Floor Updates

Hoeven, Grassley, Brown-OH, Landrieu, Whitehouse

Buffett Rule bill (S. 2230)

Mar 29 2012

02:30 PM

Senator Hoeven: (1:20 PM)
  • Spoke on the Domestic Fuels Act.
    • SUMMARY "Let's use that new technology to produce more energy, more oil in the Canadian oil sands and not only produce more energy but do it with better environmental stewardship so now we're getting oil from a dependable friend and ally, Canada, rather than getting 30% of our crude from places like the Middle East and Venezuela. It's just common sense, and we win with more energy at a lower cost, we win with job creation, and we win with better environmental stewardship. We just need to get the right policy, the right law, and the right approach to how we regulate these things in place. That's what the domestic fuels act is all about. It is an example of exactly how we do just that. The Domestic Fuels Act essentially says all right, when you pull up to the gas station, you should be able to get whatever fuel provides what you need at the best possible price. It is about consumer choice, and it is about lowering the cost at the pump. Right now when you pull up, very often the petroleum retail marketer has multiple tanks in order to dispense various types of fuel. It might be traditional gasoline from petroleum, it might be after some blend of petroleum and ethanol. He might have biodiesel. And increasingly, service stations, gas stations are looking to market natural gas. But think about it. If they have to have a different set of tanks, different set of piping, and a different dispensers for each type of fuel, then they have to make a choice, don't they? They can maybe offer gasoline from petroleum, they can maybe offer some ethanol blend, they can maybe offer biodiesel, or maybe they try natural gas, right? But if they have to have tanks and pumps and piping for each one, think of the cost. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. So how do you get consumer choice? How do you get consumer choice in there? Also, how do you get the lowest price? If petroleum-based gasoline versus ethanol based is cheaper, well, then maybe he wants to be offering straight petroleum, not have a blend. But if he can mix it with ethanol, even up to e-85, and that's cheaper I may want to offer that. If he wants biodiesel rather than traditional diesel or if he wants to offer natural gas, you have trucks and buses particularly in urban areas using natural gas, how does he do it? And that's just the point. What this act provides is that the EPA has to streamline the process so that service station, that gas station can use his tanks and his equipment, his existing tanks and equipment so he can decide to offer any one of those products, any one of those products. Now you've got more consumer choice and you've got a way to drive down prices at the pump. Drive down the cost of gasoline, drive down the cost of biofuels, drive down the cost of natural gas, whatever it is. Consumer choice, lower prices. And that extends back through the production chain as well."

Senator Grassley: (1:39 PM)
  • Spoke on Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg comments on the U.S. Constitution.
    • SUMMARY "Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg on a recent trip to Egypt made comments that garnered public notice. She said "I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the Constitution of South Africa." She also spoke favorably of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the European Convention on Human Rights. Although some people have criticized Justice Ginsburg for speaking negatively about the U.S. Constitution while abroad, I think she has a right to say what legal documents countries that are now writing constitutions should consider, but I do not agree with her that those other constitutions are better examples of constitutions today than the United States Constitution is. Some people have criticized Justice Ginsburg's preference for the other constitutions she named, have focused on the positive rights contained in those documents. Some of those constitutions like South Africa protects the right "make decisions concerning reproduction" to "inherit dignity" and the right to have an environment protected "through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and environmental degradation." The European Convention on Human Rights guarantees the right to education. Of course none of these constitutions contains anything like the second amendment right for the citizens to defend themselves. Our Constitution is all about limiting the power of government. Americans do not fully trust the power of government, and Americans insist on rights that are protected against government action. In other words, our constitution was intended to last for centuries with the same meaning even as those principles were applied to new situations. Our judges should reflect that philosophy, which is at the heart of our constitution. And if other countries feel differently, that is their right. But I think praise for those foreign constitutions rather than our own raises a much more serious issue. "

Senator Brown-OH: (2:03 PM)
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "Taxpayers are spending hard-earned tax dollars coming from workers in Dayton and Springfield and Akron and canton that go directly to the most profitable industry in the history of the world perhaps, and that's - particularly the big five oil companies making billions and billions of dollars. Yet we are just simply saying that's okay to give them those kind of tax breaks and tax subsidies. That's even putting aside the fact that every time there's a pipeline outage, every time there is a fire at a refinery, every time there is turmoil in the Middle East, the oil companies appeared speculators use it as chance to spike up oil prices. It's like clockwork. If there is a fire at a re refinery, prices go up. If there is an outage at a refinery, prices go up. It is time, as the presiding officer's bill will do - who's led this effort to get the department of justice to put the government on the side of the consumer, as Senator McCaskill said on it low-hanging fruit to save tax dollars is really obvious and on the other side to make sure that we go after the speculators when they rip us off. These speculators, according to a recent study, 56 cents of every dollar - 56 cents of every gallon of gas that you pay goes to the hedge fund speculators. That's about $10, $12, $15 a tank, depending on the type of car you drive. On the one hand we're not saying no more tax breaks. On the other we're not saying to the sepculators, stop this. You're not going to getaway with this anymore. The government has got to be on the side of the middle chase here and fight back."

Senator Landrieu: (4:06 PM)
  • Spoke on the Highway bill.
    • SUMMARY "75 of us said we are tired of running our highways and our transit on 90-day, 30-day, 60-day extensions. I think this is the 27th or 26th short-term extension since 2009. What kind of way is this to run a government? For the other side of this building that talks about let's put business practices to work, let's be more efficient in the way we operate, let's operate more like a business, do you know, any business in America, large or small, that operates with a 90-day vision? Do you know one? I don't know one. I mean, I understand businesses have six-month plans and a year, but they always have a five-year-long plan. I don't know one business in America that operates on a 90-day plan. So here we are at the ninth hour again. We have a bill. We produced a bill. Now, if the House had a bill - you know, I'm a centrist, so if the House had a bill, I'd be working with the middle of the road over there trying to say, well, this is what your bill does, this is what our bill does, let's just - you know, we can't have our way completely here in the Senate, although I'd like to have our way more of the time. But I understand. They don't have a bill. They don't have a bill to negotiate because they can't even get a bill together among the three committees of jurisdiction over there. Again, if they had a bill, I know that Senator Boxer, Senator Inhofe would be happy to negotiate For the life of me, I cannot understand how the House of Representatives is going to leave and go on vacation and think they have done their job by giving us another 90-day extension. Now, I don't know what the leadership is going to do. But I want my vote recorded as "no." I'm not going to hold up everybody here over the holidays, but I want to say, I want my vote recorded as "no." I am not going to continue to support 30-day, 60-day, 90-day extensions to a Transportation bill which really in the scheme of things should not be that complicated to pass."

Senator Whitehouse: (2:20 PM)
  • Spoke on the Highway bill.
    • SUMMARY "I wanted to follow in the footsteps of Senator Landrieu from Louisiana and reflect my own dismay and dissatisfaction with the situation that we are in right now. The house extension on the highway bill, which we're going to be asked to proceed with, is going to cost, as far as the estimates I can see so far, around 100,000 jobs. That is damage to our economy that is a self-inflicted wound. More specifically, is a house-inflicted wound. I would very much like to see the senate fight to force action on the senate highway bill, bipartisan bill, with weeks of amendments, and fully paid for; a serious bill, instead of inflicting this kind of damage on our economy with a short-term extension."