Floor Updates

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 15 2012 10:00 AM

The Senate Convened.

Reid, McConnell

Opening Remarks

May 15 2012 10:23 AM

  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to H.R. 2072, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill. The first hour will be equally divided, with the Majority controlling the first 30 minutes and the Republicans controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • At 11:15 AM, the Senate will begin consideration of the bill. There will be up to 2 hours of debate, equally divided, on the following amendments:
      1. Lee amendment #2100 (Export-Import Bank phaseout);
      2. Paul amendment #2101 (no financing in countries which hold United States debt instruments);
      3. Corker amendment #2102 (financing limitations; capital ratio requirement);
      4. Vitter amendment #2103 (nonsubordination; fossil fuel and renewable energy projects); and
      5. Toomey amendment #2104 (lending authority increase conditions).
    • At 12:30 PM, the Senate will recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus lunches.
    • As early as 2:15 PM, the Senate will conduct up tp 6 ROLL CALL VOTES on the amendments in the order listed and passage of the bill, as amended, if amended. There will be 2 minutes of debate, equally divided, prior to each vote. After the first vote, all remaining votes will be 10 minute votes. All amendments and passage of the bill are subject to a 60-vote threshold. Budget points of order are in order.
  • As a reminder, on Tuesday, May 8th, a Motion to Reconsider the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 2343, the Student Loan bill, was entered.

Senator Reid: (10:02 AM)
  • Spoke on the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "I'm happy to announce that Democrats and Republicans have reached an agreement to move forward are the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank legislation. This Bank helps American companies sell their products overseas and hire workers here at home. It helped private companies add almost 300,000 jobs last year in more than 2,000 American communities ... This legislation, helps American businesses export their products instead of exporting jobs. We're authorizing this important legislation the kind of consent proposal that shouldn't result in any kind of partisan fight. I spoke to Senator McConnell yesterday, and we made the decision this is the best way to move forward on this. I'm hopeful that the senate will pass it overwhelmingly, signaling to American businesses that congress will do what it takes to help them compete in the global market. Although Republicans say publicly they support this important measure, they have instead insisted on votes and a number of amendments that would kill the bill. The Chamber of Commerce will consider votes on this measure and any amendments that will weaken the Bank be keys to determine whether senators are business-friendly. Amendments offered by my Republican colleagues would certainly weaken the bank. One amendment just eliminates the bank. These kinds of amendments are unacceptable to the business community We agree we can't afford to give an inch to our global competitors. Canada, France and India already provided seven times the assistance their exporters than America does. China and Brazil provides ten times the support. So if Senate Republicans are faced with a choice, they can continue to support these extreme amendments that will effectively kill the Export-Import bank and risk the wrath of the American business community or they can work with the Democrats to reauthorize this bank without adding amendments that would undermine its ability to help businesses grow. We have been told that the House is going to accept no amendments. It was very hard for them to get done what they did. I admire and appreciate what they did do. But, I'm optimistic, optimistic that my Republican colleagues will make the right choice and help us defeat these vexatious amendments."

Senator McConnell: (10:08 AM)
  • Spoke on the Senate's dysfunction.
    • SUMMARY "There is a lot of talk on the left these days about the Senate being a dysfunctional institution, and they're right. For the past few years the Senate hasn't functioned as it should. The question is why? And in my view, the answer is quite clear. The Majority party that believes it should be able to dictate from above the shape of every single piece of legislation we take up. The common complaint from the other side, as I understand it, is that because Republicans insist on playing a role in the legislative possess around here, we're somehow violating some unspoken rule that says Democrats should always get their way. That we're somehow disturbing the legislative harmony by suggesting we do the kinds of things our constituents want. We've been dealing with this strange view of the Senate in some form or fashion for five years. But particularly over the past three. Here's how it works. Following the lead of our very liberal President, Democratic leaders in the Senate propose some piece of legislation without any Republican input at all. Then Republican amendments are blocked from even being considered. The point in most cases is to draw Republican opposition and ensure that the legislation fails. Democrats then cry obstruction as a way of distracting people from the fact that they've basically given up on governing and done nothing to ensure that our most pressing national problems actually get addressed. Rather than work with us on bipartisan solutions that reflect the concerns and input of our constituents, and that, therefore, have a good chance of actually passing, Democrats blame the other side for obstruction, not only avoiding their own responsibilities as the Majority party, but having the President a useful election-year theme to run on. Now what I and my colleagues have been saying for three years is that it doesn't have to be this way. Give us an opportunity to play a role in the process, and we'll work together on bipartisan solutions ... I'm pleased today to see a departure from the Democrat standard operating procedure on this particular piece of legislation before us. Because they've agreed to allow a reasonable amendment process on this bill, something they objected to last month and then objected to again even as recently as last week, this bill will be considered today after debate and votes on amendments aimed at improving it. There's a lesson here. When will both sides have a chance to debate and amend, legislation tends to move. But when the Majority refuses any ideas that they didn't come up with, things slow down. Let's hope this new process will stick."
  • Paid tribute to the men and women in the law enforcement community for their service and their sacrifice.
  • Paid tribute to Officer James Strickland of the Alexandria, Kentucky Police Department.

Durbin, Lautenberg, Brown-OH, Nelson-FL, Levin

Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (H.R. 2072)

May 15 2012 10:51 AM

Senator Durbin: (10:17 AM)
  • Spoke on the Senate's dysfunction.
    • SUMMARY "The comments that were just made by the Republican Senate leader about the procedures in the Senate are comments that I'd like to speak to directly, and first, perhaps to his sacrifice, let me say that I agree with him. The Senate is not what it should be. It is an important part of this government. It is an important part of this nation. And it should be an important forum for the deliberation of critical issues that face us. Historically, that's the role it's played, but what we found over the last several years is that we have lapsed into a new Senate and not a very good one from my point of view. It is a Senate that is overrun with filibusters. Filibusters used to be so rare, one or two a year in the early days, and then maybe a few more in the last 50 years, but now virtually every single week. And a filibuster is basically shutting down the Senate, saying that we will not go forward to vote on a measure. It has been abused, overused and, frankly, has really denigrated the reputation of this important institution. Now, what are the points of view? Well, the points of view of the minority were well stated by the Republican leader. The minority wants an opportunity to offer amendments. I know the feeling. I have been in the minority in the Senate. It's your only opportunity to have a voice on the floor of the Senate and to express a point of view that may not be reflected by the President or the Senate majority. That's an understandable impulse. The majority in the Senate is usually trying to move an agenda. Many times, in this case, the President's agenda and frankly does not want to see this slowed down by an onslaught of amendments. There has to be a happy medium, and that's what we need to seek. The suggestion of the Senate Republican leader that the problem we have with filibusters has to do with the fact, as he said it, that the Republicans insist on playing a role and offering amendments is correct to a point, but I might remind the minority leader what happened last week? We brought up the college Student Loan bill. The object was to make sure that the interest rate on college student loans did not double July 1, from 3.4% to 6.8%. Widely accepted, widely endorsed by President Obama and by Governor Romney. How about that? Both leading contenders for the presidency said don't let this interest rate double. You would think that would be an easy thing to accomplish. What we offered on the floor to the Republicans was an opportunity to bring up the measure and they could bring up their amendments to the measure. That I think is what the Senate Republican leader just asked for. How many Republican senators voted with us to bring up the student loan measure subject to amendment? None. Not one. So this suggestion that we're in filibuster because we don't offer an opportunity for amendment overlooks what happened last week. The college Student Loan bill gave ample opportunity to republicans to offer an amendment, and yet they still wouldn't allow us to proceed to that measure."
  • Spoke on the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "This is a bill that gives American corporations, large and small, a fighting chance to build the products here in America and sell them overseas, create jobs right here at home. We live in a world where China, most importantly china but many other nations have government support for their businesses' exporting. This is our government support for our businesses to export. Boeing Corporation has its national headquarters in Chicago and most of its manufacturing operations in the state of Washington. Boeing is competing with Airbus. Airbus is a plane that is created by a conglomerate of European nations which do their best to make sure that airbus wins a contract. I think it's not unfair that Boeing have the same opportunity. Nor Caterpillar in my state, nor many businesses much smaller. So the Export-Import Bank reauthorization is a good idea. It will create jobs. The amendments being offered on the Republican side by and large limit the opportunities to help American businesses. I will be resisting those amendments. I hope we can move to the passage of this measure in a timely fashion."

Senator Lautenberg: (10:25 AM)
  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • SUMMARY "I rise to join with my colleagues on this side to urge our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to move quickly to confirm highly qualified judicial nominees. They passed review by the Judicial Committee, they have passed all kinds of scrutiny. And, we are on the verge of serious economic improvement. As that takes place, we have got a lot of parts to keep moving. We must do everything we can to fill the needs of positions that can help directly and indirectly to resolve disputes or problems, to find for Americans across the country, to be able to find work, stay in their homes, provide their children with health care and education. We have to cooperate on all fronts to accelerate the pace of the recovery that we see ahead of us. One of the places that both sides benefit from is to keep our justice system moving efficiently. People need to know that they can get disputes resolved, hopefully quickly, but heard and decided upon. One of the things that looms large is the trial of those who are charged with felonious deeds, criminal acts. Let's get those who are convicted punished if it's called for. But to make sure that that part of our judiciary functioning is moved along as rapidly as it can be. Property rights are at risk. Businesses need certainty about rights and responsibilities. And unfortunately, delays in confirming qualified judicial nominees who have passed the scrutiny of the Judiciary Committee is threatening to grind the wheels of justice to a halt when there are vacancies around. Nearly one in 11 federal judgeships across the country are sitting there awaiting the position to be filled. If these positions were physicians, firemen, cops and one out of 11, almost 10% of these jobs were not filled, we would do something as rapidly as we can to get them resolved. At this point in President George Bush's presidency, the Senate had confirmed 25 more judges than have been confirmed since President Obama took office. And seriously needed nominees have been forced to wait more than four times as long as the bush nominees who are to be confirmed after being favorably reported, as I mentioned, by the Judiciary Committee. As a result, the vacancy rate is nearly twice what it was at this point in President Bush's first term, and these vacancies are not some remote problems that only lawyers and academics care about. Judicial vacation sis affect the ability of everyday Americans and businesses to see justice served and countless of them have had their cases delayed. I am encouraged that we have been able to confirm a number of nominees lately, including two last evening, and it's my hope that for the good of the country we will pick up the pace in confirming nominees."

Senator Brown-OH: (10:36 AM)
  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • SUMMARY "I continue and want to family size the remarks that Senator Lautenberg made. It makes no sense that district judges - I've not been here that long, but what I've seen happen in the last couple, three years about judges appointed by the President of the United States being slow walked or just ignored or blocked in this body is just outrageous ... According to the U.S. Constitution, it's our job to confirm qualified nominees to serve in our nation's highest court. But as of April 2012 there are 81 judicial vacancies throughout the U.S.. In my state of Ohio faces what the court is saying is a judicial emergency. The nonpartisan administration office, the courts, the nonpartisan agency charged with running our federal courts recently declared a judicial emergency for the northern district of Ohio. Yet, Mr. Helmick, who has the enthusiastic support of all the federal judges in Toledo, including those appointed by Republican presidents, was recommended by a bipartisan process created by Senator Voinovich and me. His nomination is still stuck even though there is a judicial emergency, even though he was approved in a bipartisan manner by the Judiciary Committee. The result is the litigants in the northern district are experiencing delays, having their cases resolved. In too many cases justice conferred, as the saying goes, can be justice denied. Our nation's courts have been a beacon of hope sometimes, not always, for the vulnerable and the powerless. But this confirmation delay clogs our courts, obstructs justice and damages our democracy. Maybe some people are playing political games here. By slow walking these judges, but in the end they might think it's cute, they might think it's funny, they may think they gained politically from it, but it does obstruct justice, it does clog our courts and it does damage our democracy. So it's not cute, it's not funny and it's not worthy of any political games in this chamber."

Senator Nelson-FL: (10:41 AM)
  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • SUMMARY "I too want to talk about the vacancies. There's no sense for all of this slow walking. Fortunately in Florida, we have a process that takes the politics out of the selections of judges. The two senators appoint a judicial nominating commission of prominent people all over the state, and they do the interviews. They do the selections of at least three for each vacancy. Of course because they do this in a nonpartisan way - notice what I said. I didn't say bipartisan. I said nonpartisan way, which is the way the selection of the judiciary ought to be done. Because they do that in a nonpartisan way, all three of the nominees that come to the two senators, any one of them can be a federal judge because they're all so qualified. But the agreement that we have with the white house, fortunately, the President could name whoever he wanted. He agrees to accept the nominee and make his pick from among the three that we send him if we approve all three after the two senators have in fact gone through and interviewed them. And so, we get a process. Why should there be a delay on judges like that? There absolutely shouldn't. Or take, for example, one of our federal judges. He was elevated by the President to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal, Judge Jordan, unanimous out of the Judiciary Committee. At the end of the day, he won in this Senate floor 94-5. But he was held up for four months. Why? There's just too much gamesmanship and partisanship in the process, and particularly coming out of a state like Florida, where it is nonpartisan in the selection of judges. Well, we have two vacancies in the southern district and two vacancies in the middle district of Florida right now. One of the judges is up on the docket. The two others have just come through and had their hearing in Committee. The third - the fourth is being vetted by the white house. Let's go on and get these judges that there is no controversy, let's go on and get them approved."

Senator Levin: (10:44 AM)
  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • SUMMARY "We have a duty and obligation to carefully consider the votes that we take on our constitution has established a . other branches of government. The Founders were right to do so, but they also were right to give this body a say on nomination toss that independent branch. It is the one chance that the people, through their elected representatives, have to influence the makeup of the federal courts. So I do not begrudge any senator the right to carefully question judicial nominees, to carefully weigh their qualifications and to exercise their best judgment as they exercise the responsibilities that the founders assigned to the senate. The question that we must all answer is this - when do careful consideration and the exercise of good judgment become damaging delay? For justice, we can fail to serve our constituents by failing to properly scrutinize judicial nominees. We can fail to serve them by failing to act on these nominations after there has been sufficient time for the judiciary committee and the senate to scrutinize them. Today nearly one in ten federal judgeships is vacant. Roughly half of all Americans live in judicial districts or circuits in which the federal courts have declared a judicial emergency, meaning that according to the standards established by the Supreme Court, residents face the prospect of unacceptable delays and having cases heard because vacancies have led to a troubling backlog of cases. It is a precept of western judicial thought that can be a - can be without justice if it comes too late to matter to the parties involved, especially if that delay is not justified by the circumstances or the complexity of the case. The dangers for our nation in these judicial emergencies are great. First, that Americans may be robbed of justice by unjustified delay. Second, that Americans may come to doubt that the courts are capable of dispensing justice because they cannot function effectively. And third, that in seeking to clear the growing backlog of cases, the courts may rush to judgment and may fail to apply the rigor that Americans expect and deserve."

Johanns, Isakson, Kyl, Coburn, Heller

Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (H.R. 2072)

May 15 2012 11:23 AM

Colloquy: (Senators Johanns, Isakson, Kyl, Coburn)
  • Spoke on the 1,112 days since Senate Democrats passed a budget.
Senator Johanns
: (10:50 AM)
  • SUMMARY "I rise today with my colleagues to talk about something that i think is an issue that without a solution will affect every single aspect of life in our country, and i'm speaking about our debt crisis, the impending fiscal cliff and the lack of a budget to address those issues. As i said, i'm very pleased to be joined by my colleagues to talk about this issue. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the senate has lacked the will and the leadership to fulfill what i consider its most basic legislative function, writing and adopting a budget resolution. That has gone on for more than three years. While i understand we are rapidly approaching the time where presidential politics will consume the entire agenda, the united states national debt is also rapidly approaching a significant milestone, $16 trillion worth of debt. We should look no further than greece or spain to see what this level of debt would do to an economy if it goes unchecked. There are so many frightening statistics, but here is one. America's per-capital national debt already significantly outpaces that of greece or spain. So as we watch them spiral further into crisis, we should be jolted into action by the very suggestion that our debt is equally as alarming. Yet, we are unable to pass a basic budget resolution to get our spending in check, and that constitutes a lack of leadership."

Senator Isakson: (10:52 AM)
  • SUMMARY "I'll tell you what the impact of no budget for three years is. No discipline for three years. And the result of no discipline for three years is you spend $10,400,000,000,000 without a budget. If I don't have a budget or a guidepost to go by and I'm spending $10.4 trillion, I'm making big mistakes. I'm making big mistakes not with my money but with the people of the United States of America's money. Last night I did a telephone town hall back to Georgia. At one time we had a little over 3,200 callers on the line question was very simple, how can you guys operate without a budget? Why can't you get a budget? Why can't you bring a budget to the floor? The fact of the matter is because our budget requirements cast out ten years of planning for taxes, ten years of planning for expenditures, ten years of planning for the government, a lot of people don't want us to know what their plans are for the next ten years. But every American family in this country has had to sit around their kitchen table, reprioritize their expenditure, budget what income they have because of difficult economic times. The government should ask of itself only what it forces upon all of its people. And i have a suggestion to consider, a consider that 20 of our 50 states practice, 40% of our state governments now have biennial budget. A proposal that has been before this body for years. I'm proud to be a cosponsor with Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire. It's a budget process and a discipline that ends this no budget and also memorializes the most important thing we need to do and the least thing we need to do in this body, and that's oversight. The biennial budget proposes we would do our budgeting on odd number years and appropriating on odd number years and do it for a two-year period rather than a one-year period. And then in the even numbered year, the election year, we would do oversight of spending. We never do oversight."

Senator Kyl: (10:57 AM)
  • SUMMARY "Under the Democratic control of the Senate, for three straight years there hasn't been a budget. As you know, however, the President submits a budget each year. Last year, his budget was, frankly, met with derision from pundits, from experts, from economists who said it's not a serious proposal. And I looked up the number. Last year, his budget was rejected 97-0 here in the Senate. So what about this year? Well, same thing. It wasn't a serious effort. It was a political document. Everybody could see it. So they put it to a vote in the House of Representatives. It was defeated 414-0. Not a single Democrat voted for the President's budget. They understood it wasn't serious. Well, we'll have an opportunity to vote on the President's budget again this afternoon, and I expect the same fate. Why? Well, three quick points here. First of all, it accelerates our path to national bankruptcy. It fails to address entitlement spending. It has a slew of job-killing tax hikes. And it does nothing to effectuate even the president's own deficit reduction committee plan for reducing the deficit. Just a couple of numbers. It contains a whopping $1.8 trillion tax hike on individuals, small businesses, investment, family-owned farms. Think about the job-killing nature, the wet blanket that puts over our economy, a $1.8 trillion tax hike. This comes on top of the tax hikes already embedded in Obamacare which will extract an additional $4 billion from the taxpayer according to the Joint Economic Committee. Even with this tax hike, the President's budget would increase deficits by nearly $6.4 trillion over the next decade. You stop and think, wait a minute, aren't the tax hikes supposed to be there in order to balance the budget well, you'd think so. But under the President's budget, not withstanding all of the new revenue from taxes, it increases the deficits by nearly $6.4 trillion and it would spend a staggering $45.4 trillion during the period of the budget, which is $1.2 trillion higher than the Congressional Budget Office baseline from last march. I know these statistics are mind-boggling and I hate to cite them. But you do need to back up what you're saying with the actual data. And that's the opponent. The President's budget is a job killer. It increases taxes, and it still never balances. And I would point out that under his budget, while spending would reach 23.5% of the economy this year and never get below 22% of GDP over the next decade, the historical average is much lower. 20.8% of GDP. So bottom line: the President's budget would lock in the fourth straight year of deficits above $1 trillion and even though the President - and here's what the President said - he promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term. Well, the President's budget would never balance not withstanding the huge tax increases. That's what's wrong with the President's budget. It's why it's not going to pass today. It's why it didn't pass last year."

Senator Coburn: (11:04 AM)
  • SUMMARY SUMMARY "The very fact, regardless of the fact that there's a law that says we will pass a budget which has been totally ignored by the Majority leader is the consequence of that are tremendous. What most people talk about is how do we get out of the problem. What I would put forward in terms of our budget, is there's not a problem in front of our country we can't solve. What we lack is leadership to pull us together as Americans to say here's the problems. Here are the solutions. Let's find the compromise in the middle for the solutions and let's solve our problem. We have refused to do that. But most importantly, we refuse to look at ourselves. And I have a couple of examples. The GAO put out its second annual report. The first one was last year. The second annual report this year in terms of duplicated programs. And we've had amendments on this floor fail routinely that said we ought to know what we're doing before we pass another bill. We ought to know what's already out there. That's been rejected by my colleagues The GAO put out a list of duplications. And I'm just going to read a few of them. I've given speeches on the floor of others. But 209 different programs - 209 different programs in the federal government for science, technology, engineering and math initiatives for our education system. So, we just spend $3 billion a year on that. The overlap is unbelievable Most of the money wasted in terms of how we spend it because there's no concentration. There's no coordination. And what we have is a ridiculous array. Not that it's wrong to want to have more science, more technology, more engineers and more math students. But what we've done is we're spending all the money on the bureaucracy when we could have five programs - one for upper level, one for lower level, one for minorities, one for disadvantaged, one for others. Here's the complex. It's mind-boggling how many programs we have, and there's not a metric to measure whether any one of these is effective. And that's $3 billion a year. I would tell you that we could have one-tenth as many programs and spend one half as much money and have more students come out with science, technology, engineering and math background. But we've decided to do it piecemeal and never do the oversight and never consolidate. If we want to get out of a $1 trillion deficit, we do it $1 billion at a time. You don't do it with $1 trillion at a time I'll finish up with this, John Adams said there has yet to be a democracy that did not murder itself. We're on that way if we don't change direction. It's not a Democrat-Republican problem. It's all our problem. And it won't matter what your political persuasion is when we face the very difficult coming times if we don't respond with a cogent budget for this country."

Senator Heller: (11:12 AM)
  • SUMMARY "Three years have passed since Congress adopted a binding budget resolution. In this light, I respectfully submit that the American people do not believe that today's debate is serious. They know the Senate is not going to adopt a budget. And once again ignore one of the most basic and important jobs of congress. What the Senate is doing this week could be considered political comity if the stakes weren't so high. The fact is that this is not a serious discussion. In May of last year the Majority leader stated there is no need to have a Democratic budget, in my opinion. It would be foolish for us to do a budget at this stage. As early as February of this year it was stated by the Majority leader that there is no need to bring a budget to the floor this year. If that's the case, this week's debate is nothing more than a political sideshow, and the American people are tired of it. Ever wonder why the approval rating of congress is so low? They hate Washington because it spends its time on stunts like this instead of working together for the good of the country, pushing votes for campaign press releases instead of solving problems. The bottom line as if Congress does not do its job, then its members should not get paid. And that is exactly what I have proposed with a No Budget, No Pay Act. The American people know that in an election year too many of their representatives in Washington are afraid of the tough choices that would help get our nation on a path of fiscal sanity. Most of the people watching the so-called budget debate will witness exactly what they've come to expect from Washington: Republicans blaming Democrats, Democrats blaming Republicans. At the end of the day we'll have accomplished is filling another page in the Congressional Record. Unfortunately, Americans will face the same fiscal disasters that they did before this debate. Unless we change course, federal spending per household is projected to rise to $34,602 by The government's own actuaries tell us that Medicare is going bankrupt in ten years. Social Security one decade later. Both sides should be willing to come together to strengthen and preserve these programs for future generations instead of simply ignoring the problems because it's inconvenient in an election year. Our national debt will reach $16 trillion before the end of the year, and the federal government's unfunded obligations will total some $100 trillion. Yet there will be no budget this year, just like there has been no budget for the past three years. You cannot look beyond the beltway and say this failure of leadership hasn't had tremendous impact on the people we represent."

May 15 2012 12:41 PM

Senator Lee: (11:20 AM)
  • Called up Lee amendment #2100 (Export-Import Bank phaseout).
  • Spoke on Lee amendment #2100 (Export-Import Bank phaseout).
    • SUMMARY "It's time that we wind down the Export-Import Bank. In my amendment numbered 2100, would do precisely that. The American people cannot be the world's financial backstop. The government shouldn't be picking winners and losers. Businesses in Utah and across the country are not receiving government help and are shutting their doors after decades serving their communities. We should not through this government be adding insult to injury by using tax money they contributed to prop up companies overseas. We need to end the corporate welfare that distorts the market and feeds crony capitalism. The corporations that largely benefit from the Ex-Im Bank should have no trouble marshaling their resources to compete in today's economy. If they are struggling, then they are most likely not deserving of taxpayer help, and if they are turning billions in profit, then they clearly do not need taxpayer-subsidized loans. Further, government subsidies breed undue favoritism from government bureaucrats who control where the money goes. Unless we want more Solyndras', we should end the practice immediately. Some have suggested that the Ex-Im Bank is good for businesses. What's best for American businesses is getting the federal government out of their way, letting them operate without burdensome government regulations and without a complex tax system. Having the government pick winners and losers does not make industries stronger and makes them more dependent on subsidies, and when government is picking who wins, the loser is always the taxpayer. We have an opportunity today to reverse the status quo and defend the American taxpayer. My amendment winds down the Ex-Im Bank."

Senator Cantwell: (11:31 AM)
  • Spoke on the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "This debate this morning is about jobs, it's about manufacturing jobs, and it's about U.S. manufacturing jobs. And that is because this bank is one of the most powerful tools that we have for manufacturing jobs in America. It's a debate about whether this chamber believes that access to financing is a key tool for U.S. companies to compete on an international basis when they are trying to get U.S. manufactured products sold overseas. In fiscal year 2011 alone, the Bank supported nearly 290,000 export-created jobs in America. But those are the jobs that are going to be threatened if this chamber does not act. That is because this authority expires on May 31. That's right just 16 days from now and between now and then the House is in session for only five days. So we can't afford to take this to the brink one more time with amendments passed by the senate today that are really just amendments that are gutting the export-import bank. These five amendments that will be considered basically would lapse the bank's authority and this would put into the debate more uncertainty about our economy. We need to act now to renew the Bank's charter, and businesses can't wait. They need the planning and certainty to hire more people and failing to act will stifle U.S. economic opportunity The default rate on the Bank is consistently less than 2%, lower than most commercial lending. I'm sure we'll hear a lot about that debate today. But since, the FBI has returned $3.7 billion to the U.S. Treasury above and onto the cost of operation. So yes, my colleagues, this is something that is making money for the federal government, so not only is it helping U.S. manufacturers sell their products overseas, financing in a way that I think is equivalent to what the small business administration does, help provide a certain level of financing that makes deals come through, I think that's why you find that banks are supportive of this. The money is back into the U.S. taxpayers' pocket and it supports us winning in a global situation by getting our products sold. So it has been incredibly helpful to our economy, zero cost to the taxpayers, and, in fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that a four-year reauthorization of the bank would reduce the deficit by up to $900 million over five years. So the bank works for businesses, it works for U.S. taxpayers."

Senator Corker: (11:43 AM)
  • Called up Corker amendment #2102 (financing limitations; capital ratio requirement).
  • Spoke on Corker amendment #2102 (financing limitations; capital ratio requirement).
    • SUMMARY "This amendment is very simple and does two things that I would think especially the senator from Washington would support are after all that we've gone through and especially in her alluding to some of the most recent developments in the financial system. But what we will do with this amendment that I hope will receive broad support in this body is number one, the Ex-Im Bank is set up to finance transactions that cannot be financed in the private sector. I think that's the purpose for it to be here. And so number one, it would cause the Ex-Im Bank to certify that there is no private-sector financing or at least no private-sector financing at a reasonable cost before any loan goes through at the Ex-Im bank. The second piece, which I think is very, very important, the way the Ex-Im Bank is set up right now, there are no capital requirements Fortunately, we have put in place since the financial crisis, very strong capital requirements at our financial institutions. What that has done is to make them healthy and caused them to with able to withstand as they may happen. The Ex-Im Bank is set up to finance things that no other bank will finance, and yet it has no capital requirements other than having to maintain $1 billion. So they're able to loan per this new legislation $140 billion, but they only have to have $1 billion in capital reserves which means you are a creating with this mechanism a $140 billion loan ratios. What we've just gone through with our entire financial system is a process to make sure we have adequate so what our amendment does is just require that the Ex-Im Bank add adhere to the normal, sound financial practices that we want our financial institutions across our country to adhere to by establishing a 10% capital base."

Senator Graham: (11:48 AM)
  • Spoke on the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "Six years ago the Congress reauthorized the export-import bank. If you're in business like Boeing and GE and thousands of other companies out there that are making products in the United States selling them overseas, the idea that the congress would by voice vote reauthorize the Bank had to make believe that this model of doing business would be made available to you. Here we are later down the road. A lot of concern about the Bank. And some people actually want to do away with it. I understand free markets pretty well, and I would love to live in a world where no country interfered in the marketplace at all and that the best products would win based on a level playing field. But why do we have the Export-Import Bank. It is about 70 years old. There is a long record here. Products made in America sold overseas sometimes, because of the volatile nature of the region in question, traditional banks won't lend money. So what happened about 70 years ago is we created a bank to help us export products, and that Bank, the Export-Import Bank, as Senator Cantwell said, makes money, doesn't lose money, and it's been a sound way to get American-made products into the international marketplace. Here's the reality: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, Brazil, China, and India all have export banks of their own. The G7 countries that we compete against between 2006 and 2010 doubled the amount of Ex-Im financing available in their countries. This is what American businesses are competing against. Our good friend up north, Canada, is one-tenth our size. The Canadian Ex-Im bank did $100 billion worth of financing for Canadian-made products last year compared to $32 billion in support of American manufacturers. The only area of our economy that's been strong lately is exports. So imagine this: America does away with the Export-Import Bank. All the countries I've just described have their banks available to their manufacturers. Boeing makes planes in Washington and South Carolina. Eight out of ten airplanes are a Boeing aircraft, the 78, are sold based on export-import financing. Eight out of ten. That's why they needed a second line of production. They're competing against airbus. France has three export-import banks. China's Export-Import Bank is larger than the United States, Germany, Canada, and Britain combined. Now it's one thing to do reform. It is another thing to unilaterally surrender. It is one thing to lead the world. It is another to put the products made in America at risk unnecessarily."

Senator Cantwell: (11:58 AM)
  • Spoke on Corker amendment #2102 (financing limitations; capital ratio requirement).
    • SUMMARY "The Corker amendment is calling for a 10% ratio. The bank has had a default rate of less than 2%, 1. 5%. So raising the reserve ratio would have a very adverse effect on the bank itself. And it would quadruple the reserves and basically cause problems with the bank in how it is leveraged. So if this is an issue about reform, there is many reforms in the underlying bill, and to the provision that would say that you'd have to verify if you're an individual business that you can't get financing, I've read the senator's amendment. I'm not sure how you would prove that. It's not clear from the legislation. Does that mean you'd have to survey every time the Ex-Im program was they wanted to get financing for one of those silos, what would they do? Petition five banks in a region? Would they petition a hundred banks in a region? Would they - and I just want people to understand what that competition is like. Let's pretend I made makes large grain elevators and selling products all over the world and is one of the world leaders and we have a Ex-Im Bank requirement that says they have to prove that there is no financing available. Now somebody else in that country and they're selling a lot of product in South America, in Africa, in Asia, somebody says I can get financing for the product out of Russia or I can get financing for the product out of china and I don't have that same requirement, so I'm not going to buy from you, I'm going to buy from them. That's what you're doing. You're basically hamstringing American competitors in an international marketplace by not allowing them the financing tools. Of course the bank has to show they can't get financing but this puts an undue bird on these individuals that they are not going to be able because of the language and thousand how - and how vague it is, how are they going to prove there isn't someone there. Instead of hamstringing American businesses, why not allow the American businesses under this legislation that as my colleague from South Carolina said, been around for decades, been very effective, and we're including more transparency. So I urge my colleagues to defeat the Corker amendment because of its requirements on capital ratio that they don't need and secondly, on the ability to prohibit the financing based on a clause that I don't even know how it could be met, and my colleagues will understand from states that are using this program that it would be very, very hard for our businesses to continue to compete with such a requirement."

Senator Vitter: (12:03 PM)
  • Called up Vitter amendment #2103 (non-subordination; fossil fuel and renewable energy projects).
  • Spoke on Vitter amendment #2103 (non-subordination; fossil fuel and renewable energy projects).
    • SUMMARY "It simply says the Ex-Im Bank is not going to provide those loans or loan guarantees related to fossil fuel development in foreign countries if there are similar projects in this country that aren't getting comparable help. It's not suggesting that the Ex-Im Bank is going to participate directly in projects in this country. It simply says first things first. American jobs, American energy, American production first. So we're not going to finance the world to produce energy when we create obstacles right here at home to do the same thing. Again, the last several years have proved the need for this sort of commonsense provision in my opinion. President Obama traveling to Brazil, an ally ballyhooing the development of their industry while other policies substantially shut down our own here in the United States proves the need for this commonsense amendment Before the Ex-Im Bank uses U.S. taxpayer money to fund, to finance, to guarantee oil and gas and other energy development overseas in foreign countries, we're going to look here at home to see if similar projects exist, and are they getting any similar help or inducement from the federal government."

Senator Cantwell: (12:11 PM)
  • Spoke on Vitter amendment #2103 (non-subordination; fossil fuel and renewable energy projects).
    • SUMMARY "The reason why the Vitter amendment I think is a horrible idea actually is that the amendment would basically cut or curtail American companies and their ability to compete on energy projects on a worldwide basis. That is, it would eliminate the bank's current 10% goal for renewable energy projects, and this is a long-standing requirement that has been incorporated into the state for an ops appropriations bill so why someone would oppose it here, I'm not sure. But as who knows a lot about energy and works on energy all of the time, I can tell you one of the goals that we have as a country should be for the united states to win in the energy debate. That is, for us to, when you look at what a tremendous market opportunity new energy solutions are for our economy, for the worldwide economy, anywhere from $4 trillion to $6 trillion. People like to talk about the internet and all the great things of the internet. By comparison, it was somewhere between $2 trillion and $4 trillion. So this is an economic opportunity way beyond that, way beyond that. When you look at what china is doing, thee they need to invest $3.7 trillion by 2030 in order to build 1,300 gigawatts of generating capacity. The Chinese government leap needs to spend $3.7 trillion on energy. So my colleague from Louisiana want to say let's hamstring U.S. companies that might have a solution to some of China's energy needs from getting the appropriate financing so that they can be successful in this program. So to me, it's wrong-headed in the fact that we want to be selling, as I said, just because in the northwest we already know what china is as a market. We sell them software, we sell them airplanes, we sell them coffee, we sell them lots of things and we understand they're a market. So to curtail the solutions that U.S. companies are working on, whether it's battery technology or smart grid technology or solutions for a whole range of products, you could even say nuclear power solutions, to other clean energy source solutions, all of these things would be curtailed under the Vitter amendment. So we don't want to go backwards."

Senator Johnson-SD: (12:15 PM)
  • Spoke on the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "After too much delay, it is time for the Senate to pass this bill. The Export-Import Bank supports nearly 209,000 jobs a year, assists thousands of American businesses and helps reduce the federal budget deficit. It shouldn't be surprising then to hear that the Bank has the approval of labor unions, the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Round Table, and the National Association of Manufacturers. Indeed, the Bank has is supported by a wide majority in both Houses of Congress. The bill before us today passed with an overwhelming vote of 330-93 in the House of Representatives. As Republicans and Democrats come together in support of a truly bipartisan legislation, when we passed a similar bill out of the is that the Banking Committee last year, it had unanimous bipartisan support. Despite the urgent need for passage of the bill, there are several Republican amendments. I urge all of my colleagues to vote against those amendments and pass this bill without delay. We are at the finish line today with a bill that has already been approved in the House, and it has bipartisan support here in the Senate. Unless we pass this bill, the Ex-Im Bank's authorization will lapse on May 31, and nearly 300,000 American jobs will be at risk. Unless we pass this bill, American exporters will be put at a disadvantage to their foreign competitors when many cases already receive far greater assistance from their own nation's export credit agencies. Let's come together and pass this bipartisan bill and score a victory for the hundreds of thousands of American workers whose jobs are supported by the Ex-Im Bank. I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendments and support reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank today so that we can send this bill to the president and have it signed into law without delay."

Senator Toomey: (12:24 PM)
  • Called up Toomey amendment #2104 (lending authority increase conditions).
  • Spoke on Toomey amendment #2104 (lending authority increase conditions).
    • SUMMARY "I think it is a very important measure to begin the process of phasing out a very unfortunate practice that we participate in, as do many of our trading partners, which is the active taxpayer subsidy of exports. I want to be clear. There is a very real risk that is carried by American taxpayers and that risk is systematically under priced. The fact is the Ex-Im Bank extends loans and provides guarantees to countries and companies buying American exports. It provides those loans and those loan guarantees under terms that are not available in the private sector. There is a reason those terms are not available in the private sector. It's because the private sector necessarily requires full compensation for whatever risk they take and there is risk in any money. The Ex-Im Bank under-prices these loans systematically. That's why it's important. That's why it exists. That's why it does business that the private sector can't win away from the Ex-Im Bank. It is because the Ex-Im Bank necessarily and systematically under-prices the risk that taxpayers are ultimately on the hook for. This is - this is what many of us object to, this risk that taxpayers are forced to bear. In addition to forcing taxpayers to incur this risk, it's really quite unfair to American companies that have to compete with the foreign companies that get the subsidized financing ... Let's require the administration to sit down with our trading competitors and negotiate a mutual phase-out of all of these export subsidies. Frankly, it's in everybody's interest. We could have a level playing field on which no taxpayers are subject to this risk, no taxpayers are asked to subsidize the sales of private companies, and I think that's what we ought to do. This is what my amendment would accomplish. My amendment says we'll go ahead with this reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank but the increase in the ending limit which we're currently at, the first increase $20 billion, that would be contingent upon the administration informing congress that they have begun the process of negotiating a phase-out of all export subsidies. And the second increase, because I recognize that this phase-out wouldn't occur immediately, it would be a gradual process that would happen over time. But under my amendment, the second increase would occur only when the administration came back and informed congress that they had indeed reached an agreement with our leading trading partners on a framework that would phase out subsidization of exports."

Senator DeMint: (12:30 PM)
  • Spoke on Toomey amendment #2104 (lending authority increase conditions).
    • SUMMARY "I know as a businessman that I could get a guaranteed loan, I would take it in a second. I don't blame companies that are interested in lower rate financing. But as congressmen and senators and as the President of the United States our job is to protect taxpayers. And we're forgetting in this debate that when we guarantee a loan, we are signing the taxpayers' names to a loan guarantee. And in the real world, if an individual or a business guarantees a loan, that is a liability to them, a very real liability. And we're not just talking about the Ex-Im Bank. The taxpayers of this country are now liable for about a trillion dollars worth of loans for student loans. Trillions of dollars for mortgages. And other loan guarantees and insurance. We cannot continue to pass these bills without realizing that someday these bills are going to come due, and folks across this country are going to have to pay them. We were promised when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were making all these loans it was good for the taxpayer, they were making money, we couldn't lose but the taxpayers have lost billions of dollars. And now as we continue to guarantee loans around the world in some of the countries these loans are going to now are on the watch list by moody's and other rating services because the financial situation in Europe and all across the world is more and more strained. We cannot assume that this money is coming back to the taxpayer."

Senator Cantwell: (12:34 PM)
  • Spoke on Toomey amendment #2104 (lending authority increase conditions).
    • SUMMARY "It's really hard to argue about subsidies when we're talking about the Ex-Im Bank generating $3.7 billion for U.S. taxpayers since 2005. So if this is a subsidy, we need more of it, because you're winning and producing jobs and actually producing money for the treasury. And this is a very important tool for to us win in a global economy. I think my colleague who spoke earlier from South Carolina said it best when he talked about the manufacturing jobs that are now in that state, and what an important tool it is for using this. So I'm not one of those colleagues who basically says, oh, we should do it because other countries should do it. I'm saying that you should recognize that that is going on, but that the United States needs to understand that there is a global marketplace for its products. And if you believe in U.S. manufacturers as I do - and I've seen them in my state. They are winning the day in producing products and services that can beat the competition in international marketplaces. They can ... So the question is, are we going to let a U.S. product that can beat the competition in an international marketplace lose because the purchaser of those products is looking for financing mechanisms that will help them secure financing and purchase those products? So that's the question. So does the United States want to do those kinds of activities. I say we should be even more aggressive at it. Why? Because the global development of many countries that are now buying U.S. products is going to continue to grow This amendment would require unnecessary conditions for helping the Bank in the future and basically it would put a hold on the financing of the Export-Import Bank until we negotiated on an international basis to terminate this kind of financing."
The Senate stands in recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus lunches.

Conrad, Heller

Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (H.R. 2072)

May 15 2012 2:50 PM

Senator Conrad: (2:20 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • On Wednesday, following the Leaders' remarks, the Senate will begin up to 6 hours of debate, equally divided, on the following:
      1. S. Con. Res. 41, the President's FY 2013 Budget Resolution;
      2. H. Con. Res. 112, the House-Passed FY 2013 Budget Resolution;
      3. S. Con. Res. 37, the Toomey FY 2013 Budget Resolution;
      4. S. Con. Res. 42, the Paul FY 2013 Budget Resolution; and
      5. S. Con. Res. 44, the Lee FY 2013 Budget Resolution.
    • Upon the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will proceed to a series of 5 ROLL CALL VOTES on the Motions to Proceed to the Budget Resolutions. There will be 2 minutes of debate, equally divided, prior to each vote. After the first vote, all remaining votes will be 10 minute votes. The Senate will resume consideration of a Budget Resolution if a Motion to Proceed is adopted. If no Motion to Proceed has been adopted, the Majority Leader will be recognized (without objection).

Senator Heller: (2:22 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • The request be modified so that S. 1981, the No Budget No Pay Act, be discharged from the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, and the bill be placed on the Calendar. When the Senate proceeds to the Budget Resolution votes, the Senate also conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Proceed to S. 1981, the No Budget No Pay Act (Conrad objected).

Senator Conrad: (2:23 PM)
  • Spoke on the Budget Control Act.
    • SUMMARY "I've heard over and over no Budget Resolution has passed in 1000 days. What has not been said is that instead of a Budget Resolution last year, the Senate and the House passed the budget control act. The Budget Control Act is not a resolution. It is a law. A resolution, as all members know, is purely a congressional document. Never goes to the President for his signature. Last year instead of a Budget Resolution, this body and the other body passed legislation called the Budget Control Act that set a budget, budget limits, spending limits for this year and next. Actually, it went even further. It set ten years of spending caps. A Budget Resolution usually only sets one year of spending caps. So, I want to make clear that instead of a Budget Resolution being passed last year, the House and the Senate passed the Budget Control Act to set spending limits for this year and next rand for the eight years beyond. In addition, the Budget Control Act established a Super-Committee and gave them special authority to reform the tax system and the entitlement system. And said that if they could come to an agreement, they would not face a filibuster. On a simple majority, we could reform the tax system and the entitlement system here in the United States Senate. And the Budget Control Act further said, if the special committee does not agree to reform the tax system, to reform the entitlements, there will be an additional $1.2 trillion of spending cuts put in place over and above the $900 billion of cuts put in place by the Budget Control Act through spending caps for ten years. That is a total, because the special committee did not agree, of over $2 trillion of spending cuts that are now in law as a result of the Budget Control Act. That is the largest spending cut package in the history of the United States. And it's law. And it's law because of the Budget Control Act passed last year. Now, my colleagues can go and shout it from the rooftops, as they've done, that the Congress hasn't passed a Budget Resolution in 1,000 days. But they're not telling the whole story. They're not telling people that instead of a resolution, the House and the Senate passed a law. A law is stronger than any resolution. A resolution is purely a congressional document. A law has to be signed by the President of the United States. And the Budget Control Act was passed by the Senate on an overwhelming bipartisan vote, passed by the House, signed by the President of the United States. And it sets the budget limits for this year and next, and it goes beyond that. It sets ten years of spending caps saving $900 billion. And because the special committee could not agree to reforming the tax system and the entitlement system, it put in place another $1.2 trillion of spending cuts that are now in law. That is a total of over $2 trillion of spending cuts. Let me just say, what we don't have is the longer-term plan that the budget control act hoped would come about as a result of the work of the special cheat. So that's work we still need to do. But nobody should be under any misimpression or misunderstanding that we don't have spending limits in place for this year and next, and in fact for all of discretionary spending, spending limits in place for the whole of the next ten years. That's a fact."

Vote Results (Lee amendment #2100)

Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (H.R. 2072)

May 15 2012 3:10 PM

Not Agreed to, 12-87:
Lee amendment #2100 (Export-Import Bank phaseout) to H.R. 2072, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Paul amendment #2101)

Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (H.R. 2072)

May 15 2012 3:31 PM

Not Agreed to, 9-89:
Paul amendment #2101 (no financing in countries which hold United States debt instruments) to H.R. 2072, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Corker amendment #2102)

Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (H.R. 2072)

May 15 2012 3:51 PM

Not Agreed to, 36-62:
Corker amendment #2102 (financing limitations; capital ratio requirement) to H.R. 2072, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Vitter amendment #2103)

Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (H.R. 2072)

May 15 2012 4:11 PM

Not Agreed to, 37-61:
Vitter amendment #2103 (non-subordination; fossil fuel and renewable energy projects) to H.R. 2072, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Toomey amendment #2104)

Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (H.R. 2072)

May 15 2012 4:36 PM

Not Agreed to, 35-63:
Toomey amendment #2104 (lending authority increase conditions) to H.R. 2072, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Passage)

Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (H.R. 2072)

May 15 2012 4:59 PM

Passed, 78-20:
H.R. 2072, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Reid, Coburn, Menendez

Student Loan bill (S. 2343)

May 15 2012 5:27 PM

Senator Reid: (4:59 PM)
  • Filed Cloture on:
    1. Executive Calendar #646, Jeremy C. Stein, of Massachusetts, to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; and
    2. Executive Calendar #647, Jerome H. Powell, of Maryland, to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
  • Spoke on the National Flood Insurance Program bill.
    • SUMMARY "The National Flood Insurance Program is set to expire at the end of May, this month. This program provides insurance coverage for almost six million people who live and work in zones, flood zones. The national flood insurance program is self-sustaining. For more than 40 years it's guarded American homeowners against flood-related disasters. The program expires, new housing construction will stall, real estate transaction will come to a halt, taxpayers will be on the hook for future disasters. We've not been able to bring flood insurance to the floor because we've had a lot of problems with senate procedure, that some believe is abusive, that's left us with so little time No one believes that there's enough time to pass conference and enact a long-term flood insurance bill before the end of this month. So we're in the situation we have to do another short-term extension. Thus, I will seek to pass an extension of this important program now."
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • The Senate proceed to consideration of S. 2344, the National Flood Insurance Program bill. The bill be read a third time, passed, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, there be no intervening action or debate (Coburn objected).

Senator Coburn: (5:05 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "We've had 13 short-term extensions to the National Flood Insurance Program. That's over the past four and a half, five years. There's a bill set to be brought to the floor, and yet we're going to have a short-term extension again. This program is not financially sound, and it is not self-sustaining. It runs a $900 million deficit every year. What is the national flood insurance program? Do we need it? Yes. Am I objecting that we need it? No. But the vast majority of the moneys that are expended by hardworking Americans go to subsidize the insurance for homeowners' second and vacation homes. Multiple times in the Senate and in the House both have concurred that this should be taken away, this subsidy, for those in terms of second homes and vacation properties. And so what I would expect, if we're going to do an extension, then we ought to do an extension with something that both bodies have already passed, which includes making those people who have properties eight times the average value of the rest of the homes in the flood insurance carry their fair share of their insurance. And so I'm not inclined, no matter what happens to the flood insurance program, to allow us to continue to extend. I'd make one other point. We won't have time in December to fix this, with everything else that's coming up. So the time to fix this is now. And I won't object to coming to the five-year reauthorization to the floor. I don't think anybody on our side will as well. And we should address this, and we could be done with it. But another short-term extension is not what this country needs. We can't afford losing another $900 million-plus. The American taxpayer is on the hook for $1.3 trillion with this program right now, and the average subsidy to the average home is over $1,000 a year. So I have no objection to supporting those who actually need our help, who are in flood-prone areas. But those that have the tremendous benefit and the opportunity to have second and third homes and I think it's objectionable that we continue to subsidize their purchase of flood insurance."

Senator Reid: (5:09 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "What I would suggest is I would be happy to work on my side because Senator Johnson has talked to me twice today on this legislation, to figure out what amendments my folks might want to offer, because they want to offer amendments. If my friend from Oklahoma would also make a decision on his side, as he indicated, cogent amendments, relevant amendments, we could put this in a little package and move to it without my having to file cloture and do these amendments. I'd like to do that. I'll work on my side to find out what amendments there are. And if my friend would do that, on Monday or Tuesday we'll talk about this and see if we can get a very concise agreement to do this important legislation. And my friend is not denying that. But I think we do have to make some changes in it. I'm happy to move forward. I think the House is going to take something up pretty soon."

Senator Menendez: (5:13 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "In my view, violence against any woman is still violence. And apparently my Republican colleagues in the House do not share that view. Republicans in the House have introduced a bill that would not protect all women. Their bill would roll back protections for certain vulnerable populations. It would strip provisions in the senate bill that protect women from discrimination and abuse, specific Native American women, the LGBT community and undocumented immigrants. It rolls back protections they have under current law. We've seen that violence against women is an epidemic, and it plagues all of us, not just some of us. We have fought against it. We have tried to end it. We have established programs and policies at the national and state levels to mitigate it. We have stood with the victims of domestic violence. And now we must stand up and reaffirm our outrage. It is, in my mind, a no-brainer, and I am, frankly, hard pressed to understand why anyone would stand in the way of denouncing violence against any woman. No matter who they are, no matter what their orientation or citizenship is. I am hard pressed to understand why anyone would choose to exclude violence against certain women, turn back the clock to a time when such violence was not inst whom such violence meets our threshold of outrage. There can be no such threshold and no such distinction. Violence against any woman is an outrage, plain and simple. And so is the message to be that we are willing for some reason that in my mind defies logic to accept violence against certain women, because that seems to be the message the other body is sending us. I cannot believe that anyone would take such a position, but that's exactly what we would do if we listen to our Republican House colleagues, and that, is completely unacceptable to this senator and should be unacceptable to every member of Congress and every American. If our friends on the other side deny that they are waging a political cultural war against women, then why, are they willing to accept an actual war against certain women by excluding them from protection under the Violence Against Women Act?"

Moran, Shaheen, Coats, Murray

Student Loan bill (S. 2343)

May 15 2012 6:29 PM

Senator Moran: (5:26 PM)
  • Honored Andrew Balfour, William Bloomfield, and David Insbrenner, of Kansas, for their sacrifices to protect their fellow citizens.

Senator Shaheen: (5:32 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "That act recently passed out of the Senate with a strong bipartisan vote that recognizes our bipartisan commitment here to end domestic and sexual abuse, stalking, and dating violence. The House of Representatives will soon be taking a vote on their proposed counterpart to the Violence Against Women Act, and I want to address some of the concerns that I have with the bill that is on the floor in the House. What we've seen in this country is that domestic violence has a significant impact on families, on victims, it compromises the very stability of our towns and communities. The Violence Against Women Act provides essential resources for victims and for law enforcement. And I was pleased to see so many of us here in the Senate put politics aside and support this important reauthorization. Unfortunately, the House version of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act does not provide the same level of protection for victims, and it does not include some resources that have specifically been requested by law enforcement. In the House bill, protections are diminished for college students, for lesbian, gay, and transgendered victims, for immigrants, and for Native Americans. The Senate bill strengthens the Violence Against Women Act to provide more protections to women and their families. The House bill weakens the law by failing to state that same-sex couples will have equal access to services, by decreasing protections for immigrant victims and die declining to expand the jurisdiction of tribal courts. One example of some of the changes in the House bill where I think it fails, is around the protections that the senate bill provides to women students on college campuses. The Senate bill provides strong protections that have been omitted in the House bill. The Senate bill requires a university to implement prevention programs, teaching all students, male and female, how to help prevents sexual violence and dating violence, including bystander education. The Senate bill also requires a university to make reasonable accommodations for a student who needs to change their living, working, or academic situation as a result of being victimized."

Senator Coats: (5:37 PM)
  • Honored Chuck Colson.

Senator Murray: (6:07 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "It's very hard to believe that today marks exactly two months since I first came to the floor to advocate passage on the senate's version of the Violence Against Women Act. I was very encouraged to see our body finally come together and eventually support this important legislation. The Violence Against Women Act has helped provide lifesaving assistance to hundreds of thousands of women and their families, and it certainly was a no-brainer to make sure all women had access to that assistance. However, I was very disappointed to learn that a day after we passed it, the House Republicans pulled an immediate u-turn and introduced their version of the bill that would undo the commonsense progress we made. The House Republican version VAWA is a giant step backward, dangerous and irresponsible and leaves women across the country more vulnerable to domestic abuse. Not only do they remove important protections that would be created by the senate version of the bill, they actually strip existing protections already provided by this important law. In fact, it removed critical protections for LGBT victims. It does very little to address the epidemic of sexual violence in our communities. It removed critical protections already in place for students on college campuses and it rolled back protections for immigrant victims. We've made a lot of progress since VAWA was first passed in 1994, and I hope no one will insist on putting partisan politics ahead of protecting victims of domestic violence. Where a person lives, who they love, what their citizenship status may be should not determine whether or not their perpetrators are brought to justice. The Senate bill that we passed last month builds on what works in the current law. It improved what didn't. It continues on the path of reducing violence towards women. And it should not be controversial. It's time for the House Republicans to come to their senses, support our bipartisan bill so that women and families in this country can get the resources and support that they need."

May 15 2012 6:39 PM

  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Tomorrow --
    • The Senate will convene at 9:30 AM and begin up to 6 hours of debate, equally divided, on the Budget Resolutions listed below. The first hour will be equally divided, with the Majority controlling the first 30 minutes and the Republicans controlling the second 30 minutes.
      1. S. Con. Res. 41, the President's FY 2013 Budget Resolution;
      2. H. Con. Res. 112, the House-Passed FY 2013 Budget Resolution;
      3. S. Con. Res. 37, the Toomey FY 2013 Budget Resolution;
      4. S. Con. Res. 42, the Paul FY 2013 Budget Resolution; and
      5. S. Con. Res. 44, the Lee FY 2013 Budget Resolution.
    • Upon the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will proceed to a series of 5 ROLL CALL VOTES on the Motions to Proceed to the Budget Resolutions. There will be 2 minutes of debate, equally divided, prior to each vote. After the first vote, all remaining votes will be 10 minute votes.
  • On Tuesday, Cloture was filed on:
    1. Executive Calendar #646, Jeremy C. Stein, of Massachusetts, to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; and
    2. Executive Calendar #647, Jerome H. Powell, of Maryland, to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
  • Under the rule, the ROLL CALL VOTES on the Motions to Invoke Cloture on the nominations will occur on Thursday morning.
  • As a reminder, on Tuesday, May 8th, a Motion to Reconsider the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 2343, the Student Loan bill, was entered.
The Senate stands adjourned until 9:30 AM Wednesday, May 16th.