until we, colleagues, decide to act, until Congress decides to take the necessary action to extend the production tax credit, protect American jobs. I want to underline that. We're going to protect American jobs and help secure our energy future in the 21st century where clean energy will be a dominant part of the mix."

Senator Whitehouse: (12:50 PM)
  • Spoke on climate change.
    • SUMMARY "Dr. Richard Mueller who is a professor of physics at Berkeley and a Director of the Berkeley earth surface movement project and a former MacArthur foundation fellow, revealed in a New York Times op-ed how he has become a converted climate skeptic. He cites findings from his research, which ironically was partially funded by the Koch brothers, that the earth's land temperature has increased by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit in the last 250 years and one and a half degrees over the past 50 years. He states moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, human emission of greenhouse gases is on the rise. In 2011, the famed Mauna Loa observatory documented the biggest jump yet in carbon dioxide. A monitoring station in the arctic this year measured carbon dioxide at 400 parts per million for the first time 50 parts per million higher than the maximum concentration at which scientists predict a stable earth's climate. And, of course, 400 parts per million is way outside the 170 to 300 parts per million band width that has existed on this planet for the last 8,000 centuries. For 800,000 years we've been between 170 and 300 parts per million and now in the bellwether leading edge arctic area we've cracked 400 and are climbing."

Aug 02 2012 1:53 PM

Senator Blunt: (1:03 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I'm convinced that two things will happen. That we will eventually have a cyber attack on our country that will be successful in some way that many Americans will understand the danger we face from the cyber threat. And, secondly, that we'll eventually pass a bill. And my strong belief is that that will be a better bill if we pass it before that event rather than after that event ... We didn't move forward today but I hope that we can continue to work with Senator Reid and others to create the sense that Senator Whitehouse just expressed, that there is great bipartisan effort being made to find a solution that not only would pass the senate bill but would wind up with a bill on the president's desk sometime this year. You don't have to look very far to find people who will say that the greatest threat we face at this moment is the threat of some kind of cyber attack at the highest levels of our military structure, of our intelligence structure. They quickly come to that conclusion. And leaving here for the work period that Congress has had since the beginning of Congresses in August without having this done on the Senate side is disappointing to me."
  • Spoke on the Iran Sanctions bill.
    • SUMMARY "While I think it could have been a little stronger, was still a strong effort to reach a conclusion that hopefully the president will sign as soon as possible and send the right message to Iran that even amid our vigorous disagreements on all these other issues, including something as important as cybersecurity, Congress stands united against Iran developing a nuclear capacity. Some of the highlights of the bill, this would create strong new measures on any entity that invests in Iran's petroleum, petrochemical or natural gas sector. Strong measures against any entity that provides goods, services and infrastructure or technology to Iran's oil and natural gas. Anybody that provides refined petroleum products to Iran. You know, Iran is such an economic basket case, they have all this oil but they can't turn enough of it into gasoline for their own country because of the kind of government that they are suffering under. Any country that entity that insures or reinsures investments in Iran's oil sector, that engages in joint ventures with the National Iranian Oil company, that provides insurance or reinsurance to the National Iranian Oil company or the National Iranian Tanker company, that helps Iran evade oil sanctions through reflagging or something that tries to hide the real source of oil coming from Iran. That sells or leases or otherwise provides tankers to Iran. Transports crude oil from Iran, concealing the origin of Iranian crude in any way. These are good measures that strengthen what we've been doing, and I think what we've been doing's having some impact. I just think we need to have more impact because the result is so unacceptable if Iran successfully gets a nuclear weapon. The bill prevents Iran from bringing money back when it sells oil in other countries. Now, that's 80% of their hard currency comes into the country that way, we would say that can't happen. 50% of all the money that runs the government comes in that way. When the president signs this bill, we're saying this shouldn't be allowed to happen. It also prevents the purchasing of Iranian sovereign debt."

Senator Levin: (1:15 PM)
  • Spoke on the Drain nomination.

Senator Lautenberg: (1:23 PM)
  • Spoke on U.S.-Israel relations.
    • SUMMARY "Republicans want to use our relationship with Israel as a political game, which is terrible for American National Security and bad for Israel. The implication that we are weak in our support for Israel is foul play and encourages Israel's enemies to look and say, well, maybe America is not as solid on its support of Israel because Mr. Romney said, when asked a question about what he would do differently with Israel is just the opposite of what President Obama has done. We built a relationship between our country firm and unshakable since 1948. To try and clumsily interfere with that is shameful. Republicans are distorting the state of U.S.-Israel relations and sending the wrong signal to the rest of the world. When you listen to the Republicans and especially their candidate Mitt Romney, distortion is replaced with - when we examine the record it is clear that President Obama shares my convictions about the enduring bond between Israel and the United States. It's clear that there is no greater friend to Israel than this president. But you don't have to take my word for it A message from Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense Minister. He says very clearly, "This administration under President Obama is doing in regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past." The distinguished General in the Israeli Army, Israeli Defense Minister, he made certain that it's quite understood that the relationship with Israel and America is solid and well-balanced. This is coming, as I say, from a distinguished decorated military leader. He helped plan the historic raid on the Israelis who were taken in grounded airplane. He understands Israel's security, and the Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called the Obama administration's security policy for Israel "unprecedented." But if you listen to Republicans over here in the U.S., they say we've all but abandoned Israel's security. They're encouraging hostile neighbors with their misrepresentation. Shame on them. Governor Romney, in particular, has demonstrated frightening ignorance about Israel and its security needs."

Senator Stabenow: (1:38 PM)
  • Spoke on the Drain nomination.

Aug 02 2012 2:42 PM

Confirmed, 55-41:
Executive Calendar #651, Gershwin A. Drain, of Michigan, to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

McCain, Blumenthal, Reed, Hatch

Veterans Jobs bill (S. 3457)

Aug 02 2012 4:18 PM

Senator McCain: (2:52 PM)
  • Spoke on Syria.
    • SUMMARY "I think it's important that we continue to pay attention to and be concerned about the situation in Syria. Today Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, announced the failure of his mission. If there's anything about the conflict in Syria that did not surprise most of us, it was the fact that Kofi Annan's mission was a failure. It was doomed to failure from the beginning. It was based on the premise that somehow Bashar al-Assad would be motivated to stopping the massacre of his people. It was motivated on the premise that somehow UN observers could come in and stand between the two fighting forces and totally ignored the fundamentals of this conflict. The fundamentals of this conflict are simple. It is the Syrian people attempting to assert their god-given rights and throw off the yoke of a brutal and unconscionable dictator. And on the other side of the equation, Bashar al-Assad 's commitment to doing whatever is necessary, including massacring now as many as 20,000 of his own people in his desperate quest to remain in power in Syria. Let's not forget that one of the reasons why we have seen heavy Russian involvement in the form of supplies of arms and equipment, continued Russian veto of resolutions in the UN Security Council that would have even imposed even the mildest sanctions on Bashar al-Assad is that what seems to be some kind of nostalgia on President Putin's part for the old Russian empire in the maintenance of their one base on the Mediterranean port in Syria, the Russian' behavior in this throughout is they continue to block one resolution after another, of course is revealing of the true nature of the Putin regime. The autocracy and kleptocracy that has now asserted its full power and weight in Russia. In addition to that, of course, we have the Chinese joining Russia in their sustaining of vetoes in the UN Security Council. It's hard to overstate the damage that these actions by Russia and china have done to them, but it's also hard to overstate the damage that's been done to the Syrian people. Russian equipment being supplied constantly, Iranian boots on the ground, helping to set up torture centers, and continued encouragement of Bashar al-Assad to remain in power. And I'm not here to again critique this administration's abysmal record, but isn't t it ludicrous to base your entire policy towards Syria on the belief that somehow the Russians would convince Bashar al-Assad that he should leave Syria? Isn't it foolish to somehow base your policy and nonintervention on the belief that somehow a former secretary general of the United Nations' mission would succeed when it was clear that the Syrian people were not going to be satisfied with the continuous barbarous regime of Bashar al-Assad, and certainly Bashar al-Assad was not going to give up."

Senator Blumenthal: (3:20 PM)
  • Spoke on the DREAM Act.
    • SUMMARY "I want to talk about people who come to the United States or more precisely, are brought to the United States as young people, as infants, or children. Many under four or five years old and this country becomes the only one they have known. The history of this country is their history. They may not even know the language of the country from which they came. And the language of this country is the only one that they know, and may have no memories or scant recollections of the countries where they were born. These young people are here, and they have been brought here perhaps by parents who came illegally, but they are here through no fault of their own. And many of them have achieved remarkably and have contributed extraordinarily, and their promise of future achievement is staggering. Extraordinarily impressive. Their contribution to the lives of their communities, to teaching or giving back to our communities, their contributions in terms of scientific or literary accomplishment A national and uniform effort is essential, and much as we hope and I support that we will have comprehensive immigration law reform, I also believe the DREAM Act is an idea whose time has more than come, and we should be adopting it as soon as possible in this chamber to provide the kind of certainty and promise that is so important to young people Between 11,000 and 20,000 young people living in Connecticut who would benefit from the DREAM Act, and two million young people nationwide. Under the DREAM Act, they would comply with rigorous standards and requirements for lack of criminal record, criminal history, and they would in effect be provided this pathway to citizenship because of their promise and their potential for contributing to this country."

Senator Reed: (3:37 PM)
  • Spoke on the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
    • SUMMARY "I ... rise today particularly and especially to express my profound disappointment with the Federal Housing Finance Agency 's decision to prohibit the use of principal reduction by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as one more tool to avoid foreclosure under the HAMP principal reduction alternative. As conservator, the acting FHA director, Mr. Demarco, has a duty not only to carry on the business of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac but also to preserve and conserve the assets of both, which FHFA has repeatedly stated requires them to minimize losses. But at the same time, he has other statutory responsibilities. Under section 110 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, there is a requirement that FHFA "implements a plan that seeks to maximize assistance for homeowners and use its authority to encourage the services of the underlying mortgages and considering net present value to the taxpayer to take advantage of available programs to minimize foreclosure." So there's a clear statutory direction to do all that he can to minimize foreclosures while he's also balancing the portfolio and minimizing losses to Fannie and Freddie. So to boil all of this down, FHFA has to minimize Fannie and Freddie losses, and pursuant to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which, by the way, passed this chamber on a strong bipartisan vote of 74-25 - so this injunction to protect the foreclosed homes or people with the threat of foreclosure is a strongly bipartisan objective - FHFA was directed by Congress to throw its weight in favor, I believe, of avoiding disclosure, especially in those instances which a policy decision may be a close call. I believe that's the plain meaning of "maximize assistance to minimize foreclosure." "Maximize assistance," not provide assistance but to "maximize assistance to avoid foreclosure." And I would further note that section 110 of the Emergency Stabilization Act explicitly permits reduction of loan principal. So we consciously gave the acting director the specific tool of principal reduction, the specific directive to maximize assistance to minimize foreclosure. We did that in the context of his overall mission to try to minimize losses to Fannie and Freddie portfolio but to turn essentially a blind eye to the thousands of Americans who are facing foreclosure or underwater - they may be current with their mortgage but they're facing foreclosure - is, I think, to ignore a vital responsibility and a vital authority which he has been given."

Senator Hatch: (3:50 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "We have to do this Cybersecurity bill. Everybody knows that. The fact that cloture was not invoked does not mean that we shouldn't return to that bill and put the time into it and make sure that we resolve the conflicts that have arisen, some of which are very, very important suggestions. And allow the type of proceeding that really the Senate has always been known for until recent years."
  • Spoke on the U.S fiscal crisis.
    • SUMMARY "When it comes to addressing our deficits and debt, only one party in Washington has been willing to put its cards on the table. Only one party has been willing to acknowledge the difficult choices that have to be made. The other side has refused to provide any concrete solutions of their own while demonizing anyone who has had the democrat merit to propose anything resembling a workable solution. A case in point: it has been more than three years - three years - since the Senate, which has been under Democratic control the entire time - passed a Democratic Resolution. Budget resolutions are mandatory and yet they just ignore it. Three years - three years without a budget The only budget proposals from the Democrats have come from the White House, and they have been anything but serious. According to the CBO, the president's most recent budget would keep the U.S. on the same unsustainable path with an ever-widening gap between revenues and spending varying from 8.7% to 2.5% of GDP and average 3.2% of GDP. Now, keep this in mind, when you hear the president and his allies suggest that we can get our debt under control, simply by raising taxes on the wealthy. The president raises plenty of taxes on upper-income individuals and small businesses in his bucket, yet under the president's budget, debt held by the public would still reach 76.3% of GDP by the end of the budget window. Now, even the president's budget, which raises taxes significantly, comes in with a debt level that is well above what leading economists such as Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart consider the danger zone of 70%. The president declared his biggest failing over the last three years was that he just cared too darn much about policy. If only that was true. The fact is he ignores the policy experts and their warnings when it comes to the debt. Consider what CBO Director Elmendorf wrote to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan regarding the debt earlier this year. I have to say, Mr. Elmendorf is a Democrat. But I found him to be extremely trustworthy and honest. Here's what he wrote. "Budgetary policy affect the economy in a variety of ways. All else being equal, scenarios with higher debt tend to imply lower output and income in the long run than do scenarios with lower debt because increased government borrowing generally crowds out private investment and productive capital, leading to a smaller stock of capital than would otherwise be the case." Now, Director Elmendorf continues. "Moreover, that same crowding out leads to increases in interest rates, raising the government's interest payments, and therefore further boosting government deficits and debt. The perpetually risings past debt relative to GDP is unsustainable.""

Cardin, Murkowski, Landrieu

Veterans Jobs bill (S. 3457)

Aug 02 2012 5:12 PM

Senator Cardin: (4:19 PM)
  • Spoke on the mineral industry (transparency).
    • SUMMARY "It requires mineral companies to list their contracts on extraction, on the minerals that they take out of a country, whether it's gas, whether it's oil, whether it's diamonds, whether it's copper, that they list their individual contracts in foreign countries in their listing with the securities and exchange commission. Now, we did that for many reasons. One reason, quite frankly, is that although many countries of the world have vast sums of mineral wealth, these are some of the poorest countries in the world. We call it the mineral curse because the wealth of the country is not only being denied to the people for their economic growth, it's being used to fuel corruption within their own country. So one of the reasons for the provision that we passed was to provide transparency so that the people of the country, the international community knew exactly where the payments were being made for the extraction of mineral wealth in a country. We thought that was also important for U.S. investors. If you are going to invest in a mineral company, you have the right to know where their contracts are being signed and where they are paying money. It's also important for U.S interests. We need stable mineral reserves. As you know, we have gone to war over the need for oil. We need to know and have stable markets so that we don't jeopardize our own economic progress. This gives us a chance also to follow the money so that we know where the money in fact is going in a particular country. For all of those reasons, we passed in the Dodd-Frank legislation a provision that requires every company, every company that's involved in extractive minerals to list those contracts specifically by project in their securities and exchange commission's filings. It was pretty clear as to what needed to be done. We gave the authority to the SEC to issue the necessary regulations. Well, we have been waiting two years for these regulations, two years. We are now well beyond the limits that was spelled out in the legislation for the SEC to issue its regulations, and yet they still have not issued their final regulations . I have received a letter from the SEC indicating that they intend to release their findings on august 22. It's long overdue. I must tell you I'm looking forward to seeing the regulations from the Securities and Exchange Commission. I just hope that they follow the legislation."

Senator Murkowski: (4:42 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "One of the amendments that I had filed to the bill that I had hoped we'd have an opportunity to discuss was a strong savings clause, a savings clause that would maintain the mandatory protections that are in place. Two competing systems are not workable and could, in fact, make the nation's grid and nuclear facilities even more vulnerable to cyber attack. Now, one thing that we've learned in the Energy Committee in overseeing our mandatory cyber practices is that not everything necessarily needs to rise to the level of a foundational standard. But with cyber threats and vulnerabilities that are constantly emerging and constantly changing, I think the one thing that we would agree is that we always need more information. I think we can also all agree that the federal government needs to form a partnership with the private sector. We share the same goals, government and the private sector share the same goals, to keep our computer systems and our nation safe from cyber intrusions. We need the private companies to be talking with each other and with the government about the cyber problems that they face as well as potential strategies and the solutions to combat them. And we also need our government to provide timely and actionable information to the private sector. It's got to go both ways. So as we go off to our respective states and discuss with our constituents back home the many issue as that are out there, I would encourage members to take a look at what has been introduced by the ranking members, the SECURE IT. cyber legislation, take a look at what has been offered as an alternative. It's a commonsense approach to addressing our ever-increasing cyber threats. Our bill focuses on four areas that we believe can reach bipartisan support and result in legislation that can get enacted even given the politics of an election year. The four areas that we focus on are information sharing, FSMA reform, criminal penalties as well as additional research."

Senator Landrieu: (4:52 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "It is very important for us to take care of this piece of legislation. But I thought it would be warranted to say that the reason the leader had to fill the tree is because the minority leader refused to put amendments on the floor that were relative to the subject at hand. We would have loved to have had a debate on cybersecurity for the last week or two weeks. It's one of the most important issues really pending before the congress and a challenge to our entire country. I just want to make the record clear that the only reason that debate did not happen is because the minority insisted on having a debate about all subjects under the sun, specifically health care reform or repeal or modification. Health care reform, repeal or modification has nothing to do with cybersecurity. So I hope something doesn't happen in the next 30 days, some disaster, that our nation will not have the apparatus in place or even the plans in place to respond to because the minority just condition get enough voting done on health care. I have to say that there are other issues in this country besides health care. There's tax policy, there's sequestration, they're budgets, they're deficits, they're debts, they're education deficits. But all they want to do is talk about health care. So the record should be clear. That is why the leader filled the tree. It's not because he doesn't enjoy hearing debate from the other side or doesn't think it's valuable. He's got to do that because they have decided they're filibustering basically technically every bill that comes to the Senate."
  • Spoke on education.
    • SUMMARY "Our National Center for Education statistics estimates that we'll be spending collectively - and this is a big number - $544 billion will be spent on public education. That's a lot of tax dollars. It works out to be about $11,000 per student. In many communities, that's quite a high number. $11,000 per student. The question is, are we making the most of these tax dollars? Are we leveraging them correctly? Are we investing them properly? What are the results for these investments? And that is what I believe we owe to our taxpayers, to our parents, and, most importantly, our children. We debate about how much money to spend and how much or little, but I think we really need to focus on the question, how did we get better results? Even if we didn't spend one more dollar in education - and I think there are areas where we do need to invest a little bit more here or there - but even if we didn't invest one more dollar, and we're in tight budget constraints today, if we just focused on how we were spending the money and trying to measure better the results that we were getting, I think we could make some dramatic improvements ... The social innovation fund, requires all grantees and sub-grantees to match dollar or dollar - so we basically double our efforts - and this initiative relies on outstanding existing grant-making intermediaries to select high-impact community organizations. In other words, instead of the federal government just doing it or state governments, we're looking out and finally getting smart and saying, you know, the United Way in New Orleans, or the United Way in Minneapolis or the United Way in Denver or the United Way in New York that's familiar with the community groups that are doing the best work in that community, let's help them to help supplement the learning and the results in our schools."

Aug 02 2012 7:12 PM

Senator Stabenow: (5:11 PM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "Both the House and Senate have done extends the livestock disaster program through 2012. We extend it permanently. Tree assistance. If you lose the entire tree in an orchard, you're helped. Not if you just lose the fruit like most of our growers, but the entire tree. These two things are the same In the Senate bill, we increase payments for livestock producers facing severe drought. So we actually have a stronger payment system and safety net for our livestock producers. We, as I said before, help fruit growers impacted by frost and freeze. We create new crop insurance options so that going forward we don't have to be back here every year because we strengthen crop insurance and create opportunities for fruit growers who don't have insurance now to be able to have crop insurance which by the way producers pay into and there is no payout unless you have a loss. We also address urgently needed dairy reforms to save dairies from bankruptcy. In 2009 under the current policy, dairy policy, we lost farms across the country. And if we don't act on a five-year Farm bill in the area of dairy, of milk producers is a disaster waiting to happen. So we need to have a comprehensive Farm bill that deals with dairy reforms, because that's part of avoiding the next disaster. Permanent funding, as I said, for livestock disaster assistance. Conservation efforts to prevent another dust bowl. One of the reasons we don't have a dust bowl in many areas where the drought has been horrible, just horrible is because of conservation efforts which we put in place and have worked, and we need to strengthen those. We give the forest service needed tools to protect forest health and deal with another kind of disaster not dealt with in the House, which is forest fires all across the country. Improve crop insurance to protect against disasters going forward. And finally but certainly important, provide farmers and ranchers with long-term certainty. They want to know going forward not only what help they will receive this year and they need it, and we will make sure that happens. But they want to make sure going forward that they have long-term certainty."

Senator Thune: (5:29 PM)
  • Spoke on the European Union Admission Trading Scheme Prohibition Act.
    • SUMMARY "In 2005, the European Union began their emissions trading scheme which attempts to cap emissions of carbon dioxide from stationary sources within the European Union. Starting in 2012, January of this year, civil aviation operators departing from or landing in Europe began to be included in this emissions scheme. Now, under this program, any airline, including non-European airlines flying into and out of Europe would be required to pay for EU emission allowances. Allowances will be collected for the entirety of the flight, including portions in U.S. and international airspace I introduced this simple bipartisan bill. It gives the secretary of transportation the authority to take the necessary steps to ensure America's aviation operators are not penalized by any system unilaterally imposed by the European Union. The bill also requires the secretary of transportation, the administrator of the FAA and other senior U.S. officials to use their authority to conduct international negotiations and take other actions necessary to ensure that U.S. operators are held harmless from the actions of the European Union."

Senator Hoeven: (5:36 PM)
  • Spoke on the Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act.
    • SUMMARY "Meeting the regulatory disposal requirements under the EPA's subtitle c proposal would cost between $250 and $450 per ton, as opposed to about $100 per ton under the current system which would translate into $47 billion in terms of burden on electricity generators that use coal and of course most importantly their customers who would see their bills increased. And as I said, overall it would cost about 300,000 American jobs for our economy The bill not only preserves coal ash recycling but preventing these by-products from being treated as hazardous, it all establishes - this is important because this is about good environmental stewardship. It also establishes comprehensive federal standards for coal ash disposal. Under this legislation, states can set up their own permitting program for the management and the disposal of coal ash. These programs would be required to be based on existing EPA regulations to protect human health and the environment. If a state does not implement an acceptable permitting program, then EPA regulates the program for the state. As a result, states and industry will know where they stand under the bill since the benchmarks for what constitutes a successful state program will be set in statute. EPA can say yes, the state does meet those standards. Or no, it does not. But the EPA cannot move the goalposts. This is a states-first approach that provides regulatory certainty. I want to repeat that. This is a states-first approach that provides regulatory certainty and it's that regulatory certainty we need stimulate private investment that will deploy the new technologies, that will not only produce more energy but will produce better environmental stewardship. What is certain is under this bill coal ash disposal sites will be required to meet established standards. Those standards include groundwater detection and monitoring, lines are, corrective action when environmental damage occurs, structural stability criteria and the financial assurance and recordkeeping needed to protect the public."

Senator Sessions: (5:52 PM)
  • Spoke on detainees.
    • SUMMARY "The president is the commander in chief. He has serious responsibilities and one is to defend the honor, the dignity, the credibility of the United States. I don't believe we're doing so when we're dealing with terrorists who've double-crossed us at every hand. He has a duty to those magnificent troops who have answered his call to go into harm's way to execute United States policy. Part of that duty is not to give away what they've fought and bled for, not to give it away after they've fought and bled for it and captured these people. That includes not giving up prisoners. These soldiers have at great risk and effort captured. Terrorists who seek to destroy what we have, terrorists who we have worked so hard to capture. Terrorists who may return to kill more Americans and more Afghanis. These policy cannot be defended. It's got to end. So I urge the president and his team to act forcefully now. It may not be too late. With a strong action, it may be able to ensure that Daqduq is not released, that he is able to be tried for the murders that he committed and the American soldiers that he killed."

Senator Chambliss: (6:14 PM)
  • Paid tribute to the 50th Anniversary of the Georgia Peanut Commission.

Senator McConnell: (6:58 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "Senate Democrats spent nearly an entire day talking about parts - parts of Obamacare, that poll well but refused to spend 15 minutes being caught on camera voting to uphold the entire law. What are they afraid of? Why won't they allow a vote? When the health care bill was working its way through Congress, you will recall that former Speaker of the House Pelosi famously said we need to pass the bill to find out what was in it. Well, now that we've had some time to study its consequences, I can't think of any reason why senators wouldn't want to stand up and be counted with a vote on the floor either for or against repeal. Does Obamacare get a passing grade or not? That's all I asked for on Tuesday, a vote to either reaffirm or repudiate the votes we took on Obamacare based on everything we know about it now that we didn't know back then. It's been clear, in my view, that the democrat health care law is making things worse and should be repealed in full. A week doesn't seem to pass that we don't learn about some problem this law creates or doesn't solve ... Just yesterday, we learned that it will increase federal spending and subsidies on health care by $580 billion. $580 billion. Which means that even after you count the more than $700 billion that it takes out of Medicare, it still increases federal health spending and subsidies by more than one-half of a trillion dollars. So let's have a vote. Let's have a vote. Is Obamacare making things better or worse? Let's show the American people where we stand. It's what the American people want. It's a vote they deserve."
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • Immediately following the disposition of the pending Cybersecurity bill but no later than September the 28th, the Senate proceed to the consideration of H.R. 6079, an Act to Repeal the President's Health Care bill, or Obamacare. Further, that there be one hour of debate on the bill, no amendments be in order to the measure, and following that debate, the bill be read a third time and the Senate proceed to vote on passage with no intervening action or debate (Reid objected).

Senator Reid: (7:04 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "There's no other way to say this than my Republican friends are hopelessly stuck in the past. They continually want to fight battle as that are already over. At the beginning of this Congress when we were trying pass an Air Transportation bill, the Republican leader offered an amendment to repeal the Affordable Care Act. On February 2 of last year, the Senate voted that amendment down. It was defeated. In March of this year when we considered the Highway Jobs bill, Republicans insisted on voting on stopping women from getting contraceptive coverage, part of the Affordable Care Act. On March 1 the Senate voted that amendment down. Just this week, when we were considering a bill to protect our country from cyber attack, the Republican leader gave notice he wanted once again to offer an amendment to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Now, remember, with this setting, the House has already voted 34 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I repeat, they're hopelessly stuck in the past ... On July 12, they blocked us on passage of the Small Business Bobs bill that would have helped small businesses all over this country. They wanted to vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act, but on March 29, they blocked a bill to promote renewable energy. On March 13, they blocked Senator Stabenow's amendment to extend expiring energy tax credits. They wanted to vote on Affordable Care Act and they stopped us from proceeding to put workers back on the job while building and modernizing America. And that was done on November 3. On October 20, they blocked the motion to proceed to a bill to keep teachers and first responders on the job. They so badly want to go back and fight these old battle as that they blocked a motion to proceed to the American Jobs Act. They blocked us on a bill to reauthorize the economic development administration, something that had been done as a matter of fact in the past, creating thousands of jobs across America. They wanted us to vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act, but one day last year after weeks of debate, they blocked the bill to improve small business innovation."

Aug 02 2012 8:39 PM

Senator Reid: (8:12 PM)
  • Performed Wrap Up --
    • Unless the Senate receives a message from the House that it has Adopted S. Con Res. 59, the Adjournment Resolution, the Senate will conduct Pro Forma Sessions on the following days:
      • Friday, August 3rd at 10:15 AM;
      • Tuesday, August 7th at 11:00 AM;
      • Friday, August 10th at 11:00 AM;
      • Tuesday, August 14th at 2:30 PM;
      • Friday, August 17th at 11:30 AM;
      • Tuesday, August 21st at 10:00 AM;
      • Friday, August 24th at 10:00 AM;
      • Tuesday, August 28th at 2:30 PM;
      • Friday, August 31st at 11:30 AM;
      • Tuesday, September 4th at 11:30 AM; and
      • Friday, September 7th at 12:00 PM.
  • Monday, September 10th â€"
    • The Senate will convene at 2:00 PM and Majority Leader Reid will be recognized. Thereafter, Senators will be permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each.
    • At 5:00 PM, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for 30 minutes of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar #664, Stephanie Marie Rose, of Iowa, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Iowa.
    • At 5:30 PM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on confirmation of the nomination.
    • On Thursday, August 2nd, cloture was filed on the Motion to Proceed to S. 3457, the Veterans Jobs bill. On Tuesday, September 11th, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 3457, the Veterans Jobs bill.
    • At a time to be determined, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 1 hour of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar #518, Carol J. Galante, of California, to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Following the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on confirmation of the nomination (60 votes required).
The Senate stands adjourned until 2:00 PM Monday, September 10th.