Floor Updates

Barrasso, Tester, Wicker, Cardin

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 18 2012

02:02 PM

Senator Barrasso: (1:10 PM)
  • A Second Opinion.
    • SUMMARY "The Hill newspaper reported on April 9 of this year that the Obama administration is quietly sending an additional $500 million to the IRS, the internal revenue service. The headline is "Obama administration diverts $500 million to IRS To implement health care reform law." ... The money is transferred outside of the normal appropriations process, and that's a concern. The money is transferred outside the normal appropriations process. And it goes to the very tax agency that is responsible to implement many of the key provisions of the health law. You would think that maybe you would have doctors and nurses implementing many of the provisions of the help law. No, we have the IRS. This includes the controversial and unprecedented mandate that all Americans must buy a government-approved product, health insurance. We will remember that the Supreme Court just held hearings on this unprecedented mandate. 70% of Americans believe that it is unconstitutional. They believe that either part or all of the health care law ought to be ruled unconstitutional. And yet, the Hill article goes on and it says that this Obama Health and Human Services Department has to date transferred almost $200 million to the IRS over the past two years and plans to send another $300 million this year. These secretive transfers hide the true cost of the health care law. They also make it difficult for Congress to perform the agency oversight that is part of our obligations. So I look at this, and I say this law is bad, it is bad, I believe, for our patients and providers and taxpayers, and I look at the way it's been structured and the way that this money is being transferred and I think it just highlights the problems with the law. What does the IRS Intend to do? They want to hire more than 300 new employees next year to implement the tax code changes such as the taxes imposed on drug companies, device manufacturers and health insurers. This bill is a laundry list of and fees."

Senator Tester: (1:23 PM)
  • Spoke on Tester amendments to the Postal Reform bill.
    • SUMMARY "Senator Franken and Senator Levin and I have introduced an amendment to prevent the Postal Service from closing a post office if it leaves rural communities without sufficient access to Postal Services. Like buying stamps to regular mail service. Our amendment gives the postal regulatory commission more teeth in being able to reject the Postal Service's effort to close post offices and mail processing facilities if the Postal Service does not follow the criteria laid out in the bill. The Postmaster General is seeking to close around 3,700 post offices and over 200 mail processing facilities in this country. This bill will result in the reduction of another 100,000 postal employees, it will rewrite the rules of workers' compensation across the entire federal government. In short, it will change the lives of many, many people. To say nothing of the millions of Americans who will be impacted by a change in mail service. So with this in mind, I think it's critically important that the upper management of the Postal Service and the board of governors lead by example. That's why I'm offering an amendment to reduce the number of governors on the postal board of governors from nine to seven. The board is currently not at capacity, and it should be encouraged to work with the six governors who presently sit on the board. Governors receive compensation for expenses and a stipend of about 30,000 bucks a year with a total compensation up to about $42,600, but it could save up to three post offices in my state. We need to make sure everyone is tightening their belts, not just the folks who depend on mail service or the employees who will be forced into retirement or laid off over the next few years. My final amendment limits the six most senior postal executives including the postmaster general, and that limit is to a base salary of not more than $$200,000 which is what a cabinet secretary makes. Some folks think the Postal Service should be a private enterprise and the pay of the postal executives should reflect that but the reality is the Postal Service is public service. It's right there in the constitution that the congress has the power to establish post offices. You can't get much more public than that. And again the savings from this amendment may seem like a drop in the bucket but saving just $200,000 a year in reduced executive compensation is the same savings you would get from the closure of a mail processing center in Helena, Montana's state capital and Havlick in north central Montana."

Senator Wicker: (1:42 PM)
  • Marked the 2-Year Anniversary of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, that took 11 lives and triggered the worst oil spill in American history.
  • Spoke on the RESTORE Act.
    • SUMMARY "Under the provisions of the RESTORE Act, local officials will have the ability to prioritize the economic and ecological projects that are most critical to their own recovery. Local communities are in the best position to make these decisions and needless government red tape should not stand in the way. Directly distributing Clean Water Act fines would ensure that the affected parties are compensated accordingly. The RESTORE Act is an encouraging step forward for all gulf coast states. I urge the House of Representatives to show the same support for the gulf coast in passing this important piece of legislation. Both parties can agree that the revitalization of our gulf states is a priority and that providing local perspectives is vital to our recovery efforts. The disaster that occurred two years ago was an extraordinary tragedy with long-term consequences, and we cannot forget about the needs that still persist. The Gulf Coast provides one-third of the seafood harvested in the continental United States. The Gulf Coast is the home to six of our country's ten-largest commercial ports. Mississippi and all Gulf States make up a vibrant part of this country, and the residents and businesses there are key contributors to the national economy. There's no doubt that keeping our gulf strong is vital to our national interest. And part of that would be the passage of the RESTORE Act."

Senator Cardin: (1:47 PM)
  • Spoke on the Highway bill.
    • SUMMARY "The House, is currently working on a bill that would be basically a short-term extension of our transportation programs. We need a long-term commitment as to the federal partnership in transportation. We need that for many reasons. We need it for predictable funding, so our local governments can commit to do the type of transportation programs that are necessary for our safety, that are necessary for economic expansion, that are necessary for our communities. We are missing construction seasons by the failure to enact a long-term transportation reauthorization plan. Major projects cannot be planned, whether it is to replace a bridge, major maintenance programs, new highways, or expansions of our transit systems. And this really translates to jobs. We're in a recovery. We all want to do everything we can to help maintain and expand job opportunity in this country so that our economy can recover at a quicker pace. The transportation reauthorization bill that passed the senate is responsible for three million jobs ... I would urge as soon as they complete, let's get into conference. Let's get into conference today. Let's resolve the differences between the House and Senate and get a bill back on the floor as quickly as possible."