Floor Updates

Harkin, Shaheen, Isakson, Brown-OH

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 18 2012

06:10 PM

Senator Harkin: (5:23 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Matt Rutherford, who finished sailing single-handed East to West through the Northwest Passage to benefit Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating.
  • Spoke on the Rebuild America Act.
    • SUMMARY "It aims to rebuild the middle class in four broad ways: creating jobs, investing in the future, helping families and bringing balance back in to our tax system. Let me touch briefly on those four principles. One, we need to create jobs for all Americans, including for groups of Americans such as people with disabilities who have been especially hard hit by the recent recession. With the official unemployment rate over 8% and some unofficial measures as high as 17%, the middle class will continue to lose ground. When jobs are scarce, workers don't have the leverage to demand fair treatment, paychecks stop growing or even fall. And even people who are fortunate enough to have a job become fearful of losing it. People have less discretionary money in their pockets or the confidence to spend it. In the absence of robust consumer demand, businesses choose not to expand or invest. Secondly, we must invest in our future. Not only will investing in our infrastructure help create badly needed jobs in the short term, these investments will late groundwork for sustained economic growth in the long term. My bill tackles this challenge head on by providing for robust new investments in America's infrastructure, including, of course, time-tested things like roads and bridges, energy-efficiency systems, also rebuilding and modernizing our public schools, rebuilding our manufacturing base in America. In addition, there's the investment in the human infrastructure, helping to prepare great teachers, providing better pathways to good jobs for workers, job retraining so that the old jobs that are now gone, that we can now take those workers and retrain them for future jobs to ensure that current and future workers will have the education and skills they need to be successful and to be in the middle class. Three, we need to do more to help middle class families succeed. It's time for us in Washington to wake up to the harsh reality that middle-class families have been living in for the last few decades. Unfortunately, the programs and policies that help create the middle class have been either intentionally discarded or fallen victim to neglect. For example, the real value of the minimum wage has declined for the last four decades, dragging down all workers' paychecks My bill does is basically over a stage raise that minimum wage and then peg it to inflation in the future so we don't have that erosion again in the future. Also, families, workers have seen basic rights, such as the right to organize and to bargain collectively eroded. It's harder and harder and harder all the time for people to organize and join a union in this country. The right to overtime pay has been eroded under the fair labor standards act. So a lot of these things have been eroded by misguided regulations, bad court decisions and years of lax enforcement. The fourth part of the bill, it is essential that we put balance back into the economy through a balanced tax system that will help reduce our deficit, get our fiscal house in order over the longer term. To do so, among other provisions, my bill includes a tax on Wall Street trades, often called a financial transaction tax. At just three cents per $100 in trade value, that would raise $350 billion over ten years A small transaction tax would do two things. It would raise money. It would also discourage a lot of the spinning and the churning of transactions on Wall Street whereby some of these traders make hundreds of thousands of dollars a day, mega millions of dollars a year, but not really adding much to our economy at all. So a small transaction tax. In addition, the bill requires high-income taxpayers to pay their fair share. Well, sort of like the Buffett rule."

Senator Shaheen: (5:44 PM)
  • Spoke on the Postal Reform bill.
    • SUMMARY "We should all be concerned about draconian proposals that seek to slash 220,000 good jobs, close 3,700 post offices and make mail delivery slower across America. The bill before us today attempts to avoid the worst of these outcomes. I want to commend all of the bipartisan managers of this legislation for their tireless work to save the united states Postal Service. I was proud to join a group of 28 senators who pushed for important changes to the bill in an attempt to better protect rural post offices, to develop new sources of business and maintain the reliable and timely service Americans have come to expect. Some of these changes have been incorporated into the legislation, and I think they are an important step toward improving it. Now, with that said, I think we have more work to do and I know that there are a lot of people in this body who would like to see us debate a number of amendments related to the bill and try and make changes to improve the work that's already been done. Rural communities rely on the Postal Service, and I think Congress and this Senate should improve the legislation to make sure that people have a real voice in the process when their post office is threatened. But if we don't act, the Postal Service could go bankrupt or it could be forced to make devastating service cuts."

Senator Isakson: (5:48 PM)
  • Spoke on Joseph Kony.
    • SUMMARY "Because of U.S. technology, U.S. resources and the commitment of these individuals, we're assisting to a much higher level in the intelligence that we're gaining on Joseph Kony. A lot of people think Joseph Kony is in Uganda. He hasn't been in Uganda for five or six years. He is somewhere near the Central African Republic, a place where it is extremely easy to hide. We thought Vietnam had jungles. You haven't seen foliage until you have seen the Central African Republic, the south Sudan and the Congo. There is no electricity, no roads, no paths. There are no listening devices. Intelligence is all human intelligence. We're fortunate to have great intelligence operatives over in that part of the world. We're great to have great resources over in that part of the world. We're gaining more and more information. I commend our forces also on what they have done in an amnesty program. They drop leaflets in villages that are known to house some of Jony's workers and cronies. They drop leaflets that offer amnesty for anyone that leaves Jony, comes back to their village and gives information to our forces and the Ugandan Army and the African Union Army as to information as to where Joseph Kony might be. We're getting closer all the time. We're not there yet. Thanks to our assistance of foreign-deployed individuals, thanks to the commitment of our country and thanks to the commitment of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and the new country, the south Sudan, we're going to close that noose and we're going to stay until the job is finished because Joseph Kony needs to be brought to justice. He is an evil man that has killed far too many, raped far too many and maimed far too many people. Africa is too good a friend to the United States of America for us not to offer the assistance necessary. So my message to the American people and our youth is we are doing our job. Joseph Kony hasn't been caught but we're in pursuit. I want to commend Senator Kerry, the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Coons, the Chairman of the Africa Subcommittee, Senator Lugar and myself. We are joined together to support legislation that will be introduced in the senate to include Joseph Kony or information leading to the arrest and quick of Joseph Kony in our rewards program that we offer mostly now for terrorist capture. That is going to be incentive for more information to be brought forward so the noose will close tighter. It is time for Joseph Kony to be brought to justice and the United States of America is making every effort to assist in that process in central Africa."
  • Spoke on CARE.
    • SUMMARY "What CARE is doing in their project known as the village savings and loan, they are bringing about microeconomics to Africa and they are empowering women. The village savings and loan program is a very simple program. It teaches basic economics and capitalism to these villages. Groups form together, they are given a strongbox. Literally just like the ones that used to be on the stagecoach back in the old lone ranger days. In that strongbox, each of the women will make con tricks of the money that they have into the strongbox, and they get a passbook savings account just like the president and I used to get when we were in elementary school a long, long time ago. And then they make loans out of that money that they save to other people in the village to start businesses, whether it's making beads, whether it's using the Shea tree to make butter or whether it's doing batik cloth or whatever it might be. As those little cottage industries develop, the money they make goes back into this savings and loan to be reinvested in other plans ... They are empowering African women and African families. They are bringing about the principles of economics that you and I enjoy and appreciate. They are uplifting people who need that uplifting with empowerment so they can be sufficient on their own, so they can rise up economically and rise up educationally."

Senator Brown-OH: (5:57 PM)
  • Spoke on the Export-Import Bank.
    • SUMMARY "Since early 2010, we have seen almost every single month in Ohio and across the country we have seen job growth in manufacturing. Not enough, it's positive, but we're not clearly out of the woods yet. I fear we take a step back if Congress fails to reauthorize the Export-Import bank .. But exporting is tough, especially for small businesses. Fewer than 1% of the nation's 25 million small businesses export their products. Very few small businesses are able to export for a whole host of reasons. I hear from small business owners who want to expand, they want to get access to foreign markets, but they can't secure private financing due to the credit risks associated with some overseas investments. One of the most important resources to help small business and mid-sized manufacturers is to help them boost their exports is the Export-Import bank. Ex-Im's mission is simple. It facilitates exports. It could be tributes to job creation in the United States. It does it through loans, through guarantees, through insurance. It fills in gaps in trade financing at no cost to taxpayers. The private market, the market sometimes doesn't deliver in these situations. The Export-Import bank can fill in some gaps and help companies that have the ability to grow and export to actually do that. The Ex-Im bank generates revenue to the U.S. Treasury, yet despite this record of success, exports and jobs are at stake because congress cannot agree to Ex-Im reauthorization. The Ex-Im bank's lending authority expires May 31. We know that companies that export products, create jobs, pay higher wages and are more likely to be able to remain in business. Export-supported jobs linked to manufacturing already account for an estimated 7%, one out of 14 of Ohio's total private sector employment. So one out of 14 Ohio workers is linked to export. More than 1/4 of manufacturing workers in Ohio depend on exports for their jobs, the eighth among the 50 states. We need to do a better job in ensuring that America's small businesses have access to that global market. The Export-Import bank helps provide credit that otherwise wouldn't be available to turn export opportunities for businesses into increased jobs, higher wages, increased sales. In 2011, the bank worked with almost 100 Ohio businesses to support more than $400 million in export sales. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, Ex-Im supports 290,000 export-related jobs, more than 85% of Ex-Im's transactions supported small businesses last year. Renewing the bank's charter should be a cause that all senators support. Just like the 25 times the senate overwhelmingly reauthorized the agency since its establishment in 1934."