Floor Updates

Rubio, Lieberman, McCaskill

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization bill (S. 1925)

Apr 18 2012

02:32 PM

Senator Rubio: (2:01 PM)
  • Spoke on human rights violations.
    • SUMMARY "The reason why I say that and why I come to the floor on occasion to speak about human rights violations that are happening around the world and in our own country is to remind us that atrocities are not just something that happen in history. They're happening today. If you just open a newspaper and open your eyes, you will find modern-day atrocities that rival things you read about in history that you would believe are unimaginable and impossible are occurring in this century, and yet they are. Here in our country you have instances such as this where an estimated number of up to 300,000 children could potentially be at risk. 300,000 people, young women, children, et cetera, to be at risk in our hemisphere to be victims of human trafficking. Part of that happens in our own country. We have an obligation to focus on issues like this. So we'll continue to use this forum and any opportunity we get to highlight human rights abuses that are happening across the world and in our own country, because awareness is always the first step towards confronting these issues. The notion that you can somehow get away with this without condemnation encourages people to do more of it, encourages people to think they can get away with it, encourages people to think that they may even be culturally acceptable. It is not culturally acceptable. For any civilized people to stand by and watch human beings being enslaved or trafficked or abused or targeted. We cannot stand by silently and argue - and I'm not claiming anybody in this chamber does this, but argue somehow it is culturally acceptable to carry out an honor killing of a woman because she got married without someone's permission. That is outrageous and absurd. It has no place in our world. If this nation is to remain a leader on human rights, then those of us who serve it have an obligation to use forums such as this to call attention to egregious examples like the ones I used today and condemn them. In the weeks and months to come I hope to continue to come to the floor and provide not just examples of abuses that are happening around the world, but also examples like the one i finished off with today. That is examples of how we working together in this chamber across party aisle can work collaboratively to do something about it. And this letter to the advertisers on backpage.com and the village voice is just one example of the things we can be doing to ensure that we condemn and put a stop to some of these most heinous practices."

Senator Lieberman: (2:08 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I want to thank my friend from Florida for his principled and passionate statement. He speaks from his own experience, his family's own experience, leaving a dictatorship in Cuba and coming to the freedom of this country. But he speaks more broadly from the depths of American history and American experience. We're a very different nation, and we're different from our beginning because we defined ourselves not by our geographical borders but by our values and the values expressed in the declaration of independence about those human rights - life liberty and happiness - which are the endowment of our creator. Those rights obviously were not just the endowment that god gave the people of the united states, but all human beings anywhere on this planet. It's what makes us a great nation, the extent to which we hold to that principle that was the motivation for our founding, I think is one we can measure ourselves by day by day. I really appreciate that the senator from Florida has committed himself both to the upholding an application of the principle of human rights, sanctity of human rights, and America's role in protecting them and is going to persistently continue to come to the floor to speak of particular cases where that principle is being violated."

Senator McCaskill: (2:10 PM)
  • Spoke on a McCaskill amendment to the Postal Reform bill.
    • SUMMARY "This amendment would propose a two-year moratorium on rural post office closures to allow the Postal Service to enjoy some of the reforms that have been put in this bill in a very thoughtful and thorough process by Chairman Lieberman and many of his colleagues. And it would say after two years that there is a specific list of transparent criterion that must be considered before a post office could be closed. First, it would have to ensure that seniors could retain the same access to their prescriptions that they receive through the mail. That seniors and those with disabilities would have the same access to post office that they currently do. Making sure that small businesses are not financially harmed by a rural post office closure. This is not kicking the can down the road. This is being more thoughtful about preserving a part of the post Postal Service that defines it. I am hopeful that this is not a republican or a democratic issue. I am hopeful that this is a rural issue. We all know the last mile is the most expensive. Throughout the history of our country, government has stepped in and done a little more to get services the last mile. No business model in the world works when you have got to take services that last mile down that one road all the way down to a house at the end of the road. Sometimes several miles. It didn't work for electricity, so we did things to help with rural electric co-ops. It didn't work for phones so we did the USF fund to help with phones. It didn't work for broadband so we stepped in and have done things to assist with broadband. And now we're going to say to these rural communities the last mile is not as important. These post offices are not as important. We can make do without it. I think that's a big mistake, and I hope that we can save these rural post offices. It's very important in my state, and I want young girls that are growing up in these small communities to have the same warm and fond memories of the local post office that I carry with me every day."

Senator Lieberman: (2:18 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "What's interesting is one of those old cases where maybe you appreciate something more than you do every day when you think it may disappear. That's true of institutions as well as it is of people, and there is no question that post offices, both in rural areas and small towns and I will say for Connecticut in neighborhoods and cities, the post office has played an important community-building role, but beyond that in a tough time economically, a lot of people depend on those post offices for their mail, for their prescription drugs, for the business interactions that they need. But here is the other side of it which my friend from Missouri knows very well. We have 32,000 post offices in America. If you consider them to be retail outlets - which they are - that's Missouri retail outlets than Wal-mart, Starbucks and McDonald's combined. But we're talking here about necessities, and so we're very concerned that post offices not be closed in a precipitous manner if some have to be closed. So as my friend from Missouri knows, we put language in this bill that although it doesn't stop the process of review but forces the Postal Service to consider other options such as consolidating post offices within a reasonable distance, reducing the number of operating hours, for instance, and permitting a contractor or a rural carrier to provide retail services in the communities served by the post office. We also allow an appeal to the postal regulatory commission, and I know there are other amendments that will come in to strengthen that part of the bill. We have got to find a balance here, and between the financial pressures on the post office, which if un-responded to will take it really down, and the continuing dependence that millions of American people including small town and rural areas have on the post office. Just a final word. Some of our colleagues have come to the floor and spoken about the post office as if it was in its entirety a relic which has no purpose anymore because of the internet. Obviously, the internet is affecting the volume of first-class mail, but the fact is today, i repeat again, every day, 563 million pieces of mail are delivered by the Postal Service. As you say, consistent with the promise of universal service, anywhere you are, anywhere your business is. Incidentally, that capacity to deliver to the last mile is one of the great, unique, irreplaceable assets of the community service, so irreplaceable that big private sector companies like FedEx and UPS depend on it. So people depend on the Postal Service increasingly for packages, too."