Floor Updates

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Jul 31 2014 9:30 AM

The Senate convened. 

Reid, McConnell

Opening Remarks

Jul 31 2014 9:58 AM

Today -
  • Following the Leaders' Remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to the S. 2648, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2014, post-cloture.
  • The time until 10:00 AM will be equally divided.
  • At 10:00 AM, Senator Sessions will control the time until 11:00 AM.
  • At 11:00 AM, Democrats will control the time until noon.
Senator Reid: (9:33 AM)
  • Spoke on the House of Representatives. 
    • SUMMARY "Much of what we're able to accomplish in September depends on the republicans in the House. Will they get their business done and pass legislation that's important for our country, including the economy? Here we've lamented the fact that they refuse to take up and pass our comprehensive immigration reform. What a good piece of legislation. A bipartisan bill passed out of this body by an overwhelming margin and republicans refuse to take it up.  Among other things, it will reduce the debt by $1 trillion. We have no extension of long-term unemployment benefits. I've talked about minimum wage. I've talked about student debt. I've talked about Hobby Lobby. I've talked about equal pay for women getting paid equally for the work they do that's the same as men. But they have no interest in these issues."
Senator McConnell: (9:44 AM)
  • Spoke on immigration.
    • SUMMARY "Children are suffering at the hands of some serious bad actors down there. Nurse reports suggest you even knew about this long before it started making national news. You could have intervened before this turned into a full-blown humanitarian crisis, but you didn't. You could have worked with us to get a bipartisan solution. You didn't. You have a special responsibility to help us end this crisis in a humane and appropriate way. Congress can't do it without your leadership or your engagement. It's literally impossible to do this without you. So pick up the phone you keep telling us about. Call us. Call your fellow democrats and lobby them to get on board. Work with us and let's address this crisis."
  • Spoke on the President's foreign policy.
    • SUMMARY "I've expressed deep concern that the President has pursued a foreign policy based on withdrawing from America's forward presence and alliance commitments, hollowing our our nation's conventional military forces placing an overreliance on diplomacy and international organizations and literally abandoning the war on terror. I believe this will leave his successor to deal with a more dangerous world and with fewer tools to meet the threats."
  • Spoke on the Protecting our Infants Act.
    • SUMMARY "Today in the Senate I'll introduce the Protecting our Infants Act, which seeks to address not only infants suffering from opiate withdrawal but maternal opiate addiction as well. It would help identify and disseminate recommendations for preventing and treating maternal addiction so that we can reduce the number infants born dependant on opiates and other drugs. It would also have recommendations on how to best to treat the babies. Because I've heard from so many experts in Kentucky on the need for more research into infant withdrawal and its long-term effects, my bill would shine a light on those areas as well. The Protecting our Infants Act would also encourage centers for disease control and prevention to work with states to improve the availability and quality of data so that they can respond more effectively to this public health crisis."

Fischer, King, Sessions, Leahy

MTP to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill (S. 2648)

Jul 31 2014 11:20 AM

Senator Fischer: (9:55 AM)
  • Spoke on maternity leave.
    • SUMMARY "Our plan would create a tax credit to encourage employers to voluntarily offer paid leave for workers. To be eligible for that tax credit, the employer must at a minimum offer four weeks of paid leave. But they could offer more. Paid leave would be available on an hourly basis and would be separate from the other vacation or sick leave. For each hour paid leave is provided, the employer would receive a 25% nonrefundable tax credit. The more paid FMLA time the employer offers, the greater the tax credit. This tax credit would be available to any employer with qualified employees, regardless of size. Importantly, our bill is reasonable. It's a balanced solution that can make a real difference in the lives of working families."
Senator King: (10:04 AM)
  • Spoke on maternity leave.
    • SUMMARY "This is a voluntary incentive-based program that says to every employer, not just those 50 or above or 100 or above or 500 or above, every employer in the country will have available to them this tax credit for offering paid leave to their employees. I think this is the way we should approach this, not, as my colleague says, with a one-size-fits-all mandate emanating from Washington. I think incentives are always better than mandates. The other thing that's important about this bill is that it really focuses on the people who are currently least likely to have some kind of paid leave available to them, and that's people that work on an hourly basis. That's who this bill is focused on."
Senator Sessions: (10:28 AM)
  • Spoke on immigration.
    • SUMMARY "Word got out and we had this surge and now the President, without any real plan to fix it, comes forward and says, give me - he asked for $4 billion. Now the bill here I think is $2.7 billion. Without any clear commitment or proof that we have any plan or any commitment from his leadership to alter the dynamics of the situation we're in. This is not acceptable. The bill before us now is not acceptable. It will not pass. It will not become law. And we need to insist and the American people will continue to insist that this Congress and this White House do their duty to make sure we have good, sound immigration laws and then ensure that they are faithfully and fairly executed to serve the national interests of the United States."
Senator Leahy: (11:01 AM)
  • Spoke on immigration.
    • SUMMARY "It has a multiyear strategy to support the efforts of the Central American governments to, one, dismantle their criminal gangs and combat human smuggling and trafficking and domestic and sexual abuse and to strengthening the social services, law enforcement, and judicial systems and to expand programs in education, get rid of the barriers to economic growth and opportunity. It also funds public information campaigns, so we can discourage these migrants from making the journey in the first place, but it will also have provisions and oversight of the aid we provide. We're Americans. The emergency spending in this supplement needed to respond responsibly to this crisis. What do we stand for as Americans? Let's uphold our nation's long-standing tradition of providing a safe haven for refugees that's engraved in the statue of liberty. For the millions more in Central America who live every day in fear, let's give some hope. Let's pass this bill."

Cardin, Mikulski, Wyden, Booker, Heller

MTP to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill (S. 2648)

Jul 31 2014 12:21 PM

Senator Cardin: (11:13 AM)
  • Spoke on the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2014. 
    • SUMMARY "We have humanitarian responsibilities, and this supplemental appropriation takes care of that. $1.2 billion to health and human services to deal with adequate shelter for these children so they are properly cared for… All they have to do is take up our bill, pass it, in a balanced way, representing the - I think not only the philosophical views of the Congress which can be a challenge at times but representing the views of most Americans. So I hope that we will support the supplemental gill. I might also add it provides $600 million for wildfires in the west. We know that's an emergency, urgent situation that needs to be dealt with. It provides help to our ally and friend Israel, $225 million to replenish the missiles that have been used in iron dome to shoot down the missiles that are coming into Israel. It's a well-balanced supplemental. It represents, I think, the best interests of this country, and I would urge my colleagues to support it promptly."
Senator Mikulski: (11:26 AM)
  • Spoke on the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2014. 
    • SUMMARY "Well, we can't keep doing this on this emergency patchwork basis. We need the urgent supplemental, number one, to help the Homeland Security law enforcement, help Health and Humans Services they need to crack this backlog and be able to place these children. Yes, their legal status, do they have the right for refugee status, to be determined, and even when have you volunteer legal services like the outstanding work I saw in Texas, outstanding - I know you're a lawyer. You would have been proud of them. And the way they were just responding to these children. Bilingual, remember the services - but you need help, you need paralegals, you need this. I want to break the backlog of judges, the backlog of cases so we have enough immigration judges to do this."
Senator Wyden: (11:47 AM)
  • Spoke on the Internet Tax Freedom Act. 
    • SUMMARY "I was the author of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, along with our former republican colleague, Congressman Chris Cox. And along with our colleague from South Dakota, Senator Thune, and 52 bipartisan cosponsors, I'm the author of the pending bill that would make that protection permanent. I believe if we were able to hold a vote on our bill today, it would pass with overwhelming support. Unfortunately, that is not a political reality, and yet the clock keeps ticking towards expiration. Protecting the internet and every internet user in our country ought to be a matter that takes precedence over politics and partisanship. The Senate can move this short-term extension today while the Senate works on a bipartisan basis to deal with the issues raised by those who believe that allowing localities to collect taxes across the country is more important than a ban on discriminatory taxation. So I hope that the Senate will join me in supporting the temporary extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act as a bridge to permanent legislation."
Senator Booker: (12:05 PM)
  • Spoke on the Veterans Administration. 
    • SUMMARY "This program places veterans suffering from moderate to severe traumatic brain injury or TBI, it places them into privately run facilities where they receive 24-hour team-based attention. These are our veterans who stood for us, who answered the call to service, who went into harm's way, and have suffered traumatic brain injury, and now get the kind of care and attention that they deserve. They are immersed in this therapy; it helps them with their memory, their speech, their gradual community integration. That last point actually is the key. This program doesn't just prepare veterans from transition into one health care setting into another health care setting, it is about giving them the practical skills they need to return to their communities and live independently." 
Senator Heller: (12:12 PM)
  • Spoke on the Veterans Administration. 
    • SUMMARY "This program operates in two locations in Nevada and serves wounded warriors who are trying to restore their quality of life. As the battlefield has changed over the years so have the injuries that service members and the veterans sustain. Including traumatic brain injuries. TBI is a complicated injury to treat because the effects can be both mental and physical, and from headaches, dizziness and irritation all the way to speech difficulties, visual impairment, loss of memory and severe depression. Every traumatic brain injury is different which is why some veterans need more care to rehabilitate and regain full Independence. That is why Congress created the assisted living TBI program in 2008… As the Senate prepares to vote on final passage of this critical VA reform bill, I hope my colleagues recognize the importance of this compromise bill at a time when veterans are losing faith in the VA system and the certainty that Congress will be there to provide oversight, accountability and legislative action to improve the care they receive from the nation that they sacrificed and served."

Reed, Vitter, Nelson

MTP to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill (S. 2648)

Jul 31 2014 1:55 PM

Senator Reed: (12:20 PM)
  • Spoke on unemployment insurance benefits. 
    • SUMMARY "If you're unemployed, you're going to take that modest check, about $300, $350, you're going to pay your phone bill, you're going to get the car repaired so you can get over to the job interview, you're going to do the things you have to do to help your children get through the day. You're not going to save it. You're not going to buy a French impressionist painting. You're going to go right into the local economy and spend the money. So for many reasons, I think that is why we have to do this. That's why Senator Heller and I have filed an amendment to this emergency appropriations bill on a bipartisan basis, and the amendment will be the same as we proposed previously but except for offsets. That's because for the second time offsets that we have identified to pay for an extension of benefits have been used for another measure. I guess we must take some satisfaction in that we've developed offsets on unemployment and then another program grabs them and it gets passed here. But I'd rather have the extension of the benefits."
Senator Vitter: (1:00 PM)
  • Spoke on immigration.
    • SUMMARY "First of all, we need to see if folks who are sending these remittances are here legally. Second, we need to ensure U.S. taxpayer fairness. Third, we need to address inaccurate U.S. data on remittances and get and collect all the full facts. And, fourth, we need to make sure that illegals receiving U.S. benefits - if they're remitting higher amounts abroad. My legislation would address all of these goals and fundamentally it would get a handle on the situation and make sure that those who are not in this country illegally pay a substantial fee and that was used on border security and other immigration enforcement. That could grow a significant amount of revenue, a significant amount of revenue specifically dedicated to border and other enforcement. The second proposal I have is in the form of other legislation, free-standing legislation which I've also introduced this week as a Senate floor amendment for the supplemental appropriations bill. It's about child tax credits. This amendment addresses a clear loophole in the IRS code that allows illegal aliens to access income tax-based benefits such as the child tax credit and the additional child tax credit."
Senator Nelson: (1:18 PM)
  • Spoke on ObamaCare.
    • SUMMARY "So what we had in health insurance before the affordable care act was - it was like the Wild West. Plans could deny you coverage, an insurance plan if you had coverage and you were suddenly getting treatment, they could cancel your coverage, they could also deny you coverage by saying that you had a previous existing condition, and it could have been something as simple as a rash. You couldn't get health insurance. Now all of those things they can't use as an excuse. So what I see is the last throes of this resistance to the Affordable Care Act, and you're going to hear it again as insurance plans come out on Medicare advantage and show that they're hiking their rates, and yet I want to the people of Florida to know it was the state legislature who took away the ability of the insurance commissioner of Florida to regulate those rates."

Coburn, Murphy, Barrasso, Sessions

MTP to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill (S. 2648)

Jul 31 2014 2:45 PM

Senator Coburn: (1:53 PM)
  • Spoke on Unanimous Consent agreements.
    • SUMMARY "With over $400 billion in waste a year in the federal government, waste, fraud, duplication, to ask us to spend $200 million here or $2 billion here or in the case of the veterans bill, $17 billion of which $5 billion of it is actually paid for, without doing the hard work of not transferring more debt to our children is not acceptable to me. And so my rights as an individual Senator are going to be utilized today until we go home to make sure we don't transfer another penny, if I can stop it, on to the backs of our children. And it would be different if we were efficient, we didn't have any waste, we didn't have any fraud, we didn't have any duplication. But, you see, it's an excuse to not do the hard work that we were sent up here to do. So I'm putting my colleagues on notice that if you want to pass any bill that's going to go by Unanimous Consent, you better find some waste somewhere to offset it with or I will object. And I don't mind taking the heat no matter what the issue. I've done it before; I'll do it again. Our children and our grandchildren are worth any amount of heat to create a future opportunity for them that's at least as equal to what we've had."
  • Spoke on the Veterans Administration. 
    • SUMMARY "The one critical thing that really needs to happen to clean up the VA is to give veterans the absolute choice to go wherever they want, their freedom to choose whatever care they want based on what they've done for us. And by doing that, the VA will either have to become competitive and just as good or they should die. We've not done that in this bill. We need to do that in this bill. We have centers of excellence in the VA that beat all the private industry, all the private health care when this comes to prosthetics, to closed head injury, when it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. We're great, the VA is great, but in too many areas it's not. Tell me this bill will change all that, I'll vote for it, even if it does sacrifice our children. But it won't. I won't be here when you assess the results of this bill, but I can predict what it'll be: More of the same, too much money, not enough leadership."
Senator Murphy: (2:09 PM)
  • Spoke on immigration.
    • SUMMARY "Reports are emerging that the House of Representatives is going to adjourn without taking any vote on a border supplemental that would allow this country to humanely deal with a crisis of epidemic proportions on our border, as over 50,000 children right now are being warehoused shoulder to shoulder without any sign from the United States Congress of help coming. There are legitimate differences over in what manner we provide this emergency funding to try to deal with this humanitarian crisis, but shame on the House of Representatives if they leave town today without even having attempted to take a vote on a supplemental appropriations bill for the border."
  • Spoke on ObamaCare.
    • SUMMARY "So for colleagues who are going to complain about high premium increases, you have to acknowledge that there are steps that your state could have taken to make it better. For colleagues who talk about the fact there aren't enough people enrolled, your state could have taken steps to enroll more people. Not everything is the Affordable Care Act's fault when things go wrong for families. The data does not back up the anecdotes that are brought to this floor, and in states that are working to implement the law, it works a lot better than in states that are working to undermine it. The story is clear, whether it's on the decrease in people that don't have insurance, the decreasing rate of medical inflation all across the country, or the improving quality of health care in every corner of this nation, the Affordable Care Act is working."
Senator Barrasso: (2:22 PM)
  • Spoke on ObamaCare.
    • SUMMARY "When I hear that the federal auditors are questioning that Connecticut's internal controls, and then look at many stories about doctors who are saying no to ObamaCare, but a report, Connecticut is less competitive after federal health care reform in "The Hartford Courant." It just reminds me, that there are so many side effects of this health care law, all across the country, stories from every state, premiums are going up, people are having to pay more in co-pays, people are having to pay more in terms of their deductibles, and people continue to be offended that they were not told the truth. The rates continue to go up, the President said they would go down, Nancy Pelosi said they would go down for everyone. That is not the case, and I think what I'm hearing also from patients at home is people just believe that Washington is in control of their health care right now, not the individual. "
Senator Sessions: (2:31 PM)
  • Spoke on the Veterans Administration. 
    • SUMMARY "Tom Coburn, we have one of the Senate's finest, committed senators. He loves this country. Every day he tries to save us money and make us more productive. There's nobody here that works harder and is more effective in that. And he says we need to do better. He's not able to support the Conference Report, and that it will add, we know, at least $10 billion to the debt in three years. Better than before, I will acknowledge. And as a result, he will raise a point of order against it. And I would say I have to support that. Let me just say this. Doctors do not carry the kinds of patient caseloads that private doctors do. While we have some policy changes that are good, more are needed."

Hatch, Hirono, Cruz (UC), Heitkamp

MTP to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill (S. 2648)

Jul 31 2014 3:29 PM

Senator Hatch: (2:35 PM)
  • Spoke on Senate rules and procedure.
    • SUMMARY "Perhaps the Majority Leader has reconsidered what he believes to be the basic nature of the Senate. Perhaps he now believes that denying the minority's right to offer amendments is a very good rather than a very bad practice. If he does, then I think he, of all people, owes the Senate an explanation. I don't think he believes that. Otherwise, such an about-face is nothing more than a desire to rig the rules so that he can win all the games. And in the process he is destroying the Senate itself. And when I say games, I don't really mean games. So he won all the votes, and he can put the Senate in any motion he wants to without any real rights in the minority. In the process he's destroying the Senate itself, destroying the institutional characteristics the founders thought important to our design and the traditions that enabled the Senate to serve the common good throughout our nation's history…  Last November, the Majority Leader lowered the threshold to end debate on the nominations from a supermajority to a simple majority. It ended more than 200 years of Senate practice and effectively removes the minority's role in the confirmation process. As I have detailed here on the senate floor and in print, the Minority Leader's reasons for this revolution amounted to filibuster fraud. At the time that he invoked the so-called nuclear option, the Senate had confirmed 98% of President Obama's nominations and filibusters."
Senator Hirono: (2:57 PM)
  • Spoke on the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2014. 
    • SUMMARY "I rise today to support S. 2648, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2014. I recently led a congressional delegation to McAllen, Texas, and to Lockland Air Force Base to see firsthand what the administration was doing to handle this border crisis. It was clear to me that the hardworking men and women on the front lines of this crisis are doing the best that they can under very difficult circumstances. We should pass this important bill to provide the necessary resources to fairly address this humanitarian crisis. We should provide customs and border protection the resources they need to pay their agents overtime when needed and to provide the necessary food, water, and medical supplies to these children."
Senator Cruz: (3:06 PM)
  • Spoke on the internet sales tax. 
    • SUMMARY "We have an ability not just to protect the internet from taxes but also to honor our word. How many members of this body on both sides of the aisle go to the tech community and say, we want to stand with tech? We want to stand for the entrepreneurial vibrancy of tech? And yet I would note anyone objecting to this right now is setting the stage for a massive internet tax. How many of us make the case to young people that we're standing for the future for young people, we're standing for greater opportunity, we're standing for the chance to help young people achieve the American dream? You know, young Americans 18-29 years old oppose an internet sales tax by 73% to 27%. And yet if this body refuses to stand together in a bipartisan manner, we're telling young people, what we say on the campaign trail is not backed up by action on the floor."
  • Unanimous Consent -
    • The Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of H.R. 3086, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act.
    • The Senate pass H.R. 3086.
  • (Senator Heitkamp objects)
Senator Heitkamp: (3:19 PM)
  • Spoke on the internet sales tax.
    • SUMMARY "I tell you if you are selling a widget in North Dakota and you have bricks and mortar and you participate in the society, you provide dollars for the schools, you provide scholarship dollars, you collect a sales tax. But if you're a remote seller taking advantage of the same marketplace and competing directly against that main street business, you no longer have that responsibility. So to suggest that this body would be doing any of that, imposing any taxes on mom and pop ignores the fact that the imposition of this tax comes from state and local governments who all too often - my friends on the other side of the aisle say closer to the people, the more responsibility - responsive those state governments are. I would suggest that in the great state of Texas, the current governor is republican. Certainly has the ability to decide tax policies. The legislatures are certainly republican and they can decide whether they want to do any imposition of tax."

Wyden (UC), Ayotte, Cruz, Moran

MTP to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill (S. 2648)

Jul 31 2014 4:02 PM

Senator Wyden: (3:23 PM)
  • Spoke on the Internet Tax Freedom Act. 
    • SUMMARY "The best thing that can be done now for the hundreds of millions of American internet users and the economy for which the internet is a lifeline, is to extend the current ban until it's possible to lock in a path to pass a permanent extension. This isn't a political issue. That point has been made. There are a number of democrats and republicans who join myself and Senator Thune in supporting the permanent moratorium. There are a number of republicans and democrats opposing the extension of that moratorium. And reluctantly - and we'll have that debate - they seem to think that it's okay to impose discriminatory taxes on the internet. So it seems to me that no one who supports keeping the moratorium in place ought to object to a short-term extension now. Doing so only makes it more likely that internet access and services would be subject to discriminatory taxation."
  • Unanimous Consent -
    • The Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of S. 2735, A Two-Month Extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act. 
    • The Senate pass S. 2735. 
  • (Senator Ayotte objects)
Senator Ayotte: (3:27 PM)
  • Spoke on the Internet Tax Freedom Act. 
    • SUMMARY "I think a short-term fix is no fix at all. In fact, it just leaves the American people again uncertain that we will protect their rights against discriminatory taxes that can be imposed on them over the internet and that also invites shenanigans with the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act that can get attached. And I know some of my colleagues have talked about that potential of attaching this unfair act which I would like to call the internet sales tax collection act which makes our online businesses across this country the sales tax collectors for almost 10,000 tax jurisdictions in this nation. And so for those reasons, I object. I would like to see what my colleague from Oregon has put forth, which is excellent legislation, and I thank him for that, which is permanent tax freedom from the internet." 
Senator Cruz: (3:33 PM)
  • Spoke on the Internet Tax Freedom Act. 
    • SUMMARY "What is happening here right now is even though no one has serious objections to the Internet Tax Freedom Act, we are unfortunately seeing our colleagues from the democratic side of the aisle hold that bill hostage in an effort to try to force through the internet sales tax. And I would note that the reason my friend from New Hampshire had no choice but to object to the two-month proposal is the two-month time period was not picked out of a hat. Two months means that the internet tax freedom act would expire during a lame-duck session."
Senator Moran: (3:46 PM)
  • Spoke on the Veterans Administration. 
    • SUMMARY "This legislation would establish an advisory board of scientists and experts to advise the national center and the VA Secretary with determining the health conditions studied and those that are the result of toxic exposure. The Department of Defense has a role to play in this research sharing members who were exposed to enhance the studies conducted by the Department of Veterans affairs. It is our hope the medical research would lead to appropriate supports and benefits, cures and treatments for family members. Military families support our nation in their love and commitment to those who served in the armed forces, and they should not inherit the painful residual wounds of war that put their lives at risk long after the military operation is over. Toxic exposure research is a necessary step toward making certain our military men and women and their descendants will be properly cared for. It's also a step toward making certain that those toxins are not used in a way that causes this to be repeated once again in any future war. We must keep our promises to our veterans and to their families who have made the greatest sacrifice for the sake of our country, its security, our freedom and our country's future."

Cornyn, Sanders, Blunt (UC), Corker, Boxer

MTP to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill (S. 2648)

Jul 31 2014 4:50 PM

Senator Cornyn: (3:54 PM)
  • Spoke on immigration. 
    • SUMMARY "Our bill would help resolve the current crisis and would help prevent a similar crisis from occurring in the future. Under the Senate procedures, the only person who can make the decision whether the United States Senate will have an opportunity to vote on such a reform is the Majority Leader, and he's already announced that he intends not to allow us to offer that reform. And so I expect we will end up leaving her today having done nothing, in spite of the fact there's bipartisan, bicameral recognition that we are experiencing a crisis and the President and his own cabinet have identified the causes but refuse to do anything about it. To me, that's the very definition of "Dysfunction." The very reason that the American people are absolutely disgusted with the refusal of congress and the executive branch to do what we ourselves know needs to be done. And it's a tragedy. I hope the Majority Leader will reconsider, give us a chance to vote on this reform to help solve the problem, and then we can move on and address other important problems that face our country."
Senator Sanders: (4:14 PM)
  • Spoke on the Veterans Administration. 
    • SUMMARY "The CBO has come up with some recent estimates which lower the cost a little bit, close to, a little bit less than $17 billion into VA health care over the next several years. There are $5 billion in offsets from within the VA that I was comfortable with that will bring the total cost of this package down to somewhere around perhaps $11 billion. Is that a lot of money? It is a lot of money. But that is the cost of war, and that is what happens when millions of veterans come home and need the care that they are entitled to receive. My hope is, as I mentioned a moment ago, the House passed legislation by an overwhelming vote of 420-5 and I want to thank Chairman Miller in the House for the work that he has done in getting that result. My understanding is that in a few hours we will be voting on that bill and I hope that we can pass this legislation with a very, very strong bipartisan vote."
Senator Blunt: (4:27 PM)
  • Spoke on Israel.
    • SUMMARY "Earlier this week, I joined with Senator Boxer to introduce the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014. This is an updated version of bipartisan legislation we introduced in March of last year. It's designed to help the economic strength, the security cooperation between our two countries. As of right now Senator Boxer and I and 79 of our colleagues including the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Menendez, are cosponsors, so 81 members have cosponsored this legislation. At a very important time, I think, it sends a message to the world and sends a message to Israel that our partnership is strong, that the United States Congress, starting with the Senate, is committed to that partnership, that not only do we want to have the kind of defensive understanding we've had so we have joint defense agreements so we have the kind of equipment and supplies stationed in Israel that we could use in time of a crisis."
  • Unanimous Consent -
    • The Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of S. 2673, the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014.
    • The Senate pass S. 2673.
  • (Senator Corker objects)
Senator Corker: (4:30 PM)
  • Spoke on Israel.
    • SUMMARY "But knowing that this is not the typical way of doing things and knowing that people actually had some amendments, I know there was some reservations about the Visa waiver process and other things, I'm going to have to object. I do so with total respect for these two Senators but also for respect for the committee process that we all try to work through together."
Senator Boxer: (4:33 PM)
  • Spoke on Israel.
    • SUMMARY "I am shocked and deeply saddened that my friend would come here and object when for days and days and days he told me - he told me he would not do this. My friend told me he would not object. Now, this bill has the support of 81 senators. To come here and object that your committee, which I am so proud to be - as a matter of fact, I'm the senior person on that committee. My chairman is one of the great chairmen of the United States Senate. We bent over backwards. I wanted to offer this on Monday with Senator blunt. He was disappointed. I said, I'm talking to Senator Corker. We're trying to work together. 81 senators support this and one Senator comes here and says, "Oh, we need to go to the committee." There's a war going on. Hamas has put on its channel proudly showing terrorists going through tunnels. This bill is absolutely critical."
Senator Corker: (4:40 PM)
  • Spoke on Israel.
    • SUMMARY "I would not be down here today objecting to something being discharged from committee had the committee meeting not been called off. And I want to say to the chairman, I talked to him late last night, I thank him for trying to make this process work in the right way. And I thank his staff for being willing to set up a committee meeting today. But for some reason, the Senator from California decided that she didn't want to have the committee meeting. So I'm sorry that she's sad. I'm a little emotional now that she would suggest that I would agree to UC something. Yeah, I will, if it comes through committee. I don't understand why the committee was called off. But apparently the committee - the person sponsoring this bill apparently doesn't want to votes on amendments that other members want to offer. Not me. I had no idea any members wanted to offer amendments, by the way. But they did. And I'm sorry that this hasn't worked out either. But that's the way it is. I have no idea why the committee meeting was called off."