Senate Calendar

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jun 11 2012

Senator Menendez: (7:10 PM)
  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Tomorrow --
    • The Senate will convene at 10:00 AM and resume consideration of Executive Calendar #607, Andrew David Hurwitz, of Arizona, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit, post-cloture. The first hour will be equally divided, with the Majority controlling the first 30 minutes and the Republicans controlling the second 30 minutes
    • At 12:30 PM, the Senate will recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus lunches.
    • It is expected that the post-cloture time on the Hurwitz nomination will be yielded back and the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on confirmation of the nomination during tomorrow's session.
    • Following disposition of the Hurwitz nomination, the Motion to Proceed to S. 3240, the Farm bill, will be Agreed to and the Senate will begin consideration of the bill.
The Senate stands adjourned until 10:00 AM Tuesday, June 12th.

Udall-CO, Boozman, Brown-OH, Menendez

Executive Session (Hurwitz nomination)

Jun 11 2012

Senator Udall-CO: (6:20 PM)
  • Recognized the 25th anniversary of United Way and honored their achievements since their founding 125 years ago in Denver, Colorado.
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "This legislation is critical not just to our farmers and ranchers and rural communities but to every segment of our population and our economy. You've heard from others highlighting that this bill supports more than 16 million jobs across our country. And, in fact, the Colorado Department of Agriculture estimates that in my home state alone, agricultural-related industry generates approximately $20 billion in economic activity, supporting more than 100,000 jobs. And this is a principal reason why I've urged the Senate to consider and pass a 2012 Farm bill. This bill will unquestionably strengthen our economy and help to grow jobs hat support the livelihood of Coloradans and Americans in both rural and urban communities. And that's what our constituents in Pennsylvania and Ohio, Arkansas are demanding that we do, work together across the aisle that will help put people back to work Let me tell you some of the other things the bill will do. It will improve opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers to enter the agricultural sector. It will streamline and maintain valuable programs that support voluntary conservation practices on the farm. And it will responsibly extend important nutrition programs, all the while reducing our deficit by more than $23 billion. Yes, you heard that correctly. While reducing our federal budget deficit by over $23 billion."

Senator Boozman: (6:35 PM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "The forestry title contains important improvements that will benefit Arkansas' forestry industry, the improvements to the USDA biobased U.S. markets program and the manager's package will allow forest products to be included in the program. The current USDA biobased markets program favors foreign products over our American forest products, which puts American workers at a disadvantage. So I'm happy with the progress on this issue and I appreciate the effort to promote and purchase our renewable home-grown products. Crop insurance also contains some improvements, and the provisions for irrigated and non-irrigated enterprise units, supplemental coverage options and yield plugs will help many producers who may have otherwise been left unprotected by the elimination of direct payments in the countercyclical program. At the same time, this is not a perfect bill, and I have serious concerns about the commodity title and the impact it will have on our southern producers and the planning decisions that they will make. I also have concerns about some missed opportunities in terms of eliminating waste and abuse in the nutrition title. The commodity title as is currently written will have a devastating impact on southern agriculture which relies heavily on irrigation and therefore benefits less from the crop insurance. Furthermore, the new revenue plan is designed to augment crop insurance so this new program leaves gaping holes in the southern safety net. Even with the reference price, this revenue plan may not be strong enough for our farmers to get the operating loans that they need. For example, most estimates find that rice would lose more than 70% of its baseline, far more than their fair share. However, this is not just about one crop. Every farm in America knows the real threat of multiyear price declines and we need a commodity title that treats all crops and regions fairly. I'm very concerned that this proposal is couched in the assumption that we will continue to have these high commodity prices. The revenue plan is attractive when prices are high, but I'm not sure there is anything in this plan that protects producers from a multiyear price decline. An untested one-size-fits-all program with no producer choice could leave many producers vulnerable in the future. Throughout this process, I have said that anything that goes too far in any direction can violate the core principles of our effort. I'm afraid that this commodity title does that in its current form It's my opinion that we could have done more to eliminate waste and abuse in a nutrition title and ensure we are getting the most out of these investments and that they are, in fact, going to the neediest among us. We should fully close the Liheap loophole which artificially inflates the benefits for SNAP recipients, and there are other things we could do to save money without reducing benefits and reinvest in other critical nutrition areas and deficit reduction. When we tell Americans that we cannot find more than $4 billion in savings from programs that account for nearly 80% of all agriculture spending, I can't think that they would believe that we are trying hard enough. But just because there isn't full agreement does not mean that our farmers stop needing a safety net. I'm committed to continuing the fight for a safety net that works, not just for Arkansans but for all farmers of all crops in all regions throughout our country. With a responsible producer choice, I believe we can build the consensus necessary to usher a farm bill throughout the entire legislative process and see it signed into law this year. We can do this while preserving the safety net, making reforms and achieving deficit reduction. I'm confident that we can craft a bill we are all proud of."

Senator Brown-OH: (6:42 PM)
  • Spoke on the auto industry.
    • SUMMARY "The auto rescue didn't just save the U.S. auto industry three, three and a half, four years ago, it saved thousands of auto-related jobs in Ohio. Estimates are that some 850,000 jobs in Ohio, in a state of 11 million people, only slightly smaller than the Presiding Officer's home state of Pennsylvania. That 800,000 jobs in Ohio are related to the auto industry. It's clear from the auto rescue with President Obama and the Senate and the House supported that it saved and created tens of thousands of those jobs. New data shows manufacturing is at the forefront of the economic recovery with factories adding 250,000 jobs since early 2010. The first sustained increase in manufacturing employment since 1997. Look at it this way, from 1965 until the late 1990's, America had about the same number of manufacturing jobs in the late 1990's as it did in the mid 1960's. A smaller percent of the work force, smaller percent of GDP, but a pretty constant number of manufacturing jobs with some ups and downs, obviously, during that period. But from 2000-2010, during that philosophy of trade agreements that ultimately cost us jobs, tax cuts and tax policy that contributed to outsourcing of jobs and an economic policy of trickle down during the Bush years, from 2000 to 2010, America lost one-third, more than five million manufacturing jobs. One out of three manufacturing jobs disappeared during those ten years, from 2000-2010. Thousands of factories closed never to be reopened as jobs were outsourced, as jobs left our country. Since 2010 almost every single month, almost every single month in Ohio and across the country we've seen manufacturing jobs increase. The auto industry has led the rebound with more than 20,000 jobs at General Motors and Chrysler saved or created thanks to the 2009 auto rescue, thousands more created in the auto supply chain. To be sure, too many Ohioans are struggling, many are still looking for work, others have seen their wages cut or their hours reduced. But there are important signs of recovery at our manufacturers and auto suppliers and small businesses. Just four years ago, the auto industry, many people thought, was faltering and imploding. But look where we are today."

Senator Menendez: (6:50 PM)
  • Spoke on Jorge Luis García Pérez.

Jun 11 2012

Agreed to, 60-31:
Motion to Invoke Cloture on Executive Calendar #607, Andrew David Hurwitz, of Arizona, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Kyl, Leahy, Feinstein, Lee

Farm bill (S. 3240)/Executive Session

Jun 11 2012

Senator Kyl: (4:14 PM)
  • Spoke on the Hurwitz nomination.

Senator Leahy: (4:37 PM)
  • Spoke on judicial nominations.
    • SUMMARY "We should acknowledge that we already confirmed 150 of President Bush's circuit and district court nominees nine months earlier in his third year in office. In other words, who had matched what we have done so far for President Obama. We would have had to have had this number way last year. I mention that because we are far behind in the consideration of President Obama's nominees. Part of that is because a large number of nominees went through the Judiciary Committee last year, would normally be passed by voice vote within a week or so after they went through, but delayed until the following year. I point out another thing is that today is June 11, but by June 15 of President Bush's fourth year in office the senate already confirmed 180 federal circuit and district court judges. 150 for President Obama, 180 for President Bush. 30 more judges who have been allowed to consider and confirmed during President Obama's administration to date. There is still 70 judicial vacancies around the country. That's more than when President Obama came to office. One of the reasons it's more is that Democrats in control, we moved President Bush's much faster than Republicans have allowed to us move President Obama's. There are 18 judicial nominees sitting here waiting to be, for final Senate consideration. They have been approved by the Judiciary Committee, bipartisan vote. It's my hope the Senate will be allowed to consider those other nominees and make real progress ... We seem to have a new standard that's required for President Obama that wasn't required of the other Presidents since I've been here ... So for the 28th time the Majority Leader has been forced to file for cloture to get an up-or-down vote on one of President Obama's judicial nominations. By comparison, during the entire eight years - not three and a half years, but eight years that President Bush was in office, cloture was filed in connection with 18 of his judicial nominees, most of whom were not confirmed or not passed out of the Judiciary Committee by a bipartisan majority. Most were opposed as extreme ideologues."
  • Spoke on the Hurwitz nomination.

Senator Feinstein: (5:03 PM)
  • Spoke on the Hurwitz nomination.

Senator Lee: (5:16 PM)
  • Spoke on the Hurwitz nomination.

Johanns, Grassley, Kyl

Farm bill (S. 3240)

Jun 11 2012

Senator Johanns: (2:14 PM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "Today's farmers are certainly some of the most sophisticated and talented business people in our nation. The fruits of their labor produce an abundance of healthy, low-cost food for Americans and, for that matter, people around the world. In fact, trade currently accounts for more than 25% of all U.S. farm receipts. One out of every three crop acres - one out of three - is now supported. Supports reached $136 billion. Our efficient support system including handling and processing and distribution of our food and our agricultural products creates millions of U.S. jobs. Given the projected global population growth of an additional 2.5 billion people by 2050, U.S. agriculture is positioned to experience significant growth in just a few years. Farm bill ensures that USDA maintains a focus on maintaining current export markets and gaining access to new emerging markets for U.S. food and farm products. This is the first farm bill in recent history that does not pay farmers a specific payment just because they are farmers. You see, farmers have come to realize that risk management is best handled with crop insurance, and in fact in many listening sessions I had around the state, virtually no one asked for the continue the continuation of direct payments. The bill actually saves $15 billion from commodity crop support by eliminating four programs, including direct payments, countercyclical payments, the average crop revenue election program called ACRE, and the supplemental revenue assistance program called, SURE. It does not raise loan rates. The price levels that have traditionally triggered the making of payments, and it focuses the farm program on revenue, not price, something I proposed as the United States Secretary of Agriculture when I served in the cabinet. I would remind my colleagues that our job in writing a Farm bill is not to protect the interests of specific commodity groups. Instead, the farm bill should be about preserving the health of our agricultural community. This Farm bill continues a history of steps in that direction. It seeks to minimize distortions and allows farmers to respond to market incentives, not determine by artificial prices set in a federal statute. I'm also glad to see a step forward on payment limits and changes to ensure that those who receive government payments are actively engaged in farming. And I'm especially pleased with the efforts to streamline and simplify the conservation programs. That's an issue I've heard a lot about. This bill actually consolidates 23 conservation programs into 13. In fact, I proposed similar changes as Ag secretary during the last Farm bill process. The improvements reduce costs as well as make the programs more farmer friendly This bill also provides for the basic research at USDA universities and elsewhere that is needed to meet the demand for our farmers to produce more food on less land. And it does so in a way that includes new avenues to ensure that important work continues in these times of very tight federal budgets. Finally, I am pleased that this bill builds on efforts to encourage beginning farmers and ranchers, veterans and others looking for careers in agriculture. It's important to me that we keep this Farm bill simple and as streamlined as possible. And I think we can agree that a bill that eliminates nearly 100 federal programs does just that. Given our nation's daunting budget situation, it is appropriate that this bill saves $23.6 billion, taking yet another step in the right direction to reforming farm policy over the last 21st century."

Senator Grassley: (2:56 PM)
  • Spoke on the Hurwitz nomination.

Senator Kyl: (3:17 PM)
  • Spoke on the Hurwitz nomination.
  • Spoke on the economy.
    • SUMMARY "Last Friday, the President of the United States said "the private sector is doing just fine." Now he said that He was talking about economically. His office later explained that what he really was talking about is the comparison between the public sector and the private sector, and I take him at his word there. The President explained this and I'll quote it in full. He said "where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government. Oftentimes cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the help they have in the past from the federal government or don't have the flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in." I think that is generally true, but here are the key points I would make in response. First everyone - not just government employees - are suffering. They are struggling in the Obama economy. Yes, the number of government jobs has decreased during the last 40 months since President Obama took office, but overall employment in government has increased on the whole in recent years, even with the reductions that have occurred in the last couple of years. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total government employees added up to 21,847,000,000 rounded off in January of 2006. That's just a little over six years ago. 21,847,000,000. Last month by comparison total he government employees added up to 21,969,000,000. There are a few more government employees today - state, federal and local - than there were six years ago. How did we get by in 2006? I think we were doing just fine. I think the reality is when a private firm faces financial difficulty, usually the first area that the firm looks to in terms of saving money is its workforce. And it's too bad. But frequently firms have to lay off workers because they simply can't afford to continue to pay that many workers. The good news and I'll just give the experience of a friend of mine in Arizona who said this recession was probably the best thing that happened to us because it forced us to look at our workforce, how we did business, whether we can make savings. He said today we're making more money than we ever have, even with a lower workforce, because we found that we could make do and make the improvements that made us more efficient. We're asking that to be done in government. Government doesn't have a right to continue to grow and grow and grow and grow. Government should be as efficient as the private sector, including with respect to the number of people that it hires to do the work that has to be done. After all, the private sector has to take care of paying both the employees in the private sector and the employees in the government sector. Who pays government employees? All of our constituents. The people in the private sector. So we in the government have an obligation to run the governments - federal, state and local - as efficiently, as leanly as we possibly can Here's the larger point. As the Wall Street Journal points out the reason the government workforce has shrunk since January of 2009 is not due to smaller budgets or dwindling aid, as the president suggested. As the revenues to state and local governments increased in the last two years. The main cost is rising health care to government workers. We've seen the state of Wisconsin having to deal with that to make some reductions which caused a lot of political turmoil in the state. But in the end the voters of the state said we agree, we need to cut government costs as it relates to the health care and pension commitments that we have made to our government employees. While government has experienced some job losses, it's important to remember that benefits enjoyed by government workers are far superior to those enjoyed by those employed in the private sector."


Opening Remarks

Jun 11 2012

  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 3240, the Farm bill, post-cloture.
    • At 4:30 PM, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 1 hour of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar #607, Andrew David Hurwitz, of Arizona, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit.
    • At 5:30 PM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Hurwitz nomination.
      • If Cloture is Not Invoked, the Motion to Proceed to S. 3240, the Farm bill, will be Agreed to at 2:15 PM tomorrow.
      • If Cloture is Invoked, following disposition of the Hurwitz nomination, the Senate will resume Legislative Session, and the Motion to Proceed to S. 3240, the Farm bill, will be Agreed to.
  • As a reminder, on Tuesday, June 5th, a Motion to Reconsider the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 3220, the Paycheck Fairness bill, was entered. Under the rules, Majority Leader Reid can bring the bill back up for a vote at any point in the future.

Senator Reid: (2:02 PM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "American farmers are counting on us, but so is the economy. Despite the uncertain economic times, America's farms are the most productive in the world exporting $136 billion worth of products last year and supporting 16 million private-sector jobs. To keep American farms strong, Congress must pass a strong farm bill. This legislation creates jobs, cuts subsidies and reduces the deficit. The bill includes important reforms for the farm and food stamp programs. It saves $23 billion which will be used to reduce the deficit. It will give farmers the certainty they need to maintain the largest trade surplus of any sector of our economy. Helping American farmers thrive is an important part of our work to get the economy on a firm footing again. I commend Senator Stabenow and Roberts for their leadership on this issue. We're working now toward coming up with a list of amendments to this legislation. It's a shame that we have now wasting 30 hours post-cloture on this bill. It's a bill that passed by 90 senators agreeing that we should move for debate on this bill, but it appears now we're in a situation that we were last week and the week before and the week before that, when Republicans have made a decision that they would rather do anything they can to stop jobs from being created, hoping it will help them with the elections come November This is a bill that creates jobs, cuts subsidies, protect hardworking farmers Our Republican friends all the time that they want to reduce the deficit. How about one bill, one fell swoop, $23 billion of deficit reduction, a bill that would reduce subsidies. It would get rid of a lot of waste and abuse and create jobs. We're in this position where my friends have said, just as the Republican leader has said, their only goal is to defeat Obama, not help our country. And that's too bad."

Jun 11 2012

The Senate Convened.

Jun 11 2012

The Senate is considering the motion to proceed to S. 3240, the farm bill.  The Senate will also consider the nomination of Andrew Hurwitz (AZ) to be United States circuit judge for the Ninth Circuit.  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.