Floor Updates

Cornyn, Durbin

Morning Business

Mar 15 2012

12:07 PM

Colloquy: (Cornyn, Durbin)
  • Spoke on the Syria-Russia relationship.

Senator Cornyn: (11:33 AM)
  • SUMMARY "According to the United Nations, more than 8,000 Syrians have been murdered in attacks by the desperate regime of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. We continue to receive press reports on a daily basis about Assad's forces summarily executing, imprisoning and torturing demonstrators who want nothing more than what we take for granted, which is to live in freedom in a democracy. This week - this week we learned that dozens of Syrian women and children, some infants as young as four months old, were stabbed, shot, and burned by government forces in homes in Syria. I think it's difficult for most of us to comprehend and most of us would be so repulsed by it we would not want to comprehend the kind of brutality Assad is perpetrating against his own people, yet in the face of these atrocities, Russia continues to prop up the Assad regime by supplying it with arms that are being used to slaughter these innocent Syrian civilians. Russia is the top supplier of weapons to Syria, reportedly selling up to $1 billion or more worth of arms just last year. Western and Arab governments have pleaded with Russia to stop supplying these weapons to the Assad regime but they have refused so far. Russia is not just passively supplying weapons to the Assad regime, it's also recently admitted to having military weapons instructors on the ground in Syria training Assad's army on how to use these we weapons. Russian weapons, including high explosive mortars, have been found at the site of atrocities in Homs."

Senator Durbin: (11:39 AM)
  • SUMMARY "Almost 8,000 innocent people have been killed in the streets of Syria by Basher al-Assad, the dictator. The people who expressed their concern and objections to his policies are mowed down and killed in the streets. Their homes are bombed and nothing is being done. sadly, the United States, when it tried to engage the United Nations Security Council to condemn this action, to join the Arab league and others condemning what Assad is doing to these innocent people, our efforts were stopped by China and Russia. The relationship between Russia and Syria is well documented. They have been close allies for many years. We also know that they are providing about $1 billion in Russian military aid to the Syrian dictator to kill his own people in the streets. That's part of this and I have to join Senator Cornyn in saying how concerned we are when we learned that one of the leading military exporters of Russia, this Rosoboron exports, is doing business not only in Syria but with the United States government. Now, I understand the history of this. We're buying Russian helicopters to help the Afghans defend their country against the Taliban. The helicopter of choice in Afghanistan today is the old soviet I believe it's M-17, M-18 helicopter. So our government is buying these Russian helicopters to give to the Afghan government to fight the Taliban. We are, in fact, doing business with the very same company and country that is subsidizing the massacre in Syria. It is right for us as members of Congress to make that point to Secretary Panetta and the Department of Defense. I think it is also appropriate for us to ask why we are not converting the Afghan defense forces, the security forces, to another helicopter - can I be so bold as to suggest it be made in the United States of America, since we're paying for it? Why aren't we doing that? Why aren't we creating jobs here in America and training these Afghans on helicopters that come from our country? That are as good or better than anything the soviets ever put in the air? I don't have a preference on an American helicopter. Don't have any producers in my state. So I'm not into that particular bidding war. I wouldn't get into it but I do believe sending a word to the Russians immediately that our relationship of buying these helicopters in Afghanistan so that we can subsidize their military sales to Syria should come to an end. That's what this letter is about. We cannot pass resolutions on the floor condemning the bloodshed in Syria and ignore the obvious connection, Russian military arms moving into Syria, killing innocent people."

Senator Durbin: (11:52 AM)
  • Spoke on the JOBS Act.
    • SUMMARY "Now comes this bill from the House of Representatives, this so-called JOBS bill, that wants to change that, and what they are suggesting is that when certain companies get started, start-up companies, that they be excused from requirements under the law from the securities and exchange commission. The argument that was made was there is just too much paperwork, too many regulations, and smaller start-up companies can't get started because there are too many legal requirements. well, first you take a look at what they consider to be smaller companies getting started, and they define them as companies with $1 billion a year in annual revenue. $1 billion. Unfortunately, those who make over a billion dollars in revenue in a year comprise only about 10% of American businesses. That means that by definition, they are characterizing 90% of American businesses and start-ups as smaller businesses that need a special break when it comes to regulation. So over the years we get into a debate, whether it's the regulation of banks or the regulation of these start-up companies or those that are going public selling securities, over the years we get into a debate about whether the government has gone too far. Are there too many rules? And I'm open to that suggestion. I think that we should be open to it. If there is a way to protect the public and investors and still create businesses in this country that generate jobs, I want to hear about it and I want to support it but too often, we go too far, and when we go too far and are not careful, some terrible things have occurred ... I want my colleagues, many of whom have just read a few press accounts of this bill, to consider carefully the statement made by Professor Coffey. He has analyzed this bill and raised some important questions about whether it goes too far. Now, I will be joining some of my colleagues here in offering a substitute which improves the law for start-up companies but also makes certain that we protect investors and make certain as well that at the end of the day we don't end up with egg on our face. How many times has congress been called on when the private sector runs amok, goes too far and starts failing in every direction to bail them out? We saw it most graphically with the bailout of the major banks not that many years ago. We have seen it in the past with the bailout of the savings and loan industry. We have seen it happen time and time again. Who ends upholding the bag when government regulation is not adequate to make sure that people don't go overboard? The American taxpayers."