Senate Calendar

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jul 19 2012

Senator Reid: (5:43 PM)
  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Monday, July 23 --
    • The Senate will convene at 2:00 PM and Majority Leader Reid will be recognized.
    • At 5:00 PM, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for 30 minutes of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar #663, Michael A. Shipp, of New Jersey, to be United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey.
    • At 5:30 PM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the nomination.
The Senate stands adjourned at 2:00 PM Monday, July 23rd.

Whitehouse, Hoeven, Durbin

Democrats' Insourcing bill (S. 3364)

Jul 19 2012

Senator Whitehouse: (4:23 PM)
  • Spoke on climate change.
    • SUMMARY "There is an interesting report that I would mention, "A Special Supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society." What we see is that 2012 is shaping up to look a lot like 2011. 2011 is a year which deputy NOAA Administrator Sullivan called "a year of extreme events," both in the United States and around the world. The report that I just showed is a peer-reviewed report, compiled by 378 scientists from 48 countries, and as explained by Dr. Sullivan, "every weather event that happens now takes place in the context of a changing global environment." This annual report here provides scientists and citizens alike with an analysis of what has happened so we can all prepare for what is to come." ... Here are some of the highlights from the American Meteorological Society Report. The first generally is that warm temperature trends are continuing. Four independent data sets show 2011 was one of the 15 warmest years since record keeping began in the late-19th century. And yet one of the coolest since 2008. The average ten for 2011 was higher. The arctic continued to warm at about twice the rate compared with lower latitudes. On the opposite pole, the South Pole station recorded its all-time ever highest temperature of 9.9 degrees Fahrenheit on December 25, Christmas day. Break the previous record for warm weather around the South Pole by more than two degrees. So the warm temperature trends continue. Greenhouse gases continue to climb is the other major finding of the report. Major greenhouse gas concentrations, things like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide continue to rise. The yearly global average exceeded 390 parts per million for the first time since instrumental records began. This represents an increase of 2.10 parts per million over the previous year Arctic sea ice is decreasing. Arctic sea ice extent was below average for all of 20011 and has been since June of 2001, a span of 127 consecutive months through December of 2011. Both the maximum ice extent, which was 5.65 million square miles on March 7, and the minimum extent, 1.67 square miles on September 9, were the second-smallest measurements for maximum and for minimum of the satellite era. A fourth find something that sea surface temperature and ocean heat content continue to rise, even with la Niña conditions occurring most of the year, the 2011 global sea surface temperature was among the 12 highest years on record. Ocean heat content measured from the surface down to 2,300 feet deep continued to rise since records began being taken in 1993 and ocean heat content was at a record high."

Senator Hoeven: (4:43 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "We have 8.2% unemployment. Unemployment has been over 8% for 41 straight months. We have 13 million people in this country unemployed, 13 million people in this country looking for work. And we have another 10 million that are underemployed. That's 23 million people either unemployed or underemployed. Middle-class income, middle-class income has declined from approximately $55,000 to $50,000 since the current administration took office. Food stamps, food stamp usage has increased dramatically. From 32 million recipients to 46 million recipients. Home values. Home values have dropped. Home values have dropped on average from $169,000 to $148,000. Economic growth, gross domestic product, is the weakest for any recovery since World War II. The weakest growth for any recovery since World War II. Job creation last month, 80,000 jobs were created but it takes 150,000 jobs each and every month just to keep up with population growth to actually reduce the unemployment rate. So these facts speak for themselves. These are the facts. The president's approach to our economy is making it worse, and his failure to join with us to extend the lower tax rates and engage in pro-growth tax reform is sitting on our economy like a big, wet blanket. But we can change that. We can change that. We can change that right now, and we can change it by extending the current tax rates and by together on a bipartisan basis, with the administration, joining in a process to put in place pro-growth tax reform and at the same time getting control of our spending. Business investment and economic activity would respond immediately Business needs certainty to invest, to grow, to hire more people. And with legal tax and regulatory certainty, not more government spending, but with legal tax and regulatory certainty, business in this country will invest in growth and will put people back to work. There is more cash, there is more private capital on the sidelines now than ever before in our history, and with the uncertainty about what the task was going to be, that investment will continue to be sidelined rather than deployed in ventures that will create jobs. The longer we go, the longer we go, the more uncertainty. That means slower economic growth, that means higher unemployment, that means more people out of work rather than finding a job, and it means less revenue to help reduce our deficit and our debt. Clearly, that is not the way to go."

Senator Durbin: (5:05 PM)
  • Spoke on the Campus Debit Card Trap report.
    • SUMMARY "There was a report released by the public interest research group called the Campus Debit Card Trap. It reports how calendar numbers and universities across the country have signed deals with financial service companies to provide campus debit cards and prepaid credit cards to students. Sometimes these debit cards are linked to a student checking account and many times the school's name will appear on the card. In some cases the student ID card is turned into a bank credit card. We're also seeing colleges and universities make deals in which banks issue prepaid debit cards to make financial aid disbursements to students. Now, when they're managed appropriately, debit and prepaid cards can be a good thing for students. It can give them an effective way to conduct transactions and receive student aid payments. But, unfortunately, as the research found, some of these campus debit card arrangements raised serious questions Many are charged unreasonable fees that are costing them and the country millions of dollars. According to the report, 15 financial institutions have debit or prepaid card contracts with 878 campuses that serve more than nine million students. It's a big business. 42% of all students nationwide go to school on these 878 campuses. It's a lucrative business for financial institutions. There's a lot of money to be made from fees on college debit cards especially when you start charging fees on the billions of dollars disbursed each year in federal student aid. So the federal money is passing through these cards to the students, the financial institutions are making money in the process. As the report showed some of the fees are clearly unreasonable. One of the most egregious is a per-transaction fee on students for students for using a pin number instead of a signature. One of the largest campus debit card companies, hire one, currently charges students 50 cents every time the student enters his pin number at a checkout. Pin-based transactions are supposed to be more secure than signature transactions. But this deal actually penalizes the students for using pin numbers which are supposed to be more secure. Another unacceptable fee is the ATM balance inquiry fee some banks charge. This penalizes students who check on their balances to make sure they don't overdraw their accounts or incur an overdraft fee. Why would you discourage a student from checking on their balance so they don't overdraw their account? Some banks charge inactivity fees. When a student is charged $10 a month if they aren't using the account after six months. In other words, if the student isn't using the card, racking up fees by making purchases, the financial institution still charges $10 each month so it's going to get the money either way There are mysterious fees like higher one's $50 lack of documentation fee. They recently abandoned this not to mention the obscure and unreasonable overdraft fees. Not only do they eat away at the limited money these students have for books, fees and living expenses but cut into student aid dollars. Student aid should be used to aid students, period, not banks. We should not allow financial institutions to take a slice off of taxpayer student aid disbursements through unreasonable fees and shouldn't have debit card deals between financial institutions and colleges that leave students holding the bag."
  • Spoke on the Veterans Administration Caregivers program.
    • SUMMARY "For the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who came home with a disability and needed a caregiver to make sure they could go about their daily routine we would say first to the caregiver we're going to provide the medical training you need so that you can take care of this vet in terms of their personal needs. Secondly, we will provide but a respite. If you need time off to go spend a few days somewhere, to rest and relax and recharge your batteries, we'll find a nurse or someone to come in and take care of that vet so that you can have a little time to yourself. And third, if there's a financial need, an economic hardship, we pay up to $3,000 a month, not a huge some of month but up to $3,000 a month to the caregivers who are willing to help."
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "As of last week my entire state is suffering through at least a moderate drought and 33 counties have been declared in severe drought. They have joined 1,000 other counties and 26 states that have already been declared disaster areas by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some people think it's the worst drought in 25 years. I'm afraid they could be right. No one knows it better than our farmers. Some of this corn crop is going to be flat-out lost. They chop it off at ground level, let it dry out and try to feed it to livestock. But, it's going to get worse if the drought continues. We need rain and we need it desperately. Not just a little rain, but a level of consistent, meaningful accumulation. The primary tool available to producers to help them get through this is crop insurance. Taxpayers help the crop insurance program by subsidizing about 62% of the premiums but it's a better deal than disaster payments which are unfortunately massive in amount and don't reward good conduct. The basic crop insurance program rewards those producers who are trying to protect themselves from these outcomes. I talked to Secretary Vilsack with the Department of Agriculture ago last week. The benefits available to low farmers are low-cost loans, low-interest loans that they can take out to get through this while they're waiting for their crop insurance payouts. These farmers don't want a handout but they have no choice. They've got to get through this year so they can get into next year. Loans are not going to solve the problem but they will help them address the problem. Now, there is a political thing we can do. I wish we could pass a bill to create rain. That would be a nice start But we did pass the Farm bill The House needs to get moving. I hate to put pressure on them, but that's what senators do to House members. And they try to do the same to us. If they fail to pass a Farm bill, it's going to reduce the opportunities to help our farmers through this drought. So I'm encouraging all the members of the House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans, if you can't come up with your own bill, at least vote on the Senate bipartisan bill."

Mikulski, Blumenthal, Blunt, Coons, Whitehouse

Democrats' Insourcing bill (S. 3364)

Jul 19 2012

Senator Mikulski: (3:45 PM)
  • Spoke on Cybersecurity.
    • SUMMARY "I will tell you in a cyber attack, that predator, that international predator will fix it so that we won't be able to turn it back on or not turn it on for days, for hours, days, or days. Do you know what that means? They want to humiliate us, want to intimidate us and want to terrorize us. We have it within our hands to pass legislation that would bring the appropriate sources together for our privately owned critical infrastructure to be able to make the significant effort for which I believe we need to incentivize them to be able to protect us. I don't want to wake up one day and find out America has been hit because of gridlock here. And I will tell you if we are hit, we will overreact, we will overspend, we will over-regulate and go over the top We've got to get off of our pet peeves here and move America to a safer zone."

Senator Blumenthal: (3:48 PM)
  • Spoke on Cybersecurity.
    • SUMMARY "Time is not on our side. We must act immediately. The Senate must follow its duty and make sure that we meet the challenge, number one, of bringing together all the stakeholders to enhance the resiliency of our drilling infrastructure. Much of this lies beyond the purview of the federal government. Cybersecurity is a concern of both the government and the private sector. There must be a partnership between them. It is not for either to do alone. Today the computers that control energy and manufacturing, water and chemical facilities across the country are connected via the internet. None of them is an island. No one is an island in the internet age. We are all under attack when any one of us is under attack. I believe that we have a path forward to strengthen protection of our nation's network industrial control systems without heavy-handed regulation, and in partnership with the businesses that own these systems. Many are already pursuing best practices. Many already are addressing this threat, and my hope is that the legislation coming forward as a result of the leadership by my colleagues here today will make sure that these best practices become common practices, and uniform to every industry so that access to controls and audit and monitoring is done systemically. And finally let me emphasize and this point I think is especially critical to many who are watching this process today - we can make progress in strengthening the privacy and civil liberties protection in Cybersecurity while preserving its underlying goals of safeguarding the nation."

Senator Blunt: (3:54 PM)
  • Spoke on Cybersecurity.
    • SUMMARY "There are competing concerns here and they don't need to be mutually exclusive at all. When we talk about Cybersecurity we're not talking about the government somehow securing everything that happens in the cyber world. We're talking about what are the things we can identify and agree on as critical infrastructure, there's a lot of security about what happens on military cyberspace dot mil and a lot of comfort about what happens in the government parts, dot gov. What we're concerned about is what happens outside those networks that doesn't have the kind of protection those networks have. Not about controlling everything. In fact, about defining specifically in the most limited way possible what is critical to the ongoing daily operation of the country. And Senator Mikulski talked about that. She also said that if something happens, there's no telling what kind of legislation we'll pass and I couldn't agree more with that comment in every way I can think of. We're going to pass a Cybersecurity bill at some time, I believe in the not too distant future. It will be either in the kind of environment that the four senators along with me here on the floor have been working to create where we do this in the most thoughtful way, we do this in the way that has taken time to bring people together and have a discussion, or in a post-cyber attack moment like a post-9/11 moment and who knows what we might do. I think Senator Mikulski said wisely and rightly it will go further than it should go and will cost more than it should cost because then we're reacting. And that's what we need to we void here. We can do this in the right way or the wrong way, and the wrong way will be waiting too long. The right way is to do this now ... How do we define that critical infrastructure and how do we do that in a way that's the most responsible as Senator Blumenthal said, protecting civil liberties at the same time that we're carefully carving out that spot where government does have some obligation to make that area secure and if we can do that in a way that encourages people to get into that environment."

Senator Coons: (3:59 PM)
  • Spoke on Cybersecurity.
    • SUMMARY "The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said an effective cyber attack could literally stop society in its tracks ... We're not talking about trying to craft legislation that would deal with every possible cyber harm, every possible cyber crime. We're talking about those few incidents that would likely be driven by a nation-state or by an incredibly advanced and sophisticated terrorist group that would strike at the very heart of what makes our modern society vibrant and that would have mass casualty consequences, dramatic impact on our economy or wipe out whole sectors for days or weeks, such as a failure of the power grid. This isn't exotic. We just had another public hearing on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and were warned yet again of what the Department of Homeland Security documented back in 2007 in their Aurora exercise that our power grid nationally interconnected, vital to the modern economy, is fragile, is vulnerable to cyber attacks. We've seen this unfold overseas. Estonia was the victim of a comprehensive cyber attack. And they saw also in 2007 banks, media outlets, government entities that collapsed. Bank cards, government phones, mobile services over a three-week period completely shut down. Is there a real threat? Absolutely. Are we doing enough to face it? I don't think so. I don't think we've yet done enough. There's legislation that's been brought forward by a whole group of senators that I hope this body will turn to in the days ahead and find ways to balance. As Senator Blumenthal said previously, we live in a country where we must continue to respect the powerful, passionate commitment to individual privacy and civil liberties. But I think we can, with narrowly targeted, appropriately crafted legislation that incentivizes and encourages the private sector to take on the role, appropriately formed by those throughout federal government, to strengthen their defenses against these coming attacks. I don't think we have to make a choice between privacy and security. And I do think we can give the private sector the tools to make our country safe and strong."

Senator Whitehouse: (4:05 PM)
  • Spoke on Cybersecurity.
    • SUMMARY "There is a sense in some quarters that if you leave the private sector on its own to do this, they'll be fine. And I think the evidence that we have heard in a series of hearings the testimony we heard was that that wasn't the case. And some of the public commentary says our Deputy Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, there is a market failure at work here. Companies aren't willing to admit vulnerabilities to themselves or publicly to shareholders in such a way as to support the necessary investments or lead their peers down a certain path of investment and all that would follow. That's a bipartisan sentiment. Mike Chertoff said the marketplace in this area is likely to fail in allocating the correct amount of investment to manage risk across the breadth of the network on which our society relies. Senator Coons pointed out nine of the ten of companies advised that they were attacked had no idea they were attacked."
Senator Mikulksi: (4:07 PM)
  • Spoke on Cybersecurity.
    • SUMMARY "I talked to the private sector a lot because of our work on the committees, and the private sector is looking for leadership. They're looking for a framework. Now, they worry that overregulation could be both costly and strangulating would we be so prescriptive that we mandate that we, first of all, that we mandate, and that we essentially mandate technology. This is a fast-moving, evolving field. But they're looking for us to give a legislative framework where they could work with their government on what they want to bring to the table and feel free because of certain proprietary concerns to do it. I talked to people who really have responsibility for delivering power in Maryland, and they are working. And the Edison Institute, which represents the, essentially the electric companies and the grid, they really would like us to have a framework. And they want to be at the table. They want to know who's in charge. Who do you call? What do you do in the event of an attack? When you say how can we prevent the attack, they say, well, that's where we need government to tell us where you think we're heading to bring the great federal labs to bear with their ideas, and how do you do this in a way that really encourages not whatever government's going to do, but voluntary efforts. But voluntary efforts with some teeth, some standards to be met, standards that are not prescriptive, that could be dated. But, again, the ever-evolving of the best, the state of science and this."

Senator Whitehouse: (4:13 PM)
  • Spoke on Cybersecurity.
    • SUMMARY "One is protecting our critical infrastructure. The privately owned systems that our way of life depends on is the weak point we need to address. We do well with .mil. We do well with .gov. The government has the authority to protect those. We don't particularly care about ordinary web sites, about chat rooms. We don't want to interfere with those in any way. It's just the critical infrastructure that's important, the privately held critical infrastructure. We really need to work on that and the warnings from our national security leaders are across the board NSA Director Mike McConnell says "the United States is fighting a cyber war today. We offer the most targets of significance, yet our cyber defenses are woefully lacking. With Cybersecurity, the time to start," he says, "was yesterday." Former Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security Baker, "we must begin now to protect our critical infrastructure from attack. A great number of national security officials, bipartisan, wrote a letter to us in the Senate saying "the threat is only going to get worse. Inaction is not an acceptable option." and "protection of our critical infrastructure is essential." "Essential in order to effectively protect our national security from the growing cyber threat." As I said earlier in introducing Senator Mikulski again, there is indeed a market failure that has been identified in a bipartisan fashion. The facts prove it because so often when either public or private-sector folks respond to an intrusion they find that 90% of the time the company had no idea it had been hacked. Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had been hacked and the Chinese had full access to its computers for months. When the Aurora bug hit Google and others, only three other companies aware of it. So the private sector really do need the support of government. We in turn need to make sure that the burden is not unreasonable to make sure that we are doing this as light, as sensible, as voluntary a way as is possible, consistent with the mission of actually protecting our Cybersecurity."

Jul 19 2012

Senator Stabenow: (2:42 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Insourcing bill.
    • SUMMARY "We had 56 members, a majority, substantial majority, of members who voted yes, that they want to bring jobs home, that they want to stop paying for jobs being shipped overseas, and that we want to support and provide assistance through the tax code to bring jobs home. 56 members. It's a majority. What we didn't have is a supermajority to stop a filibuster so that's basically what has been happening here, is that we have a situation where despite the will of the majority of the people here, the majority of senators, to want to move forward to this legislation and pass it because we have 56 votes to pass it, we don't have a supermajority. This is what has been happening over and over and over again in the United States Senate despite the fact that people want us to work together and get things done."

Senator Leahy: (2:45 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Insourcing bill.
    • SUMMARY "For the life of me, I cannot understand why any senator would not be supporting the senator from Michigan on this bill. We want jobs here in the United States. Everybody will say we want jobs in the United States. Everybody says that they want to have tax laws that actually help this country. So what they do is they vote by refusing to allow us to go forward, they vote to allow jobs to go overseas. But worse than that, give special tax breaks. It's almost like saying this company of yours, these jobs you have, come on, I know a great place for you to go overseas. By the way, here's the airplane ticket. Here's a special deal. We're not going to give that to a small business owner in Vermont or Michigan, but we'll give that to you to ship your job - come on. Let's get real."
  • Spoke on the Camp Lejeune Marine Base.
    • SUMMARY "In March I joined a bipartisan group of members of Congress in writing to the Secretary of Defense Panetta to request the release of government records regarding the contamination of drinking water that occurred over several decades at Camp Lejeune Marine Base. The drinking water contamination anything at Camp Lejeune was one of the worst environmental disasters in American history to occur in the domestic Department of Defense installation. Unfortunately, the Department of Defense initially refused to provide the support and information to the congress. But I'm pleased to report that I've pursued it further with Secretary Panetta, the department finally provided more than 8,500 files about this issue to the Judiciary Committee on July 9. I commend Secretary Panetta for accommodating the committee's request for this information. While I believe that much more transparency is needed, I believe it as a United States senator, I believe it as one who believes in transparency ... It is in this bipartisan spirit that I announce I will make all the documents the Department of Defense has provided to the Judiciary Committee about what happened at Camp Lejeune available to the public. The documents can be seen on the Judiciary Committee's web site To protect the personal privacy of our service members and other private information, the information will be subject to the privacy act and has obviously been redacted from these files. But the marines and the other Americans who have been touched by this environmental disaster deserve complete candor from their government. A uniquely American tradition of a government that's open and accountable and accessible to its people demand nothing less."

Senator McCain: (3:13 PM)
  • Spoke on Syria.
    • SUMMARY "Yesterday's attack in Syria killed key leaders of the Assad regime including one of its notorious and brutal henchmen, a sign of progress and a sign that Assad is losing his hold on power. It is hardly time to celebrate or claim credit. I see in the various organs in the administration, like the New York Times, well, now the administration's hands-off policy has been successful. Successful? 17,000 Syrians have been massacred while this administration has done nothing, and the president of the United States has refused to even speak up. The president of the United States talks about Bain capital all the time. Why doesn't he talk about the capital of Syria, where thousands of innocent people have been tortured, raped, and murdered? So, Assad will fall, as the Senator from Connecticut and I have said time and time again. But how many more will die before the United States of America first speaks up for them? Second, helps with other countries provide them with arms and ability to defend themselves and a sanctuary, a no-fly, no-drive sanctuary? And working with other countries in the region accelerate the departure of Basher-al-Assad? It seems now that the United States national security rests not with the decisions that should be made here in the halls of Congress and at the White House, that the decisions concerning what actions the United States of America may take is now dictated by Russia and China in the United Nations. How many times have we heard the administration say, well, we'd like to do more. We'd like to have more happen. But Russia vetoes the United Nations Security Council. Does that mean that when these people are being massacred, cry out for our help and our moral support, that because Russia vetoes a resolution as they did today again, supported by china, a resolution the United Nations Security Council, therefore, we can do nothing? Former President Clinton went to Kosovo without a United Nations Security Council resolution because he knew that the Russians would veto any resolution concerning Kosovo. And he went, and we saved Muslims' lives. So the administration continues to assume what they call a Yemen solution is possible in Syria. They believe with Russia backing, we can compel Assad and his top lieutenants to leave power and the apparatus of the Syrian state will continue to function under new management. I wish this could be so."

Senator Lieberman: (3:20 PM)
  • Spoke on Syria.
    • SUMMARY "This fight's not over. And the danger is that, as you said, it does get worse the more it goes on without the involvement of the civilized nations of the world who have to be led by the United States of America. I want to put in juxtaposition these two significant events of the last 24 hours that my friend from Arizona has described. One is the suicide bombing apparently or death of these leaders of the Assad government. The second is the vote in New York at the United Nations today. This, after months in which too much of the civilized world has been pleading with Russia and depending on Russia to change its mind and come in and get Basher-al-Assad out of there. This veto today shows that they're just not going to do it ... The reality is now that the fig leaf has been taken off the Annan plan which since it went into effect and since it allegedly brought a cease-fire to Syria, thousands more Syrians have been killed. The reality is that Russia will not join in trying to stop the slaughter in Syria, that the slaughter will only be stopped by facts on the ground. And those facts are military. And it will not get better until the united states leads a coalition of the willing to support the opposition and bring about the early end of this horrific regime that now rules Syria."

Senator McCain: (3:24 PM)
  • Spoke on Syria.
    • SUMMARY "We all agree that Basher-al-Assad will go. We know that. Now, the question is, how many die? How many wounded? How many killed? What happens to weapons of mass destruction? I think we have established the longer it goes on, the more those threats increase and the more dangerous the situation becomes, and the harder it will be to resolve once Basher-al-Assad he leaves. But also I would ask my friend from Connecticut, how will the Syrian people feel about the United States of America if we continue to sit by and really provide them not even moral assistance, much less the physical and logistics assistance that you and I just discussed is necessary? Senator Lieberman and I have been to Libya on numerous occasions. I was there at an exhilarating moment, at the time of their elections. And I can tell you firsthand from seeing a couple hundred thousand people celebrating, they're grateful to the United States of America for what we did. I wonder what the attitude of the new people who will emerge as leaders of Syria, whoever they are, what will their attitude be to the united states of America I would ask my colleague. And taking into consideration that the challenges that whoever takes over power in Libya will face are myriad. They are really incredible obstacles and a path to a free and democratic nation. And that would cry out for American assistance and help. How willing and how eager will they have for the united states to be engaged in any way in assisting them as they try to achieve the goal that they've already sacrificed 17,000 lives for."

Senator Lieberman: (3:26 PM)
  • Spoke on Syria.
    • SUMMARY "Let me relate it back to one of the excuses that's been given for the United States not to have become more involved on the side of the opposition to Assad, which is the side of freedom, which is where our national values call us to be. One of the excuses for not getting involved is this argument: we don't know who's going to follow Assad. It could be Islamism extremists. Well, my reaction to that would be that the longer we sit back, the more likely it will be people who are not friendly to the United States because in their hour of need, unlike the situation in Libya that the senator just described, we were not with them. You and I have been to Turkey together. I made a trip to Lebanon. In each case we've talked to the leaders. In one case in Turkey we spoke to the leaders of the Syrian opposition, Syrian National Council. We met with the heads of the free Syrian army. We met with individual refugees. My own judgment is that these people are not extremists or radicals. These are patriots. These are nationalists. These are people who want a better life than they were living under Assad. And now increasingly they are people whose relatives or friends have been killed by Assad's military, and so they have a fury in them, an anger that they didn't have before, because now they have been victims. But if I can say that there are no Islamist extremists who are now fighting in Syria against Assad? I can't say that. And I think the longer we stand back and don't partner openly, strongly with the Syrian freedom fighters, the greater is the danger, one, that that extremists will be what follows Assad. And, two, even if we're lucky enough and it's not extremists, it will be a leadership group that will not feel any particular sense of gratitude to the united states because we were not with them when they needed us."

Senator McCain: (3:29 PM)
  • Spoke on Syria.
    • SUMMARY "The American people are the most generous people in the world, and the American people where we can will try to stop these kinds of atrocities and offenses to everything that we stand for and believe in, so I wish more Americans would know how terrible and dire this situation is for the average citizen, not just those who are demonstrating but anybody who happens to be in one of these areas where the tanks roll in, the artillery starts firing and the helicopter gunships start slaughtering people in the streets. And I hope that I'm not saying this in a partisan fashion, but I wish the president of the United States would speak up for these people. That's the job of the president of the United States, and that's to lead, and I wish we here in Congress would do more in order to try to help these people because that is a long, long American tradition. And yes, it may require some financial sacrifice and maybe some material sacrifice on the part of the American people, but I think the cause is one of transcendent importance. I want to major my friend from Connecticut for his compassion and his concern and his commitment to these people who live far away."

Senator Lieberman: (3:32 PM)
  • Spoke on Syria.
    • SUMMARY "This is one of those cases where we had the opportunity, and it's painful that we haven't taken it over these many, many months of the uprising in Syria. We have the opportunity not only to do what's right but to do what's best for our country diplomatically. In other words, what's right is to be on the side of freedom, to be with the people fighting against a brutal dictator. That's the right thing - what's right is to enter this fight to stop the slaughter of innocent men, women and literally children, but there also happens to be the strategic opportunity that Syria Assad is not only the best friend but the only friend and ally that Iran has in the Middle East. Iran is our number-one strategic threat in the world today, number-one state sponsor of terrorism, head-long effort to build nuclear weapons that will totally change the peace of the world if they get them. So here we have an opportunity not only to do what's morally right to help overthrow the best friend of our worst enemy, Iran. As you remember, we were there together. General Jim Mathis, a great American military leader, head of the central command overseeing the Middle East, said that if Assad is overthrown, it will be the worst setback that Iran has suffered in more than a quarter of a century. And that will in turn, I think, open up tremendous new possibilities in Lebanon, which has been under the Syrian-Iranian influence, and even in Iraq where the new Iraqi government has felt, I think, pressured on both sides from Iran and Iran's allies Syria on the other side. If Syria is not controlled by an Iranian puppet, I think we may see some more independents from Iraq that we'd like to see."

Senator Lieberman: (3:38 PM)
  • Spoke on Syria.
    • SUMMARY "I think it's time for us to use American air power, at least to impose a no-fly zone over Syria because the Syrians are now using gunships and I fear that they will begin to use fighters to attack their civilian population and create and spread the kind of fear that they now depend upon. So it's a coalition in support of the opposition. It's weapons and training. It's sanctuaries where they can be trained and equipped, and it's use of air power against this regime, which I think will not only deal a devastating blow to the regime but will make its remaining supporters it has in the military and in the business community despair and see that the end really is near and abandon Assad."

Senator McCain: (3:40 PM)
  • Spoke on Syria.
    • SUMMARY "The senator is exactly right and described it well, and there is an element also that adds, again, more urgency, which I know the senator from Connecticut is very well aware of, and that is published media reports talk about the fact that the weapons of mass destruction of apparently that Basher-al-Assad has significant stocks of have been moved around. Now, for what purpose those weapons have been moved around is not known, but it is not an unbelievable scenario that in final desperation, Basher-al-Assad would behave as his father did, and that is use these chemical weapons and slaughter unknown numbers of people. Again, that information lends urgency to bringing him down, to having it happen as quickly as possible, and that, of course, means the kind of engagement that the senator from Connecticut just described."

Jul 19 2012

Not Agreed to, 56-42:
Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 3364, the Democrats' Insourcing bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Hatch, Levin, Paul, Cardin, Wicker, Stabenow

Democrats' Insourcing bill (S. 3364)

Jul 19 2012

Senator Hatch: (12:54 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Insourcing bill.
    • SUMMARY "According to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, this bill's deduction disallowance provision will only raise about $14 million per ye year Let's put that in perspective President Obama's campaign has now spent $24 million on ads attacking his opponent and attacking what he considers to be outsourcing. Which his opponent hasn't done. The American people want us to address our fiscal situation and to create the conditions for robust economic and job growth. And how are the president and Senate Democrats spending their time? Advancing a proposal that raises less money in one year than the amount the president's campaign has spent attacking Republicans on this topic on television. If Democrats meant this as a serious revenue raiser for the government, we would all be better off if the Obama campaign had simply sent its $24 million to the Treasury Department for disbursement to insourcers rather than spend it on ads attacking American global businesses Its supporters would have you believe that under current law, there is some special deduction that exists for moving jobs outside of the united states of America. That is simply false. Rather, there has always been a deduction allowed for a business's ordinary and necessary expenses, and expenses associated with moving have always been regarded as deductible business expenses. So allowing a deduction for these expenses is not a special thing. It is the rule Disallowing the business expense deduction means that income will now be measured less accurately. Gross receipts minus business expenses equals income. That's what both accountants and economists tell us, but even though economists, accountants and businesses all measure income one way, Washington will now measure it another way. Not only is this bad for business but by disallowing deductions for certain business expenses, this proposal would measure income less accurately. And when the government's main source of revenue is the income tax, it is rather important to measure income accurately. Ultimately, we know that this bill is devoid of serious content because it is the product of political, not economic necessity. This bill is a sound bite, not sound tax policy."

Senator Levin: (1:13 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Insourcing bill.
    • SUMMARY "Our tax code in effect tells employers here's a tax deduction to tell you cut your American work force and move those jobs offshore. That's the effect of our tax code. American employers have responded unhappily. Statistics released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show since 1999 U.S.-based multinational corporations have reduced unemployment here in the United States by about a million workers. But they have added more than three million workers overseas The people of Michigan and every state can no longer afford to watch their tax dollars subsidize shipping their jobs overseas. Now, earlier this spring along with Senator Conrad, I introduced the Cut Unjustified Tax Loopholes Act or the Cut Loopholes Act. Our legislation would cut several loopholes that enable tax avoid answer which adds to the deficit and to the tax burden of those who pay the taxes that they owe. Our bill would cut offshore tax loopholes that allow corporations and individuals to avoid paying taxes by concealing their income and assets in offshore tax havens. One provision of the cut loopholes act would ensure that companies aren't taking a tax deduction for the expense of moving jobs overseas. Under our bill, companies couldn't take a deduction for the expense, for instance, of moving a U.S. factory to another country until that company pays U.S. taxes on the income generated by that foreign factory. Senator Stabenow's Bring Jobs Home Act takes a similar approach. Ending the taxpayer subsidy that helps firms to move American jobs overseas. In addition, it would offer a 20% tax credit to companies that move production back to the United States. Surely it makes sense for us to offer employers a tax cut if they bring jobs back to the United States. Surely it makes sense to reform a law that adds insult to injury which forces our taxpayers to watch companies move their jobs abroad with the assistance of our taxpayers' dollars."

Senator Paul: (1:30 PM)
  • Spoke on Pakistan.
    • SUMMARY "I would hate to have this on the conscience of the Obama administration if this doctor who helped us get bin laden is killed in prison. I would hate to have this on my conscience in Pakistan if they have an innocent man behind bars whose crime is helping America if he were to be killed in prison. At the very least, the Pakistani government ought to immediately get him into a safe prison in one of the larger cities outside the tribal regions. We're concerned about Dr. Afridi's safety. We're concerned about imprisoning him for life, for helping America. We're also concerned about American taxpayers' money being taken from hardworking Americans and sent to a country that seems to disrespect us. I'm all for cooperation with Pakistan. I hope they will continue to work with us, but you shouldn't have to buy your friends. We just gave them an extra $1 billion, and yet they continue to disrespect us by holding this man in prison. I'm very concerned about his safety. I'm concerned that his appeal was not heard today, that his trial was canceled. And next week, if we don't have answers on his trial, we will be here on the floor until i get a vote on whether or not we should continue sending money to Pakistan while they owed him. It is a very important issue for Americans, and I hope all across America people are going to ask themselves and call their senators and say, you know what, I'm not so sure we should send our hard-earned dollars to Pakistan when they treat us this way."

Senator Cardin: (1:35 PM)
  • Spoke on U.S. water infrastructure.
    • SUMMARY "The water infrastructure in this country is in desperate need of new attention and greater investment. That's true in our wastewater treatment facility plants. It's true in the way that we transport our clean water. Water treatment plants are critically important to prevent billions of tons of pollutants from reaching America's rivers, lakes and coastlines, in so doing to help prevent water-borne disease and make water safe for fishing and swimming. Some 54,000 community drinking water systems provide drinking water to more than 250 million Americans, keeping water supplies free of contaminant that cause disease. There is an ongoing degradation of these systems. Many are outdated. Some components across the country over a century old. This aging infrastructure contributes to the 75,000 sanitary sewer overflows that occur in the United States 675,000 sewage overflows a year in the United States of America causing an estimated 5,500 annual illnesses due to these contaminations which occur on our beaches, streams and lakes where American families vacation. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that more than $630 billion will be needed over the next 20 years to meet the nation's drinking water and wastewater infrastructure needs. As Chair of the Wildlife and Water Subcommittee we had a hearing and brought in officials to talk about these needs. They told us they can't possibly do this with the resources they currently have available, that they need a federal partner. They need a stronger federal partner. They need a federal government that will give them new innovative tools in order to deal with these needs You put $1 billion in water infrastructure improvement it creates $3 billion in our community allowing us to create more jobs at the time we also improve our water infrastructure for public health and for economic development. This makes sense. We need to do this."

Senator Wicker: (1:45 PM)
  • Spoke on Sergei Magnitsky.
    • SUMMARY "I come to the floor today to call members' attention to recent action taken at the parliamentary assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe which convened in Monaco earlier this month. The OSCE considered and passed with overwhelming support a resolution on the rule of law in Russia in the case of Sergei Magnitsky. This is a resounding and much-welcome rebuke of Russia's deplorable human rights record and systematic corruption. The OSCE reaffirms the widespread calls for justice and rule of law with this ruling. The international group has sent a clear signal to human rights violators that they will be held accountable. The OSCE resolution supports government efforts to ban visas, freeze assets, and employ other financial sanctions against those connected to the illegal detention and tragic death of Sergei Magnitsky. The young lawyer was beaten and denied medical care in a Russian prison after uncovering a vast conspiracy by Russian officials involving $230 million in tax fraud. Sergei Magnitsky died as a result of this treatment, and no one has ever been held responsible for his death The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act would impose travel and financial sanctions on those associated with human rights crimes. I urge my colleagues to support this bill and to uphold this country's commitment to the protection of human rights."

Senator Stabenow: (2:04 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Insourcing bill.
    • SUMMARY "If a company decides to pack up and move overseas, should they be able to write that off their taxes, and you and I, all of us as American taxpayers, pay for it? I don't think there are too many people in the country that would say yes to that. In fact, I can't imagine why anybody would say yes to that ... This bill, the Bring Jobs Home Act, is very straightforward. Simply says we're going to pay for that anymore. That loophole will be gone. However, if you want to bring jobs back, we'll be happy to let you deduct those costs as a business expense for bringing a job home and, in fact, we'll give you another 20% tax credit or 20% of your costs on top of it. So we're happy to incentivize coming home and to support your efforts to come home, but we're not paying for you to leave."

Lee, Brown-OH, Heller, Shaheen

Democrats' Insourcing bill (S. 3364)

Jul 19 2012

Senator Lee: (12:13 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Stephen R. Covey.

Senator Brown-OH: (12:20 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Insourcing bill.
    • SUMMARY "I am here with the simple message - let's replace outsourcing with insourcing. Let's see the made in America label sewn into the blazers that athletes wear and football helmets worn by our student athletes Let's see the letters USA stamped in every steel beam used in our country and the armored steel purchased by our U.S. armed forces. We must encourage companies to return to the United States, we must discourage them from ever leaving, but right now, we have it backwards. Our tax code is upside-down. As it stands, businesses can classify moving personnel and company components to a foreign company as a business expense and therefore deduct the cost of offshoring from their taxes ... Combined with our outdated trade policy, from PNTR with China, with no real reporting requirements and even fewer fewer enforcement rules and mechanisms, the current American tax law encourages companies to move jobs offshore where labor is cheap and environmental and health standards are weak. We saw a decade of manufacturing job loss. From 2000-2010, we lost more than 5 million manufacturing jobs in our country. One-third of our manufacturing jobs disappeared from 2000 to 2010. Fortunately, in part, because of the auto rescue, such a resounding success in Ohio, for instance, we have seen some 500,000 manufacturing job increase in these last two years."

Senator Heller: (12:28 PM)
  • Spoke on the Veterans Small Business Act.
    • SUMMARY "The Veterans Small Business Act which simply ensures that surviving spouses and children are eligible for small business benefits. Congress has provided numerous benefits to our nation's veterans who own small businesses. So-source contracting and low-interest loans. However, should a spouse or a child of a veteran lose a loved one in combat, they can no longer receive these benefits or enroll in these programs. My legislation closes this large gap in federal law that does little for those who own businesses before their activation and were killed in the line of duty. As a member of Congress, we must honor our nation's fallen as well as ensuring that the loved ones that they leave behind have the same economic opportunities afforded to that veteran. We should be doing all we can to provide all of our nation's small businesses with the tools needed to survive in this current economic climate. Congress needs to stop worrying about the next election and put in place policies that will not only ignite economic growth but also get our country back to work."

Senator Shaheen: (12:36 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Insourcing bill.
    • SUMMARY "Today the Senate is considering legislation to end tax breaks included in our own internal revenue code that actually help companies that want to ship jobs overseas. The Bring the Jobs Home Act provides not only a tax credit to encourage companies to move jobs back to the United States, but it would end those tax breaks that help companies ship jobs overseas. Offshoring of American jobs has hurt the middle class and it continues to be a real problem. There's no good reason we should continue giving companies an incentive to offshore good American jobs. We can address high unemployment by encouraging companies to bring jobs back to the United States, and the tax credit in this bill will help to reverse the trend and put Americans back to work. In fact, this incentive could help bring 2 million to 3 million jobs back to the united states, according to some economic estimates."
  • Spoke on the Energy Savings Industrial and Competitive Act.
    • SUMMARY "Energy efficiency is the cheapest, fastest way to improve our nation's energy infrastructure and our economy's energy independence. It's also something that we can all agree on All of us can benefit from energy efficiency. What our bill would do, the amendment that we filed today, is create jobs for our workers, lower energy costs for consumers, and make businesses more competitive. In fact, a recent study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, concluded that our bill would create almost 80,000 jobs and save consumers $4 billion by 2020."

Moran, Hutchison, Merkley

Democrats' Insourcing bill (S. 3364)

Jul 19 2012

Senator Moran: (11:03 AM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "During the debate this week of the Disclose Act, Koch industries and its owners were mentioned numerous times. And while I could come to the floor and complain about the lack of balance in that discussion. But, in my view, if we're going to have a discussion about the Disclose Act, what we really ought to all stand up for is the opportunity for free speech, the opportunity for those of a variety of political points of view to be able to express those views in the political process, and those positions, the ability to do that - perhaps not the positions, but the ability to promote your position ought to be something defending by all. We need more participation in American democracy, not less, and in my view the discussion that we had this week was a distraction from the real issues that our country faces mostly related to the economy and job creation. So rather than spending our time on the Senate floor discussing the Disclose Act, in my view, we should be on the Senate floor creating policies that put in place those that Koch industries have indicated, have shown in my state to create jobs rather than arguing about political contributions of those job creators. So, I come to the floor today to suggest that, one, Koch industries is a great corporate citizen of the state of Kansas, contributing in many ways to the economy and to the well-being of our citizens. To suggest that if we're going to have a debate about the Disclose Act that there be some balance and that those who believe in free speech and participation in democracy ought to always rise to the occasion to defend those who engage in the political process, and finally to suggest that rather that having a debate about the Disclose Act, what we should be doing is finding ways to replicate what the founders and shareholders of Koch industries have done in Kansas, the United States and around the globe: create jobs for Americans in our country's economy. We're off had track here. It is time for us to get back on track and focus on what matters: a growing economy, that we can help families put food on the table, save for their education, promote a free-market enterprise system that does just that."

Senator Hutchison: (11:39 AM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "The American dream is that anyone, anyone who is willing to work hard in this country can start from nothing and through hard work and sacrifice become a success. It is the defining characteristic of our country and it is what has made us a shining example of people all over the world. But that dream is under threat if at the end of this year all of a sudden, because we don't address the major tax hikes that will affect all Americans, that hard work and sacrifice will simply result in giving a larger portion of people's paychecks to their government. If we do not enact relief, every single person who pays taxes faces an increase on January 1. Every single person. Every person will move into a higher bracket and face a higher rate of taxation. If we do not enact relief, small businesses will be hit with higher taxes, entrepreneurship will be discouraged, owners will not invest to grow their businesses and hiring will remain in a deep freeze, and there can be no argument in this country that hiring is in a deep freeze The marriage personality pushes people who are working and single and get married into a higher bracket. If two single people paid taxes on their own earnings, it would be at a lower rate than when they get married. One of the highest priorities that I have had in the Senate has been to relieve Americans from this punitive burden. After years of fighting for fairness, the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts included my bill as an amendment. It made great strides toward eliminating the marriage penalty by lowering the tax rates, doubling the standard deduction which had not been the case before, and simplifying other elements of the tax code. With this tax relief, an estimated 25 million couples paid a penalty for being married, say in 1999, of approximately $1,400. Just by doubling the standard deduction, we have been able to give relief since 2001, but if we don't do something by the end of this year, that marriage penalty goes back, so we will not have the standard doubling of the standard deduction."
  • Spoke on small business.
    • SUMMARY "Last Friday the president shocked many Americans with his comment, "if you've got a business, you didn't build that; somebody else made that happen." This highlighted the fundamental difference in the way the president and many of us in Congress view the hard work that Americans put into achieving the American dream. The American is that somebody can come to this country, they can start with nothing, they can build and work and sacrifice and give their kids a better chance than they had. That's why people have been coming to this country for over 100 years. Our goal should be to spur the growth, encourages hiring, and support the millions of small businesses that have served as the backbone of our economy, not to extinguish the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation that built this country. It just doesn't seem like our president relates to that. What built this country is innovation, taking risk, and entrepreneurship. And we have established an education system, and at least we used to have a regulatory system that encouraged business, that encouraged the private sector. You know, a few weeks before the president said that these small business people didn't do it on their own, he said, you know, the private sector isn't in trouble; it's the government sector that's in trouble. Oh, my gosh. You just think, who is he talking to? Who is he relating to? Because it is small business people and big business people and all business people that are creating the jobs that create more jobs that make a vibrant economy. It isn't government. Government sometimes gets in the way and, sometimes worse, it takes away from the vibrancy of our economy. So it is time for the leaders of our country in Congress and in the White House to get a perspective on who can create a vibrant economy and who is not the government; it is the business sector and especially the small business sector, because they're growing. And if they grow, they create jobs for more people."

Senator Merkley: (11:56 AM)
  • Spoke on the Disclose Act.
    • SUMMARY "The Disclose Act is a very simple concept, and it's that folks who make very large donations to the political system disclose who they are, so that the citizens of America can know where that money is coming from. Is it coming from this particular sector or that particular sector? Is it a group that is opposing as blue skies for a healthier America actually working for something else? Is it trying to weaken the pollution control standards and put more pollution in the streams in citizens have a right to know where the money is coming, especially very large contributions, because right now what we have are folks who are putting millions of dollars in. Now, I ask you, how many Americans can put $1 million into a campaign? I would tell you, in the world I live in, $100 is a lot of money. People can't connect that there are folks out there that are saying they're going to put $1 million in. And they certainly can't connect with the folks out there who are saying, I'm going to put $100 million in. I think the Koch brothers have been bragging across in country about how they're going to buy the elections so they can control where this country heads. That is perhaps the most ill-conceived notion that there is. But at least they're willing to stand up in public and say what their plan is. At least they're willing to say we are not going to hide and do it secretly. They're going to tell us they are a putting their money in. Now, where they put that money and who that money is used to attack, we may not know. So even in their case, we need the disclose act. It is confounding that so many members of this body argued for the fact that disclosure is the disinfectant. So many members of this body argued that citizens have a right notify so many members of this body said this is fundamental to fair debate in a democracy. Then when the time came to decide whether or not this would happen, they said, oops, I'm benefiting from this a lot, and I guess I'll set that principle aside and not argue for disclosure after all."
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Insourcing bill.
    • SUMMARY "Since the year 2000, America has lost about 5 million manufacturing jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and more than 42,000 factories. Today America has only about the same number of workers employed in manufacturing as we did in 1941 or more than 70 years ago ... Put simply, if we do not make things in America, we will not have a middle class in America. And you can see the middle class shrinking year by year right now as we lose our manufacturing base. Now, these jobs are not disappearing into thin air. Yes, some factories shut down because of consolidation and some jobs are eliminated due to automation or streamlining. But in most cases, those jobs are still there but they're just not in America. Not in Oregon. Indeed, those jobs have gone overseas. And China has a four-tier industrial policy that says we are going to put people work here even if we violate the WTO agreement we have with the United States of America, and that is a huge, huge problem that we should, in a bipartisan effort, fully address The bill ends rewards for outsourcing jobs overseas. Currently a company can deduct the moving expenses of offshoring and actually save money on their taxes that way. That would end. If a company wants to move a factory overseas, we cannot stop them, but we shouldn't give them tax breaks to do so. I would love to be in a forum of hundreds of people and I would ask this question, "do any of you love the idea that under the Bush administration, we started subsidizing the shipment of jobs overseas?" and I can tell you, virtually no one would say they love that policy, because the jobs near America mean so much to our families. The second thing that this bill does is it creates new tax credits to reward businesses that bring jobs home. If a company wants to take a production line that's located overseas and move it back to the United States, let's help them pay for the moving expenses."

Stabenow, Cardin, Udall-CO

Democrats' Insourcing bill (S. 3364)

Jul 19 2012

Senator Stabenow: (10:25 AM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Insourcing bill.
    • SUMMARY "The Bring Jobs Home Act, as you know, is a very simple, straightforward way to eliminate a subsidy that should have been gone a long time ago. And that is the tax write-off for shipping jobs overseas. When someone is losing their job because a plant is closing up and going overseas, to add insult to injury, they as a taxpayer get to help pay the cost of moving. It is outrageous. What we want to do is stop that. That's what the bill does. Give a business tax deduction for the cost of bringing jobs home and then add another 20% tax deduction on top of it to encourage businesses to do that."
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "Not since the days of the dust bowl have we seen this lethal combination of scorching heat and bone-dry weather across the production regions of our country. As I speak, 80% of the country is suffering from abnormal dry or drought conditions. 64% is suffering from moderate or severe drought, the highest percentage in 56 years ... That the secretary of agriculture is adding more to the list. More than 75% of the nation's corn and soybean crops are in drought-affected areas and more than a third of those crops are now rated poor to very poor. This is devastating our crop and our livestock producers. Only a third of our soybean crop is considered good to excellent right now, which is down by about 30% from last year. According to the Department of Agriculture's weekly crop progress report, less than one-third of the nation's corn crop is in good or excellent condition. Nearly 40% is rated poor or very poor. So we're talking about a massive effect on farmers, on livestock producers and ultimately on consumers in America. Facing higher food and feed costs in that are withering due to the heat, ranchers and livestock producers could see significant losses ... . The livestock sector could face significant declines in margins, we could see a sharp increase in consumer prices for meat and eggs and dairy. At a time when families all across America, middle-class families are trying to still recover from the great recession, paying more at the grocery store is not going to help. In fact, it's going to hurt a lot. The USDA has opened up their conservation reserve program so that land will be there for grazing, but we know it's not going to be enough for producers. There's no crop insurance equivalent for livestock. More could lose their ranches because of this drought. Livestock assistance expired last year and we need the farm bill to become law so that we can make this help available again. Because in the Farm bill we extend the livestock disaster assistance program permanently, and we make it available for this year. This drought is a serious problem devastating all of our farmers and will come home to families and to the world, unfortunately, all too soon. And we can't control the weather. We know that. In fact, in farm, ranching, is the riskiest business in the world, and I should say, even though it is, we have the safest, most affordable food supply in the world and it is part of our national security. But we can't control the weather, and the risks the farmers face, but this drought underscores the need for improved risk management tools, better crop insurance, and it underscores the need for a farm bill. We need to get a farm bill done. Now more than ever. We have 16 million people that work in this country because of agriculture and food industries."

Senator Cardin: (10:35 AM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Insourcing bill.
    • SUMMARY "When we're outsource, we're losing jobs. Families are devastated by outsourcing and what is most shocking is that our laws should not encourage companies to take jobs out of America. Our tax code should encourage companies to keep their workers here in the United States. So we need to make it in America I must tell you, I hear from people in Maryland all the time when you get a call from a call center and you think a person is in your neighborhood talking to you about a local issue, and then you discover that person is halfway around the world. Pretending really to be your neighbor and friend or representing a local business. When reality, we've outsourced that service - not we, the company has outsourced and don't even tell you about it. They're misleading the consumers and I know we have some legislation here to correct that. But that's outsourcing. That's costing America jobs. And it's wrong. We can compete. Americans can compete with any other work force in any other country as long as we have a level playing field. So we want to make it in America, yes, we can I think the people in Maryland and around the nation are shocked to understand that our tax code actually encourages companies to take jobs overseas. American taxpayers are actually footing the bill. Because under current law, if an American company decides to take its jobs and export them overseas, the moving costs are deductible from our tax code. Why do we allow that? Why do we ask the taxpayers to subsidize moving jobs overseas? Well, the Bring Jobs Home Act says let's get rid of that tax deduction. Instead, let's make sure that you bring jobs back to America, yes, we'll consider that necessary expenses. We don't consider it necessary business expenses to export your jobs. And we'll give you some additional help with a 20% credit."

Senator Udall-CO: (10:43 AM)
  • Spoke on the wind production tax credit.
    • SUMMARY "That's the choice: job loss or job creation. I can tell you what I know the answer will be in Colorado. Extend the PTC and without the PTC, foreign countries will extend their energy advantage over the United States. Manufacturing jobs that could be created here should be created here, will go instead to China and other foreign competitors. There is just simply no reason to do that. Instead, we need to extend the PTC the PTC equals jobs."

Ayotte, Thune

Democrats' Insourcing bill (S. 3364)

Jul 19 2012

Senator Ayotte: (9:55 AM)
  • Spoke on sequestration.
    • SUMMARY "One of the greatest national security threats facing our country right now. And what that is, is what's called sequestration. To bring at that down to plain terms for the American people, our Department of Defense is facing an additional $500 billion across the board meat ax in cuts in addition to the already planned $487 billion in reductions over the next ten years if we do not act as a Senate, as a Congress, and if the commander in chief does not act to come up with more responsible ways to cut spending. We all know that we have a, nearly a $16 trillion debt. We all know that that debt threatens our country not only as a national security threat, but also as a threat to the quality of life of my children. I'm the mother of a seven-year-old and four-year-old. And future generations in this country. However, what we did last august is that we did a kick-the-can exercise where we left to a Supercommittee to come up with $1.2 trillion in savings rather than sitting down and coming up with the savings we should have at the time. So where we are left is with a meat ax across-the-board approach instead of prioritizing our spending, and we are putting at risk the most fundamental constitutional responsibility we have to the American people, and that is to keep them safe one year of sequestration is about $109 billion. And that also covers the non-defense. If we can live within our means within one month for this government, we can come up with the spending reductions, and we need to do that on behalf of our department of defense and for the American people. Just some of the things that have been said about the impact of these across-the-board cuts, our chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that we will face the potential for increased conflict. He also said we are living in the most dangerous time in my lifetime right now, meaning right now, and I think sequestration would be completely oblivious to that and counterproductive We've always, always treated national security as a bipartisan issue in this chamber, and I would hope that we would not use our Department of Defense and put our men and women in uniform in this uncertain position. We need to let them know we have their back, and as members of Congress we should be together right now sitting at the table, resolving this, coming up with alternative spending reductions, and I would also call on the president as commander in chief of this country to lead that effort, to stop sitting on the sidelines. This is too important to the security of the United States of America."

Senator Thune: (10:09 AM)
  • Spoke on sequestration.
    • SUMMARY "Unfortunately, since we didn't pass a budget, it's very hard to have a plan for how to proceed with spending the taxpayers' money and in is what you end up with. Now, because we have this process put in place where if action isn't taken to avoid it, we have an across-the-board sequester that would occur at the first of next year, half of which would come out of the defense budget, we need to be able to find out exactly how these cuts would be implemented. Now, the thing that we don't know is how the administration plans to implement this. I think that's what the Transparency Act that passed in the House of Representatives yesterday is designed to get at. And, by the way, it was an overwhelming vote, 414-2, the House of Representatives in an overwhelming, bipartisan way, weighed in on the issue about whether or not the administration ought to spell out in clear detail to the United States Congress and to the American people how it intends to implement its sequestration plan. And I might say that it's going to be very difficult for us as members of Congress to come up with an alternative replacement plan if we don't know what their plan is for implementation. We know that half of the reductions are going to come out of defense, at least that's the plan. The other half out of nondefense discretionary spending but it's very clear this would have a profound impact on the defense budget on top of the half a trillion dollars cuts that occurred as part of the budget control act last summer."

Senator Ayotte: (10:13 AM)
  • Spoke on sequestration.
    • SUMMARY "The Senate Budget Committee function in the way it was intended to function, then we wouldn't in this situation in the first place. When we do regular budgeting, and do the responsible thing for our country, like every business does, like every family does, on the annual basis we are supposed to do it, it's been over three years since we had a budget, we wouldn't be in this situation right now where our Department of Defense is at risk. I know the senator from South Dakota voted for a budget that the House passed. I did as well. That had that budget been passed, then the House did its job, and had we done that, we wouldn't be here with sequestration today. And because we're doing what we owe to the American people, if we can't do a budget for this country, how are we ever going to get the $1 trillion deficits in check? ... Has not shown the leadership that he should, because he said it would be foolish for us to pass a budget, has not allowed the Senate Budget Committee I'm not sure why we have that committee. I've been on there now for a year and a half and we haven't marked up a budget. We haven't done it. And that's because the majority leader of the Senate said it would be foolish for us to do a budget. Why? Because when you do a budget, you do have to make choices, just like families do, just like businesses do and prioritize where you're going to spend the money and the taxpayer dollars that are sent to Washington by our constituents, by the American people. And that's unfortunate of where we are today because had we done that, I don't think we would be in the position where we are with sequestration."

Senator Thune: (10:16 AM)
  • Spoke on sequestration.
    • SUMMARY "I don't think we can emphasize this enough because we last summer already called for $500 billion in defense cuts, and that was half of the amount of reductions that were made last summer. It was about $1 trillion, a little under that overall in spending cuts last summer immediately. Immediate spending cuts, half of which came out of defense, $487 billion already taken out of the defense budget. So we're talking about now another $500 billion over the next ten years on top of that $500 billion. In other words, $1 trillion out of our national security budget. What the secretary of defense, the president's own secretary of defense has said is that it would lead to the smallest ground force since 1940, since before World War II, the smallest fleet of ships since 1915, almost a century, and the smallest tactical fighter force, air force we've had literally in the history of the air force. That's what we're talking about. That's the dimension of the problem that you're referring to. It completely impairs our ability to project power in many of these critical areas of the world. The world is a dangerous place. It's not getting any less dangerous. It's getting more dangerous if you read the headlines every day in our ability to project power in the Middle East, project power in Asia, all these areas we need to keep an eye on is going to be in serious jeopardy We're talking about dramatic reductions in ground forces, navy, air force, all the assets that we use to protect this country and to defend America's interests around the world would be at great risk if this sequester goes into effect The number-one priority we have he is to defend this country. If we don't get national security right, the rest is conversation. All the other things that we talk about are secondary to defending and protecting America and the American people."

Reid, McConnell

Opening Remarks

Jul 19 2012

  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 3364, the Democrats' Insourcing bill. The first hour will be equally divided, with the Republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • At 2:15 PM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 3364, the Democrats' Insourcing bill.

Senator Reid: (9:32 AM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Insourcing bill.
    • SUMMARY "Over the last decade American companies outsourced about two and a half million jobs, often to countries where they can hire workers for half the price and 21 million Americans, including nearly seven millions manufacturing workers live with the fear their jobs could be shipped overseas tomorrow So I was surprised when the minority leader dismissed efforts to end tax incentives for companies that outsource jobs overseas He said, "why aren't we doing anything? It's time to bring up serious legislation to affects the future of the country.â€? At a time when millions of Americans are looking for work, I'm not sure what could be more serious than protecting good-paying middle-class jobs. The Bring Jobs Home Act, the measure before this body, would end tax incentives for corporations that ship jobs overseas. Every time an American company closes a factory or moves operations to another country taxpayers pick up part of that moving bill. Hard to comprehend, but it's true. The legislation before this body would end that senseless serious of tax breaks for outsourcers. And it would offer a 20% tax credit to help with the cost of moving production back to the United States. In just the last few years majors manufacturers like Ford, Caterpillar brought jobs back to the United States from Japan, Mexico and China. And as more manufactures have moved facilities home as well. Let me remind the entire Senate, the Senate must break a record filibuster, again,, a record breaking filibuster, before it can begin debating the bring jobs home act. This is unfortunate but it's not surprising."

Senator McConnell: (9:35 AM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Insourcing bill.
    • SUMMARY "Could I ask the majority leader one question related to the vote we're going to have later today. A number of my members are asking in connection with voting to proceed to the bill whether the bill will be open for amendments."

Senator Reid: (9:36 AM)
  • Responded
    • SUMMARY "The only amendments that I have seen, are three in number. That the Republicans have suggested. To do away with the Affordable Care Act, to reestablish the Bush tax cuts and then the Hatch tax measure. That, has been the tradition here with republicans, has absolutely nothing to do with outsourcing. So unless Republicans get serious about legislating on the legislation we have, the answer would be very doubtful."

Senator McConnell: (9:36 AM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "Earlier this week, Senate Democratic leaders made clear to the American people where their priorities lie. And in case you're wondering, the middle class came in pretty low on the list. At a moment when more Americans are signing up for disability than finding jobs, listen to that, more Americans are signing up for disability than are finding jobs. That's where the American economy stands today. Democrats said they think it's a good idea to drive the country off what economists are calling America's fiscal cliff this coming January. You might call this Thelma and Louise economics. Right off the cliff. But whatever you want to call it, Democrats are evidently so determined to raise taxes on America's job creators that if we don't let them do it, don't let them do it they'd actually welcome an economic calamity that would not only rock the American economy but the global economy as well. They want to drive us right off the cliff. Threaten our own economy and the global economy as well. Needless to say, this isn't a program for jobs or economic growth. It's an ideological crusade. An ideological crusade. Following the president's lead, Democrats are declaring ideological warfare and the banner they're marching under is emblazoned with a single word fairness. Fairness. Here's the problem. Fairness turns out to be a lot like hope and change. Fairness turns out to be a lot like hope and change. You don't know what it means until it's put into practice. But one thing history, common sense, and basic economics tell us is that it doesn't mean what the democrats say it does. Because when they say tax the rich, you can be sure the middle class isn't far behind The president's latest proposal to raise taxes on those earning more than $200,000 a year. It may be aimed at the top 2% now, but just like every other program that supposedly aimed at a few, very quickly this tax will increase to apply to many. Even the senior senator from New York has said this tax hike wit hit a lot of people who aren't rich. I agree with the senior senator from New York. After all, the revenue from the Democrats' tax increase will only cover 6% of next year's projected budget deficit. So who's expected to cover the rest? The middle class, of course. That's the fine print under every Democratic proposal. They say they're coming after the rich, but the middle class is always next. And America's small businesses are already on the line. That's one reason Republicans are so adamantly opposed to these proposals. Yes, it is a terrible idea to raise taxes in the middle of an economic downturn. Yes, government is already way too big. Yes, Democrats have absolutely no more intention of using this new revenue for deficit reduction than they have had in the past. Yes, the president's latest proposal wouldn't even raise enough money to fund the government for a week. And yes, we have no reason whatsoever to believe that the president wouldn't continue his crony capitalist ways, spending that money on pet projects of his political allies."
  • Paid tribute to Army Specialist Nathaniel D. Garvin.

Jul 19 2012

The Senate Convened.

Jul 19 2012

The Senate is considering S. 3364, the Stabenow outsourcing 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.