Floor Updates

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Apr 19 2012 9:30 AM

The Senate Convened.

Whitehouse, Reid, McConnell

Opening Remarks

Apr 19 2012 9:52 AM

Senator Whitehouse: (9:33 AM)
  • Honored Reverend Rebecca Spencer, Pastor of the Central Congregational Church in Providence, Rhode Island.

Senator Reid
: (9:32 AM)
  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill. The first hour will be equally divided, with the Republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • At 2:15 PM, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill, and conduct up to 2 ROLL CALL VOTES on:
      1. The Motion to Invoke Cloture on Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000, as modified, to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill; and (if Cloture is Not Invoked)
      2. The Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill.
    • All second degree amendments to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000, as modified, to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill must be filed at desk by 11:00 AM. The amendment tree has been filled.
  • Spoke on the Postal Reform bill.
    • SUMMARY "Today the Postal Service handles nearly half the world's mail. 554 million pieces of day - every day. 6,400,000 peoples every second. That feat would be impossible without technology and world-class facilities and workers. But now technology is both a solution and a problem. In the last five years, the Postal Service has seen mail volume drop by more than 20%. That trend is expected to continue. Email and online bill payments has significantly contributed to this crisis. Today letters, orders, payments across the world happen with the click of a mouse. And the challenge facing the Postal Service is how to adapt to a decreasing volume of mail rather than how to deal with increasing demand. The bipartisan compromise before the senate will help the system do just that. It will build a leaner, smarter post office that offers new products and services while protecting its mission, delivering the mail six days a week to every corner of our great nation. The Postal Reform legislation before this body will sensibly restructure the system while preserving overnight and Saturday delivery and the legislation will save the Postal Service from insolvency and will reduce the work force and the number of facilities it maintains. But it wall also protect postal employees including 130,000 veterans of the armed forces. It will also safeguard the more than eight million jobs that depend on a vibrant postal system. And most importantly, look out for the needs of millions of seniors, people with disabilities, small business owners and rural Americans for whom the U.S. mail is an important life line to the outside world. Unlike the unacceptable bill Congressman Issa is pursuing in the House this bipartisan Senate bill preserves the Postal Service we know and rely on. The House bill by contrast would immediately eliminate Saturday delivery and set up commissions to unilaterally cut costs by closing post offices and processing plants. Voiding union contracts and laying off tens of thousands of workers when our economy can least afford it. That may be why Congressman Issa's bill has not come up for a vote."

Senator McConnell: (9:42 AM)
  • Spoke on the Svinicki re-nomination to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
    • SUMMARY "Yesterday I called attention to Kristine Svinicki, a widely respected engineer who sits on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The federal agency charged with ensuring the nation of our nation's nuclear power plants. At the moment, commissioner Svinicki is in Africa at the request of the Obama administration which shouldn't surprise anybody since she is one of the world's leading experts on the topic. And since President Obama's own chief of staff signed a letter a few months ago expressing the administration's confidence in her commitment to the mission of the NRC, and her ability to fulfill it. I have the letter, it's dated December 12 Despite the administration's stated support for her work she has not been re-nominated. The White House alone has the power to re-nominate. For some reason, they haven't. Look, the only possible reason for this delay is the fact that she had the courage to blow the whistle on the commission's chairman, Gregory Jasko, a guy whose temper toward subordinates, particularly women, nearly cost him his job. Let's be clear about this. The only reason we're talking about Christine Svinicki is because she had the courage to stand up to a hostile work environment and the bully responsible for it. It's the only reason we're having this conversation. She should be applauded for that, not hung out to dry. Yet that's precisely what's been happening here. Commissioner Svinicki is one of the world's leading experts on nuclear safety. She was confirmed to her current term without a single dissenting vote. Not one. She enjoys the president of her colleagues, and as the letter I just shows of the Obama administration as well. Her re-nomination papers were completed more than a year ago, as was the FBI report that nominees have to complete ahead of being confirmed. If this nomination continues to be held up after she had the courage to take a the spine of every whistle-blower in Washington. Commissioner Svinicki spoke out against a guy that even a democratic commissioner say bullied employees and intimidated female works. Commissioner Svinicki did the right thing in raising the alarm. She shouldn't pay a price for it."

Coburn, Blunt, Conrad

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 19 2012 10:44 AM

Senator Coburn: (9:46 AM)
  • Spoke on the GSA Conference scandal.
    • SUMMARY "I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about the uproar that is occurring over the GSA conference waste that has been in the news of late. But my criticisms are not mainly directed towards the GSA over three years ago I started doing oversight on conferences by government agencies. Today I have an amendment that won't be allowed to be considered that will hold the agencies accountable in terms of their conferences. Through the years I put out five reports on wasteful conference spending from the Department of Justice where it spent $380 million over a five-year period on conferences, to the Department of Agriculture, to the Department of HHS in terms of sending thousands of people to one conference at a time. All of it went unheeded. And now we have the GSA with members of the senate and the house aghast at the waste that has been spent in terms of the GSA conference out west. Had we been doing our job and the multiple amendments that I've offered over the last six years to control conference spending which have been rejected in party-line votes to try to bring some semblance of reasonableness and control to conference spending by the various federal government agencies. So we have this problem with the GSA today, but not because of the GSA because of ourselves. Because we refused to do the hard work of passing requirements that hold federal agencies accountable. My hope would be that we would in one small step accept an amendment on the postal bill that would allow us to start holding the agencies accountable. It makes for great press and great TV when we stand aghast at what is obviously wasteful spending by an agency. But that accomplishes nothing other than advance the political careers of my colleagues. What accomplishes something is real teeth, real legislation that holds the agencies accountable. So it would be my hope that we could have a vote. I don't even think it would take a vote. I think we could get it accepted by unanimous consent that would force the agencies to now come into compliance both in terms of transparency and accountability on how they spend their money. Every federal government agency today has the capability for doing teleconferencing. We don't have to send 1,000 people at $2,000 a piece to a conference to accomplish education and training. We all have it in our offices. But what the GAO has determined is most federal employees see conferencing as one of the perks of their jobs in one of their reports."

Senator Blunt: (9:52 AM)
  • Spoke on the Buffett Rule.
    • SUMMARY "Instead of working to pass solutions that would jump-start our economy and restore consumer confidence, we seem to want to talk about the wrong things over and over again. We had a vote this week on the so-called Buffett tax, a tax that almost everybody that talked about this discussion said it's more of a gimmick than a solution because even if you collected this new tax on Warren Buffett and his wealthy friends, it would in a year you'd collect what the federal government deficit is in a day. We're not going to solve this problem dealing with 1/365 of the deficit like it's the solution to the problem. The lead sponsor of the Buffett tax in the senate, Senator Whitehouse, said on the senate floor that the aim of the bill is not to lower the unemployment rate or the price of gasoline. Why wouldn't we have a bill on the floor that the aim of it was to either do something about energy prices or job creation? This bill would have generated less than 1% of the $7 trillion deficit projected in the 2013 budget during that same period of time. It would take 250 years to collect enough money under the so-called Buffett rule to pay the 2011 deficit. If the solution to this year's - to last year's deficit would take us 250 years of recovery, the truth is we're just wasting a lot of time here on little things rather than big things."
  • Spoke on energy and gas prices.
    • SUMMARY "Why would we have a bill on the floor to do that when we could support what the President says he's for which is an all-of-the-above energy strategy. Let's do what we can to solve this problem. The most glaring recent example is of course the keystone pipeline would run right through nigh my good friends from North Dakota, come through their sedate state, go through Nebraska, through other states, get to our refineries and create 20,000 jobs, it would decrease our country's dependence on people that don't like us very well and it would encourage more North American energy, it would encourage energy from our best trading partner, Canada. It's just one of the commonsense steps that we can make and funding if you'd have told me a couple years ago when you're home in the spring of 2011 that one of the things that people will be talking to you about is why aren't we building an oil pipeline from Canada, I'd say that's pretty detailed understanding of our energy problems. But it's an understanding that's out there. If we're going to create real economic fairness, we need to work together to pass solutions that will bring down prices at the pump and get Americans back to work. That's why I believe, we need to utilize all forms of American energy, including wind and solar, renewable, biomass, shale gas, shale oil, coal, nuclear alternatives."

Senator Conrad: (10:02 AM)
  • Spoke on the "budget markup."
    • SUMMARY SUMMARY "I said several days ago I would put before the boat the Bowles-Simpson plan. I did not subject that we would complete action on it at the beginning of the markup. Why? Because we already have in place the spending limitations, the spending limits for this year and next. What we don't have is a longer term plan. That longer term plan we don't need right at this moment, we need it before the end of the year. Because at the end of the year, all of the Bush era tax cuts are going to expire, and at the end of this year we're going to face that sequester that I mentioned that is in the Budget Control Act law that we passed last year instead of a budget resolution. Why do we need this longer term plan? Well, because we are borrowing about 40 cents of every dollar that we spend. That's unsustainable. It's got to change. I've warned repeatedly of where we're headed if we don't change course At the end of this year the gross debt of the United States will be 104% of our gross domestic product, headed for 119% on our current trajectory. Now, that shouldn't be permitted to happen. And under the plan I laid before our colleagues yesterday, it won't happen. If we look at the underlying causes of these deficits and debt, you can see it is the relationship between spending and revenue Looking back to 1950. And what one sees is that spending is at or near a 60-year high, actually we've fallen back somewhat from the 60-year high we reached two years ago. Revenue is at or near a 60-year low, actually we can see it's bumped up a little bit, again, from its 60-year - actually a 70-year low back in 2010. But still we see a very wide gap between revenue and spending. As a result, a very large deficit. A deficit of $1.2 trillion under the proposal I laid before the Budget Committee yesterday, it would bring down the debt to 93% of GDP, the gross debt to 93% of GDP by 2022 instead of 119% if we fail to act. The plan I laid out reduces overall spending to 21.9% of GDP by 2022. Discretionary spending to 4.8% of GDP by 2022, a record low. A record low. In fact, this overall spending level, is lower than the average spending level during the Reagan administration. Our colleagues on the other side are always eager to embrace Ronald Reagan's policies. Well, the proposal I laid out yesterday has a lower average spending as a share of our national income than did president Reagan during the entire period of his presidency. The plan I laid out also builds on health care reform with additional health savings and fully funds the doc fix The plan also calls for social security reform that ensures that the 75-year solvency of social with the savings only to extend solvency, not for deficit reduction. In other words, social security reform, those savings are not used for deficit reduction. They are only used to extend the solvency of the program itself. And the plan I laid out includes fundamental tax reform, makes the tax code simpler, fairer, more efficient while raising more revenue to reduce our deficit and debt."

Manchin, Merkley, Brown-OH

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 19 2012 12:12 PM

Senator Manchin: (10:44 AM)
  • Spoke on a Manchin amendment to the Postal Reform bill.
    • SUMMARY "Today I would like to encourage all of my colleagues, to vote for an amendment I have offered that would prohibit any postal facility from being closed for two years. While the Postal Service figures out better ways, working with the Post Service unions, to get their financial house in order. I have offered this amendment because I've heard from my constituents, we simply cannot afford to let these facilities close in the communities that need them most The bill that we have before us would propose to close 3,700 rural post offices. I'm sure many in your own state. For a total savings of $200 million, a figure that is less than 1% of the Postal Service's $20 billion and is roughly equivalent to the amount that we spend in one day in the Afghanistan war ... And we're going to close 3,700 post offices for that one-day savings of a war in Afghanistan. While achieving very little in terms of the Postal Service' bottom line, this proposal would have an enormous impact on people all over the united states of America, including the people in West Virginia that would lose up to 150 of their post offices. This bill would also lower delivery standards by allowing the Postal Service to go to five-day service and eliminating door delivery and it would add to our national deficit. In short, I am not sure what exactly we are hoping to accomplish with this piece of legislation. Already in West Virginia we know for certain that three of our mail processing facilities will be closing ... The impact those closures will have on the bottom line is minimal but the impact to those communities is widely felt and deep. Rather than making drastic cuts on the front lines, the Postal Service needs to consider a different approach to getting their financial house in order. I truly believe that we can save the Postal Service without making cuts to the services our communities rely on and the lifeline that they are and are needed. And without adding to our enormous deficit. We can work together on a way to keep our postal facilities open. Expand services that raise revenue and eliminate enormous bonuses for executive and sustain six-day-a-week delivery services."

Senator Merkley: (11:16 AM)
  • Spoke on the Postal Reform bill.
    • SUMMARY "I want to focus on this particular aspect: that today we must modify the bill that is before us so that we do not end up destroying our rural post offices that are the heart of the communities that they serve. It was a few months ago that I was out in eastern Oregon, and I got a message that the Postmaster General had put on the list for closure 41 rural community post offices, and this was just in my state of Oregon. I, in the next couple days, dropped by several of those rural community post offices. I talked to the Postmaster. I talked to citizens who were nearby. And I quickly got feedback on the destruction that would happen in that rural community if we don't address this in this bill. Specifically there will be a huge impact on the small businesses that use the post offices to receive orders and to ship orders on a daily basis. Those businesses will not be able to function if they have to drive 30, 40, 50, 60 miles round-trip each day to pick up orders and to ship products. Huge waste of time, often on dangerous, windy, narrow roads. A huge additional cost. A huge distraction from the work that they do on their farms or on their ranches. In short, this will shut down a lot of small businesses. Or those small businesses will have to move. They'll move to larger towns. And when they move, the retail dollars move. It won't be long before that small store at the heart of that town shuts down. And in addition, I heard from seniors who receive their medicines through the mail. And in some cases, they're controlled medicines that they have to sign for. They have to be there in person. They can't simply receive them through a mailbox, if you will. They certainly are often - that is, our seniors - not always in the shape that they can drive daily to see if a medicine that they're waiting for has arrived, that they would have to go 40, 50, 60 miles round-trip to check and see, did their medicines come in. Those folks start thinking about , well, maybe I can't live in this rural community anymore. May have I need to move to a larger town that has a post office. If you go to a small town and you ask them, what is the most essential component for the success of their small town, their small businesses , they're going to tell you the rural post office. Without that, they're pretty much out of business. So how is it we spend so much time here talking about jobs and economic development and small businesses as the factory of job creation, and yet we have a bill before us that basically cuts the heart out of the small-town economy."

Senator Brown-OH: (12:05 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "In 2011, there were 38,000 reported cases of domestic violence in Ohio. Of course, many, many more than that, thousands more we think that went unreported. Women live, as do children, with fear and pain. These women live with the fear and pain of their partner's physical and emotional abuse. It's because of the Violence Against Women Act that they have somewhere to turn. It's because of that law that when they do, they have the help to escape violent relationships and the support to seek legal representation when they need to. It's why authorizing the Violence Against Women Act is so important. Women's shelters, domestic violence centers clearly would have trouble existing without this law. These are the very organizations that connect women with legal help, emergency housing, transportation and lock services. They help with primary prevention programs so children grow up learning the importance of healthy and safe relation. And the Violence Against Women Act is about assisting law enforcement officials who place themselves in danger when they investigate and prosecute cases of abuse and violence. Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act would invest in state grant programs like the grants to encourage arrest policies and enforcement protection order programs that help law enforcement respond to assault crimes. And the bill provides tools for law enforcement, victims' service providers and court personnel to identify better and manage high-risk offenders and prevent domestic violence homicides. Reauthorizing the violence against women act is long overdue."

Sessions, Kerry, Leahy, Blumenthal, Cantwell

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 19 2012 1:29 PM

Senator Sessions: (12:16 PM)
  • Spoke on Senator Conrad's "budget markup.â€?
    • SUMMARY "Now, the United States code requires that by April 1 the Budget Committee produce a budget, and by April 15 it is voted on the floor. The congressmen and senators who passed the Budget Act in 1974 that did that because we weren't having budgets moved promptly and on time, they laid out how it should be conducted, they didn't put down that you lose your pay if you don't produce a budget. They didn't put down you go to jail if you violate the statute. They just said that you should do it. So there is no penalty in the code. Senator Reid blocked the budget from coming to the floor three years ago. Then last year, despite the code requiring that we have a budget, Senator Reid and his democratic colleagues decided they didn't want to have a budget even in committee. They blocked it in committee. There was no budget in committee, as the law required, no budget brought to the floor except Senator McConnell forced a few votes but without the normal debate that you have on a budget process as it moves through the Senate. So I wondered what was going to happen this year. Well, what happened this year? Senator Conrad is not going to be running again, proud of his service on the Budget Committee, served on the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission, the gang of six he was involved in. He had some ideas. He wanted to do what the law said, I think. I think he was wanting to bring forth a budget. The last thing he did, he was going to comply with the law. At least that's what I thought. So he got started, we were prepared and on the eve of the hearing to mark up a budget, we were told, well, we were going to have not a normal markup but a markup in which we wouldn't vote. And you get to have opening statements, everybody could, and then you could - he would lay down the mark but nobody would vote for it or any other amendment or any other substitute mark. So I think that's a pretty sad thing . Senator Conrad said well, we may reconvene the committee after the election, but for sure we don't want to bring it up before the election. Now, I have got to tell you, in this town, the media, old hands around Washington, lobbyists, political gurus, they probably think that's clever. And they say it's clever sometimes on TV. Oh, Senator Reid didn't want to bring up a budget because his people would have to vote. That's good politics, they would say. Senator Reid said we're not going to bring up a budget last year because it would be foolish to bring up a budget, foolish for the United States of America to have a budget at a time when the debt is the greatest threat to our future of any other thing that's out there. It dwarfs any other danger our nation faces is our surging debt, and it's foolish to have a budget? No, he wasn't saying it's foolish to have a budget. He was foolish - he was basically saying for we Democrats to lay out a plan of how we're going to spend the nation's money because we're going to propose big tax increases in our plan if we put one out there, and they are not going to like it You can spin all this any way you want to but the Democratic majority in this Senate is incapable of uniting behind a plan that the American people would see as credible, that would change our dangerous debt path."

Senator Kerry: (12:41 PM)
  • Thanked Kathy Kerrigan for her service as Tax Counsel.
Senator Leahy: (12:49 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "The legislation I introduced with Senator Crapo is drawn for the needs of survivors of domestic and sexual violence. It's based on the recommendations we got from professionals who've worked so hard on this. It includes improvements suggested by law enforcement officers across the country. As we build on the progress we made in reducing domestic and sexual violence, we make vital improvements responding to remaining unmet needs to better serve the victims of violence. We incorporate the important work that Chairman Akaka and Senator Murkowski and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee have been doing to try to respond to the epidemic of domestic and sexual violence in the tribal communities. We increase the focus of effective response to sexual assault. Now, the incidence of domestic violence has fallen since VAWA was introduced by more than 50%. The progress has not yet translated to reducing sexual assault. The incidence of sexual assault remains high. While reporting rates and prosecution rates and conviction rates remain appallingly low. So we face that problem head-on. We ensure that funds are allocated to law enforcement and victims' service responses to sexual assault. It authorizes support for law enforcement sexual assault training and the reduction of the backlogs of untested rape kits We consolidate 13 programs into four to reduce duplication and bureaucratic barriers, cut the authorization level by more than $135 million a year, a decrease of 20% from the last reauthorization. We have significant accountability provisions, audit requirements, enforcement mechanism."

Senator Blumenthal: (1:01 PM)
  • Spoke on the Syrian governments crimes against humanity.
    • SUMMARY "In this body, we have not remained silent in the face of this humanitarian disaster. Approving on February 17, 2012, Senate Resolution 379 condemning violence by the government of Syria against the Syrian people. We have also passed Senate Resolution 391 which I cosponsored condemning violence by the government of Syria against journalists and expressing the sense of the senate on freedom of the press in Syria. Now the world should be inspired by the continuing courage and determination of Syrian protesters standing up and speaking up, despite the Syrian military gunning down and bombing down their homes, their businesses, their neighborhoods. I know our nation is at war and rightly weary of intervention abroad, but military intervention is not our only option, not the only means to summon support or step forward in solidarity with freedom fighters in Syria. Nor is military intervention alone sufficient to call for the world's conscience. Even without military action, we need not abdicate democratic rights and principles that underlie and underpin our own nation's constitutional ethos. One powerful and profound step that this body can take is to bear witness to the atrocities occurring in Syria. More than 9,000 people have died in Syria since these protesters began The Syrian thugs that detain and torture children must know that the United States bears witness to their crime. President Assad, we should say to him, the world is watching and witnessing as you use snipers to target civilians, indiscriminately shell homes and businesses, torture protesters who dare to speak of change. This resolution calls on President Obama to bear witness by using his existing authority. America can and must bear witness by taking and preserving evidence of actions and incidents in Syria that substitute crimes against humanitarian. America must bear witness by asking the president's newly created atrocities prevention board to consider crimes against humanitarian occurring in Syria. These atrocities epitomize the crimes that this prevention board must address. I commend President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton for their work at the United Nations and with our allies to assist the Syrian people, but we should make our own findings about what's occurred in Syria concerning crimes against humanitarian. We cannot avoid this obligation simply because the results may present difficult choices."

Senator Cantwell: (1:23 PM)
  • Marked the 51st Anniversary of the Seattle World's Fair.

Durbin, Reid

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 19 2012 2:25 PM

Senator Durbin: (1:59 PM)
  • Spoke on the Fairness in Federal Disaster Declaration Act.
    • SUMMARY "The bill that Senator Mark Kirk and I are introducing today assigns a value to each of the six factors that are to be considered in a disaster declaration analysis. When it comes to individual assistance, help for people to rebuild their homes and pay for temporary housing, it will use the same consistent factors no matter where the disaster strikes. The population of the state, that's worth 5% of the consideration. The consideration of the concentration of damages, 20%. The amount of trauma to the disaster area, 20%. The number of special populations, such as the elderly or unemployed, 20% of the analysis. The amount of voluntary assistance in the area, 10%. And the amount of insurance coverage for the type of damage incurred, 20%. Our bill also adds a seventh consideration to FEMA's metrics, the economics of the area. Turns out that southern Illinois is hard-pressed, a lot of unemployed people, struggling economy. So we take a look at the local tax base, the median income as it compares to the state, and the poverty rate in the area that's been hard-hit. It's reasonable that FEMA should take into consideration the size of your state. I don't argue with it. But it shouldn't loom large and disqualify situations which clearly deserve to be considered federal disasters. Assigning values to the factors will ensure that damage to any specific community weighs more than just the state's population ... We put together in this bill a standard for public assistance, money that would go to local units of government. Per-capita consideration, 10%; localized impact of the disaster, 40%; the estimated cost of assistance needed, 10%; the insurance coverage, 10%; the number of recent multiple disasters, 10%; an analysis of other federal assistance to the area, 10%. The bill would also add a seventh consideration, just as it did under individual assistance, and that is the economic circumstances of the affected area I think this is a more honest and realistic approach."

Senator Reid: (2:17 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • The ROLL CALL VOTES on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000, as modified, to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill; and the Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill, be postponed until a time to be determined between the two leaders (without objection).
  • Spoke on the Postal Reform bill.
    • SUMMARY "We are real close to an agreement. The main issue now is whether there will be a 50-vote hurdle or a 60-vote hurdle. We have been through that before. We obviously know where we're going to wind up, in my opinion, if we're going to have a bill. We'll work on that for the next hour or so and see what we come up with. We're really very, very close to getting something done We have a rule of relevance. It's really broad. That's indicated by the amendments that people have suggested. So I hope that we can work this out very, very soon. If we can't, then we'll have to come back and I guess walk away from postal reform, which is a shame. Everyone that is holding things up here should understand if there is no bill, you're not going to get what you want. If there is no bill, the post office will be drastically hit. If the Postmaster gave us until may 15 to come up with something. We have come up with nothing to this point. So if people are concerned about some rural post offices, well they should, or about processing centers. As of may 15, the Postmaster General, unless we do something, will have carte blanche to do anything he wants to do, and that is not what the senate wants. So those of you who are holding up the bill because you don't like it, you may not like what the result of having no bill is."


Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 19 2012 3:55 PM

Senator Durbin: (2:47 PM)
  • Spoke on student loan debt.
    • SUMMARY "Student loan debt in America has surpassed credit card debt in America, and it is growing by leaps and bounds. Decisions are being made by young people and their supportive parents and grandparents to get deep in debt to go to a school. These young people think they're doing the right thing. They have been told all their lives don't quit high school. You need to pick up additional education, additional skills. Grab a bachelors degree or professional degree. So they instinctively feel they're doing the right thing for themselves. And they feel if the federal government is loaning money to go to the school, that must be a good school, right? The federal government wouldn't loan money if it were a bad school. The honest answer is some of these are very bad schools. There are three numbers to remember when you talk about for-profit schools. 10: the percentage of high school graduates going to for-profit schools. 10%. 25, the percentage of aid going to education for for-profit schools. 25%. 50: the percentage of students defaulting on their loans. 50%. The rate of students defaulting on their loans is substantially higher than any other schools and you can open the box and say I think I understand why. They're being charged too much in tuition and they end up with training for an education that doesn't lead to a job or doesn't lead to a job that pays money, enough money to pay back their student loans. The other thing is we passed a law here, and we said the for-profit schools in America can receive no more - get ready - than 90% of their revenue directly from the federal government. How close is this to a federal agency? 10%, that's all they need to be a completely federal agency. We send subsidies to these for-profit schools by way of Pell grants and student loans to the tune of 90%. And if they train veterans, we waive that and let them go to 95% and higher. In the academic year 2009-2010, for-profit colleges took in $31 billion in title 4 federal student aid, Pell grants and student loans. For-profit colleges received one out of every four Pell grants given to institutions of higher education. Only 10% of the students going to these schools, 25% of the Pell grants."

Apr 19 2012 8:21 PM

Senator Lieberman: (6:46 PM)
  • Thanked colleagues for their support and work on the Postal Reform bill.

Senator Collins: (6:48 PM)
  • Thanked colleagues for their support and work on the Postal Reform bill.

Senator Reid: (6:50 PM)
  • Performed Wrap Up --
    • Majority Leader Reid vitiated Cloture on:
      1. Reid (for Lieberman/Collins)substitute amendment #2000, as modified; and
      2. S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill.
  • Monday, April 23th â€"
    • The Senate will convene at 12:00 PM and resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • At 2:00 PM, the Senate will begin consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. J. Res. 36, the NRLB Ambush Union Elections Rule Resolution of Disapproval, with the time until 4:00 PM equally divided.
    • At 4:00 PM, the Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • At 5:00 PM, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 30 minutes of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar #528, Brian C. Wimes, of Missouri, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri.
    • Circa 5:30 PM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the nomination.
  • Tuesday, April 24th --
    • At 10:30 AM, the Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. J. Res. 36, the NRLB Ambush Union Elections Rule Resolution of Disapproval, with the time until 12:30 PM equally divided.
    • At 12:30 PM, the Senate will recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus lunches
    • At 2:15 PM, the Senate will proceed to a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Proceed to S.J. Res. 36.
      • If the Motion to Proceed is Agreed to, the time for debate with respect to S.J. Res. 36, will be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees. Upon the use or yielding back of that time, the Senate will proceed to a ROLL CALL VOTE on passage of S.J. Res. 36.
    • At a time to be determined on Tuesday, the Senate will conduct a series of ROLL CALL VOTES in relation to the amendments in the order listed below. There will be two minutes of debate, prior to each vote, and all votes after the first vote will be 10 minute votes.
    • The following 39 amendments are pending to S. 178, the Postal Reform bill, and will be subject to a 60-vote threshold:
      • McCain amendment #2001;
      • Tester amendment #2056;
      • Coburn amendment #2060;
      • McCain amendment #2033;
      • Wyden-Feinstein #2020;
      • Coburn amendment #2058;
      • McCaskill-Merkley amendment #2031;
      • Coburn amendment #2061;
      • Snowe amendment #2080;
      • Udall-NM amendment #2043;
      • Durbin amendment #2082;
      • Akaka amendment #2034;
      • Bennet-Blunt amendment #2047;
      • Corker amendment #2083;
      • Mikulski amendment #2003;
      • Akaka amendment #2049;
      • Paul amendment #2025;
      • Manchin amendment #2079;
      • Paul amendment #2026;
      • Bingaman amendment #2076;
      • Paul amendment #2027;
      • Cardin amendment #2040;
      • Paul amendment #2028;
      • Carper amendment #2065;
      • Paul amendment #2029;
      • Carper amendment #2066;
      • Paul amendment #2039;
      • Casey amendment #2042;
      • Paul amendment #2038;
      • Landrieu amendment #2072;
      • DeMint amendment #2046;
      • McCaskill amendment #2030;
      • Coburn amendment #2059;
      • Pryor amendment #2036;
      • Rockefeller amendment #2073;
      • Rockefeller amendment #2074;
      • Schumer amendment #2050;
      • Tester amendment #2032; and
      • Warner 2071, as modified.
  • Upon disposition of the amendments, the substitute amendment, if amended, will be Agreed to, and the Senate will proceed to a ROLL CALL VOTE on passage of S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill (60 votes required).
The Senate stands adjourned until 12:00 PM Monday, April 23th.