Senate Calendar

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jul 17 2012

Senator Durbin: (5:54 PM)
  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Tomorrow --
    • The Senate will convene at 9:30 AM and Majority Leader Reid will be recognized. The first hour will be equally divided, with the Majority controlling the first 30 minutes and the Republicans controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • On Tuesday, cloture was filed on the Motion to Proceed to S. 3364, the Democrats' Insourcing bill. If no agreement is reached, the ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 3364, the Democrats' Insourcing bill, will occur on Thursday.
The Senate stands adjourned until 9:30 AM Wednesday, July 18th.

Hatch, Thune, Durbin

Democrats' Insourcing bill (S. 3364)

Jul 17 2012

Senator Hatch: (4:36 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "Today a study commissioned by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the S-Corporation Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce confirmed again that the president's attempt to stick it to the rich is going to end up skewering and small businesses and families that would like to work for them. This report by Ernst & Young and authored by Dr. Robert Carol and Gerald Pront found if the president gets his way the economy will be 1.3% smaller than it would be and there would be 710,000 fewer jobs. Study after study confirms that the president's policies prioritize spreading the wealth around, overgrowing the economy and creating jobs. The vice president spoke yesterday about the values of Republicans and the values of Democrats. Naturally he spoke pejoratively about republican values. I disagree with him, naturally, on his negative assessment. But I do agree that there is a clear distinction, a clear choice between the values embraced by Republicans and Democrats. Republicans want to grow the economy and create jobs so that American families can thrive. However, to judge by their single-minded pursuit of tax increases, President Obama and his liberal allies appear to value a politics of class envy and wealthy redistribution. Having Washington bureaucrats manage the economy in the name of wealth equalization is their first priority, regardless of any evidence that this tax policy undercuts economic growth and job creation. Unfortunately, the president's economic ethic is significantly hampering our economic recovery with disastrous consequences for America's families. Today Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve testified before the Senate Banking Committee. As the Democratic leadership and the president ignored the fiscal cliff, Chairman Bernanke's words are a somber reminder of what we face if we do not address the fiscal cliff he. He testified that the recovery "could be endangered by the confluence of tax increases and spending reductions that will take effect early next year if no legislative action is taken." He stated that the public uncertainty about the resolution of these issues is a negative drag on the economy. And he concluded that addressing this cliff earlier rather than later would help reduce uncertainty and boost household and business confidence.""

Senator Thune: (5:17 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "It's hard, I think, to overstate the magnitude of the tax increases that are going to hit our economy starting next year if we don't act. Over the next ten years, this tax increase would result in nearly $4.5 trillion in new taxes on American families and entrepreneurs ... Last month, the Congressional Budget Office gave us the most definitive estimate yet of the impact of the nearly $.5 trillion of tax increases that would hit in 2013 when combined with more than $100 billion of spending cuts that would occur under the sequester that I mentioned earlier. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the combination of the massive tax increases and the sequester will result in real GDP growth in calendar year 2013 of only .5%. Think about that. .5%. We're right now growing at somewhere they think, anyway, in the range of 1.9%, 2% this year, but in the first half of next year or all of next year, I should say, the real GDP growth would amount to only .5%. And the picture is even bleaker if you consider that CBO projects that the economy will actually lose or will have a decrease in GDP of 1.3% in the first half of 2013. So you have got this Congressional Budget Office saying that over the entire year in 2013, the likelihood is that it will grow at .5 percent if we don't address the fiscal cliff, but in the first half of next year, the first half of next year, we actually see a decrease of 1.3% of economic growth. Now, according to the CBO, again, a contraction in output or a reduction, I should say, of 1.3% of economic growth in the first half of next year would, and I quote, probably be judged to be a recession. Probably be judged to be a recession There was another study, analysis that came out today done by Ernst and Young in which they analyzed the tax hikes that would occur on small businesses next year and came to the conclusion that it would cost 700,000 jobs in our economy, that it would cost us 1.3% of economic growth which is, again, consistent with what the Congressional Budget Office has said. And that it would reduce wages to people in this country by 2%. So you now have the Ernst and Young study out there which suggests not only does this impact the small businesses out there who are going to see their taxes go up, but it puts at risk and in jeopardy jobs for hard-working Americans and a wage base that would actually shrink in if in fact we drive the car over this fiscal cliff."

Senator Durbin: (5:42 PM)
  • Spoke on the DREAM Act.
    • SUMMARY "At one point in time Senator Grassley was a cosponsor of the DREAM Act. You wouldn't know it from his speech today. He's changed his position on this bill like so many other Republicans. Let me take a few minutes to respond to specific points. He claimed the president's policy to not deport the DREAM Act students is going to hurt the American economy. I couldn't disagree more. Granting deferred action to DREAM Act students make us a stronger country, giving these talented immigrants a chance to be a part of America and its future. Studies found the DREAM Act students can contribute trillions of dollars to the economy, given a chance to be part of it. We're not talking about importing new foreign workers into the United States to compete with Americans. We're talking about taking young people, educated in our schools at our expense, trained and ready to give something to America, and giving them a chance. They're going to be tomorrow's doctors and engineers and teachers and nurses. We shouldn't squander their talents. In all the years that we've invested in educating them by deporting them at this productive point in their lives. Senator Grassley claimed President Obama circumvented Congress to significantly change the law all by himself. End of quote. I don't think that's how it happened. The Obama administration's new deportation policy is lawful and appropriate. Throughout history all governments and our federal government have to decide who to prosecute, who not to prosecute. It's called prosecutorial discretion. It's based on law enforcement priorities and resources. Every administration, Democratic and Republican as well, have stopped deportations of low-priority cases, as they should. Just last month the Supreme Court reaffirmed the federal government has broad authority to decide who to deport ... Senator Grassley calls the administration's deportation policy "an amnesty." Well, Senator Grassley, that's just not right. The DREAM Act students will not receive permanent legal status or citizenship under the president's policy. They have temporary renewable legal status."

Reid, Stabenow, Hoeven, Grassley

Democrats' Insourcing bill (S. 3364)

Jul 17 2012

Senator Reid: (3:42 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • Cloture has been filed on the Motion to Proceed to S. 3364, the Democrats' Insourcing bill.

Senator Stabenow: (3:45 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Insourcing bill.
    • SUMMARY "We want to create businesses, support their creation of businesses by incentivizing them. Not having a tax code that incentivizes somebody to move overseas ... It's about bringing jobs home to America and it's very simple. We're going to stop writing off the costs, allowing that business to be subsidized by all of us, including the people they lay off, in order to move overseas and instead we're going to say, no, you move overseas, you're on your own. But if you want to come back, we are happy to allow you a business deduction for those moving expenses and we will add another 20% towards the costs of your expenses on top of it. That's what we should be doing. That's smart tax policy. It's common sense. It's one step in a series of things that we need to do in order to be able to bring jobs home and make things in America ... And I hope that we will see an overwhelmingly positive bipartisan vote on this bill."

Senator Hoeven: (4:06 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "Small business that makes our economy go. It's small business that made our economy the envy of the world. It's small business, small businesses that serve as the backbone of our economy, that employ our people, that generate tax revenue to build our roads, that create innovation like the internet and that provides Americans with the highest standard of living in the world. Small business is the engine that drives our economy, and we need to get it going, and you don't do that by raising taxes and growing government. Clearly, that's not the way to go. But the president says well, everyone needs to pay their fair share. Well, again, of course everyone needs to pay their fair share, but the way to ensure that that gets accomplished is with pro growth tax reform, comprehensive pro growth tax reform and closing loopholes. Let's extend the current tax rates for one year, and let's set up a process to pass comprehensive pro growth tax reform that lowers rates, that closes loopholes, that's fair, that's simpler and that will generate revenue to reduce our deficit and our debt through economic growth rather than through higher taxes. The reality is that's the only way to go, along with reducing government spending that will get our debt and our deficit under control and that will get our people back to work. To be successful, this effort needs to be bipartisan. And the clock is ticking. So let's get started. Let's give small business in this country the legal tax and regulatory certainty to encourage private investment and innovation. That's the American way. That's the real American success story. We can do it, and we need to make it happen now."

Senator Grassley: (4:15 PM)
  • Spoke on the Food and Drug Administration.
    • SUMMARY "The Food and Drug Administration is supposed to protect the American people. Except lately, the only thing that the FDA Bureaucrats seem to have any interest in is protecting themselves. According to whistle-blowers and published reports in the Washington Post and the New York times, the agency in charge of safeguarding the American public and providing for the public safety has trampled on the privacy of its very own employees. The FDA mounted an aggressive campaign against employees who would dare to question its actions and created what the New York Times termed an enemies list of people it considered dangerous. It kind of reminds you of President Nixon and the IRS. Going after enemies. The Food and Drug Administration has been spying on this enemies list. The FDA has been spying on the personal emails of these employees, and everybody that these employees contacted. That includes their protected communications even with those of us in congress. We would not have known the extent of the spying if internal FDA Documents about it had not been released on the internet, apparently just by accident. We would not have known how the FDA Intentionally targeted and captured confidential personal emails between the whistle-blowers, their lawyers, and those of us in Congress I intend to get to the bottom of it. I will continue to press the FDA until we know who authorized spying."

Jul 17 2012

Not Agreed to, 53-45:
Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion Proceed to S. 3369, the Disclose Act.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jul 17 2012

Senator Whitehouse: (2:15 PM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "I think where I left off in my previous listing, the next was Senator Lisa Murkowski, who wants Citizens United reversed. And says said that "SuperPACs have expanded their roll in financing the 2012 campaign due in large part to the Citizens United decision that allowed unlimited contributions to the political advocacy decisions. I stood to gain from that however, it is only appropriate that Alaskans and Americans know where the money comes from." My friend, Senator Jeff Sessions, the Ranking Member on the Judiciary Committee at one point, has said, "I don't like it when a large source of money is out there funding ads and is unaccountable. To the extent we can, I tend to favor disclosure." Senator Cornyn has said, "I think the system needs more transparency so people can easily reach their own conclusions." Senator Collins has been quoted, "it is important that any future campaign finance laws include strong transparency I guess provisions so the American people knows who is contributing to a candidate's campaign as well as who is funding communications in support of or in opposition to a political candidate or issue." That's from the hill. Senator Scott Brown has said, "a genuine campaign finance reform effort would include increased transparency, accountability, and would provide a level playing field to everyone." Senator Tom Coburn has said, "so I would not disagree that there ought to be transparency in who contributes to the SuperPACs, and it ought to be public knowledge. We ought to have transparency. If legislators were required to disclose all contributions to their campaigners the public knowledge would naturally restrain legislators from acting out of the current quid pro quo mind-set. If you have transparency, you will have accountability.""

Senator Lautenberg: (2:22 PM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "The Koch brothers are putting together a seat for a group of wealthy friends who will spend $400 million to manipulate the upcoming election. This effort is one of an egregious example of the flood of big, secret money in our politics, and this unaccountable money is spent with a clear goal of determining our laws and deciding our elections, and the policies that this country will follow in the future. The Koch brothers are so set on picking their preferred politicians. Too bad, a country of over 300 million people, and these two fellows want to decide who should run this country of ours. Koch industries controls oil, chemical companies that do business around the globe, and so what do the Koch brothers and their anonymous friends want from politicians who benefit from their secret money? They want laws that benefit the companies like the ones that they own, even when those laws come at the expense of millions of other Americans. I think the reason is clear. They want people in office who will put their special interests above the public interests. These brothers run Koch industries, giant international conglomerate, and one of the largest privately held companies in the world. The Koch brothers, to take another example of secret money - Americans for Prosperity has opposed EPA's new American pollution standards. These historic standards will prevent 130,000 asthma attacks, 4,700 heart attacks, and up to 11,000 premature deaths. And Americans for Prosperity funded by secret money, oppose the rule that will save these lives. They'd rather have the money. We know what millions of people who live near power plants want. They want the plants to clean up their acts and stop poisoning them and their neighbors. The Kochs and industry lobbyists argue that these standards just cost too much. What is the value of a life to these guys? Let them answer that question publicly. Turn in the secret money and let the people across our country decide who they want in the Senate, in the House, and in the White House."

Senator Sessions: (2:28 PM)
  • Spoke on the budget.
    • SUMMARY "I know our Democratic colleagues were down here last night into the midnight hour talking about the Disclose Act, which is political campaign-related that we have significant differences of opinion about and it is not going to pass. So I'd like to ask my friends and colleagues, what is it that we ought to be disclosing here? Is it some individual amount of money, some individual American made honestly and spent? Or maybe there's some other things we ought to disclose. I would say this Senate ought to disclose to the American people what its budget plan is for the future of this country. We haven't had a budget in three years. Senator Reid said it would be foolish to bring up a budget. Foolish because we don't have time? We have time to spend all night last night - or half the night, have a second vote on the same bill again today. Why don't we spend some of that time on something really important like deal with our $16 billion debt. Why don't our Democratic leaders disclose to us what their plan is to deal with this surging debt, a debt that's increasing at $1.3 trillion a year, unsustainable as every estimate we've ever been told and ... a plan for how we're going to confront that. The House has. They laid out a really historic plan. Congressman Ryan and his team in the House passed a long-term budget plan that will alter the debt course of America and put us on a responsible path. Not so in the Senate, even though they talked about it in secret amongst themselves that they had a plan. Well, let's disclose it. Why don't we have a disclosure of it."

Senator Nelson-FL: (2:33 PM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "We come to a point of gridlock again because of the Senate rules requiring 60 votes to shut off the debate so that we can go to this bill called the disclose act. Now, what the Disclose Act does is common sense. It's common sense to say, if you're going to affect the political system by giving money to influence the votes at the ends of the day in an election, all the campaign laws say that you have to disclose that money. And but for a 5-4 Supreme Court decision which is contorted at best and is way over the edge at the very least, its ruling comes up and says outside, because of freedom of speech, outside of the political system, you can make advertisements, you can speak freely, in other words, by spending money buying ads and you don't have to disclose that. And oh, by the way, that whereas the campaign finance law prohibits in the federal elections corporations from donating, this contorted Supreme Court decision says that that can be corporate money and it doesn't have to be disclosed. Well, that's what we're seeing an abundance of that kind of political speech right now. And all of these attack ads, and these attack ads are going just rapid fire. And you look at who it's sponsored by. It's not sponsored by the candidate. It's sponsored by some organization that has a high-sounding name, but you don't know where the money is coming from ... These outside, unlimited source of funds that are not disclosed are affecting elections. And it is achieving the result. And you know it. You put enough TV advertising. You can sell a box of soap, whatever your brand is. That's the whole theory behind this. Elect who the undisclosed donors giving unlimited sums, elect who they want and that's going to completely distort the political system."

Senator Murkowski: (2:43 PM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "I believe strongly, I believe very strongly that the Citizens United decision is corrosive to democracy and at a very` minimum, the American people who deserve to know who is really behind the organizations, who is funding them, what their real agendas are. I think if you were to ask the average American out on the street do you think it's reasonable that there be disclosure, full disclosure of where the campaign dollars are coming from, I think the average American would say yes. I know that the average Alaskan is saying yes. And so when they see what this Supreme Court case has allowed, courts have determined that this is constitutional, I don't think anybody assumed that what it would lead to is an ability for an individual to give millions of dollars to influence and election, and yet not be subject to a level of disclosure that is fair and that is balanced ... I was really tired that as a body, when we have an issue that is as important, as significant as whether it's campaign finance or whether it's the tax issues that we face, whether it's the sequestration issue that we will shortly be facing, that we are once again in a position where we're doing nothing but messaging. I am so tired of messaging. And I think that the folks that we represent are tired of us messaging."

Senator Schumer: (2:54 PM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "It is simple disclosure ... We tried to make it as narrow as possible. We tried to deal with all the objections we heard about labor unions and other things. That's why there is a 10,000-dollar amount, far beyond labor dues and any dues that I am aware of. We tried to make it as down the middle as possible for simple disclosure ... If we don't do something about this, we will not have the republic we know in five years. It's that simple. This great country that we all love has been dramatically changed by Citizens United and the failure to correct its huge deficiencies. To have such a small number of people have such huge influence on our body public. We have never seen it before ... To have a small number of people, most of them angry people, most of them people who don't even give any attention to someone who doesn't agree with them, to give them such awesome power, which is the power to run negative political ads over and over again and have no accountability as to who is running them, that is a true danger to the republic. And it befuddles me that our U.S. Supreme Court doesn't see it. We want our courts to be insulated from the vicissitudes of politics, but to have a court that is so insulated thad it doesn't see, smell, hear, touch what is going on in this republic doesn't speak well of that court, and I think it's the main reason that its popularity has declined. And I hope our justices will wake up and realize what they are doing."

Senator Whitehouse: (2:59 PM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "At least ten Republican senators are on record supporting transparency and disclosure in election spending. Some of them are very significant leaders on the Republican side ... Other senators, colleagues and friends, come from states that require disclosure in election spending. The states that they represent know that this is wrong. The arguments against this bill are few. Some of those arguments are false. Others don't hold water. Huge majorities of Americans, Republican, Democrat, and Independent, support cleaning up this mess. More than 700,000 Americans signed up as citizen cosponsors of this bill in the last few days."

Jul 17 2012

Senator Sanders: (11:50 AM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "I come to the Senate floor today to express my profound disgust with the current state of our campaign finance system and to call for my fellow senators as a short-term effort to pass the Disclose Act. Passing the Disclose Act would be an important step forward but clearly we have much more to do on this issue. Long-term, of course we need a constitutional amendment to overturn this disastrous Supreme Court decision, the Citizens United 5-4 decision of two years ago. Long term, in my view, we also need to move this country toward public funding of elections so that once and for all big money will not dominate our political process. Long term, there is no question in my mind that Citizens United will go down in history as one of the worst decisions ever rendered by a United States Supreme Court. Five members of the court came to the bizarre conclusion that corporations should be treated as if they were people, that they have a first amendment right to spend as much money as they want to buy candidates, to buy elections, and somehow in the midst of all of this unbelievable amount of spending, millions and millions of dollars, the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that this would not even give the appearance of corruption. I think that is, frankly, an absurd conclusion ... So you have entities out there who are worth some $50 billion - the Koch brothers come to mind. And if you're worth $50 billion and you have all kinds of interactions with the federal government, you have strong political views, why wouldn't they spend $400 million, which is what the media says that family is going to spend, and maybe even more if you can purchase the United States government? That's not a bad investment. That's what Citizens United is about. It is billionaires spending huge amounts of money without disclosure. Without disclosure."

Senator Whitehouse: (12:00 PM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "Senator McConnell, of course, has been very publicly in favor of it. That may relate to the fact that a report by the Corporate Reform Coalition went state by state, and the Republican leader's home state of Kentucky has a ban on independent expenditures by corporations in its state constitution. His state constitution bans the conduct that is at issue here. Kentucky has disclosure provisions that require disclosure when independent expenditures of over $500 are made in any one election. Here's here objecting to a $10,000 limit, and Kentucky disclosure provisions, according to this report "require disclosure when independent expenditures of over $500 are made in any one election" and if further requires under Kentucky law, Kentucky statutes 121.190 subpart 1 that the name of the advertising sponsor must be put on any communication. So consistent with the laws of his home state, our Republican leader has for many years stood out in favor of disclosure. He said, "Republicans are in favor of disclosure ." Around 2000 he said that. And he said "public disclosure of campaign contributions and spending should be expedited so that voters can judge what is appropriate." Other leaders have said, "I support campaign finance reform. To me, that means individual contributions, free speech, and full disclosure." In other words," he continued, "any give can give whatever they want as long as it is disclosed every day on the internet." That is exactly what this bill does, but only for donations $10,000 and more. I don't believe there was a floor in Senator Alexander's remarks."

Senator Grassley: (12:04 PM)
  • Spoke on the DREAM Act.
    • SUMMARY "I, along with 19 other senators, sent the president a letter and asked if he consulted with attorneys prior to this June 15 announcement about his legal authority to grant deferred action and work authorizations to a specific class of immigrants who have come here illegally. And it's important that we get that question answered because, just last September, the president said he didn't have the legal authority to do it. We asked the president if he obtained a legal opinion from the office of legal counsel or anyone else within his administration. To date, we have not received any documentation that discusses any authority whatsoever that he has to undertake this massive immigration directive. I know that the Secretary of Homeland Security has discretion to determine who is put in removal proceedings. Prosecutorial discretion had been around for a long time, but it hasn't been abused to this extent. The president is claiming that the secretary will implement this directive using prosecutorial discretion. However, millions of immigrants coming here illegally will be instructed to report to the U.S. citizenship and immigration service and proactively apply. This is not being done on a case-by-case basis, as they want to make it appear. The president's directive is an affront to our system of representative government and the legislative process, and it's an inappropriate use of executive power. Based upon what he said last September that he didn't have the authority to do this. The president bypassed Congress, because he couldn't lead an immigration reform, and he couldn't work in a bipartisan manner on an issue that involves undocumented young people."

Senator Murray: (12:23 PM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "This Supreme Court ruling was truly a step backwards for our democracy. It overturned decades of campaign finance law and policy and it allowed corporations and special interest groups to spend unlimited amounts of their money influencing our democracy. The Citizens United ruling has given special interest groups a megaphone that they can use to drowned out the voices of citizens in my home state of Washington and across the country. The Disclose Act would return transparency to this process, it would return accountability to this process, and it would be a major step to returning citizens' voices to the important election decisions that we make in our country ... I want to make sure no force is greater in our elections than the power of voters across our cities and towns. And no voice is louder than citizens who care about making their state and country a better place to live. The Disclose Act of 2012 shouldn't be co contentious. It simply does what a majority of American people view as a no-brainer. It requires outside groups to divulge their campaign-related fund-raising and spending. Plain and simple. And it does this by shining a very bright spotlight on the entire process and by strengthening the overall disclosure requirements for groups who are attempting to sway our elections. You know, too often corporations and special interest groups are able to hide their spending behind a mask of front organizations because they know voters will be less likely to believe ads if they knew the motives behind their sponsors."
The Senate stands in recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus lunches.

Whitehouse, Leahy, Manchin, McCain

Disclose Act (S. 3369)

Jul 17 2012

Senator Whitehouse: (11:00 AM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act (Rudman/Hagel op-ed).

Senator Leahy: (11:09 AM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "What these five men did, they unleashed a massive flood of corporate money into our elections. Now, many of us in the Congress - many of us around the country at the time of the Citizens United decision, worried it turns on its head the idea of government of and by the people. We worried the decision created new rights for Wall Street at the expense of people in Main Street. We worried that powerful corporate megaphones could drown out the voices and interests of individual Americans. I wish I didn't have to say this but two and a half years later, it's clear these worries were supremely valid and the damage is devastatingly real. Since the Citizens United decision struck down longstanding prohibitions, hundreds of millions of dollars from undisclosed and unaccountable sources have flooded the airwaves with a barrage of negative advertisements. Nobody who watched our elections or even tried to watch television since the Citizens United decision can deny the enormous impact that decision has had on our political process. Everywhere I go in Vermont people say, well, who's behind these ads? They say who's behind these ads? I say I don't know I say no, because the Supreme Court has allowed people to hide who's paying for them, even though they're doing it to advance their economic interests, often to the exclusion of everybody else's. Even though they're wanting to give themselves an advantage that all the rest of the people won't have. And nobody who is strained to hear the voices of voters lost among the flood of SuperPACs can deny that extending the first amendment rights to corporations, the Supreme Court put at risk the rights of individual Americans to speak to each other and crucially, to be heard."

Senator Manchin: (11:28 AM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "I rise today to address the disturbing role that money play in our politics, especially when it comes to anonymous groups with deep pockets that are trying to tear people down. There's no question this is a corrosive situation, and it is hurting our democracy. When you have an unaccountable outside groups with virtually unlimited pockets, more and more lawmakers, all of us included, have to spend more time dialing for dollars that take us away from legislating. That's simply backwards, sir. Elected officials should be working on fixing our problems, not having to worry every day on raising money so he can be protected or fend off people who are attacking you. The effects are very clear. This Congress has stalled when it comes to tackling our biggest problems as a nation. But we're raising more money in politics than ever before ... Only 806,000 of the 311 million give more than $200 to a congressional campaign. $200 to a congressional campaign. To break that down even further, only 155,000 out of 311 million contribute the maximum amount to any congressional candidate. Then you look at the people who participate in a number of elections that give more than $10,000 an election cycle. The maximum that they can give to a candidate and give to other candidates. So those people in the United States of America, out of 311 million, only 31,000 Americans do that. Only 31,000. Now let me break it down to even the SuperPACs. The money that comes from the SuperPACs. Just in this presidential election so far, there are only 196 people out of 311 million, that give hundreds of millions of dollars. They account for 80% of the funding so far. 80%, which is unheard of."

Senator McCain: (11:34 AM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "My reasons for opposing this motion are simple. Even though the subject of campaign finance reform is not. In its current form, the Disclose Act is closer to a clever attempt at political gamesmanship than actual reform. By conveniently setting my thresholds for reporting requirements, the Disclose Act forces some entities to inform the public about the origins of their financial support while allowing others, notably affiliated with organized labor to fly below the regulatory radar No legislative measure or Supreme Court decision will completely free politics from influence peddling But I do believe that fair and just reforms will move many Americans who have grown more and more disaffected from the practices and institutions of our democracy to begin to get a clear understanding of whether their elected representatives value their commitment to our constitution more than their own incumbency Organizations that engage in political conduct are only required to disclose payments to it that exceed $10,000 in a two-year election cycle, meaning the local union chapter will not be required to disclose the payments of individual union members to the union, even if those funds will be used for political purposes. What's the final difference between one $10,000 check and a thousand $10 checks other than the impact on trees, very little. So why should one be free from having to disclose its origin and two, the bill exempts from the disclosure requirement transfers from affiliates that do not exceed $50,000 for a two-year election cycle. As a result, unions would not have to disclose the transfers made to it by many of its ... local chapters. Given the contrast between union and corporate structures, this would allow unions to fall beneath the bill's threshold limits. For local union chapters, this anonymity is probably very important because among other effects, it prevents union's chapter members from learning how much of their dues payments are being used on political activities. While the exemptions outlined in the Disclose Act may be applied to business organizations and associations, it is apparent to me that the unions' unique pyramid structure would allow unions to not be treated equally by the Disclose Act. Unlike unions, most organizations don't have thousands of local affiliates where they can pull up to $50,000 in "affiliate transfers.""

Senator Whitehouse: (11:48 AM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "I will say that this bill is not bipartisan, but that is not for lack of trying. We have reached out over and over again, and in the face of an absolute stonewall on this subject, have changed the bill ourselves in order to accommodate concerns. The "stand by your ad" provision was criticized by the Republican witness in the Rules Committee, so we removed it. The NRA, the National Rifle Association, was livid about the $600 threshold because it would require them disclose their members. So we raised it to $10,000. Over and over again where there have been substantive objections to the bill, we have met them. And at this point not one Republican for all of our contacts across the aisle has expressed anyplace in this bill where an amendment could be made. We've never been given any language. We've never been shown the area that in theory is better for the unions. It is, as Senator McCain himself admitted, facially applied to corporations and unions and other organizations alike."

Sessions, Paul, Udall-CO

Disclose Act (S. 3369)

Jul 17 2012

Senator Sessions: (10:16 AM)
  • Spoke on the Budget Control Act.
    • SUMMARY "The legislation this deal produced the Budget Control Act set certain spending limits in the absence of any budget resolution that we should have passed as required by law but had not passed in the senate. So these spending limits come into effect when the Chairman of the Budget Committee, Senator Conrad, filed the allocation numbers into the Congressional Record, telling every Senate Appropriations Subcommittee its allowed spending level; how much they can spend. That's the hour given to the Budget Chairman. Senator Conrad chairs the Budget Committee. The Budget Control Act plainly dictates that 2013 - beginning September 30 of this year, October 1 of this year - spending limits would be derived from the Congressional Budget Office spending baseline. This is crucial because the CBO baseline contains the $2.1 trillion over ten years - not all in one year - ten-year spending cuts, or really reductions in spending growth, not so much cuts, that the deal was supposed to implement in exchange for the immediate $2.1 trillion raising of the debt ceiling. And so herein lies the scandal. Although it was buried in the spending allocation that Senator Conrad sent out, my staff on the Senate Budget Committee discovered that Senator Conrad did not file an outlay limit based on the CBO baseline. Instead the outlay total he filed was $14 billion higher. Curiously matching exactly the spending levels that President Obama had requested in the budget he submitted to Congress in January. Although this discovery was not readily apparent, Chairman Conrad, to his credit - and he's an honorable man - does not dispute it. He simply asserts that it is within his discretion to unilaterally set a higher total. Again, because the CBO baseline reflects the spending reductions passed by Congress and signed into law, an increase above the baseline, as this allocation that he submitted does, is an abrogation of the deal. It's an abrogation of the agreement we reached in August. Bipartisan really. And we told the American people, okay, we raised the debt ceiling. A lot of people didn't want to do it. A lot of Americans were hot about it. But we said we're going to cut spending by that much over ten years. As reported by publication CQ, "Conrad did not counter Session's claim that the outlay limit would allow higher spending in fiscal year 2013." But this is not, let me emphasize, just the fault of Senator Conrad. This large violation of the Budget Control Act is without doubt the decision of Senator Reid, the Democratic leader, his leadership team and really the members of the Democratic caucus who support him. Remember, outlays are the spending figure which directly registers on the debt. $14 billion in higher outlays in 2013 means $14 billion added to the debt. It's just that simple."

Senator Paul: (10:36 AM)
  • Spoke on Pakistan.
    • SUMMARY "A brave doctor in Pakistan by the name of Dr. Shakil Afridi helped us to find bin laden, helped us with ultimately getting bin laden. How was he rewarded for this heroism? Where is Dr. Shakil Afridi now? He's been imprisoned by the Pakistani government for 33 years So how did the president respond to this? How did President Obama's administration respond to the imprisoning of this doctor, the doctor who helped us get bin laden? President Obama sent them another billion dollars last week. We already send Pakistan $2 billion and they disrespect us, so what did we do? We send them another billion dollars. People around this town are bemoaning there's not enough money for our military yet we took a billion dollars out of the Defense Department and sent it to Pakistan last week. Where is Dr. Afridi? In jail for 33 years. I've obtained the signatures necessary to have a vote on this. The leadership doesn't want to allow a vote on this, but I will one way or another get a vote on ending aid to Pakistan if they continue to imprison this doctor. He has an appeal that will be heard this Thursday. If he's not successful in his appeal, if he is still in prison for life, we will have a vote in the Senate on ending all aid to Pakistan. Not a small portion of their aid. Every penny of their aid, including the billion they got last week. We will attempt to stop all aid to Pakistan."

Senator Udall-CO: (10:43 AM)
  • Spoke on the wind protection tax credit.
    • SUMMARY "Estimates suggesting we could lose as many as 30,000 jobs. The PTC is a perfect example of how Congress can play a positive, productive role in encouraging economic growth and supporting American manufacturing. The American people expect us to do everything we can to create jobs and economic growth. They expect us to work across the political aisle and produce results. They deserve results, and we should not disappoint them by succumbing to election year gridlock. We have a solid base of bipartisan support for wind energy and for the passage of the wind PTC that's why I've been urging my colleagues to work with me to pass it as soon as possible The PTC has helped American families and businesses prosper in a time when other industries have faltered. The wind industry has been one of the few industries to have real growth in recent years, and it has so much more potential. Americans have said again and again that they want Congress to extend the wind PTC let's not let them down. Our economy and our future depend on it. Let's pass the PTC as soon as possible. It equals jobs."
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "It would require that SuperPACs, corporations, labor unions and other independent groups file a public disclosure with the federal election commission for any campaign-related disbursement of over $10,000 or more within 24 hours of the expenditure. This basic requirement is designed to bring the exchange of the secret campaign dollars out of the shadows, so Coloradoans and all the American people know who is trying to influence our elections. That's it. It's simple and it makes sense. We are only asking that political spending and funding be disclosed and held to the same standard as traditional political action committees and candidate expenditures. This sensible requirement will not create burdensome regulations or be in conflict with any of the holdings of the Supreme Court. It's the kind of commonsense transparency that Coloradoans are calling for."

Reid, McConnell

Opening Remarks

Jul 17 2012

  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion Proceed to S. 3369, the Disclose Act. The time until 12:30 PM will be equally divided, with the Republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • At 12:30 PM, the Senate will recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus lunches.
    • At 2:15 PM, the Senate will resume consideration of the Motion Proceed to S. 3369, the Disclose Act, with the time until 3:00 PM equally divided.
    • At 3:00 PM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion Proceed to S. 3369, the Disclose Act.

Senator Reid: (10:02 AM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "With the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court of our country erased a century of protecting the fairness of American elections. That opened the door for big corporations, anonymous billionaires and foreign interests to secretly spend hundreds of millions of dollars influencing voters. For any who dismisses this change as politics as usual they should think again. During this year's election, outside spending by GOP shell groups is expected to top $1 billion. That's billion with a b. The names of these new front groups contain words that are warm and fuzzy like freedom and prosperity. But make no mistake, there's nothing free about an election purchased by a handful of billionaires for their own self-interest. Just one of those outside groups backed by wealthy oil interests has promised to spend $400 million on negative ads filled with half-truths and distortions of President Obama's record ... Democrats and the majority of Americans believe these unlimited corporate and special interest contributions should be outlawed. But in the post-Citizens United world, the least we should do is require groups spending millions on political attack ads to disclose the donors. We owe it to the voters to let them judge for themselves the attacks and the motivation behind them but they can only do that if they know who is doing it. The Disclose Act would require political organizations of all stripes, liberal and conservatives alike, to disclose know donations in excess of $10,000 if they'll are used for campaign purposes. Safeguarding fair elections used to be an arena where republicans and democrats ... Last night those same 14 Republicans did an about-face and every one of my Republican colleagues voted to block the Disclosure Act. It's obvious their priority is to protect the handful of anonymous billionaires, billionaires willing to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to change the outcome of elections. But today again they'll have an opportunity to consider that backwards priority."

Senator McConnell: (10:09 AM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "Last week in response to another disappointing month of job growth, President Obama issued a truly bizarre ultimatum. A truly bizarre ultimatum. Let me raise taxes on a million businesses or I'll raise taxes on everybody. Let me raise taxes on a million businesses, or I'll raise taxes on everybody. Yesterday Democratic leaders in Congress took this strange new economic theory whereby politicians purport to help job creation by hurting job creators, to dizzying new heights. Yesterday Senate Democratic leaders said they would actually prefer to see America go off the so-called fiscal cliff this coming January along with the trauma that would unleash on our economy than let businesses maintain their existing tax rates. That was the position of Democratic leaders yesterday. They'd rather see America go off the fiscal cliff in January than let a million businesses maintain their current tax rates. It's astonishing admission. Democrats are saying they'd rather see taxes go up on every American at the end of the year than let about a million businesses keep what they earn now. Rather let taxes go up on everybody in the country rather than allow a million businesses to keep the money that they earn now. This isn't an economic agenda. It's not an economic agenda. It's an ideological crusade. This morning Ernst and Young is releasing a study that shows President Obama's plan to raise taxes on these businesses will result in 10,000 fewer jobs. What a great idea. Let's raise taxes on a million of our most successful small businesses and eliminate 700,000 jobs in the middle of the most tepid recovery in anybody's memory. What a terrific idea. For those who manage to keep their jobs, real after-tax wages would fall by an estimated 1.8%, meaning living standards would decline as government sucks more capital out of the economy. The president's proposal, in other words, is a recipe for economic stagnation and decline. A recipe for economic stagnation and decline. But the Murray proposal, the idea we should raise taxes on everybody, is even worse. Not only would it trigger another recession, it would put the global economy at risk. Here's the Democratic theory, that a massive income tax increase on 140 million American taxpayers wouldn't be so bad because the effects wouldn't be felt right away. Wouldn't be so bad because the effects wouldn't be felt right away. This bizarre conclusion can only be reached by politicians and budget analysts who never worked a day in the private sector. Who don't understand what goes into cutting a paycheck for your employees, and who don't have a concept of the planning, the planning that is necessary when you are operating a business on thin margins in a tough economy. This shows how out of touch these people are. To rely on the analysis of ivy tower liberals instead of listening to the jobs groups that have been pleading with us to fix this problem sooner rather than later and end the uncertainty that is acting like a wet blanket over our entire economy."

Jul 17 2012

The Senate Convened.

Jul 17 2012

Senator Whitehouse: (12:09 PM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "The Disclose Act applies equally to all corporations, period and end of story. The $10,000 threshold eliminates another problem, which is this business that membership organizations are going to have to disclose their donor list. As recently as today, the Republican leader said that this will force organizations to disclose their donor lists. It won't, not in a $10,000 threshold. You can get a lifetime membership in the national rifle association for $1,000. If you are a cat and you have nine lives, you can get nine lifetime memberships in the NRA and still not break the $10,000 threshold. It will catch 93% of the money that goes into these SuperPACs because it goes in such big chunks, so it's a good number to use. It protects the small membership organizations but hits virtually all the big donors. And clearly, it is not an attack on the first amendment. This charge has its roots only in the opponents' imagination, not in the U.S. constitution. It contains no restrictions or limitations on speech of any kind, none. Pure disclosure legislation plain and simple, as my Republican colleagues have heretofore usually supported. The court in Citizens United fully supported disclosure, prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions."
  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Today --
    • The Senate will convene at 10:00 AM and Majority Leader Reid will be recognized. It is anticipated the Senate will resume consideration of the Motion Proceed to S. 3369, the Disclose Act. The time until 12:30 PM will be equally divided, with the Republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • At 12:30 PM, the Senate will recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus lunches.
    • At 2:15 PM, the Senate will resume consideration of the Motion Proceed to S. 3369, the Disclose Act, with the time until 3:00 PM equally divided.
    • At 3:00 PM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion Proceed to S. 3369, the Disclose Act.
The Senate stands adjourned until 10:00 AM Tuesday, July 17th.

Merkley, Whitehouse, Landrieu

Disclose Act (S. 3369)

Jul 17 2012

Senator Merkley: (11:30 PM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "I think back to the period when our forefathers and foremothers came here and said we're going to set up a new set of colonies, a new set of rules, and one of the things at the very heart of that was the notion that we, the people, we, the settlers, we, the colonists, we're going to decide how things run rather than having kings and queens. Or other very strong folks kind of handing down the laws from on high. That was a powerful, powerful concept that got integrated into the first three words of our constitution, we, the people ... I was thinking back to a book that a friend gave me to read. It was called "Treason of the Senate" It was a series of articles, I believe about 20, that were written during the muckraker period. It was each month taking a different senator and how they had basically been put into office through a particular company in a different state, different powerful interest, and this set of articles apparently was one of the things that led to a constitutional amendment because it helped the public mobilize against the indirect election of senators and push for the direct election. So here was the public saying, you know, we, the people, have this system and it's been violated and so we have to try to change the system so we can reclaim it. I think that's maybe some evidence of the role of excessive power and money and its corrupting influence or its corrosive influence on the electoral process."

Senator Whitehouse: (11:36 PM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "The way Citizens United has worked out, they are basically saying you don't have a constitutional right to speak. You have a constitutional right to listen. You have a constitutional right to listen when the big money speaks. It's essentially a shut up and listen to the big money version of the first amendment. When money is speech, which is the principle of Citizens United, guess what? Those with the most money get the most speech. Those that don't have a lot of money don't get a lot of speech, and those that have no money get no speech. That's not what the founders intended. So there is a really strong similarity between the move to take a vote and put it in popular hands and what we're trying to do here with disclosure and put the money in popular hands is we can't do that under Citizens United. What disclose does is at least you know what's going on. You can look at the game as it's being played. It's cards up on the table. That, if you're being denied the ability to speak on even terms with a CEO or a billionaire or a major corporation or some big lobby group, at least you have the right to know what they're doing, what they're saying, what's going on. You can keep score and enough of you can get together, you can get mad and can you do something about it. Behind the veil of secrecy, you can't even keep score. You don't even know what's going on."

Senator Landrieu: (11:48 PM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "There's literally a effort to discourage people generally from believing that government can work at all by being so negative, either to an individual or to the concept of government, that it discourages people from voting and participating and the end result of that is a small group can then manipulate the system. I mean, if people don't engage, if they think that the system is rigged, which is seems like it's getting more and more because of laws and rules like this, that we can't seem to get straight, what happens is people get despondent, they get turned off and then the special interests can really run the show if people don't vote and co contribute. And so it really is a part of a whole strategy to kind of take the government away from the people and hand it over to a group of special interests with unlimited money, secret attacks to basically fashion and write the laws that benefit the few as opposed to the masses. And it's completely against the concept of our democracy. And, again, you know, I know that there are people that have a lot more money than others and they should be free to make decisions about what they do with it. I don't have a problem with that, although I have supported campaign limits. But it's the disclosure, it's the lack of disclosure, I should say, that is really frightening here, and the secret nature of this. To go on television night after night to tell people how this person is either wrong or this system is broken or the government's not working, people stay home and then less and less people vote and then the few people that have the power, that have the access, that have the privilege, write the rules even more in their own favor. So this is really taking our democracy in a dangerous way, I think in the wrong direction."

Senator Whitehouse: (11:50 PM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "It is terrible with these negative ads filled with deception do to the American public. And it is discouraging to people about the participation that we expect of Americans in government. And ultimately, as you point out, it leads to corruption There is at least a dirty, deceptive and negative attack campaign up on the air. So it's not completely invisible, you just don't know who's behind it. But what that leaves open - again, this is the prosecutor in me talking - what that leaves open is the threat of that same campaign, the threat of that same campaign. The visit from the lobbyist who comes into the congressman and sits him down in a quiet room and says, "have a look at this" and plays a 30-second co commercial, negative, deceptive, slashing, brutal, vitriolic, vial, all against him, and says, you know what? Under Citizens United, we've got the right to spend $5 million playing that ad against you all through the next election and we're thinking about doing it. And you know what? Under Citizens United, we've got the right to put up phony shell corporations so they'll never see our fingerprints And if you vote right, this will be the last time you'll hear from me. If you don't vote right, you'll get $5 million from me through my shell companies. How are you going to vote? If the congressman gives way to that kind of pressure, pressure that was never possible before Citizens United, pressure that is not as possible if it's not secret, then you've got no clues and you have actual corruption and the system is even worse than what we see out there. In some respects, as awful as what we see is, that might be like the iceberg that you see above the water and the 90% that's under the water that you don't see could be worse still."

Senator Merkley: (11:58 PM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "I thought might summarize Citizens United in the following. Citizens United, five justices of the Supreme Court who have taken the first three words of the constitution. They have "X-ed" out "people" and have written in "powerful." We the powerful. That's what Citizens United is all about. Now, I'm deeply disturbed that our Supreme Court made a finding effect Citizens United that unlimited, secret money, not just dark pools of unregulated cash but oceans, vast oceans of unregulated, undisclosed, secret money being utilized in the electoral process, without the people having any right to know, that's what the Supreme Court said is just fine, and that's what attacks "we the people" in favor of "we the powerful" Across the street we have a Supreme Court determined to tear down the fundamental heart of our constitution, that is completely wrong, and they won't even listen to the facts in order to understand the issue they are addressing. It's so important for Americans across this nation on the right and on the left to understand that this is an attack on their power as a citizen to chart the course of their community, their state, and our nation."

Jul 17 2012

The Senate is considering S. 3369, the DISCLOSE Act.  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.