Floor Updates

Whitehouse (The Senate Stands Adjourned)

Morning Business

Apr 16 2012

07:24 PM

Senator Whitehouse: (7:05 PM)
  • Spoke on the Buffett Rule.
    • SUMMARY "I was pleased that a majority of the Senate - indeed, a bipartisan majority of the Senate - has just voted to eliminate an unfortunate gimmick in the tax code that allows people who make north of a quarter of a billion dollars a year to pay lower tax rates than a providence, Rhode Island, truck driver pays, if he's single. And I think that's pretty hard to justify, frankly. I think a lot of Americans spent last week preparing their taxes and having heard from Warren Buffett who one year paid an 11% all-in federal tax rate, a rate obviously higher than his secretary paid, something that Mr. Buffett himself has complained about. There's a pretty wide sense that the American tax code serves special interests and people who have phenomenal amounts of wealth much better than it serves regular, middle-class taxpayers. And that's particularly true if you avoid doing what my republican colleagues have done which is to focus on the most progressive part of the tax code, the income tax, and ignore the most regressive part of the tax code, the part that hits working families the hardest, which is the payroll taxes. And almost everything they say about the American tax code conveniently omits the taxes more Americans pay than the income tax, frank. But we had a good discussion on that subject and I think because it was so difficult for so many of my colleagues to come out in favor of an upside-down tax situation in which somebody making a quarter of a billion dollars pays a lower rate than somebody making $100,000 or $90,000, other topics were brought up. We kind of had a march through all the possible topics one could practically think of and one of them very central to all of us here in the senate today is jobs. And it was pointed out that the tax fairness bill is not a jobs bill. Of course, it would be if you take the $47 billion to $162 billion in revenue that it creates and put it towards infrastructure. Then it would create literally hundreds of thousands of jobs. But because it doesn't define where the revenue's going to go, I can't say that it is a jobs bill. It's a tax fairness bill. That was its intention."
  • Spoke on the Highway bill.
    • SUMMARY SUMMARY "When the dust settled on the whole process and everybody had had their say and everybody had had their vote and all the amendments that could be considered were considered, we voted on it. And 75 Senators either voted for it or were out of town and have said that they would have voted for it had they been here. So you had an effective vote of 75-22 I think. By our standards here, that is a colossal bipartisan landslide. And the bill itself was supported by everybody from the United States Chamber of Commerce, which is probably the most active Republican lobbying and political organization in the country, to environmental groups, to the laborers' union. This is a bill that everybody supports. And from a jobs point of view, it's 2.9 million jobs. It's 9,000 jobs in my home state of Rhode Island. This is a big deal. The bill was sent over to the other side and there it sits. The Speaker won't take it up. And what I hear is it's because he doesn't want to count on democratic votes. To somebody who wants a job or who wants a husband or a sister to have a job out working, rebuilding roads, rebuilding bridges, rebuilding highways, rebuilding our national infrastructure, it's pretty hard to explain why you'd walk away from a bill that creates 3 million jobs, that's bipartisan, that went through a full process in the Senate when they have no bill whatsoever of their own and do so because they don't want to use Democrat votes? That's sort of the ultimate Washington insider reason for not doing something important to the country. So when we talk about jobs in the Senate, until we get action in the house that creates a real bill, I don't think we should be getting any lectures about jobs from our republican colleagues. I'm told that the House is passing another extension. And as the presiding officer knows, these extensions cost a ton in the way of jobs. And it's been estimated by our director of transportation that it would be a thousand jobs lost in Rhode Island just from the extension that we have already agreed to through the ends of June. If we pass that through the end of September, there goes the entire building season. And that's going to hurt."
  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Tomorrow --
    • The Senate will convene at 10:00 AM and proceed to a period of Morning Business until 11:00 AM, with Senators permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each. The time will be equally divided, with the Republicans controlling the first half and the Majority controlling the second half.
    • Following Morning Business, the Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill, for up to 10 minutes of debate, equally divided.
    • Circa 11:10 AM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill
    • At 12:30 PM, the Senate will recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus lunches.
The Senate stands adjourned until 10:00 AM Tuesday, April 17th.