Senate Calendar

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Aug 01 2012

Senator Reid: (7:59 PM)
  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Tomorrow --
    • The Senate will convene at 9:30 AM and Majority Leader Reid will be recognized. Thereafter, the Senate will begin consideration of S. 3326, the AGOA/Burma Sanctions bill, for 30 minutes of debate, equally divided. Following the debate on the Coburn amendment, the time until 11:00 AM will be equally divided.
    • Pending is S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill. All second-degree amendments must be filed at the desk by 10:00 AM. The amendment tree has been filled.
    • At 11:00 AM, the Senate will conduct 2 ROLL CALL VOTES on:
      1. Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill; and
      2. Coburn amendment to S. 3326, the AGOA/Burma Sanctions bill.
    • At a time to be determined, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 1 hour of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar #518, Carol J. Galante, of California, to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Following the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on confirmation of the nomination (60 votes required).
The Senate stands adjourned until 9:30 AM Thursday, August 2nd.

Aug 01 2012

Senator Murkowski: (5:44 PM)
  • Spoke on the tsunami debris.
    • SUMMARY "The Japanese government has estimated about five million tons of debris were carried out into the ocean. We are assuming or have assumed that the majority of that either sank or will sink. But there's really no firm estimate, no concrete idea of how much is still floating or when it will reach our beaches, but in Alaska, we know that it has been arriving. We saw the first evidence of it last winter, and it arrived ahead of the projected timelines. It's probably understandable that we were not able to anticipate exactly when the tsunami debris would start arriving but now that we're starting to see it along the shoreline, I think it's no doubt that we need to respond ... The state of Alaska has engaged in tsunami debris coordination, I'm told the Alaska regional representatives of the federal agencies are as well, but headquarters of agencies across the federal government really need to be part of the plan and to engage creatively as we address this accumulating debris I've asked the White House to establish and to lead an interagency task force to plan for tsunami debris. So you take the relevant states, tribes, local governments, and the international partners, and invite them to participate in this task force. We all need to be working it together We also can't forget about private interests in cleanup. Many industries and private citizens are dependent on our navigable waterways and healthy marine ecosystems. We need good communication, leadership and a plan to guide an interagency and public-private approach to solve this challenge during what we would all acknowledge are difficult fiscal times. I commend the marine debris program for their coordination in response to this work, but the fact of the matter is, they are a small and an over tasked program. They need help of their federal partners to address this as a national priority."

Senator Grassley: (6:07 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "Chief among my concerns with the pending bill is the role played by the Department of Homeland Security. These concerns stem from oversight that I've conducted on the implementation of a law called the chemical facility antiterrorism standards program. That acronym would be CFATS. CFATS was the first regulatory major foray by the department. The Department of Homeland Security spent nearly a half a million dollars on that program. Now, five years later, they've just begun to achieve site security plans for the more than 4,000 facilities designated under the rule. I've continued to conduct oversight on this matter despite assurances from the Department of Homeland Security that they fixed all the problems with that program CFATS, I keep discovering more problems. So now I'm baffled why we would take an agency that has proven problems with overseeing a critical infrastructure and give them chief responsibility for our country's cybersecurity. Additionally, I'm concerned with provisions that restrict the way information is shared. The restrictions imposed under title 7 of the bill are a step backward from other information-sharing proposals. This includes the bill I've cosponsored, the SECURE IT bill. The bill before us places the Department of Homeland Security in the role of gatekeeper of cyber threat information. The bill calls for the Department of Homeland Security to share the information "as close to real-time as possible with other agencies." However, this surely will create a bottleneck for information coming into the government. Further, title 7 includes restrictions on what types of information can be shared, limiting the use of it for criminal prosecution except those that cause imminent harm. This is exactly the type of restriction on information sharing that the 9/11 Commission warned us about. In fact, the 9/11 Commission said "the wall resulted in far less information sharing and coordination." The 9/11 Commission further added "the removal of the wall that existed before 9/11 between intelligence and law enforcement has opened up new opportunities for cooperative action." Why would we even consider legislation that could rebuild these walls that threaten our national security? How much of a real debate have we had on those issues that I've raised?"

Senator Menendez: (6:23 PM)
  • Spoke on Oswaldo Paya.
    • SUMMARY "There are some of us who are committed to making sure that silence is broken. Today I'm asking my colleagues to join me in sending a letter to Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, demanding that the United Nations and the Human Rights Council immediately undertake a full and thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding Oswaldo Paya's tragic death and the detention of Angel Carromero. We must demand the truth about these tragic events that took the life of Cuba's most devoted human rights advocate."

Senator Inhofe: (6:36 PM)
  • Spoke on climate change.
    • SUMMARY "If you look at the Harvard-Smithsonian study, that was a study that examined the results of more than 240 peer-reviewed papers published by thousands of research over the past four decades. The study covers a multitude of geophysical and biological climate indicators. They came to the conclusion - this is the Harvard-Smithsonian peer-reviewed study. They came to the conclusion that climate change is not real, that the science is not accurate. Dr. Fred Seitz is a former president of the National Academy of Sciences. He said "there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gases is causing or will in the foreseeable future cause catastrophic heating of the earth's atmosphere and disruption of the earth's climate." ... One of the universities, George Mason University, surveyed 430 weathercasters and found that only 19% of the weathercasters felt that global warming is taking place and it's a result of human activity. Now, that's quite a change from what it used to be. That means 81% of those - the weathercasters that we all see every night are saying that that just isn't true. The Dr. Robert Laughlin, a Nobel prize-winning Stanford University physicist, he said, "please remain calm. The earth will heal itself. Climate is beyond our power to control. The earth doesn't care about governments and legislation. Climate change is a matter of geologic time, something the earth does on its own without asking anyone's permission or explaining itself.â€?"

Senator Reid: (6:53 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • At a time to be determined by the Majority leader after consultation with the Republican leader the Senate proceed to consideration of S. 3326, that the only amendment in order would be a Coburn amendment, the text of which is at the desk. There be 30 minutes for debate, equally divided and controlled by in the usual form, that upon the use or yielding back of that time the Senate proceed to vote in relation to the amendment, that if the amendment is not agreed to, the bill will be read a third time, passed without further action or debate and when the Senate receives H.R. 5986 and if its text is identical, the Senate proceed to consideration of H.R. 5986, the bill read a third time and passed, with no amendments in order prior to passage. Further that if the Coburn amendment is agreed to, the Finance Committee be discharged from further consideration of H.R. 9 and the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration, that after the enacting clause be stricken and the text of S. 3326 as amended be inserted, the bill read a third time, passed without further debate and that when the s\senate receives H.R. 5986 the Senate proceed to it forthwith. And all after the enacting clause be stricken, and the text of section 2 and 3 of S. 2236 as reported be inserted in through thereof. The bill be read a third time, passed with no further debate as amended and S.2236 be returned Finally, no motions be in order except motions to waive or to table, there be no intervening action or debate (without objection).

Senator McConnell: (6:55 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "This is an important piece of legislation. The part I had the most interest in renews Burma sanctions, something we've done on an annual basis for ten years. We are renewing the sanctions in spite of the fact that much progress has been made in Burma in the last year and a half. Secretary Clinton will of course recommend to the president that these sanctions be waived in recognition of the significant progress that's been made in the last year and a half in that country which is trying to move from a rather thuggish military dictatorship to a genuine democracy. There's still a long way to go. This is an important step in the right direction. America speaks with one voice with regard to Burma. My views are the same as the views of the Obama administration expressed by Secretary Clinton. I also want to thank the chairman of the Finance Committee for helping us work through this process, and particularly to Senator Coburn, who had some reservations about the non-Burma parts of this bill. But I think we've worked those out and are working forward and I think it's an important step in the right direction."

Franken, Schumer, Brown-OH

Veterans Jobs bill (S. 3429)

Aug 01 2012

Senator Franken: (5:10 PM)
  • Spoke on VAWA.
    • SUMMARY "These new provisions in the VAWA bill are just political, it just couldn't be further from the truth. You know, there's one provision - I'll just talk about one provision. It's about women on Indian reservations. Who get abused by a partner, boyfriend, husband who isn't native - and this happens all the time - and this gave jurisdiction to the tribes to prosecute this. And I'm on Indian Affairs. I talk to tribal leaders all the time . You just have no idea how grateful tribal leaders were and how important this was. You know, one out of every three women in Indian country - one out of three Indian women in this country are raped at some time in their life. And, by far, the largest majority of that is not by male Indians. It's by non-Indians. I can't think of anything less political. I can't - I just can't. And I just ask my colleagues to think, to give a second of thought before they say stuff like that. It really is - as Senator Murray said, it was offensive to her. You know, I just find - I actually found it more sad."
  • Spoke on the national diabetes prevention program.
    • SUMMARY "We know that when eligible adults participate in the program, it saves everyone money in fact, the CEO of United Health Care told me that they'll cover this. And why? Because they save $4 for every dollar they invest in the program. Because their beneficiaries are healthier. And the Urban Institute estimated that implementing community programs like the diabetes prevention program could save $191 billion nationally - $191 billion, 75% of the savings, more than $142 billion, going to Medicare and Medicaid programs. That's why the federal government should also invest in this cost-saving program for seniors. Nearly one-third of Medicare beneficiaries had diabetes in 2010, and the diabetes prevention program costs, again, about $300 per participant as compared to more than $6,000 a year in added health care costs for someone with type 2 diabetes. There is no question that by preventing diabetes we can all save money while keeping our seniors healthier."
  • Spoke on the five-year anniversary of the collapse of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis, paid tribute to those who lost their lives, and honored those heroes and the countless lives that they saved.

Senator Schumer: (5:23 PM)
  • Spoke on the Iran Sanctions bill.
    • SUMMARY "In a few hours, the Iran Sanctions bill is likely to pass both the House and the Senate, and that is very, very good news because when it comes to Iran, times a wasting. We need to ratchet up the pressure. And this is a powerful package that will paralyze the Iranian economy. It tightens the screws tighter, tighter, tighter so that the Iranians will have no choice but to see their economy basically in desperate shape if they continue to pursue obtaining a nuclear weapon I believe when it comes to Iran, of course we should never take the military option off the table. But, I believe, almost everyone in this chamber believes, our president believes and Prime Minister Netanyahu believes, most Israelis believe that the economic sanctions are the preferred way to choke Iran's nuclear ambitions. If we can achieve sanctions and Iran truly backs off - not with a faint but in reality, by meeting the three standards that both President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have set, turning over any 20-% enriched uranium, stop producing any uranium enrichment and destroying the new facility we will have achieved a great victory."

Senator Brown-OH: (5:31 PM)
  • Spoke on the Service Members Protection Act.
    • SUMMARY "My bill first would strengthen housing and lending rights for service members. Right now, a bank cannot foreclose upon a service member while they are serving overseas until it gets a court order, yet the bank has no real obligation to actually investigate whether a homeowner is on active duty overseas. My bill would require lenders who want to foreclose on a home to conduct a meaningful investigation into a bar or a military status. It would increase civil penalties for violating a service member's rights as a homeowner. The bill also would strengthen enforcement for the uniformed and overseas citizens absentee voting act to make sure service members' votes are counted t would create a nationwide standard for getting absentee ballots to overseas service members in a timely fashion. And finally, it would make sure service members can return to their jobs after they have completed their military services with the seniority and pay rate that they would have earned if they remain continuously employed by the civilian employer. We know the guard and reserve that are called up leave their civilian jobs, too often come home to the uncertainty of what happens when I arrive home. Members of the guard should not have to worry about whether they will return home to the same job and the correct pay rate. As citizens of a grateful nation, we have a responsibility to do something, more than something to protect service members' rights as they sacrifice to keep our country safe."

Aug 01 2012

Senator Hoeven: (3:59 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "Right now the estate tax provides an exemption on the first $5 million and then amounts in an estate over that $5 million threshold are taxed at 35%. However, reverting to the pre-2001-2003 tax rates, which happens at the end of the year unless action is taken, unless action is taken by both the House and the Senate to extend the current rates, then we revert to the tax rates before the 2001-2003 tax reductions. That means instead of a $5 million exemption and a 35% tax rate on estate tax, or the death tax, we go to a $1 million exemption with a 55% tax rate after that. Think about what that means to our farms and our small businesses across the country. 24 times more farms will then be in an estate tax situation. And something like 14 times more businesses will be in an estate tax situation. So what does that mean? Well, what it means is that when a family member dies and it's time to pass on that farm or pass on that business, they're going to have to borrow money to try to pay the estate tax. And that that farm or that business that is going to have to generate enough revenue to pay that estate tax. And if you can't pay that estate tax at 55% - 55% - of the value of what you're passing, if that business or that farm can't service that level of debt, then you have to sell that farm or sell that small business, which may have been in the family for many, many generations. And remember that those farms, those ranches, those small businesses, that's the backbone of the American economy. And here we are at a time when we have 8.2% unemployment and we're trying to get this economy going and we're putting our small businesses across this country in that situation. That is why it is so important that we act, and that's exactly what we have proposed. We have said hey, rather than putting our economy in that situation right now, let's set up a one-year extension of the current tax rates, let's engage in pro-growth tax reform where we actually lower rates but close loopholes which will generate economic growth and we'll get revenue from economic growth rather than from higher taxes. That is vitally important. In fact, on a bipartisan basis, two years ago, that's what we did, we extended the current tax rates. I think we had 44 Democrat votes to do that here in the senate. Republicans voted for it I think across the board. I think we had 44 votes on the Democrat side of the aisle. So it was absolutely a bipartisan measure, and I argue that's exactly what we have to do again. Even the president came out at that time, he supported doing exactly what I just laid out. And he said, because we can't raise taxes in a recession."
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "I also urge my colleagues in the house to make sure at the same time they're acting on Farm bill legislation - we passed a Farm bill in the Senate on a bipartisan basis - I hope they're able to do the same thing, pass a Farm bill in the House on a bipartisan basis, as well, that we can go to conference and we can pass a Farm bill that will be co cost-effective, that will save money, help reduce the deficit. The bill we passed would generate $23 billion in savings to help address the deficit. It would provide the right kind of safety net for our farmers and ranchers, and ultimately this good farm policy benefits every single American because our farmers and ranchers produce the highest-quality, lowest-cost food supply in the world, which benefits every single one of us. Not to mention creating a lot of great jobs throughout the country. So i call on them to act on that Farm bill."

Senator Inhofe: (4:09 PM)
  • Spoke on the Sequestration Prevention Act.
    • SUMMARY "It replaces this sequestration cuts with some smart reforms. I'm going to run over those in just a minute to show you what they are. It repeals the sequester and replaces the $1.2 trillion and then has a lot of money left over The first thing it does, completely repeals Obamacare. It adopts Paul Ryan's approach to block granting the Medicaid program so that states have complete control over the dollars that they use to reach their low-income populations with health care assistance. Now, together, these two changes will reduce by $1.1 trillion over ten years. Secondly, it returns nondefense discretionary, nondefense discretionary funding to the 2006 levels. When this president came in, that surged. The amount of the nondefense discretionary spending surged. This would have a savings over that period of time of $952 billion. Thirdly, it block grants the food stamp program and converts it into discretionary programs so the states have complete control over the design of their nutrition assistance programs to best meet the needs of their low-income population. This provision reverses the massive expansion that we have seen of the food stamp program under the Obama administration, which has literally doubled in size, up to 100% since he took office. On President Obama's inauguration day, just under 32 million people were on food stamps. Today it's more than 46 million people. They received these benefits. So it's going to have to stop. It will continue to go up if we don't do something about it. This provision saves $285 billion The fourth thing it does, the legislation reduces the federal work force by 10% through attrition. Nobody out there is going to be fired, there are not going to be any cuts. In fact, it would continue to have some modest increases in payments for those who are there. Through attrition, this cut would be about $144 billion over ten years. The bill repeals the authority - this is the fifth thing - the authority for the federal government to spend any taxpayers' dollars on climate change or global warming This president has spent $68.4 billion since he has been president on all this global warming stuff. Now, that's without authority because we have clearly defeated all of those bills. So what he has done through regulation is what he couldn't do through legislation, but nobody knows about it until now. Now they know about it. Anyway, if we stop doing that over the next ten years, that would save an additional $83 billion. And finally, the legislation includes comprehensive medical malpractice, tort reform. That same thing that was passed by the House of Representatives, and that would be $74 billion over ten years. All told, all savings generated would be $2.6 trillion. Not $1.2 trillion. $2.6 trillion. So don't let anyone tell you can't get there from here because clearly you can get there from here."

Senator Udall-CO: (4:22 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I've offered three amendments that I believe make this an even stronger bill. The first would require the administration to provide a detailed plan on how it would develop a highly trained, robust federal cybersecurity work force. A stronger federal work force will not only better protect government assets, but these individuals will go on to fill critical roles protecting cyber assets in the private sector. My second amendment would establish permanent faculty positions to train the next generation of military cyber leaders at the U.S. Air Force Academy. My third amendment would require the assessment of the costs and benefits of building a strategic stockpile of extra-high voltage transformers. If we don't produce these highly pieces of specialized equipment domestically, and it would take months to replace transformers damaged by a physical or cyber attack. I hope that my colleagues will join me in passing these commonsense amendments aimed at improving our national security."

Senator Leahy: (4:33 PM)
  • Spoke on VAWA.
    • SUMMARY "The speaker and the Republican leadership in the House insisted on ignoring victims and the voices of the professionals in the field, actually many voices in both the Republican and Democratic party, and continues to delay this crucial legislation on a technicality, the technicality that is waived over and over and over again since I've been here in the Senate. I think the Senate should once again lead by example. And we can solve this problem tonight, tonight, within the next few hours. The Senate Republican leadership wants to get VAWA, the Violence Against Women Act, done, it can be done. We can take up a House revenue bill, substitute the bipartisan Senate VAWA bill, and send it to the house immediately. Now, to those that are watching or listening this may sound like one of these legislative moves, but it's a simple thing I've seen done hundreds of times since I've been here and it would be our way of saying we want to stop violence against women, we have passed a bill that had Republicans and Democrats come together across the political spectrum, now we're saying to the other body to say follow our example."

Senator Blumenthal: (4:42 PM)
  • Spoke on VAWA.
    • SUMMARY "There are two protections for battered immigrant women in VAWA that are particularly important. The first allows immigrant women, married to an abusive United States citizen, to apply for legal status independent of that spouse. The second, which is the u-visa provides temporary status to victims who cooperate with law enforcement to prosecute their abuser."

Senator Murray: (4:47 PM)
  • Spoke on VAWA.
    • SUMMARY "The numbers are staggering. One in three Native Americans will be raped in their lifetime. One in three Native americans will be raped in their lifetime. Two in five of them are victims of domestic violence and they are killed at ten times the rate of the national average. And those shocking statistics aren't isolated to one group of women. 25% to 35% of women in the LGBT community experience domestic violence in their relationships. Three in four - three in four - of immigrant women who are abused never enter the process to obtain legal status even though they are eligible. Why? Because their abuser husbands never filed their paperwork. So this should make it perfectly clear to our colleagues in the other chamber that their current inaction has a real impact on the lives of women across America affected by violence. Where a person lives, their immigration status, who they love should not determine whether or not their perpetrator of domestic violence is brought to justice."

Senator Boxer: (4:56 PM)
  • Spoke on VAWA.
    • SUMMARY "I would hope that when my friend makes her unanimous consent request to take the very same text of the Violence Against Women Act that passed this body with well over 60 votes and put it into a bill that would now overcome the technical problem and enable us to send to the House, it is my strong hope that the Republican leadership will not object. And if they do, let the whole country understand what they are objecting to a way to fix this technical problem so that Speaker Boehner and the Republicans can pass the Senate bipartisan Violence Against Women Act and include 30 million people who have been left out."

Senator Murray: (4:57 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • The Finance Committee be discharged from further consideration of H.R. 9 and the Senate proceed to its consideration, that all after the enacting clause be stricken and the language of S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization, as passed in the Senate on April 26 by a vote of 68-31 be inserted in lieu thereof. That the bill, as amended, be read a third time and passed, the motions to reconsider be laid on the table with no intervening action or debate, and any statements relating to the bill be placed in the record at the appropriate place as if read (Grassley objected).

Senator Grassley: (4:59 PM)
  • Spoke on VAWA.
    • SUMMARY "My reason for objecting for people on my side that voted against this bill because of some unconstitutional provisions that are in it and issues that don't have to be brought up to guarantee that there's adequate legislation for fighting violence against women. And, by the way, an act that's on been the books for about you know, more than a decade, a decade and a half, I believe, is going to be carried on. There's not going to be a situation where whether we go through this process or there's not going to be legislation protecting women on the books. It's just a question of will it be expanded in a way that was intended to make this bill controversial, so presumably it could be made a political issue in an election. But what bothers me about this whole process, besides the fact that it's taken 100 days now to get to the point of offering for conference, it I think fits into a pattern of doing things at the last minute. Now, we're two days away from a recess, and this is brought up at this particular time. I have to ask why? Why not sometime during the last 100 days? And I would also see a pattern of this maneuver fitting into the maneuvers that have been going on ever since I believe the Easter - the spring break that we had in the United States Senate. Ever since then and this kind of follows an article that was in the newspaper we know as POLITICO that was about a couple months ago, the strategy between the White House reelection effort and things that go on in the united states senate. We seem to have a crisis every week."
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • The Senate proceed to the consideration of calendar number 406, H.R. 4970, the House-passed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, provided further that all after the enacting clause be stricken, the text of the Senate-passed Violence Against Women bill, S. 1925, with modifications that strikes section 805 and 810, that the bill be read three times and passed, and the Senate insist on its amendments, request a conference with the House, and the chair be authorized to appoint conferees on the part of the Senate, with a ratio agreed to by both leaders (Murray objected).

Senator Murray: (5:05 PM)
  • Spoke on VAWA.
    • SUMMARY "I have to say that it is offensive to say that the issue of violence against women is about politics. This is about women who are abused, women who are powerless to fight back, women being able to get the protections that they need in this country that has provided protection for a very long time to make sure that women who are immigrants, women who live in a tribe, women who are gay and lesbian, women who are on college campuses get the protections they support. This is not about politics. This is about violence, and this country to stand up and say we're going to protect them. Make no mistake about it, what they are saying is that they want to move this bill to conference so that they can strip those provisions out. Well, they've crossed a line, a line that in the history of this nonpolitical, bipartisan bill has been so deeply important to so many of us. They made this bill about politics just now. I find that offensive. They want to take the Senate's bipartisan - passed by Republicans and Democrats here - and take it to conference and pick it apart. They want to take it to conference so they can have a discussion about which women in this country deserve protection and which don't. They want to pick one group of women against another. That's not a game. It's not politics. And it's not what I'm going to placement the new protections in this bill that have been supported by Republicans and Democrats and groups across this country and millions and millions of Americans are not bartering chips and it is not about politics. The objection of the senator on behalf of the Republicans raises issues that really are nothing more than a smoke screen and they don't want to be out in front saying that they're willing to discriminate against certain women. But they'd rather hide behind these procedural objections."

Moran, Kerry, Lautenberg

Veterans Jobs bill (S. 3429)

Aug 01 2012

Senator Moran: (2:37 PM)
  • Spoke on Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "If you look at the drought now and compare it to that of the 1930's, you'll notice a huge difference. There is no dust bowl. The programs and conservation management tools that were used have worked. The forward-thinking American farmer and rancher, the landowners that adopted new land and livestock management practices have made conservation the most effective drought mitigation effort available today. The conservation programs are in danger. While many conservation practices can be planned and executed by individual farmers and ranchers, certain programs administered by the department of agriculture deserve our attention so that these important initiatives do not expire on September 30. In just about 60 days, farm programs will expire and that means more uncertainty, compounding an already disastrous drought situation ... As Congress debates the future of domestic agricultural policy, it is critical that risk mitigation tools are included for farmers and ranchers. Most important among these tools is crop insurance. With the absence of direct payments in both the House and Senate versions of a new Farm bill, crop insurance is and will remain the last protective tool available to those producers. Viable crop insurance ensures that a farm operation can survive difficult times, when there's drought or hail or flood in hopes that they can experience a successful yield the following year. Farmers always have hope. Tough times now, come back now. But crop insurance, as valuable as it is, does not cover all the problems that agricultural producers face and particularly livestock producers are not usually generally eligible for crop insurance coverage. These producers require risk mitigation and safety net just like producers covered by crop insurance. Disaster programs for livestock along with crop insurance for cultivation agriculture give providers the security they need to plan and invest for the future. Currently, ranchers and cattlemen are left with few disaster programs. The 2008 Farm bill disaster programs expired this year, leaving producers across our drought-stricken country with less protection from mother nature. These programs are an important safety net for farmers and ranchers, and farmers and ranchers deserve to know what the future of these programs will be. We shouldn't expect producers to go plant crops or to buy and sell livestock if they don't know what the rules are. Putting these programs back in place and ensuring a sound safety net is vital for drought recovery, continued conservation work, and for the affordable food supply for the people of our country."

Senator Kerry: (2:44 PM)
  • Spoke on climate change.
    • SUMMARY "We have in effect with respect to climate change in America today what is fundamentally a flat earth caucus, a bunch of people, some of them in the United States - Congress itself - who still argue against all the science, all the evidence, they argue that somehow we don't know enough about climate change. Or they argue that the evidence isn't sufficient. Or they argue that it just is a hoax, that we have members of the United States Senate who argue that it is a hoax. But that's all they do. They make the argument that it's a hoax, but they don't present and can't present any real evidence, hard scientific, peer-reviewed evidence to the effect that it is in fact a hoax. The reason they can't is there are 6,000-plus peer-reviewed studies, which is the way science has always been done in America. If you are a scientist and you're a researcher, you do your science, you do your research, and then your analysis is put to the test by your peers in those particular disciplines. And they pass on the methodology by which you arrive at the conclusion you arrive at. You have, on the other side of the ledger not one - not one - zero peer-reviewed analyses that say human beings aren't doing this to the atmosphere and that humans are not contributing, or the main clause of what is happening in terms of the warming of the surface of the earth Pat Moynihan, reminded us again and again, everyone is entitled to their own opinion in America. But you're not entitled to your own facts. But in fact, in American politics today, that's not true. You are entitled, apparently, because you can go out and buy them. You buy some scientist who you give them some, you know, appropriate amount of funds, he goes out and does a study with a particular conclusion that has to be found, and they produce a whole bunch of hurly burly to surround it and to suggest that those are in fact facts. And the result of this is that over the last year and a half, two years, we've had this concerted assault on reason, an assault on science."

Senator Lautenberg: (3:19 PM)
  • Spoke on the Safe Chemicals Act.
    • SUMMARY "The bill requires the chemical manufacturers to demonstrate the safety of their products before they end up in our bodies. We already require this for pharmaceuticals and pesticides, so there isn't any reason that we shouldn't require the same of industrial chemicals that are found in products in our bodies. The European Union, Canada, other countries require safety testing, but Americans remain unprotected, and that's not acceptable ... There is risk out there that we take unnecessarily so it's time to take action, clear this up. It would be a positive act for the chemical manufacturers so they wouldn't have to worry about responding to challenges from the law in 50 states but rather be under one guideline that takes care of them all. So it's time to take the action, the health of our children is at stake, and I hope that my colleagues across the chamber will stand up and say, yes, yes, you're right. It's time that we challenged what we know is an exposure that should not exist and simply done would move the process very quickly into letting us know that everything that we have that has a chemical body to it is safe for our use."

Grassley, Warner, Landrieu, Coburn

Veterans Jobs bill (S. 3429)

Aug 01 2012

Senator Grassley: (1:23 PM)
  • Spoke on ethanol.
    • SUMMARY "Agriculture Secretary Vilsack recently stated that farmers receive about 14 cents of every $1 spent on food at the grocery store. So farmers get 14% and everybody else gets 86%, and yet the farmers of America are the problem. It happens that that 14 cents works out to be about 3 cents of that 14 cents is because of corn. A research economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently stated a 50% increase in the price of corn will raise the total grocery shopping bill by about 1%. To put it in perspective, the value of corn in a $4 box of corn flakes is about 10 cents. Mr. Pope also exaggerates the impact of ethanol on food prices in 2010, and he's doing it again. He's using the devastating drought we now have over 62% of the country and worse in the Midwest of Iowa where I live to once again undermine our nation's food, feed and fuel producers, and he's doing it why? To make more money. Repealing the renewable fuels standard won't bolster Smithfield's profits because of the flexibility built into the renewable fuels mandate. A waiver won't significantly reduce corn prices. A recent study by professor Bruce Babcock, Iowa State University found a complete waiver might reduce corn prices by only 4.6%. That report goes on to state "the desire by livestock groups to see the additional flexibility in ethanol mandates may not result in as large a drop in feed costs as hoped" and they went on to continue to quote, "the flexibility built into the renewable fuel standard allowing obligated parties to carry over blending credits from previous years significantly lowers the economic impact of a short crop because it introduces flexibility into that mandate." The drought is enormous in both scale and severity, but we won't know the true impact until September when harvest begins. The latest estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicate an average yield of 146 bushels per acre. That would result in a harvest of 13 billion bushels. This would still be one of the largest corn harvests. I would suggest that those claiming the sky is falling withhold their call for waiving or repealing the renewable fuels standard. It's a premature action that will not produce desired results, and it would increase our dependence upon foreign oil and it would drive up prices at the pump for our consumers."
  • Spoke on taxes.
    • SUMMARY "Many on the other side of the aisle argue that the Clinton tax increases are proof that tax increases will not harm our economy today, when even they've heard their own president say otherwise several times until recently that you shouldn't increase taxes when you have a depression. These people frequently ask "if our economy grew in the 1990's with higher marginal tax rates, how can it be bad to raise marginal taxes to these former levels?" Ingrained in this argument is the assertion that tax hikes can actually be good for our economy. This assertion fails to take into account numerous economic factors that occurred alongside the Clinton tax increases. The fact is that the economy grew not because of the 1993 tax increases, but despite it. The economy of the mid-1990's is a result of economic conditions that we may never see again. It was a time of great economic expansion due in large part to the advent of the internet economy. The internet spawned new technologies and created efficiencies in our economy that will never be matched. In turn we have start up businesses and huge industries. Many seem to forget that the Y2K fear that gripped the nation that helped prop up what became the infamous internet bubble that blew up on all of us. Nevertheless, before the bubble burst these factors led to historically low unemployment and high workforce participation. Claiming that this was due to Clinton tax increase is equal to Vice President Gore exclaiming that he invented the internet The CBO failed to predict the bursting of the tech bubble that was so beneficial in the previous years. CBO also did not predict the September 11, 2001, tragedy that wreaked havoc on our economy. In reaction to the economic recession from these events, Congress enacted the bipartisan 2001 tax relief that cut tax rates across the board, providing tax relief to virtually all taxpayers. Then in 2003, Congress expedited this relief so the benefit of lower rates would take effect more quickly. This resulted in one of the shortest and shallowest economic recessions yet on record. The economy grew for 25 straight quarters, making it the fourth longest period of economic expansion since 1930. Additionally, we had 47 straight months of private sector job gain. Moreover, the expanding economy led to higher than expected revenues. That is a fact. Revenue actually rose in the years following the tax relief bill, peaking at 18.5% of GDP in 2007, well above the historical average of around 18%. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office projects that if we extended all the 2001 and 2000 tax relief today, revenues would once again exceed the historical average. Under this scenario, the CBO projects that by 2022, revenues will reach 18.5% of GDP from 2004-2007, the deficit also shrank from a high of $412 billion to a low of $160 billion. That means the budget deficit was cut by more than half in just three years. Given the trillion dollar deficits we're experiencing under President Obama, a deficit below $200 billion would be very welcome news, yet CBO projects that even if all the tax increases in President Obama's budget were enacted, deficits would never drop below $500 billion in the ten-year period 2013-2022."

Senator Warner: (1:50 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "The first amendment is very important and hopefully will go some distance in terms of clarifying one of the issues that seems to be a major subject of debate in this legislation, and that is to modify - and again, working with the chairs of the committee, we may even move beyond this modification to elimination, but to modify a key section of the bill, section 103, by making clear that the standards set by bill makes it clear that this bill does not in any way alter the authority of any federal agency to regulate the security of critical infrastructure. Again, there were some concerns there might have been a mistake in the earlier draft. This amendment makes clear that the standards that are developed by industry working groups will be voluntary and that nothing in this legislation will allow any federal agency to regulate the security of critical infrastructure. I believe this amendment should alleviate the concerns of some that the bill might put in place mandatory standards for infrastructure protection. Again, despite the very clear language that already exists in the bill, the standards are voluntary Voluntary is a good first step. The fact that this will be developed by industry working groups, the fact that this will not be subject to the lagging time of government bureaucracies or rule making hopefully will move us in the right direction. A second amendment a bit more technical but particularly for my colleagues on the Commerce Committee, I hope will be able to gain some support, seeks to ensure that the authority provided to DHS to sole source highly specialized products will result in the procurement of interoperable standards and products whenever possible. What does that mean in English? It means whenever government goes out and particularly during sole sourcing of a solution set, too often I've seen this in my old industry of telecom years in and years out, people will develop a particular product or solution that works for that company's only set of standards and when the government subsequently or other private sector entities go on and buy and or replace or expand whatever particular system if it's not interoperable with the rest of the telecommunications system or the network, we're not getting value for our dollar. This is a small issue in the context of cybersecurity but both Senator Snowe and I believe it is important for the purpose of competition and should lower the overall cost of key technologies and services for the taxpayer."
  • Honored Ms. Bronstein.

Senator Landrieu: (2:07 PM)
  • Spoke on the Uninterrupted Scholars Act.
    • SUMMARY "All this bill says - and it makes such sense, I can't believe it's not in the law already - is when the child comes into the care of the government, the government agency responsible for the care of this child - now it's not parents any longer because the parents' rights either have been terminated or in the process of being terminated. The government will have the right or the agencies representing the government, to their academic records. What's happening now is foster children are getting lost, not only in the system but lost in their schools because of the difficulty in getting access to education records. Under the guise that these records should be private, etc. What's happening is some of these privacy rules are not protecting the children, they're protecting the system that's broken and that is the problem. We are doing everything we can to protect the privacy of the child, but what's happening is some of these privacy rules are putting up a screen so that you really can't find out that the school is not doing its job on behalf of the child or the social workers are not doing their job on behalf of the child. So this simply streamlines the process of making sure that academic records can be accessed by foster families, either adoptive families or guardians, without having to go through the courts for long, extended time frame. I think this is an important change."

Senator Coburn: (2:17 PM)
  • Spoke on the M4.
    • SUMMARY "We still are using a weapon that's 25 years old when it comes to their M4. And I first got involved in this when I got emails hearing about the malfunction, the lack of effectiveness of the M4 for the Oklahomans who were over there, the same weapon the career army has, it's the same weapon that everybody that's issued a standard rifle is given, except for our special forces. And everybody else in the world that has a better rifle than the U.S. soldier on the ground fighting on our behalf Most of our soldiers know exactly what to do and how to care for their rifle. They know how to take care of it. So we looked into the issue, and what we found, that there were several studies that raised questions about the reliability of the M4 rifle and whether there was a better weapon out there for our troops. For example, our special forces in February, 2001, said when the M4 short barrel and gas tube increased risks that the round might not eject from the rifle properly after they fired. In other words, they fire it and the round doesn't come out. That's called a jam. And when you're having bullets coming at you and your rifle's jamming, what we did, we set up a test and the army wouldn't do it so I held the Secretary of Army we talked and he assured me that we would have a new competition for a new rifle for our troops. That was 2007. Here we are, six years later, and the army is now telling us we're going to have a new competition in 2014. But in the meantime we had a test done against our soldiers' rifle and everybody else's in the world. In terms of the dust test. We came in last. So we're sending our troops to defend us and fight for a cause that we have put blood, sweat, tears, and a trillion dollars into, and we're sending them with one that doesn't work the best. My question to the army today is why? I can tell you why. Because the guys that are responsible for making the decision on purchasing the rifles are not the guys that are out there on the line. Because if they were, we would have already had this competition and our service men and women would be getting new rifles ... It's not that it can't be done. It's that we refuse to do it. For $1,500 we can give every person on line something equivalent to what our special forces have today Why would we not give our soldiers the capability that almost every soldier has, except ours? There's another aspect of this that I think needs to be shared, and that's the fact that it's all about acquisitions and culture rather than about doing the right thing. I don't like giving this talk, critical of the leadership of the army. But when it's going to take seven years to build a new rifle and in 18 months we can build and design a completely new piece of equipment. Or give them a new radio which are going to be replaced in two years with another 8,000 bucks and we can't give them a $1,500 equivalent, there's something wrong with our system. Our priorities are out of whack. If the Department of Defense had spent just 15% less on radios, they could give every soldier in the military a new, capable, modern weapon."

Blumenthal, Cardin, Manchin

Veterans Jobs bill (S. 3429)

Aug 01 2012

Senator Blumenthal: (12:49 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "This bill will give the government and the private sector an opportunity to collaborate and share information so that they can confront the ongoing present, urgent cyber threat directly and immediately. This bill is not a top down approach. It is voluntary in its direction to the private sector. What it says to critical industries, industries that are critical to our infrastructure, is you determine what the best practices are, you tell us what the standards should be, and then those standards will be shared throughout the industry, and overseen by a council that the Departments of Commerce and Justice and Defense and Homeland Security will be involved in implementing and if companies comply with those standards, voluntary standards, they receive benefits that will enlist them in the program. Benefits that will form incentives in the form of limited immunity in the event of an attack and if companies decline to comply, if they are not provided with sufficient incentives in their judgment, there is no come pulse, no legal mandate that they need to do so. To use an often-overused imagery, what we are talking about here is a carrot, not a stick in solving one of the most pressing and threatening challenges our country faces today. It is the challenge of this moment, the challenge of our time."

Senator Cardin: (1:02 PM)
  • Spoke on Alan Gross.
    • SUMMARY "Alan Gross was providing help to a small Jewish community in Cuba. He wasn't doing it in any secret manner. He was trying to provide them a better opportunity to communicate with the internet. He was very open about what he was doing in Cuba, and he was doing it in order to advance the ability of a community to keep in touch around the world. As a result of that activity, Alan Gross, a Marylander, was imprisoned, he was arrested, he was tried and convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. His appeal to the Cuban Supreme Court was denied in august of 2011. And for the past two and a half years, since December 3, 2009, Alan Gross has been imprisoned in Cuba. Over two and a half years. Throughout my legislative career, I've worked hard to try to improve the relationship between Cuba and the United States, particularly among the people of Cuba and the people of the United States. I've worked on ways that we can ease up certain restrictions so that we can improve the climate between our two countries. But what the Cuba government is doing today in continuing to imprison Alan Gross is absolutely outrageous, it violates international human rights standards, it is against any sense of humanity, and I am going to continue to speak out about it and urge the Cuban authorities to do what is right."

Senator Manchin: (1:09 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bowles-Simpson plan.
    • SUMMARY "Our annual deficit, the amount we spend versus the amount we take in, is about $1.2 trillion this year alone. Looking into the future, if nothing changes, we'll have deficits every year for the next ten years. The next decade. No one can tell me that we can sustain that pace and still afford Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, defending this nation and educating our children. The math doesn't add up. The bipartisan Bowles-Simpson framework addresses this by cutting more than $2 trillion for our spending over the next decade. And after we address our spending and our tax code, guess what happens? Our interest payments, the amount we're spending every year, just for the privilege of borrowing money from countries like China to finance our day-to-day operations, will go down nearly $700 billion over the next ten years. That's the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson framework and, yes, it will have some painful cuts. And, yes, everyone will have to share in the sacrifice. But because the pain is spread out, no one takes too deep a hit. And that is why I believe this proposed blueprint is the only plan that has garnered any real show of bipartisan interest from the beginning of its inception to today."

Hoeven, Mikulski, McCain, Graham, Durbin

Veterans Jobs bill (S. 3429)

Aug 01 2012

Senator Hoeven: (11:33 AM)
  • Spoke on the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act.
    • SUMMARY "It's a comprehensive plan for energy security for our country producing more energy than we consume, getting our nation to energy security by not only producing enough energy for our needs but even beyond that. And it's absolutely doable. There's no question we can do it. It's about pursuing an all-of-the-above strategy ... The Domestic Energy and Jobs Act is actually a package of energy bills. Many of these have already passed the House and we've introduced them now in the Senate as well. 13 separate pieces of legislation ... There are hundreds of billions of dollars of private investment, of capital that would be invested in energy projects in this country but they're being held up. They're being held on the sidelines, these projects, because of inability to be permitted or because of burdensome regulation. We need to create the kind of approach, the kind of business climate, the kind of energy policy that will unleash that private investment. And that's exactly what this legislation does. First, it reduces the regulatory burden so these stalled energy products - and, again, hundreds of billions of dollars in private investment, not government spending, in private investment that would move forward with energy projects that would not only develop more energy, more cost-effectively, more dependably but also with better environmental stewardship, with the latest, greatest technology, deploying the latest, greatest technology that would produce the energy and do it with better environmental stewardship not only for this country but actually leading the world to more energy production with better environmental stewardship. But these projects are held up either because they can't get permitted or because they can't get through the regulatory red tape to get started and get going. This legislation cuts through that. It also helps us develop the vital infrastructure we need for energy development This legislation also develops our resources on public lands as well as private lands, so we're talking about expedited permitting both onshore and offshore on private lands and on public lands, including for renewables. It sets realistic goals. It sets a market-based approach that would truly foster all of our energy resources rather than picking winners and losers. It would also put a freeze and require a study of rules that are driving up gasoline prices that are hitting families and businesses across this country. And it includes legislation that Senator Murkowski of Alaska has added to our package that would require an inventory of critical minerals in the united states and set policies to develop them as a key part of developing a comprehensive energy approach, a comprehensive energy plan for our country U.S. Chamber of Commerce in March of last year put forward a report. In that report, they showed that there are more than 350 energy projects nationwide that are being held up either due to inability to get permitted or regulatory burden, as I've described, more than 350 projects that if we could just green light these projects would generate $1.1 trillion in gross domestic product and create 1.9 million jobs a year just in the construction phase."

Senator Mikulski: (11:45 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "We need to act, and we need to act in the defense of the United States of America. The Senate has a great opportunity today and tomorrow to pass legislation to protect, defend and deter a cyber attack on the United States of America's critical infrastructure. What do I mean by critical infrastructure? It is our electric power grid, our financial services, our water supplies, those things that are the bread and butter of keeping America, its business and its families going. Through voluntary participation, we can work with the private sector who owns and operates the critical infrastructure to keep our critical infrastructure hardened and resilient against attack. I worry, I really worry about the possibility of an attack. We know that there are already attacks going on, particularly in our financial services. We know that our personal identity is being hacked. We know that small business is being attacked. I'll give examples later on. But not only do I worry about an attack, I equally worry about our inertia, where we do nothing, we do nothing. Now, I bring to the Senate and all who are watching's attention that Leon Panetta, the Secretary of Defense, has called our cyber vulnerability our potential digital pearl harbor. We don't want a digital pearl harbor We don't want a cyber 9/11. We can act now. We can act when it is within our power to protect, defend, deter these attacks. That's what I want."

Senator McCain: (11:57 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I just want to point out that in this debate that has become so impassioned and the issue obviously is one of cybersecurity is one of transcendent importance the people who are directly affected by this, and that's the business community of the United States of America, is unalterably opposed to the legislation in its present form. They are the ones who will be affected most dramatically by cybersecurity legislation. The United States Chamber of Commerce has a strong letter, a strong letter, the United States Chamber of Commerce which represents three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region, supports the legislation that we have proposed. Now, I would final just like to say that I have had hours and hours and hours of meetings with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle trying to work this out. I believe that we can work this out. We understand that cybersecurity is of transcendent importance, but to somehow allege that the business community, the three million businesses in America should be left out of this discussion, of course, is not appropriate nor do I believe will result in effective cybersecurity legislation."
  • Spoke on the intelligence leaks.
    • SUMMARY "We have two prosecutors, one of whom was a strong and great supporter of the President of the United States. And the same people - I'm talking about the vice president of the United States and others - that strongly supported a special counsel in the case of Valerie Plame and, of course, the Abramoff case. We need a special counsel to find out who was responsible for these leaks ... It's receded somewhat in the media but the damage that has been done to our national security is significant. It has put lives at risk, and it has betrayed our allies. This is an issue that we cannot let go away until those who were responsible are made responsible for these actions."

Senator Graham: (12:02 PM)
  • Spoke on the intelligence leaks.
    • SUMMARY "Are we going to sit on the sidelines here and allow the attorney general, who is under siege by our colleagues in the house about the way he's handled fast and furious and other matters, to appoint two U.S. attorneys that have to answer to him to investigate allegations against the very White House that appointed him? The reason that so many Democrats wrote to President Bush and said, you cannot possibly investigate the Scooter Libby-Valerie Plame leak because it involves people very close to you. Let's just read the letter. "We're at risk of seeing this investigation so compromised that those responsible for this national security breach will never be identified and prosecuted. Public confidence in the integrity of this investigation will be substantially bolstered by the appointment of a special counsel." Senator Biden, "I think they should appoint a specialty prosecutor but if they're not going to do that, which I suspect they're not, is get the information out as quick as they possibly can. This is not a minor thing. There's been a federal crime committed. The question is, who did it. And the president should do everything in thinks power to demonstrate that there's an urgency to find that out." Then he goes on later and says, "There's been a federal crime committed. You can't possibly investigate it yourself because people close to you are involved." The Abramoff scandal our Democratic colleagues, 34 of them, said the following, "FBI officials said that the Abramoff investigation involves systematic corruption within the highest levels of government. Such an assertion indicates extraordinary circumstances and it is in the public interest that you act under your existing statutory authority to appoint a special counsel." So our Democratic colleagues back during the Bush administration said, we don't trust you enough to investigate compromising national security by having an agent outed allegedly by members of your administration. We don't trust the republican part apparatus enough to investigate Jack Abramoff because you're so close to him and that you should have special counsels appointed. Well, guess what? They did. Here's what I'm saying. I don't trust this White House to investigate themselves. I think this wreaks of a cover-up. I think that the highest levels of this government surrounding the president intentionally over a 45-day period leaked various stories regarding our national security programs to make the administration look strong on national security. I don't think it's an accident that you're reading in the paper about efforts by the administration."

Senator Chambliss: (12:10 PM)
  • Spoke on the intelligence leaks.
    • SUMMARY "Let me say that I join in with everything my two colleagues have said with respect to the volume of the leaks that have come out in recent weeks. We all know that this town has a tendency to leak information from time to time but never in the volume and never with the sensitivity that the leaks that we've read about on the front page of newspapers around the country as we have seen in the last few weeks. And, you know, irrespective of where they came from, to have folks who may be implicated in the White House and the White House appointing the two individuals who have been charged with the duty of prosecuting this investigation wreaks of ethical issues. Now, I don't know these two U.S. attorneys but everything I know about them is they're good prosecutors and they're good lawyers. But why would you even put them in the position of having to investigate, in effect, the individual that appointed them to the position that they're in? That's why we're arguing that a special counsel may be - is without question the best way to go ... Let me talk about something else for just a minute and that is the impact that these leaks have had on the intelligence community. The number-one thing that individuals who go on the intelligence committees in both the house and the senate are told - and I know because I've served on both of them, continue to serve on the Senate Intel Committee is that, be careful what you say, be careful and make sure that you don't inadvertently and obviously advertently reveal classified information. Be sure that in your comments, you never reveal sources and methods. Well, guess what? The individuals that were involved in these leaks were very overt in the release of sources and methods with respect to the issues that senator graham referred to as having been leaked. Not only that, but lives were put in danger, particularly the life of the individual who was an asset that worked very closely with respect to the underwear bomber issue. We know that to be a fact. But there's also a secondary issue and that's this we have partners around the world that we deal with in the intelligence community every single day and we depend on those partners and they depend on us to provide them with information that we have and likewise that they give to us. And a classic example was detailed in one of these particular leaks on the front page of the New York Times. Today, why in the world would any of our partners in the intelligence community around the world, those partners who have men and women on the frontlines who are putting their life in harm's way and in danger every single day to gather intelligence information and share that information with us, why would they continue to do that if they are now concerned about that information being written about on the front page of newspapers inside the united states and blasted all over television or wherever it may be?"

Senator McCain: (12:17 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "We believe that we have narrowed it down to three or four differences that could be worked out over time. Among them are liability, another one is information sharing. But I think it's also important for us to recognize in this debate the people who are most directly affected in many respects is the business community. And it's important that we have the input and satisfy at least to a significant degree, those concerns. There are those who allege that a piece of legislation is better than no legislation. I've been around this town for a long time. I've seen bad legislation which is far worse than no legislation. So we understand, certainly I and members of the armed services committee and others, understand the importance of this issue. We also understand that those who are directly affected by it, those concerns need to be satisfied as well, and I commit to my colleagues to continue nonstop rounds of meetings and discussions to try to get this issue resolved. To this moment, there is still significant differences."

Senator Durbin: (12:19 PM)
  • Spoke on the intelligence leaks.
    • SUMMARY "The obvious question raised by the Republican side of the aisle is whether this president, President Barack Obama, thinks differently, whether Obama believes we should cut corners and not be so careful when it comes to the leaking of classified information. And my answer to that is looking at the record. Look at the record and ask this basic question: when it comes to prosecuting those believed to have been guilty of leaks of classified information, which president of the United States has prosecuted more suspected individuals than any other president, Democrat or Republican? Barack Obama. On six different occasions, five in the Department of Justice, one in the Department of Defense, they pursued the active prosecution of those they felt were guilty of leaking classified information that might endanger the united states ... To say that the administration is covering this up as to this leak is just plain wrong. At this point, the Department of Justice has appointed two highly respected around experienced prosecutors with proven records of independence in the exercise of their duties ... The Justice Department has complete confidence in their abilities to conduct thorough and independent investigations into these matters in close collaboration with career prosecution and agents. This is not being swept under the rug, ignored. This is being taken seriously by this administration as every leak of classified information will be taken seriously. I know it's an election year. We're fewer than 100 days away from the election and I know the floor of the Senate is used by both parties this close to the election but I want make it clear this president has a record of commitment to protecting the men and women who gather intelligence for America. He has a record of prosecuting more suspects for leaks of this information than any other president in history. He has, through his attorney general, appointed two career criminal prosecutors to look into this case and said they will have the resources and authority they need to get to the bottom of it. That is the way to do. Will the day come when a special counsel is needed? Up won't rule that out. But it is wrong to come to the floor and question this president's commitment to the intelligence community, it is wrong to question the credentials of these two men who have performed so well in service of the Department of Justice in years gone by."

Senator McCain: (12:28 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I'd be glad to respond to my friend. Obviously he's in disagreement with the chairperson of the Intelligence Committee because she said that these leaks were the worst in 11 years that she has been a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. So obviously the Abramoff and the other Valerie Plame investigations aren't nearly as serious. And they certainly weren't when you look at the incredible damage, according to Admiral McCraven, of the incredible damage that these leaks have caused. Again, the chairperson of the Intelligence Committee said it's the worst that she's ever seen. Admiral McCraven, says it put lives at risk and may ultimately cost Americans their lives. I wonder if my colleague from Illinois is concerned when according to his book Mr. Sanger said "a senior official in the national security council tapped him on the shoulder and brought him to the presidential suite in the Pittsburgh hotel where President Obama was staying" - I'm quoting from Mr. Sanger's book - "most of the national security staff was present. Where the journalist was apparently allowed to review satellite images and other evidence that confirmed the existence of a secret nuclear site in Iran." When leaks take place around this town, the first question you have to ask, who benefits? Who benefits from them? Obviously someone who wants to take a journalist up to the presidential suite would make it ... Who uses the presidential suite in a hotel in Pittsburgh? These leaks are the most damaging that have taken place in my time in the United States Senate and before that in the united states military. Yes, six people have been prosecuted. Do you know at what level? A private. The lowest level people have been prosecuted by this administration, and this administration says that they have to interview hundreds of people in the bottom-up process. And I can guarantee you one thing, I'll tell the senator from Illinois now, there will not be any definitive conclusion , this investigation before the election in November."

Senator Durbin: (12:33 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "As you said earlier, and I quote - the investigation is - quote - supposedly going on, close quote. I trust the administration that the investigation is going on. What evidence do you have that it's not going on?"

Senator McCain: (12:34 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I say to my friend, it's not a matter of trust. It's a matter of credibility, because if an administration has the same argument that then-Senator Biden used and Senator Obama used in opposition to the administration investigating the Abramoff case and the Valerie Plame case, they argued that it's not a matter of trust, it's a matter of credibility with the American people whether an administration can actually investigate itself or should this be a credible outside counsel who would conduct this investigation which would then have the necessary credibility, I think, with the American people, and I think there is a certain logic to that. I hope my colleague would admit."

Senator Durbin: (12:34 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "Let me say to the senator here that in that case, the attorney general of the United States, John Ashcroft, recused himself. He said there was such an appearance of a conflict if not a conflict, he was stepping aside. It's very clear under those circumstances that special counsel is needed. In this case, there is no suggestion the president, the vice president, the attorney general were complicit in any leak, so to suggest otherwise, I have to say to Senator McCain show me what you're bringing as proof."

Senator McCain: (12:37 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "What I am saying is that there is a significant credibility problem that the attorney general of the United States has at least with the majority of the House of Representatives."

Senator Durbin: (12:37 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I don't see the connection. If the attorney general and the president said we're not going to investigate this matter, Senator McCain, I would be standing right next to you on the floor calling for a special counsel, but they have said just the opposite. They have initiated the investigation and brought in two career criminal prosecutors whom we have trusted to take public corruption cases in the District of Columbia and leaks of classified information in other cases, and he said now you have the authority, conduct the investigation. They're not ignoring this."

Senator McCain: (12:38 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "Those two counsels report to who? The attorney general of the United States I would think just for purposes of credibility and with the American people, that a special counsel would be called for by almost everyone."

Senator Durbin: (12:41 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I'm asking only for a little humility on both sides, both in the public sector and the private sector, by first acknowledging as our security advisors tell us this is one of the most serious threats to our country and its future, and we should be joining with some humility, particularly if you have been victimized, whether in your campaign or in their offices, to understand how far this has gone. The FBI - this is according to Senator Whitehouse, came to the floor, found 50 different American businesses that have been compromised and hacked into by the same type of operation, 48 were totally unaware of it. They didn't even know it occurred. What we're trying to do is to get these businesses to cooperate with us so that we share information and keep one another safe. Intend of the day, it's not just about the safety of the business, and I think it's important they be safe, but the safety of the American people. This is really a serious issue."

Senator McCain: (12:43 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "First of all, to somehow infer that businesses in America are less interested in national security than they are in their own businesses is not, I think, a fair inference, but let me also say that what they want to do is be more efficient in the way they can do business. For example, information sharing. As you know, there is a serious problem with liability if they are not given some kind of protections in the information sharing they would do with each other and with the federal government, so we want to make sure that they have that security so that they will more cooperatively engage in the kind of information we need. That's a vital issue. That is still something we have a disagreement on. I have no doubt that the senator from Illinois' comments about how important this issue is true, but we have got to - no one argues with that, but we have got to get it right rather than get it wrong."

Aug 01 2012

Senator Udall-CO: (10:26 AM)
  • Spoke on the wind production tax credit.
    • SUMMARY "Tax credits have encouraged our wind industry to invest in that great new cutting-edge form of power, and that's resulted in the creation of thousands of American jobs and wind projects all over our country. 48 states have a stake in our wind energy industry. But the production tax credit that's driven this investment in American manufacturing and job creation is about to expire at the end of this year ... The key here is we've created uncertainty. The wind production industry is beginning to back off investments for next year. They need certainty. They need predictability."

Senator Merkley: (10:34 AM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "These fires have consumed over 1,100 square mi miles. That's roughly an area the size of Rhode Island. So an entire state would fit into the area burned in Oregon. These fires are now under control. And southeastern Oregon is surveying the damage and picking up the pieces. And one of the things that they would immediately turn to, our farmers and ranchers, would be the disaster assistance that has always existed within the Farm bill. But guess what? These programs are not available because the house has failed to act on the Farm bill. The Senate passed the Farm bill, a bipartisan bill, Republicans and Democrats coming together, and in it are the reauthorization of four key programs. One of them is the livestock indemnity program which addresses when there is a natural disaster like this, addresses the death and loss of cattle and other livestock. A second is the emergency assistance for livestock called ELAP program which addresses the lost value of forage on private land and then the livestock forage disaster program which addresses the loss on public land. Those of you who are not from the west may not be aware that a lot of the our livestock are operating on land that is leased to our ranchers, and so when a fire like this affects those public lands, it's also affecting the value of the lease to those farmers and the ability of their livestock, those that have survived the fire, to be able to find forage and continue to live. So, it is deeply disturbing, deeply disturbing, that the House has not voted on a Farm bill and sent it to conference. And I urge them to act on this quickly. Without these key disaster relief programs, ranchers and farmers who have lost livestock or grazing land are left with few options, and that is wrong. A rancher in southeastern Oregon who has already been devastated by filed wildfires shouldn't pay the price because the U.S. House of Representatives won't bring a Farm bill that it can pass and send to conference."

Senator Klobuchar: (10:44 AM)
  • Spoke on the five-year anniversary of the collapse of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis, paid tribute to those who lost their lives, and honored those heroes and the countless lives that they saved.
  • Spoke on the Rebuild America Jobs Act.
    • SUMMARY "The Federal Highway Administration estimates that over 25% of the nation's 600,000 bridges are still either structurally deficient or functional obsolete. And the American Society of Civil Engineers gave bridges in America a C grade in its 2009 report card for America's infrastructure and a D for infrastructure overall. We did take a positive step forward with the recent bipartisan Transportation bill that will help state departments of transportation fix bridges and improve infrastructure. For Minnesota, that bill means more than $700 million for Minnesota's roads, bridges, transit, congestion mitigation projects and mobility improvements. The bill gives greater flexibility to address federal resources to address unique needs in each state. It establishes benchmarks and national policy goals including strengthening our nation's bridges and links those to federal funds. It reduces project delivery time and accelerates processes that will reduce in half the amount of time to get projects underway. However, we all know that more needs to be done. While other countries are moving full steam ahead with infrastructure investments, we seem to be simply treading water. And in an increasingly competitive global economy, standing still is falling behind. China and India are spending respectively 9% and 5% of their GDP's on infrastructure. We need to keep up. We need to build our infrastructure. That's why I authored the Rebuild America Jobs Act last fall, which would have invested in our nation's infrastructure. It also would have created a national infrastructure bank, something that you're very familiar with, to help facilitate public-private partnerships so that projects could be built that would otherwise be too expensive for city, county or even a state to accomplish on its own. And we included a provision to set aside a certain amount of funding for rural projects."

Senator Lieberman: (10:55 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "Senator Reid said that he was saddened to have to file that cloture petition. He used the word which we don't hear used around here anymore but it seems right, he was flummoxed on the need to file a cloture petition on bipartisan legislation that responds to what all of the experts in security in our country from the last administration and this one say is a critical threat to our security, which is the lack of defenses in the cyber infrastructure that is owned by the private sector. And Senator Reid was saddened, as I was, that he had to file for cloture because, of course, there can be disagreements about how to respond to this threat to our security and our prosperity, because hundreds of billions of dollars of American ingenuity, American money are even stolen by cyber thieves operating not only from within our country but more often from outside. So you can have differences of opinion about how to deal with the problem, but the fact is that people started to introduce totally irrelevant amendments such as the one to repeal Obamacare. That's a debatable issue. We've debated it many times. Certainly the house has. But not on this bill. Not on this bill, which we urgently need to pass and send to the House to go in a conference and then hopefully pass something this year and send it to the president."

Senator Carper: (11:01 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I was briefed today by a large multinational company that manufactures, among other things, helicopters. Apparently within the last 12 months, maybe the last six months, the plans for developing, manufacturing one such helicopter was hacked and obtained by another nation, presumably the Chinese. They will develop, they will build their version of our helicopters. They won't be built by Americans. It will not provide American jobs. It will not provide revenues for that company or tax revenues to our treasury. They will be really apprehended, if you will, by another nation. That is the reality of this day. I was reminded again just this morning, given what you're talking about, what General Alexander says is the largest theft, economic theft in the history of our country, it is taking place. I was reminded of it just early this morning."

Senator Lieberman: (11:02 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "General Keith Alexander, Director of Cyber Command within the Pentagon, head of the National Security Agency, one of the jewels and treasures of our government protecting our security appealed to Senator Reid and Senator McConnell in a letter yesterday that this legislation is critically necessary now. This legislation will give our government and the private sector operators of critical cyber infrastructure powers that they don't have now, authorities that they don't have now to collaborate, to take action, to share information to adopt what General Alexander in a wonderful phrase says the best computer hygiene, the best cyber hygiene to protect our country. And I don't know how people - let me just say that's the question. Member of the Senate will have to decide in the face of that kind of statement of the urgency of some form of cybersecurity legislation in this session from the director of cyber command an honored, distinguished veteran of our uniformed military, U.S. Army in this case. Will people really vote - are we going to find it hard to get 60 members of the Senate to vote, to at least take this bill up and debate it? I hope not."

Senator Carper: (11:09 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "Legislation has started out as more of a command and control deal where the Homeland Security Department will say these are our standards. We expect companies and industries in critical areas, we expect to you comply with those, and that's it. That's an oversimplification to the original approach in our legislation. We have moved so far from that, it's amazing. And what we have moved from is from a command and control system to one where we say to critical industries, sensitive industries you figure out amongst yourself what the best practices and what the standards ought to be, protecting you and your businesses and your ideas. You figure it out. You share those ideas, develop those ideas really in a collaborative way with a council that includes the Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and in the interim process, refine those ideas, refine those best practices, refine those standards which would then be implemented. If companies didn't want to comply with them, they don't have to. It's a voluntary basis. If they do, there is rewards. If they don't, they don't participate in those rewards, including protection from liability. I mean, this is a - you know, we - sometimes we get stuck on legislation and we just say this is it, we're not going to change it. This is it. Nobody can - you can try to amend it, we're not going to let you do that. We've changed this legislation dramatically, and I think for the best."

Senator Whitehouse: (11:15 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "While there has been no specific hearing on the assembled bill because it covers so many committees, it has to be brought together at some point and its components have had extensive committee work. So we've all put a lot of effort into this and we've actually all come a very, very long way I believe. So our window is very short, and I hope and expect that we can put the hours ahead of us literally to work to try to close this gap. But I believe that the distance that we have come, and particularly that list bit of distance that we came when you changed S. 3414 to go from a traditional mandatory regulatory system to the new voluntary standard-setting approach really has moved us an enormous, enormous way, and now we're almost on the one-yard line and it would be such a shame I believe with things being that close if we couldn't close the deal."

Senator Lieberman: (11:18 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "The House has acted but it's only acted with regard to information sharing. This is important but it's only half the job. The information sharing in brief says that private companies that operate critical infrastructure can share with other companies if they're attacked, so they can mutually strengthen each other. They can also share with the government and the government through the department of homeland security can help the private sector strengthen itself. Those kinds of communications which are critical and don't seem natural don't happen now in too many cases because the private sector is anxious about liability it might incur. And even the public sector is limited in how much it can reach out and help. So that's important that the house has addressed that part of it. I will say and not just parenthetically, that there has been very significant concern among a lot of Americans and quite a remarkable coalition of groups, remarkable in the sense that it's right to left along the ideological spectrum, all concerned about the personal privacy rights of the American people, that they not be compromised as a result of this information sharing. Those privacy advocacy groups are not happy with the House information sharing bill. I'm pleased that they have praised what we've tried to do as a result of negotiations with colleagues in this chamber that are concerned about privacy."

Senator Whitehouse: (11:27 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "Some of the debate that has surrounded this bill has suggested that if we just get the heavy hand of government out of the way, and let the nimble private sector do its thing to protect critical infrastructure, all will be well. And that a purely private sector way of proceeding is really the best way to proceed. In that context, you mentioned the study that showed only 13% of the private businesses that were reviewed were adequately cybersecurity prepared. The NCIJTF which is the NCI-led joint task force that protects our national infrastructure, has said when they detect a cyber attack and they go out to work with the corporation that has been attacked, nine out of ten times, the corporation had no idea. And it's not just a government agency, the NCIJTF, saying that. There is a company called Mandient, sort of a who you going to call, ghostbusters, they said the same thing. These companies had to find out they had been penetrated from a government agency telling them, by the way, you've been hacked. They're in there. In fact, he said 48 out of the last 50 companies they dealt with had had no idea. The aurora virus hit 300 American companies. Only three of them knew it. And the Chamber of Commerce, which is very active in this debate, had Chinese hackers with complete impunity throughout its cyber systems without knowing about it for at least six months. And it was only when the government said, by the way, guys, your info is on a server in china, that they realized, oh, my gosh, we've been hacked, too, and you've used the statistic that I've used before that General Alexander, who is the head of cyber command has adopted which is America is now on the losing end of the biggest transfer of wealth in history through illicit means as a result of the cyber industrial espionage stealing from us our chemical formulas, manufacturing processes and various things that create value here in the country. So I'm not just pinpointing ... If you look at it from a macro point of view we're getting our clocks cleaned in this area and the private sector, it seems to me, all of the evidence suggests this is just an area in which it is not adequately protecting itself without a government role to spur cooperation and to set an agreed standard that NSA and the people watching this with real anxiety every day know is an adequate standard to meet the needs."

Johnson-WI, Heller, Johanns

Veterans Jobs bill (S. 3429)

Aug 01 2012

Senator Johnson-WI: (9:56 AM)
  • Spoke on the U.S. fiscal crisis.
    • SUMMARY "The first myth I constantly hear is about the draconian cuts being proposed in the House budget. I think this chart pretty well dispels that myth by showing that ten years ago, in 2002, the federal government spent $2 trillion. This last year, this year we'll spend about $3.8 trillion. We've doubled spending in just ten years. And the debate moving forward is under the House budget they have spent $4.9 trillion. President Obama's budget proposes spending $5.8 trillion. I think it's pretty clear to see in this chart that nobody's proposing net cuts in spending. We're just trying to limit the rate of growth in spending. Another way of looking at spending is over ten years. And just quickly, in the 1990's, the federal government over a ten-year period spent $16 trillion. The last decade, from 2002 to 2011, the federal government spent $28 trillion. And again the debate moving forward is over the next ten years do we spend $40 trillion, as the House budget proposes, or do we spend $47 trillion? Again, no cuts; just trying to reduce the rate of growth. Let's just talk a little bit about what the federal government has spent under the current administration. Over the four years of President Obama's administration, the federal government in total will spend $14.4 trillion. Think back to that last graph. That's almost as much as we spent in the decade of the 1990's. The entire deficit for that time period was $5.3 trillion. In other words, we had to borrow $5.3 trillion of the $14.4 billion that we spent. That's about 37 cents of every dollar spent we borrowed. We put that debt burden on the backs of our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. Now often I hear that the whole problem with the deficit is being caused by the war costs or the 2001-2003 tax cuts. We've added those to the chart here. You can see the total amount over that four-year period of the overseas war costs and the bush tax cuts was $1.2 trillion. Less than 25% of the total deficit. Again, they're a factor but they are not what caused the deficit. The cause of the deficit primarily is spending. This chart basically shows what has been happening over the last 50 years. The structural deficit that we have incurred is the basic result of, on average, the federal government spending has been about 20.2% from 1959 to 2008, prior to this administration. On the other hand, revenue generation has averaged about 18.1%, which gives us a 2.1% structural deficit. That's why our debt has continued to grow. But under this administration, starting with the recession, that deficit, that structural deficit exploded, with tax revenue dropping to about 15% and spending skyrocketing 25%, now about 24%, but it's on trajectory to hit 35% by the year 2035. Clearly, that's unsustainable."

Senator Heller: (10:07 AM)
  • Spoke on small businesses.
    • SUMMARY "I don't believe any state has felt the brunt of this recession more than the state of Nevada. We're a state that leads the nation in unemployment, leads it in foreclosure, and leads it in bankruptcy. There's not an evening that goes by or day that goes by that I'm not thinking what can be done to create jobs and get our economy moving. We must tear down the barriers to growth and the opportunity and launch this nation into its next great chapter. Small business, our nation's economic backbone, and we're built on the very same values of hard work and determination our nation was founded upon these Americans are fighting every day to achieve the American dream but what they get from Washington is more attacks on their livelihood in the form of new regulations, new mandates, and of course every day the talk of new taxes. Just last week the majority party offered a tax plan that would kill 6,000 jobs in Nevada and more than 700,000 jobs nationwide. In a stagnant economy suffering from chronic unemployment, we should be looking for ways to strengthen job growth, not pushing destructive tax increases that serve as nothing more than political talking points."

Senator Johanns: (10:16 AM)
  • Spoke on EPA regulations.
    • SUMMARY "Today I am introducing a bill that will do exactly that. It stops the EPA's use of aerial surveillance of agriculture operations for a period of 12 months, one year. Earlier this year I began hearing about this issue from constituents that were worried about privacy concerns. Thus, a few of my colleagues and I wrote to Administrator Jackson in late may asking her several questions about EPA's practice of flying over livestock operations and taking pictures. We were curious about the scope of flights over agriculture operations in Nebraska and around the country. We asked how the agency selects targets for surveillance and whether any images of residences, land or buildings not subject to EPA regulation were being captured. Additionally, we asked a very fair question. We asked about the use of the images. Where are they stored? How are they used? Who are they shared with? And how long they would remain on file; all seemingly straightforward, fair, basic questions. Well, to say the least, EPA has been less than forthcoming about the use of aerial surveillance. EPA has acknowledged aerial surveillance activities in Nebraska, Iowa, West Virginia. But despite repeated requests, details concerning the national scope of this program and its management by EPA headquarters have not been disclosed. You see, I believe the American public deserves open, straightforward, honest information about why EPA is flying over their land. Not just in Nebraska, but across the country. Time and time again farmers have consistently proven that they're excellent stewards of the environment. They make their living from the land, and they are very mindful of maintaining it and protecting it and leaving it improved. And I agree wholeheartedly that we should ensure our waterways are clean and our air is safe. I want to be very clear, this legislation does not affect EPA's ability to use traditional on-site inspections. But given EPA's track record of ignorance about agriculture, if not downright contempt for it, farmers and ranchers do not trust this agency. And they sure as heck don't approve of the EPA doing low-altitude surveillance flights over citizens' private property."

Durbin, Isakson, McConnell

Veterans Jobs bill (S. 3429)

Aug 01 2012

Senator Durbin: (9:39 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I quote Senator Whitehouse from page S-5720 of the July 31 Congressional Record. "Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been the victim of a long-term cyber intrusion. Just last year the Wall Street Journal reported that a group of hackers in China breached the computer defenses of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, gaining access to everything in their system including information about 3 million members and they remain on the chamber's network for at least six months and possibly more than a year. The Chamber only learned of the break-in when the FBI told the group that servers in China were stealing their information. Even after the Chamber was notified and increased its cybersecurity, the article stated that the Chamber continued to experience suspicious activity including a thermostat at a town house owns on capitol hill that communicated with an internet address in China and a inter-prosecutor used by the Chamber executive spontaneously printing pages with Chinese characteristics." as senator said, "these are the people we are supposed to listen to about cybersecurity?""

Senator Isakson: (9:43 PM)
  • Spoke on the U.S. fiscal crisis.
    • SUMMARY "All the solutions are on the table. The problem is none of us seem willing to take them off the table, put them on the floor and deal with them. Let's talk about spending. Our deficit has just been announced for this particular fiscal year at $1.2 trillion. $100 billion less than the total spending of the United States government. We've got to cut spending, discretionary spending. But we can't totally balance our books by cutting discretionary spending. We have entitlements. They are growing disproportionately because of our economy. Food stamps up to $87 billion because a lot more people are out of work. Why many other programs are rising rapidly. They are because of the economy. If we deal with spending and we deal with entitlements, and we begin to bring back real certainty and our economy comes back, jobs come back and there's less pressure on the entitlement programs. We're also going to have to bite the bullet and recognize entitlements is not the right word for things like Medicare and Social Security. Those are contracts with the American people But we've got to fix those programs. Social security is easy. Social security is fixable by moving the eligibility dates and the out years. For my grandchildren, eight of them under 8 years old, that probably ought to be 67 or 69 years old before they become eligible. We don't need to cut their benefit or raise their tax but put up their eligibility. That's what Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill did in 1983 that saved Social Security until the pressure it's under now. Medicare is the tough animal to deal with but we're going to have to recognize we've got to get out of the fee for service business and into a premium support. We can qualify premium support and know how much we're spending, and the American people have the choice of buying the insurance and coverage for Medicare that they want. It ought to be means tested. We ought to make sure that those that can afford more insurance like myself have less support. Those who are in need have more support. But it be quantified in terms of the support for premiums, not a fee for service reimbursement system. And then in terms of our revenues, everybody's always wanting to talk about taxes. Last week we had a debate that was meaningless and worthless over political positions of two political parties on our tax system. We need to take a look at what Bowles-Simpson said. We need to clean up our tax code. We need to use the tax expenditures that we get as income by reducing them and waiving them and use that income to reduce the rates on corporate taxes and all the marginal rates of taxation. So we encourage people to spend their money, invest their money, make our tax code simpler. We don't have to raise people's taxes. We need to raise their opportunities, raise their attitude. We need to improve the plight the American taxpayer has today by giving them certainty, giving them a tax code that's clean, a tax code that's fair and a tax code that produces jobs, revenue and growth."

Senator McConnell: (9:50 PM)
  • Spoke on the sequester.
    • SUMMARY "Yesterday I came to the floor to draw attention to the administration's transparent attempts to conceal the impact of defense cuts President Obama demanded as part of last year's debt ceiling deal. I was referring, of course, to the administration's Monday notification to businesses which work with the government that they're under no obligation - no obligation - to warn employees who might lose their jobs as a result of these cuts. Now, incredibly, the administration's argument was that they don't expect the cuts to happen. Even though the president hadn't done a thing to prevent them. And even though Congress had to pass a law requiring the administration to tell us what the cuts would look like. So let's be clear, the administration officials who sent out this notification instructing businesses to keep quiet about these cuts know just as well as I do that they're coming. The cuts are coming unless Senate Democrats act or the president of the United States finally decides to come up with a credible plan to replace them. The only reason the administration sent out this guidance to employers earlier this week was to keep people in the dark, keep them in the dark about the impact these defense cuts will have until, of course, after the election. So the White House is clearly trying to hide the ball here, just trying to hide the ball from all of us. And the clearest proof of that is the fact that no one even denied it after I noted it here just yesterday. But if we did need further proof, we actually got it yesterday when the Obama administration's Office of Management and Budget issued guidance of its own to departments and agencies telling folks that they should prepare - prepare - for the cuts. So let's get this straight. Government workers should prepare for cuts, but private businesses and their employers shouldn't Yesterday the director of OMB exempted appropriations for military personnel from the sequester, providing even more certainty that the cuts to defense will fall upon training, maintenance and weapons procurement and development. So the fact is private businesses have a higher degree of certainty than their workforce - that their workforces will be hit. Yet here's the administration's message: if you're in the public sector, prepare for cuts. If you're in the private sector, don't even warn your employees their jobs actually may be on the line."


Opening Remarks

Aug 01 2012

  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 3429, the Veterans Jobs bill. The first hour will be equally divided, with the Republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • On Tuesday, cloture was filed on S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill. All first-degree amendments must be filed at the desk by 1:00 PM. The amendment tree has been filled. If no agreement is reached, the ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill, will be on Thursday.
    • Pending to S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill is:
      1. Reid (for Lieberman) amendment #2731 (voluntary cybersecurity programs);
      2. Reid (for Franken) amendment #2732 (sections 701 and 706(a)(I) to have no effect) to Reid (for Lieberman) amendment #2731; and
      3. The rest of the amendment tree was filled with date changes.
    • At a time to be determined this week, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 1 hour of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar #518, Carol J. Galante, of California, to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Following the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on confirmation of the nomination (60 votes required).

Senator Reid: (9:32 AM)
  • Spoke on the Senate's schedule.
    • SUMMARY "We will let the Senate know about votes scheduled. We're trying to do one on Burma and the African Trade bill that we've wanted to do for a long time, but the Republicans have held it up to this point, but we'll see what we can do to move forward on that."
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I was pleased to hear last week that many of my colleagues were working on thoughtful amendments to improve an strengthen this measure, in spite of the untoward pressure by the Chamber of Commerce to kill this legislation. Senators on both sides have worked hard to address every concern raised by the private sector about this legislation. Senator Lieberman and Collins have been exemplary. The bill that's before this body now is not nearly as strong as I would like it, but that's what compromise is all about. I accept what they felt they had to do. I really expected a healthy debate on this issue, this important issue. I also expected to process many relevant amendments. Unfortunately, that wasn't good enough for a few of my Republican colleagues. Instead of amendments that deal with our nation's cybersecurity, they're insisting on political show votes. Instead of substantive amendments that deal with our nation's cybersecurity, they're looking at other things. I thought they were going to be ... why about this, but they're not. Protecting our electric grids, water supplies, financial systems should be above political wrangling, so I was disappointed to watch the process derail. On a woman's right to choose her health care generally, as 47 million Americans were set to gain access to preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs, republicans insisted once again on a vote to repeal these benefits. They want to roll back the clock on the days when insurance companies could discriminate against women. Why? Because they were women. They had a preexisting disability. Their gender. And to make matters works they're willing to kill a bill that would protect our nation from cyberterrorism in the process."

Aug 01 2012

The Senate Convened.

Aug 01 2012

The Senate is considering S. 3414, the cybersecurity bill.  Republican senators continue to focus on creating jobs, lowering the deficit, reducing gas prices, and replacing the Democrats' health care bill with reforms that will actually lower costs.