Floor Updates

Boxer, Feinstein, Paul

Highway bill (S. 1813)

Feb 16 2012

12:33 PM

Senator Boxer: (11:37 AM)
  • Spoke in favor of the S. 1813, the Highway bill.
    • SUMMARY "I just would urge my colleagues in a hand of friendship, we are happy to look at transportation-related amendments. We can work those through. My staff and Senator Inhofe's staff have a very close working relationship, and we can take these relevant amendments and sit down and work through them. But, obviously, if there are going to be a series of amendments on birth control and foreign policy matters and extraneous matters, it makes it very, very difficult. It diverts our attention from what's at stake. The clock is ticking on us. This transportation authorization that we have expires in March. So here's where we are going to have a cloture vote on the various titles to the bill: the finance title, the banking title, the commerce committee title and I want to praise all of the committees. They've done their work. Four committees, including ours, the EPW, Environment and Public Works Committee. We've all done our jobs. We did what we had to do. We passed out the legislation. Now let's marry all the piece and get this done. Get this done. So I urge colleagues to vote "yes" on cloture. I know some have problems with one of the titles, and we can amend that. If you don't like something in that title, we can amend it and if we don't make cloture on the first round, welcome up with a path forward after that. But, please, it won't work if we have all of these bizarre, extraneous amendments. I'm not saying the amendments are bizarre - some are - but they're extraneous and they don't belong on this bill."

Senator Feinstein: (12:04 PM)
  • Spoke on the Metrolink commuter train accident on September 12, 2208 in Chatsworth, California.
    • SUMMARY "Let me explain how and why this happened. Seconds before the crash, the train's engineer was text messaging on his cell phone. He was the only person, only personnel aboard that train. When he looked down to send the text to a teenage boy-this was one of 21 text messages sent by this engineer this day-he received 20 text messages and made four outgoing telephone calls all while he was driving a large commuter train. According to the NTSB, comprehensive report on the crash, this behavior distracted the engineer and caused the collision. It led to the train running red signals. In fact, NTSB found the passenger train's engineer never even hit the brakes before impact. NTSB found that a crash avoidance system would have stopped the train and prevented this disaster but unfortunately, the tracks in Los Angeles had and have no such systems nor do most tracks in the United States. As a result of this accident, 25 people died and 100 people were injured these young lives and the lives of 23 others could have been saved if crash-avoidance technology, known as positive train control, had been in place. In 2008, Congress finally required railroads to deploy positive train control, which the national transportation safety board had placed on its top-ten most wanted safety technologies listed since 1990. This body gave the railroad industry seven years to deploy positive train control crash-avoidance systems nationwide. The leaders of southern California Metrolink, Union Pacific and BNSF railroads each committed to deploy positive train control systems in Los Angeles years earlier than the national mandate. These railroads are still on track to deploy the system next year I'm very alarmed that others in the railroad industry and in Congress diminish the value of positive train control. As a matter of fact, the bill that we will most likely be voting on as one of its title, the commerce title, delays positive train control until 2015 and the House bill delays it until 2020. When the technology is there, despite its complications of installation, when you have high-risk lines, freight lines and commuter lines, traveling in opposite directions on the same track, and when you have human frailty - in this case one engineer aboard a commuter train of a couple of hundred people texting - the only answer to assure the safety to the commuter trains of this nation really, in my view, is positive train control. I view it as an emergency need."

Senator Paul: (12:19 PM)
  • Spoke on ending all U.S. aid to Egypt.
    • SUMMARY "The President's budget this week still continues to include $1.8 billion for Egypt, without a single word of rebuke or any demand that our U.S. citizens be released. The President went one step further when he actually increased foreign aid to the middle east in his budget and now the Senate refuses to hold a single vote, to spend 10 minutes discussing why U.S. citizens are being detained in Egypt. One might excuse the Egyptians for not believing that we will cut their aid. You can't lead from behind. Senate leadership appears unwilling to address this issue head-on so the senate won't act to help out our citizens this week but I hope when senators return home, when senators talk to their constituents in their state, I hope that their constituents will ask these questions - senator, why do you continue to send our taxpayer money to Egypt? Why do you continue to send our money to Egypt when they taken our citizens? - When they detain our citizens? Senator, why do you continue to send billions of dollars to Egypt when 12 million Americans are out of work? Senator, why do you continue to send welfare to foreign countries when our bridges are falling down and in desperate need of repair? Senator, how can you continue to flush our taxpayer money down a foreign drain when we are borrowing $40,000 a second? the money we send to Egypt we must first borrow from china. That is an insanity and it must end and, finally, I hope your constituents ask you this when you go home. When working families are suffering under rising food prices, when working families are suffering because gas prices have doubled, how can you justify sending our hard-earned taxpayer dollars to Egypt, to countries that openly show their disdain for us? When will we learn? You can't buy friendship and you can't convince authoritarians to love freedom with welfare checks. America needs to send a clear and unequivocal message to Egypt that we will not tolerate the detention of U.S. citizens on trumped-up political charges or otherwise and that we will not continue to send welfare checks to Egypt, to a country that commits an injustice to American citizens."

  • Asked UC to set aside the pending amendment and call up Paul amendment #1541 (end all aid to Egypt) (Boxer objected).


Senator Boxer: (12:24 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I want to be very clear here that members on both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, have very strong feelings that this amendment should not be brought up at this time. We need to be smart and strategic when we have people in harm's way in another country. now, further, I think it's important to note what Senator Leahy has said several times, which is already in law we have certain conditions placed upon aid to Egypt and I think that needs to be understood and explored. So I feel because there's so much objection to this amendment being brought up at this time, I will object."