Floor Updates

Murray, Reed, Graham

Morning Business

Mar 20 2012

11:22 AM

Senator Murray: (10:47 AM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "Two years ago, health insurance companies could deny women care due to so-called preexisting conditions, like pregnancy or being a victim of domestic violence. Two years ago, women were permitted to be legally discriminated against when it came to insurance premiums and were often paying more for coverage than men. Two years ago, women did not have access to the full range of recommended preventative care like mammograms or contraception and more. Two years ago, the insurance companies had all the leverage, and too often it was women who were paying the price. That's why I am proud to come to the floor today, two years after we passed the affordable care act, to highlight just how far we have come when it comes to making sure women across America get the care they need at a cost that they can afford. Because of that law, women will be treated fairly when it comes to health care costs, deductibles and other - costs. Deductibles and other expenses will be capped so a health care crisis doesn't cause a family to lose their home or their life savings. And preventative care will be free so women never have to delay care because they can't afford to see a doctor. Because of this law, women will have more options. They can use health care exchanges to pick quality plans that work for them and for their families, and if they change jobs or they move, they will be able to keep their coverage. Because of that law, maternity care is now covered and women won't have to skip prenatal care because they can't afford it. Because of this law, women are now in charge of their health care, not their insurance companies. That's why I feel very strongly that we cannot go back to the way things were. While we can never stop working to make improvements, we owe it to the women of America to make progress and not allow the clock to be rolled back on their health care needs. Now, I know some of my Republican colleagues are furiously working to undo all of the gains that we have made in the health care reform law for women and for their families. I'm disappointed but I'm hardly surprised. Republicans have been waging a war on women's health since the moment they came into power. After they campaigned across the country on a platform of jobs and the economy, the first three bills that they introduced in the House were each direct attacks on women's health care in America."
  • Spoke in support of Reid (for Cantwell et al) amendment #1836 (Export-Import Bank).
    • SUMMARY "It's no secret foreign countries are aggressively trying to seize the global market, and America needs to keep fighting back with a program that works for businesses and taxpayers and does create thousands of jobs. The Export-Import bank is one of the most important resources America has to keep up this fight. For over 75 years, the Ex-Im bank has supported job-creating U.S. exports by helping American businesses sell to the world, and no one knows this better than businesses in my home state of Washington, the largest exporter in the nation per capita and where one in three jobs in my state is tied to international trade. Reauthorizing the Ex-Im bank means more than 150 Washington state businesses who rely on this financing to sell their products overseas can keep their jobs here at home. At a time when our competitors in the global marketplace provide far more aggressive export credit financing to companies within their borders, the Ex-Im bank simply levels the playing field for U.S. companies that sells goods overseas, and the Ex-Im bank helps create U.S. jobs and does not add to our deficit. U.S. exports have been a bright spot in America's road to recovery, increasing by about 20% over the last two years and driving about half of all of our economic growth. Given the obvious need for exports to power economic growth, it would be negligent to pull the plug on the Ex-Im bank. If we do not pass this bill by the end of this month, thousands of jobs will be at risk, not just from our exporters but from businesses large and small across the country. We authorizing the - reauthorizing the export-import bank would not only be a short-term victory for our exporters, it would also tell our trading partners that the United States is a stable place to do business and that we stand behind our products and our companies."

Senator Reed: (10:58 AM)
  • Spoke on the JOBS Act.
    • SUMMARY "The bill as currently written would exempt 90% of current IPO. From accounting requirements. It defines small companies as anything valued below $700 million and earning less than $1 billion in revenues. Those aren't exactly small companies, and those companies can in fact and should in fact be following the procedures that we've laid out. Our amendments recognizes the need to provide more streamlined processes, but we restrict these streamline procedures to companies with less than $350 million in annual revenues, much closer to the notion of a small company beginning its process as a publicly held entity. There's also a problem in this legislation with accounting. And when investors lose faith in accounting standards, they're less willing to buy stocks. In fact, one of the great brand of our security markets is the sense, the feeling that your money's well protected, it's scrutinized, there's accountants, there's audits. If we lose that, the investing public worldwide would say the United States is not the place to put our money. Our amendment does not interfere with independent accounting standards and limits the number of companies that get exempted from accounting rules. And there's another issue here too in the House bill. It contains a provision that would increase the number of investors who can own shares of private companies and excludes employees from account. That has some merit. But by counting shareholders of record instead of the beneficial shareholders, there's a legal owner on the books of the company but that legal owner may represent thousands of actual owners, the ones who get the dividends, the ones who gets the right to vote on the shares. If the House bill preserves this loophole going forward, if we preserve it, this could potentially create a situation where an unlimited number of investors could be involved in a company, and that company still would be private. Last year, for example, Goldman Sachs planned to create a special purpose vehicle, basically a fund that could pool money from its clients so it would count as only one record shareholder. And you could see how this could clearly circumvent the notion of how necessary it is to provide reporting requirements for large companies, companies with large shareholder bases. Our bill eliminates this loophole by clarifying record holders must be beneficial owners and the bill raises the shareholder capital from 500 to 750 to make it more contemporaneous. We exempt employees from this record holder trigger for public registration and that will allow private companies who want to remain private, want to reward their employees with the ability to do so without triggering the public reporting requirements. Now, finally, the House bill sets up a new mechanism for crowd funding. This is a very interesting concept. My colleagues worked very hard at developing a crowd funding bill much superior to what is included in the house version. In fact, the House version has been described by a noted securities expert as "The Boiler Room Legalization Act of 2012" for their very lax approach to crowd funding. Our amendment requires crowd funding to be conducted through regulated intermediaries and provides a basic disclosure aggregate caps and protection to ensure market integrity and prevent abuse."

Senator Graham: (11:10 AM)
  • Spoke in support of Reid (for Cantwell et al) amendment #1836 (Export-Import Bank).
    • SUMMARY "Ex-Im bank is trying to be made of the parts bill in the Senate. Its Export-Import bank, what does that mean? This is a financing ability by American companies who are selling overseas in volatile or emerging markets. It's a financing system that's been available since 1934, if you're going to try to sell a product made in America to a place in the world where traditional bank something hard to obtain, you can go to the Ex-Im bank, and they will give a letter of credit. They will sometimes give a direct loan to people who want to buy American products. The bank itself made $3.5 billion for it want, I think, since 2005 and 2006. And here's the reality. Every country we compete with has their version of Ex-Im bank. In Canada, one-tenth our size, we finance $32 billion of American-made products sold overseas through our Ex-Im system last year. Canada financed $100 billion. France has three Ex-Im banks. China has more Ex-Im activity than the United States, France, and Germany combined. Everybody that American manufacturing competes with, every country that produces products has their version of the Ex-Im bank. At the end of May, our Ex-Im banks's authorization runs out. Our loan limits run out a few weeks earlier. This would be devastating. Small companies throughout this country depend on Ex-Im banks to sell American-made products overseas. Let me give you one good example that's been the topic of conversation. Boeing aircraft makes airplanes in America, the 787 dream liner. It was voted the best new airplane in a long time here recently, something that Boeing is proud of. They make it in Washington, now in South Carolina. The first airplane to be made in South Carolina or roll out here in about a month or less, about a month from now. The facility is under budget, ahead of schedule, and we're proud of that airplane. Eight out of the ten airplanes being made in South Carolina in the first year were Ex-Im -financed. There was a deal between Boeing and India where a letter of credit was issued by Ex-Im bank to allow traditional financing to occur, and Boeing was able to sell a big order of American-made jets to Air India. And that's just one example. GE makes turbines, gas turbines to generate power for emerging areas like Afghanistan, Iraq, the Mideast, Africa, all these distressed areas are going to grow and they're going to need power. One-third of the sales coming out of Greenville, South Carolina, for the gas turbines made in America creating American jobs goes through Ex-Im financing. So here's the issue: if America allows our Ex-Im financing system to go away in may, if that's the will of the Congress, then you've destroyed the ability of many companies in this country to grow their business. As the economy has been weak and stagnant here at home, here's the good news. In terms of exports, we've increased our export sales 20%. Imagine an America that could not continue to increase export sales. Imagine a Boeing manufacturer that could not ever sell an American-made airplane in a volatile or emerging market. Because china is now making airplanes, airbus has access to three or four Ex-Im banks. It would be an ill-conceived idea. This program has been around a long time. It's helped create thousands of jobs in the United States. And everybody that we compete with, they have a more aggressive form of Ex-Im financing than we do. So to my colleagues who want to eliminate this, i just don't understand how American business could ever successfully compete in these emerging markets if we unilaterally disarm."