Floor Updates

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Apr 25 2012 9:30 AM

The Senate Convened.

Reid, Reed

Opening Remarks

Apr 25 2012 9:44 AM

Senator Reid: (9:33 AM)
  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill. The time until 2:00 PM will be equally divided, with the Republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 30 minutes.
      • The time from 11:30 AM-12:30 PM will be controlled by the Republicans and the time from 12:30 PM-1:30 PM will be controlled by the Majority.
    • At 2:00 PM, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill, and conduct a series of ROLL CALL VOTES on the amendments listed below. All amendments will be subject to a 60-vote threshold and budget points of order and applicable motions to waive are in order. Please note not all of the amendments will require a ROLL CALL VOTE. Upon disposition of the amendments, the substitute amendment, as amended, if amended, will be Agreed to, and the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on passage of S. 1789, as amended, the Postal Reform bill (60 votes required).
      1. Manchin amendment #2079 (extend closing/consolidation moratorium);
      2. Paul amendment #2026 (performance-based pay);
      3. Bingaman amendment #2076 (state liaisons);
      4. Paul amendment #2027 (close all Capitol Complex post offices except one);
      5. Cardin amendment #2040 (prohibit closing of facility if nearest facility is more than 50 miles away);
      6. Paul amendment #2028 (alternative postal service delivery pilot program);
      7. Carper amendment #2065 (first-class stamp rate);
      8. Paul amendment #2029 (impact of regulations on Postal Service profitability plan);
      9. Carper amendment #2066 (limit Postal Service executive compensation);
      10. Paul amendment #2039 (collective bargaining prohibition);
      11. Casey amendment #2042 (maintain current delivery time for market-dominant products);
      12. Paul amendment #2038 (first-class mail and mailbox use);
      13. Landrieu amendment #2072 (small business impact of closures/consolidations);
      14. DeMint amendment #2046 (employee authorization re: using dues for union non-representational activities);
      15. McCaskill amendment #2030 (workers compensation);
      16. Coburn amendment #2059 (require closure of unprofitable post office facilities);
      17. Pryor amendment #2036 (sense of Senate re: closings and consolidations);
      18. Rockefeller amendment #2073 (Medicare enrollment);
      19. Rockefeller amendment #2074 (Postal Service Health Benefits Program);
      20. Schumer amendment #2050 (maintain all current door delivery point services);
      21. Tester amendment #2032 (limit pay of Postal Service executives); and
      22. Warner amendment #2071, as modified (retirement reporting).
    • Upon disposition of S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill, the Motion to Proceed to S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill, will be Agreed to and the Senate will begin consideration of the bill.
  • Spoke on student loans.
    • SUMMARY "One of the things we have to do is stop the raising of interest rates from students who borrow money to go to school. We were fortunate to reduce this rate from 6.8% to 3.4%. We cut it in half. We did this in 2007. We had just obtained the majority here in the Senate, and we worked on this very, very hard. It went to President Bush. He signed the law, and rightfully so. And everyone should understand this was a bill that was signed by President Bush. So we need to go back to what President Bush signed. We cannot have these rates go up. If we don't act by July 1, more than seven million students will be forced to pay an average of $1,000 more each year for these student loans. College is already unaffordable for too many people."

Senator Reed: (9:39 AM)
  • Honored His Excellency Archbishop Choloyan of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America.

Heller, Moran, Cornyn, McConnell

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 25 2012 10:25 AM

Senator Heller: (9:43 AM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "Violence in all forms is unacceptable, but it is particularly horrifying when it takes place in a home which should be a sanctuary for all who leave there. A recent CDC report found nearly half of all the women living in my home state of Nevada at the time of the survey had experienced domestic violence at some point in their lifetime. This statistic is sickening and unacceptable. Women and children often feel powerless to escape abusive or dangerous situations which often, too often, end in tragedy. My home state knows this sad reality all too well. Nevada is ranked first in the nation for women murdered by men in domestic violence. Sadly, our state has appeared in the top-three states in this horrific category in the last seven years. Thankfully, organizations throughout the state of Nevada worked tirelessly to help those jeopardized by domestic violence. While these groups have faced significant challenges due to funding cuts in recent years, they're doing their best about what they have to provide and to provide assistance to families census of domestic violence services, nearly 500 Nevadans received crisis assistance through Nevada's domestic violence programs on a single day. 272 found refuge in emergency shelters or temporary housing, 204 received nonresidential assistance. Staff and volunteers field an average of six emergency calls per hour. Thousands of Nevadans could not access the services they needed last year. Nevada's struggling economy has limited state resources to help those - limited state resources to help those who are affected by domestic violence. Reauthorization of VAWA will provide authority for organizations who work hard every day to prevent and address domestic violence. I trust this bill will ensure and enable domestic violence programs to plan for the future and serve even more Americans in need."

Senator Moran: (9:48 AM)
  • Spoke on energy and gas prices.
    • SUMMARY "In the President's State of the Union address the President claimed that oil and gas production halls increased under his leadership. While private lands are being further developed and energy production is being increased on those private lands, energy production on federal lands has actually decreased. Oil production on federal property fell by 14% and natural gas production fell by 11% just last year. The failure to explore and develop our vast natural resources hits an unfortunate milestone last week. Ten years ago the United States senate failed to open up a fractional portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve for responsible resource development. Those opposed to developing that small portion that have vast area claimed that the resources available in ANWR would not reach the market for ten years. Well, here we are ten years later, no closer than we were in 2002 to gaining our energy independence. American businesses involved in the oil and gas industry can bring these resources to market and send a strong signal that the U.S. is serious about energy security. Yet rather than allowing these companies to deploy their expertise and increase production, there are those who say oil and gas companies deserve even more taxes - a tax increase. Raising taxes on the very businesses tasked with locate, extracting and distributing the fuel that powers our economy would do nothing, nothing, to lower the cost and reduce our dependence on foreign oil would do exactly the opposite. When the Congressional Research Service analyzed President Obama's proposal to raise taxes on the oil and gas companies, they concluded that this would have the effect of "decreasing exploration while increasing prices and increasing the nation's foreign oil dependence." The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service says that these taxes will hurt consumers. To increase domestic production I've sponsored the 3D act which would require the administration to reverse their cancellation of dozens of oil and gas leases, open areas previously restricted to responsible oil and gas development such as the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve and streamline the process that ties up projects in costly litigation. The administration is also delaying projects that will improve our energy's infrastructure. The President's denial of the Trans-Canada Keystone XL pipeline delayed bringing thousands of jobs. This is exactly the tippet of investment that the President should be encouraging. Construction projects create jobs and boost local economies."

Senator Cornyn: (9:56 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cornyn amendment (Justice for Victims) to the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "This amendment would help us learn more about this hidden backlog and ultimately help state and local law enforcement officials to end it ... The Justice for Victims amendment would reserve 7% of existing Debbie Smith Act grant funding for the purpose of helping state and local governments to conduct audits of their rape kit backlogs ... It would add accountability by requiring grantees of these funds to upload critical information about the size, scope, and status of their backlog into a new sexual assault evidence forensic registry. This valuable information would also help the National Institute of Justice better target the approximately $100 million of existing appropriations already available for this type of testing. And in the spirit of open government, the amendment would also require the Department of Justice to publish aggregate non-personally identifying information about the rape kit backlog on an appropriate internet web site. To ensure that these audit grants do not take resources away from actual testing, my amendment would increase the amount of Debbie Smith Act appropriations required to be spent directly on laboratory testing from the 40% currently on the underlying bill, the Leahy bill, which will be the base bill, to 75%. So what it will do is it will actually take more of the funding that congress intended be used to process rape kits and do actual testing. It would take more of it and return it to that core function. A comprehensive approach to crime prevention and victims' rights also requires updated tools for federal law enforcement officials to target fugitives and repeat offenders. My amendment addresses this need by including bipartisan language authored by Senator Jeff Sessions that would authorize the United States Marshal Service to issue administrative subpoenas for the purpose of investigating unregistered sex offenders. It would actually be limited to that narrow purpose. This provision would allow the Marshal Service to swiftly obtain time-sensitive tracking information such as rent records and credit card statements without having to go through the grand jury process, which may or may not be necessary, depending on the circumstances. Such authority is urgently needed given the long and complicated paper trail that fugitive sex offenders investigations often entail. My amendment will guarantee we hand down tough punishments appropriately to some of the worst crimes against women and children. For example, it includes enhanced sentencing provisions for aggravated domestic violence resulting in death or life-threatening bodily injury to the victim. Aggravated sexual abuse and child sex trafficking. Preventing these horrible crimes I think is at the heart of the purpose of the violence against women act my amendment would further shed light on one of the greatest scourges of our time, and that is child prostitution and the trafficking that goes along with it I believe the Justice for Victims amendment would reduce the rape kit backlog, take serial perpetrators off the street and ultimately reduce the number of victims of sex violence."

Senator McConnell: (10:12 AM)
  • Spoke on the Obama economy.
    • SUMMARY "One of the most heartbreaking yet unreported consequences of the Obama economy is the extent to which college graduates today are stepping out into a world where the possibilities no longer seem endless. Unlike generations past, today's college graduates are more likely to end up either unemployed or back at home with mom and dad. Saddled with student loan debt that they are to end up with for the rest of their lives. And they don't tend to have the opportunity to get that job of their dreams. For a great many of them, the excitement and the promise of President Obama's campaign four years ago have long since faded as their hopes collided with an economy that he's done so much to reshape. So it's understandable that the President is so busy these days trying to persuade these students that the struggles they face, or will soon face, have more to do with a piece of legislation that we expect to fix than it does with his own failed promises. It's understandable he'd want to make them believe the fairy tale that there are those in Washington who would rather help billionaires and millionaires than struggling college students, but that doesn't make this kind of deception any more acceptable. Today the President will hold another rally at which he'll tell students that unless congress acts, their interest rates will go up in July. What he won't tell them is that he cared so little about this legislation that created this problem five years ago that he didn't even show up to vote for it. And that once he became President, he didn't even bother to include a fix for this problem in his own budget. Look, if the President was more interested in solving this problem than in hearing the sound of his own voice or the applause of college students, all he'd have to do is pick up the phone and work it out with congress. We don't want the interest rates on these loans to double in this economy. We don't want today's graduates to have to suffer any more than they already are as a result of this President's failure to turn the economy around after more than three years in office. Really the only question is how to pay for it. Democrats want to pay for it by raiding social security and Medicare. And by making it even harder for small businesses to hire. Time when millions of Americans and countless college students can't even find a decent job, it makes no sense whatsoever to punish the very businesses we're counting on to hire them. It's counterproductive and the wrong direction to take. The only reason Democrats proposed this solution to the problem is to get Republicans to oppose it and make us cast a vote they think will make us look bad to voters they need to win in the next election. They admitted using the floor as an extension of the Obama campaign so no one should be surprised that they opted for a political showboat over a solution. What Republicans are saying is let's end the political games and solve the problem like adults. This is an easy one. The only real challenge in this debate is coaxing the President off the campaign table and up to the negotiating table to get him to choose results over rallies. We can solve the problems we face if only he'll let us do it."
  • Honored Garry L. Woods Jr. of Shepherdsville, Kentucky, who was killed on April 10, 2009, in Mosul, Iraq.

Manchin, Begich, Tester, Durbin

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 25 2012 11:27 AM

Senator Manchin: (10:25 AM)
  • Honored the students and staff of the Meadow Bridge High School. For the past 11 years, the staff at Meadow Bridge High School registered 100% of their senior class to vote.

Senator Begich: (10:33 AM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "The law has many differences. We are making progress, and we know a great deal more about domestic violence than when VAWA was written. Services for victims have improved. More communities offer safer shelters. Local state and federal laws are stronger. Listen to these national statistics. Since the law was first passed in 1994, the number of women killed by an intimate partner has dropped 30%. An annual rates of domestic violence against women have decreased by two-thirds. VAWA really does save lives and works. Yet, there are still far too many awful stories, inexcusable numbers, especially in my home state. Alaska continues to have some of the worst statistics in the country. Three out of every four Alaskans have or known someone who experienced sexual violence. Child sexual assault in Alaska is almost six times the national average. One out of every 100 adult women in Alaska experienced sexual violence, partner violence or both. The rape rate in Alaska is nearly two and a half times the national average, even worse for Alaska's native women. In Alaska's rural communities, domestic violence and sexual assault is far too common. Our numbers are often far worse than the rest of the country and clearly we have to continue to do more work in this area. We're insisting that Alaska tries to retain their current authority to issue civil protective orders. I'm working on a separate bill to expand resources for Alaska tribes in their fight against violence. So you can see why I'm standing here today. We need to do something about this. Not someday, not next year, but truly today. I've been around here for three years now and I'm not shy about having my say in a good political fight. But in this case, on this issue, truly I have no patience. It's hard to believe we even have to debate the law that protects people from abuse and sexual violence. It's truly a piece of legislation we should just move forward and vote on. We need fewer victims, whoever they are: women, kids, white, black, American Indian, Alaskan native, immigrants, lesbians, even men."

Senator Tester: (10:54 AM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "Although we've made good progress curbing domestic and sexual violence over the past decade, we still have work before us takes another step towards our goal of ending domestic and sexual violence. It might not go far enough but it is progress Over the years the Violence Against Women Act has helped reduce the rates of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. But the numbers are still stunning. This bill gives us an opportunity to help victims get out of a dangerous situation. We have an obligation to pass this reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act Montana is no different than the rest of the nation. There were almost 5,000 cases of domestic violence or sexual assault in 2011, 10% of them on Montana kids. Federal funding is crucial for Montana shelters, crisis lines, mental health centers. The programs in Montana rely heavily on Violence Against Women Act funding to keep women and children safe and to administer the important programs we have operating in Montana. It will also promote changes in the culture of law enforcement, pushing governments and courts to treat violence against women and children as a serious violation in criminal law and to hold the offenders accountable The Violence Against Women Act provides funding to strengthen law enforcement, prosecution, and victim services. Each community has flexibility to use these funds in ways that respond to folks most in need and take into account the unique cultural and geographical factors. This is especially important for a rural state like Montana ... For states and cities with specialized programs, this wasn't a big concern. In Montana and other rural states, we have county and regional service coalitions. That means funds must be flexible enough so that we can serve everyone who walks in. If rural areas had to carve out funds for each type of service, people wouldn't get what they need to regain their footing. The next closest facility might be 90 miles away. That's not a referral. It is not help. It is another obstacle for folks who are already face ago life-threatening situation."

Senator Durbin: (11:08 AM)
  • Spoke on the student loan crisis.
    • SUMMARY "A little over a year ago for the first time in history, student loan debt in America surpassed credit card debt. One of the reasons there's been such a huge influx is that college costs continue to rise at unsustainable rates. Tuition and fees at four-year schools have rocketed up 300% from 1990-2011. And over the same period, broad inflation was just 75%. Even health care costs rose at half the rate of the cost of higher education. The average for-profit college costs $30,900 a year in tuition and fees. Private nonprofit institutions aren't too far behind. Average tuition and fees run about $26,600. Schools with larger endowments charge even more, upwards of $50,000 to $57,000 in total fees they use their endowment to give students large financial aid packages, which is admiral, but it has consequences. The elevated sticker price for these schools provides for-profit colleges the cover to raise their prices to similar levels. And let me remind you, for-profit schools, for-profit colleges in America get more - up to and more than 90% of their revenue directly from the fell government. They are 10% away from being federal agencies. Students graduating this year have one advantage - if they took out federal subsidized loans, their interest rate is low. In 2007, Congress sent interest rates on subsidized student loans for the last several years. Current graduates have low, affordable interest rates on their federal loans from 6.8% to 3.4% fending on the year they took - depending on the year they took out the loan. Graduates next year may not be so lucky. The interest rate goes up to 6.8% for all unless congress acts. That's because these rates, set to double for 740 million students across the country on the 1st of July, will only be changed if Congress acts. That's going to affect 365,000-plus borrowers in my state of Illinois. Each borrower in Illinois will save a thousand dollars-plus over the life of their loan if current interest rates of 3.4% continue. Across the state, borrowers will save a total of $387,000."

Alexander, Barrasso, Inhofe, Corker

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 25 2012 12:29 PM

Senator Alexander: (11:27 AM)
  • Spoke on the student loan crisis.
    • SUMMARY "I'm glad the President's bringing this issue up because the real driver of higher tuition and higher interest rates are the President's own policies. In two ways. The government and the congressional Democrats who passed the health care law actually are overcharging students, all students, on their student loans, and using some of the money to pay for the health care law. Now, this isn't just my figures. The Congressional Budget Office said that when the new health care law passed, Congress took $61 billion of so-called savings - I'd call them profits - on student loans, and it spent $10 billion to reduce the debt, $8.7 billion on the health care law, and the rest on Pell grants. Now, how does that work? How could Congress be overcharging students? Well, under the law, the government borrows money at 2.8%. Under the law, the government loans to students at 6.8%. That produces a profit. The Congressional Budget Office has said that the Congress could lower the interest rate from 6.8% to 5.3% and save all students $2,200 over the life of their average ten-year loan. So I'm introducing today legislation on my behalf and that of others called the Student Interest Rate Reduction Act. And what we will propose with this law is that we will keep the interest rate at 3.4% for subsidized Stafford loans beginning with the year July 1, just as President Obama has proposed, just as Governor romney has proposed, and we will pay for that by taking back from the health care law money that the congress overcharged students on their student loans. This one-year solution as I said, will save students about $7 a month on interest payments on their new loans, about $83 a year. It will cost the taxpayers about $6 billion which will be paid for by reductions in savings from the health care act Now let's talk just a moment, about the real cause of tuition going up and loans going up. And that is federal health care policy. When I was governor of Tennessee in the 1980's, the same thing would happen every year as I made up my state budget and it's happening today in every state capital in America. I'd work through all the things we had to fund with state tax dollars. The roads, the schools, the prisons and then I'd get down to the budgeting process and have some money left. And the choice would always be between Medicaid and higher education. Our public colleges and universities. I spent my whole eight years trying to keep the amount that we gave to Medicaid down so I could get up the amount for colleges and universities because I thought that was the future of our state. We had a formula back then that said if you went to a public college a or university the taxpayer would pay 70% and the student would pay for 7030% and if we raised your tuition, we'd raise the state's share. We kept that 70-30. That's turned completely around today in Tennessee. It's now 30-70. The students pay 70% and the taxpayers pay 30% and why is that? It's because for that 30 years, orders from Washington about Medicaid mandates to every state have forced governors and legislatures to take the money they would otherwise spend for colleges, public colleges and universities, and spend it instead for Medicaid and as a result, the state colleges and universities have less money and to get more money they raise tuition. So when tuition goes up at the University of California and you see students protesting, the reason is in Washington. The reason is in Washington."

Senator Barrasso: (11:41 AM)
  • A Second Opinion.
    • SUMMARY "The President was caught and called out by the GAO when they have uncovered another gimmick in the President's health care law. It's a gimmick that tries to cover up how the President's law devastate seniors' ability to get the care they need from the doctor they want at a cost they can afford. The Obama administration's latest trick targets seniors on a program called Medicare Advantage. It's a program that one out of four seniors, people on Medicare, rely on for their health care coverage. As someone who has taken care of lots of Medicare patients over the years - we know that one in four, about 12 million seniors are on this Medicare Advantage program, and the reason it's an advantage for them is that it helps with preventive medicine, helps with coordinating their care. They like it because of eyeglasses and eye care, they liked it because of hearing aids, and each and every one of those 12 million knows that they are on Medicare Advantage because it is a choice that they make to go on to the program. Well, as people all around the country remember, the White House and Democrats in the effort to pass the health care law cut $500 billion from Medicare, not to strengthen Medicare, not to save Medicare for our seniors, no, but to start a whole new government program for other people. From Medicare, about $145 billion of that money came from this Medicare Advantage program, a program that people really, really like. These cuts would have gone into place this year, actually, October of this year. Well, that's the time of the year when seniors are supposed to register for their Medicare Advantage plans for the next year. Now, we're talking about October of 2012, the month right before the Presidential election, and the cuts coming then will make those millions of American seniors who have chosen Medicare advantage, I would believe make them very, very unhappy with this administration and the Democrats in Congress who shove this down the throats of the American people, in spite of the American people saying no, don't pass this health care law. Too bad, according to the President and the Democrats. We know what's better for you, Democrats believing that one-size-fits-all is best, that a government-centered program is better than a patient-centered program. So the President and his folks saw this political problem developing. It's a real political problem for the President. Well, what did the administration do? Well, they put in place a massive $8.3 billion dollar so-called pilot program. What it would do is temporarily, temporarily reverse most of these Medicare Advantage cuts. Not for too long. Just to get the President and the Democrats past the election of 2012. According to the GAO, 90% of this Medicare Advantage enrollees would be covered by these contracts eligible for this so-called bonus in 2012 and 2013. This is a sham program. It is seven times larger than any similar demonstration program that Medicare has ever attempted. And Medicare's in place now for 50 years. You know, you take a look at this, this is the largest ever, seven times larger than anything they have ever attempted. Even the GAO it was supposed to be and is nonpartisan. They called out the President and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. This program wasn't actually designed to improve the Medicare Advantage program. That's why this is a sham. The reality is that the so-called bonus program is a political stunt."

Senator Inhofe: (11:52 AM)
  • Spoke on EPA's false accusations.
    • SUMMARY "No matter how much President Obama may pretend to be a friend of oil, gas and coal, his green team constantly retains that truth that the Obama administration is fully engaged in all-out war on hydraulic fracturing. Thinking people won't know if you kill hydraulic fracturing, you kill oil and gas production in America. Not longer after Armandaris made his stunning admission, the EPA apparently began to zero in on the first crucifixion victims. The agency targeted U.S. natural gas producers in Pennsylvania, in Texas, in Wyoming, and in all three of these cases before these investigations were complete, EPA made headline-grabbing statements, either insinuating or proclaiming that hydraulic fracturing was the cause of water contamination, but in each case - these are three cases now - the EPA's comments were contrived, and despite their best efforts, they have been unable to find any science to back up their accusations. Of course, this administration has a propensity for making embarrassing announcements on days where they hope no one will notice, so during the past two-week recess while congress was out of town, EPA released several late Friday night statements reversing their earlier assertions. But still, the problem is people are still walking around believing these things are true. Happen, not let them get away with it. The American people deserve to know exactly why the EPA is pushing ahead with such intensity to capture alarmist headlines, and then when no one is looking, when their investigation shows that they are wrong, quietly back away from it. Now, the EPA in Texas, Wyoming and Pennsylvania not only reversed their assertions but did so with a stunning lack of transparency strategically attempting to make these announcements as quickly as possible and at times they knew Congress wouldn't be looking. Let me just quickly highlight a few of these examples. Parker county, Texas, the agency's major announcement, the withdrawal of their administrative order was announced at a time when knew song was adjourning for Easter recess. In Dimmick, Pennsylvania, EPA made two announcements. The same thing happened there. In Pavilion, Wyoming, EPA announced the reversal as Congress was wrapping up that week. So the same thing was happening that week."
  • Spoke on energy and gas prices.
    • SUMMARY "Last week - and I was really redeemed by this. I've been saying all along that of all the untruths that this President has been saying, the one he says more than any other is that we only have 2% of gas and oil and we use 25%. It's just not true. I don't want to use the "L" word. I don't want to get everybody mad but it's just not true. Well, anyway, the U.S. Geological Survey Revealed just a few days ago that President Obama's favorite talking point, that we only have 2% of the world's proven oil, is less than honest. The 2% the President quotes are proven reserves but he ignores our recoverable reserves. This is coming from the USGS. In our recoverable reserves which are some of the large nest the world. According to information gleaned from the USGS report, America has 26% of the world's recoverable conventional oil reserves and that doesn't begin to include our enormous oil shale, tight oil and heavy oil deposits. I mean, that's just a fraction of it. But that's 26% of the world's recoverable oil. Our problem is our politicians won't allow us, and particularly the Obama administration, to drill on public lands. And be able to capture that. We also hold almost 30% of the world's technically recoverable conventional natural gas. In other words, to put it in a way I think is more understanding, you - we have, just from our own resources at our own consumption level, we could run this country for 90 years on natural gas at our current level of consumption and for 60 years on oil. And that's what we have. That's the answer to the problem. It's called supply and demand. There's not a person listening now or not listening now who didn't remember back in the elementary school days that supply and demand is real. But we all know that he remains fully committed to his cap and trade global warming green agenda, a plan that severely restricts domestic development of natural gas, oil and coal to drive up the price of fossil fuels so that their favored forms of green energy can compete. It's quite simply a war on affordable energy and at a time they weren't afraid to admit it."

Senator Corker: (12:21 PM)
  • Spoke on the Postal Reform bill.
    • SUMMARY "We committed in a bipartisan way, at a time when our nation has tremendous deficits, to basically pare down spending. What's happening with this bill and the same thing happened with the highway bill that was just passed, is that people on both sides of the aisle are saying, well, you know, the Postal Service is very popular, so therefore what we're going to do is not worry about the budget caps that we've put in place. And it's just hard for me to believe. I know there's a lot of accounting around the Postal Reform bill that it's difficult for people to comprehend but one thing - and what's happening with this bill, both the Ranking and Chair continue to talk about the fact that some money came from the Postal Service into the general fund and now it's just being repaid. And, by the way, I agree with that. But the problem is that it still increases our deficit by $11 billion, and it absolutely violates the agreement that we put in place last August 2. And the responsible way for us to deal with this, would be to say we understand that this is money that should go back to the postal service, but to live within the agreement that we put in place, we need to take $11 billion from someplace else. And what I fear is getting ready to happen today - and, again, I know there was a budget point of order that was placed against this bill. I supported that budget point of order. The Ranking and Chair who again, I respect tremendously, said let us go through this process and see if there are some amendments that actually pare down the cost. Well, that's not happening. So what I fear is going to happen this afternoon is that in an overwhelming bipartisan way Congress is going to say one more time to the American people you absolutely cannot trust us to deal with your money."

Udall-NM, Shaheen

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 25 2012 2:03 PM

Senator Udall-NM: (12:29 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "Not all women have seen the benefits of the Violence Against Women Act. That is why the tribal provisions in the reauthorization are so important. Native women are 2 1/2 times more likely than other U.S. women to be raped. One in three will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. It's estimated that 3-5 native women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. Those numbers are tragic. Those numbers tell a story of great human suffering, of women in desperate situations, desperate for support and too often we have failed to provide that support. But the frequency of violence against native women is only part of the tragedy. To make matters worse, many of these crimes go unprosecuted and unpunished. Here's the problem. The tribes have no authority to prosecute non-Indians for domestic violence crimes against their Native American spouses or partners within the boundaries of their own tribal lands. And yet over 50% of native women are married to non-Indians. 76% of the overall population living on tribal lands are non-Indians. Instead, under existing law, these crimes fall exclusively under federal jurisdiction, but federal prosecutors have limited resources. They may be located hours away from tribal communities. As a result, non-Indian perpetrators often go unpunished the cycle of violence continues and often escalates at the expense of Native American victims. On some tribal lands, the homicide rate for native women is up so ten times the national average. But this starts with small crimes, small acts of violence that may not rise to the attention of a federal prosecutor. In 2006 and 2007, U.S. attorneys prosecuted only 45 misdemeanor crimes on tribal lands. For perspective, the amendment is river reservation in Arizona, which is - the Salt River reservation in Arizona, which is a relatively small range, reported over 450 domestic violence cases in 2006 alone. Those numbers are appalling. Native women should not be abandoned to a jurisdictional loophole. In effect, we have a prosecution-free zone. The tribal provisions in the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act provide a remedy. The bill allows tribal courts to prosecute non-Indians in a narrow set of cases that meet the following specific conditions. The crime must have occurred in Indian country. The crime must be either a domestic violence or dating violence offense or a violation of a protection order. And the non-Indian defendant must reside in Indian country, be employed in Indian country, or be the spouse or intimate partner of a member of the prosecuting tribe. This bill does not and I emphasize does not extend tribal jurisdiction to include general crimes of violence by non-Indians or crimes between two non-Indians or crimes between persons with no ties to the tribe. Nothing in this provision diminishes or alters the jurisdiction of any federal or state court It provides comprehensive protections to all criminal defendants who are prosecuted in tribal courts, whether or not the defendant is a Native American. Defendants would essentially have the same rights in tribal court as in state court. These include, among many others, the right to counsel, to a speedy trial, to due process, the rights against unreasonable search and seizure, double jeopardy and self-incrimination. In fact, a tribe that does not provide these protections cannot prosecute non-Indians under this provision. Some have also questioned whether Congress has the authority to expand tribal criminal jurisdiction to cover non-Indians."

Senator Shaheen: (1:25 PM)
  • Spoke on the Highway bill.
    • SUMMARY "42 days ago - that's more than 1,000 hours - 42 days ago, 74 senators from this chamber voted to pass a badly needed long-term transportation bill. At that time I joined many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to call on the House to consider the Senate's bill or a similar bipartisan bill that would provide highway and transit programs with level funding for at least two years. Now, while the House has not yet passed a long-term bill, I am pleased that they voted to go to conference with the Senate. That means we're one step closer to finally having legislation in place that would support nearly two million jobs - about 6,600 of those in New Hampshire - a bill that would maintain current funding levels and that would avoid an increase in the deficit and the gas taxes. I urge the House and the speaker to immediately appoint conferees so we can continue moving forward and finally pass a long-term transportation bill. We can't wait any longer. 937 days have passed since our last federal transportation bill expired. If you're counting, that's two years, six months and 27 days. And if the House doesn't join the senate and support a reasonable bipartisan transportation bill that's paid for, states and towns won't have the certainty that they need from Washington to plan their projects and improve their transportation infrastructure. According to numerous studies, deteriorating infrastructure, the highways, the railroads, the transit systems, the bridges that knit our economy together cost businesses more than $100 billion a year in lost productivity. That's because we're not making the investments we need to make. And this is no time to further saw programs that encourage economic growth and create the climate for businesses to succeed."

Vote Results (Manchin amendment #2079)

Postal Reform bill (S. 1789)

Apr 25 2012 2:36 PM

Not Agreed to, 43-53:
Manchin amendment #2079 (extend closing/consolidation moratorium) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Apr 25 2012 2:46 PM

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Bingaman amendment #2076 (state liaisons) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill; and
Paul amendment #2027 (reduce number of Capitol Complex post offices) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill.

Vote Results (Paul amendment #2028)

Postal Reform bill (S. 1789)

Apr 25 2012 3:00 PM

Not Agreed to, 35-64:
Paul amendment #2028 (alternative postal service delivery pilot program) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Apr 25 2012 3:09 PM

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Paul amendment #2029, as modified (impact of regulations on Postal Service profitability plan) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill; and
Carper amendment #2066 (limit Postal Service executive compensation) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill.

Vote Results (Paul amendment #2039)

Postal Reform bill (S. 1789)

Apr 25 2012 3:24 PM

Not Agreed to, 23-76:
Paul amendment #2039 (collective bargaining prohibition) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Casey amendment #2042)

Postal Reform bill (S. 1789)

Apr 25 2012 3:45 PM

Not Agreed to, 44-54:
Casey amendment #2042 (maintain current delivery time for market-dominant products) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Landrieu amendment #2072)

Postal Reform bill (S. 1789)

Apr 25 2012 3:50 PM

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Landrieu amendment #2072 (small business impact of closures/consolidations) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill.

Vote Results (DeMint amendment #2046)

Postal Reform bill (S. 1789)

Apr 25 2012 4:08 PM

Not Agreed to, 46-53:
DeMint amendment #2046 (employee authorization re: using dues for union non-representational activities) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Apr 25 2012 4:28 PM

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
McCaskill amendment #2030 (workers compensation) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill;
Pryor amendment #2036 (sense of Senate re: closings and consolidations) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill;
Rockefeller amendment #2073, as modified (Medicare enrollment) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill;
Rockefeller amendment #2074, as modified (Postal Service Health Benefits Program) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill;
Schumer amendment #2050 (maintain all current door delivery point services) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill;
Warner amendment #2071, as modified (retirement reporting) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill; and
Tester amendment #2032 (limit pay of Postal Service executives) to Reid (for Lieberman/Collins) substitute amendment #2000 to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill.

Vote Results (Passage)

Postal Reform bill (S. 1789)

Apr 25 2012 4:58 PM

Passed, 62-37:
S. 1789, as amended, the Postal Reform bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Leahy, Hutchison

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 25 2012 6:03 PM

Senator Leahy: (5:35 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • The Motion to Proceed to S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill, is Agreed to and the Senate will begin consideration of the bill, for debate only (without objection).
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "I continue to urge all senators to join together to protect the most vulnerable victims of violence, included battered immigrant women assisting law enforcement, Native American women who suffer in record numbers, and those who traditionally have trouble accessing services. I've said so many times on this floor, a victim is a victim is a victim and they need to be helped. They deserve our attention. They deserve the protection and access to services our bill provides. We have 61 cosponsors, including eight Republicans. 16 of the 17 women in the Senate, both parties, have joined as cosponsors. They've been strong supporters from the start and the bill is better because of their efforts. You know, there's one purpose and one purpose alone for the bill that Senator Crapo and I introduced and that is to help and protect victims of domestic and sexual violence. And that purpose is reinforced when we turned to this bill during Crime Victims' Week and Sexual Assault Awareness month. And our bill, I should tell you is based on months of work with survivors and advocates and law enforcement officers from all across the country and I must say from all political persuasions, from the right to the left. It's a bipartisan bill that was developed in an open and democratic process. But mostly it is responsive to the unmet needs of victims When Senator Crapo and I worked to put this legislation together, we purposely avoided proposals that were extreme or divisive on either the right or the left. We selected only those proposals that law enforcement and survivors and the professionals who work with crime victims every day told us were essential. We did not go for somebody who didn't have firsthand experience. We asked the people who actually have to make the law work. And that's why every one of these provisions has such widespread support nationally."

Senator Hutchison: (5:48 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill.
    • SUMMARY "I am going to support Senator Leahy's bill. I like many parts of it, but I also think we can improve it, and the areas that I am going to put in my substitute and I hope that we will be able to pass that as well. Our bill keeps many of the committee-reported bill intact. For instance, Senator Klobuchar, I am putting her bill into cyber stalking because that wasn't a problem when we first passed the Violence Against Women Act, but it is a problem today. Our current legislation - the current legislation that I am going to introduce will update and strengthen current law and fix some weaknesses that I think are in Senator Leahy's bill. Our bill updates current law by mandating tougher sentences for violent crimes, increasing support for sexual assault investigations and rape kit testing, requiring more effective Justice Department oversight of grant programs to ensure scarce funds aren't wasted. This was as a result of the IG in the Justice Department who said there was not enough oversight and not enough auditing of the grants to assure that it goes to the victims and the victims' rights organizations for which it is intended. Our bill certainly is one that I hope we will be able to pass."

Reed, Whitehouse (The Senate Stands Adjourned)

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 25 2012 6:37 PM

Senator Reed: (6:08 PM)
  • Paid tribute to U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Abraham Taro, who was killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on April 12, 2012.
  • Paid tribute to Sergeant Maxwell R. Dorley, who passed away in the line of duty.

Senator Whitehouse: (6:17 PM)
  • Paid tribute to U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Abraham Taro, who was killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on April 12, 2012.
  • Paid tribute to Sergeant Maxwell R. Dorley, who passed away in the line of duty.

Senator Reed: (6:29 PM)
  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Tomorrow --
    • The Senate will convene at 9:30 AM and resume consideration of S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill. The time until 11:30 AM will be equally divided and for debate only, with the Republicans controlling the first 45 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 45 minutes.
    • At 11:30 AM, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 30 minutes of debate, equally divided, on:
      1. Executive Calendar #509, Gregg Jeffrey Costa, of Texas, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Texas; and
      2. Executive Calendar #510, David Campos Guaderrama, of Texas, to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Texas.
    • At 12:00 PM, the Senate will conduct 2 ROLL CALL VOTES on the nominations.
    • Following the ROLL CALL VOTES, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill, and Majority Leader Reid will be recognized.
The Senate stands adjourned until 9:30 AM Thursday, April 26th.