Senate Calendar

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Jun 20 2012

Senator Stabenow: (7:13 PM)
  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Tomorrow --
    • The Senate will convene at 10:30 AM and Majority Leader Reid will be recognized. The time until 11:00 AM will be equally divided.
    • At 11:00 AM, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 3240, the Farm bill and conduct a series of ROLL CALL VOTES on the amendments listed below, alternating between Republican and Democratic sponsored amendments. There will be no amendments or motions in order to the amendments prior to the votes other than motions to waive points of order and motions to table. There will be two minutes of debate, equally divided, prior to each vote and all votes after the first vote will be ten minute votes. Upon disposition of all amendments, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on passage of the bill, as amended (60 votes required).
      1. Toomey amendment #2247 (paperwork) (60 votes required);
      2. Sanders amendment #2310 (genetically engineered food) (60 votes required);
      3. Coburn amendment #2214 (convention funding) (60 votes required);
      4. Boxer amendment #2456 (aerial inspections) (60 votes required);
      5. Johanns amendment #2372 (aerial inspections) (60 votes required);
      6. Murray amendment #2455 (sequestration (60 votes required);
      7. McCain amendment #2162 (sequestration report re: DoD) (60 votes required); and
      8. Rubio amendment #2166 (RAISE Act) (60 votes required).
The Senate stands adjourned until 10:30 AM Thursday, June 20th.

Jun 20 2012

Senator Reid: (6:39 PM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill and the Flood Insurance bill.
    • SUMMARY "We've made a lot of progress on this legislation. We're down to 10 or 11 amendments. We're going to come in tomorrow and finish this bill. We're going to try to get permission - I understand we can - to have the cloture vote tomorrow. We have to figure out where we're going on flood insurance. It's obvious with all the problems we're having with flood insurance, we're not going to finish that tomorrow or the next day. We have to work toward completing that as quickly as we can. The program expires at the end of the month and the end of the month is coming very quickly. We have no more votes tonight. We this will be the last recorded vote. We'll come in tomorrow and work through these. We'll have the staff work with the requests people have for time on the floor, other things that need to be done. We don't know exactly what time we're coming in tomorrow or what time the votes will start; as soon as we can. There will be votes all through the lunch hour. Everybody should understand that. We hope to be able to finish by 3:00 tomorrow afternoon."

Senator Stabenow: (6:47 PM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "We've had a long day. People have worked very hard. We're near the end. We're going to have a farm bill. We're going to have major reform, $23 billion in deficit reduction. We're doing it altogether through a process. We propose amendments and vote on amendments in the Senate is operating in regular order, and we appreciate everybody's hard work in hanging in there with us if we get this done that we're on the path to do tomorrow."
  • Agreed to by Unanimous Consent: Bennet-Crapo amendment #2202 (agricultural land easements) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.

Senator Landrieu: (6:48 PM)
  • Spoke on the Protecting Adoption and Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Act of 2012.
    • SUMMARY "This bill will help to facilitate and clear up some legal quagmires that occur in many states, to clear the way for women of any age, to make a decision for adoption. There are many of us across party lines that have supported more domestic infant adoptions, more domestic adoptions for children of all ages, and particularly adoption of special-needs children. This bill really affects infant adoptions. It sets up a voluntary registry that tracks what 38 states have already done. Any person, any male who has the intention of supporting and raising a child can register on this registry, and their will and wishes will be taken into consideration. But in the situation that often happens when this man is not interested in being the kind of responsible father that he should be, then this registry helps to expedite without a lot of legal quagmire but with protection to both the father and the mother, to expedite adoption."

Senator Chambliss: (6:54 PM)
  • Spoke on the recent intelligence leaks.
    • SUMMARY "Two weeks ago I stood in this chamber and was joined by my colleague, Senator McCain, in calling for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the recent series of leaks of classified information that are so damaging to our national security. Despite the bipartisan support for a special counsel, the attorney general chose instead to appoint two United States attorneys who will act under his supervision and conduct separate investigations of just two of these leaks. I believe the American people, our intelligence community and our allies deserve a better response from the attorney general and from this administration. These leaks have violated the public trust and potentially damaged vital liaison relationships we can ill afford to lose in our fight against ongoing threats from terrorism and hostile nations The timing, substance and sourcing of these stories have also raised questions about whether they came from the White House and whether or not there is a pattern of leaks. It's hard to imagine how two U.S. Attorneys who work for this administration would be able to investigate this aspect of the cases without being perceived as biased by those who are unhappy with what they ultimately find. We need a special counsel who will be trusted no matter what he finds. I'm not questioning in any way the qualification of these two U.S. attorneys to do their jobs for which they were confirmed by this senate. I know questions have been raised about the prior political activities of the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and whether he might be too deferential to the White House I have no specific reason to question the capabilities or integrity of either of these men. I'm sure that they are good prosecutors and good men. But the very serious nature of these leaks demands an investigation that is conducted in a manner totally above reproach and without any possible inference of bias. Unfortunately, because these U.S. attorneys must answer to the attorney general, they cannot conduct independent investigations. With each key decision they make, whether to subpoena a journalist, what investigative techniques should be used, what charges can be brought, they will be subject to the attorney general and his direction. That is hardly being independent."

Senator Brown-OH: (7:01 PM)
  • Spoke on Ohio's free breakfast and lunch summer program.
    • SUMMARY "For many Ohio children, schools have let out for the year, summer vacation is just beginning. During the school year in my state, a state of about 11 million people, 840,000 Ohio children receive some nutrition assistance through free or reduced price school or lunch breakfasts during the school year. It's a statistic that tells the story of families struggling to get by. In many, many of these children's cases, their parents have jobs but simply are not making enough money. It's the statistics that tell the stories of how children are often helpless victims in a challenging economy. Many of these children come from the 18% of Ohio families, 18%, about one out of six Ohio families that are food insecure, meaning that they are unsure where their next meal may actually come from. When the school year comes to a close, many of these children go hungry. Where can these 840,000 students go, where do they turn for a nutritious meal when their school cafeterias are closed for the summer? The answer is the summer food service program run through the United States Department of Education, administered in my state by the Ohio Department of Education. For Ohio parents and guardians and school administrators, the summer food service program is available for them to find healthy meals for children during the summer. But too many Ohio families don't know about this critical program. That's why it's so important to raise awareness to increase access to the program for all Ohio children, regardless of where they live. Summer breaks shouldn't mean a break from good nutrition. At the beginning of this talk, I mentioned that 840,000 Ohio children benefit from free and reduced school breakfast and lunch programs, 840,000. But unfortunately, last year, in the summer, only 66,000 Ohio children utilized the summer food service program. Only 66,000 when there are 800,000 eligible. I would addthat Ohio, at least last year, I believe, was slightly above the national average, so in state after state after state after state, only 10% of students eligible for the summer feeding program The good news is there are more sites this year for Ohio families to turn to, more than 1,700 across 77 counties. Nonetheless, 11 counties out of the 88 in Ohio still lack feeding sites. It's not too late for program sites to be established. The official deadline was May 31. Interested sponsors and volunteers can still work with the Ohio Department of Education to establish new centers for children to get meals. Understand the difficulty here. Somebody needs to step forward - a teacher, an administrator, someone in the school district, someone in a church, someone in a Rec Center of some type has to step forward every May or June and set up one of these programs and then take it down again in August and September."

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Chambliss amendment #2340 (sugar) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.

Not Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Chambliss amendment #2432 (FMPP) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to, 66-33:
Durbin/Coburn amendment #2439 (crop insurance) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Not Agreed to, 44-55:
Thune amendment #2437 (crop insurance) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to, 52-47:
Chambliss amendment #2438 (conservation crop insurance) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to, 88-11:
Vitter amendment #2363, as modified (pets) to S. 3240, the Farm bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Reid

Farm bill (S. 3240)

Jun 20 2012

Senator Reid: (5:12 PM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "I have been in contact with Senator McConnell. We have made good progress here. The goal tonight is to get down to ten votes. So once we're at ten votes, we're going to stop for the night. We should be able to do that within the next hour or hour and a half, give or take a few minutes. So I think the goal is reachable. We'll come in tomorrow. We have some important votes tomorrow. Don't forget, we have flood insurance. I hope that we can move up the vote on cloture on flood insurance tomorrow. If not, we're going to have to vote on it Friday. But we have done that in the past. We should be able to do that. People have schedules on Friday. So the goal is ten votes left by the time we leave here this evening."

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Sanders amendment #2254 (biomass) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.

Jun 20 2012

Not Agreed to, 40-59:
Johnson-WI Motion to Recommit (Nutrition/Agriculture titles) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Ayotte amendment #2195 (GAO crop insurance fraud report) to S. 3240, the Farm bill;
Blunt amendment #2246 (veterans) to S. 3240, the Farm bill;
Moran amendment #2403 (food aid) to S. 3240, the Farm bill;
Moran amendment #2443 (beginning farmers) to S. 3240, the Farm bill;
Vitter amendment #2363, as modified (pets) to S. 3240, the Farm bill; and
Carper amendment #2287 (poultry feed research) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.

Jun 20 2012

Not Agreed to, 29-70:
Lee Motion to Recommit (FY 2008 levels) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Klobuchar amendment #2299 (transportation study) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.

Jun 20 2012

Not Agreed to, 46-53:
Toomey amendment #2433 (sugar) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Nelson-NE amendment #2242 (rural housing) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.

Jun 20 2012

Not Agreed to, 36-63:
Toomey amendment #2226 (energy title) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Leahy amendment #2204 (rural development) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.

Jun 20 2012

Not Agreed to, 35-63-1:
Boozman amendment #2360, as modified (TEFAP) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Schumer amendment #2427 (ACRE) to S. 3240, the Farm bill;
Wyden amendment #2388 (farm to school) to S. 3240, the Farm bill; and
Boozman amendment #2355 (agriculture and food law) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
Agreed to by Division Vote:
Wyden amendment #2442 (microloans) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.

Jun 20 2012

Not Agreed to, 15-84:
Lee amendment #2314 (CSP/CRP cut) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Warner amendment #2457 (rural broadband) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.

Jun 20 2012

Not Agreed to, 21-77:
Lee amendment #2313 (forest legacy) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to, 77-22:
Udall-CO amendment #2295 (bark beetle) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Not Agreed to, 43-56:
Kyl amendment #2354 (North Korea) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to, 59-40:
Kerry amendment #2454 (North Korea) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Stabenow amendment #2453 (NAP) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to, 63-36:
Coburn amendment #2293 (limit millionaires) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Not Agreed to, 30-69:
Coburn amendment #2289 (MAP) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Not Agreed to, 44-55:
DeMint amendment #2273 (broadband) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to, 63-36:
Merkley amendment #2382 (organic crop insurance) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Manchin amendment #2345 (dietary study) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.

Vote Results (Motion to Proceed)

Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval (S. J. Res. 37)

Jun 20 2012

Not Agreed to, 46-53:
Motion to Proceed to S. J. Res. 37, the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 20 2012

Senator Murkowski: (9:44 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "A vast majority of the benefits that the EPA claims from mats are the results of its counting coincidental reductions of particulate matter below standards that EPA has determined are sufficient to protect public health. Emissions of mercury by American power plants have declined over the past 20 years without the mats rule. EPA itself estimates the annual benefits of mercury reductions attributable to the rule at only 500,000 to six million, but annual costs, annual costs at about $10 billion. Finally EPA's actions are driving up the cost of electricity too. PJM, which is the independent regional transmission organization that's responsible for coordinating the movement of wholesale electricity in all or in part of 13 states as well as here in the nation's capital, they reported two-year capacity price increases of 390%, most of which had attributed to the cost of environmental compliance. With a nearly 1,200% spike in northern Ohio. PJM also plans for about $2 billion in additional transmission investment to maintain reliability in the face of EPA rules. Clearly these are significant costs that will be passed on to our consumers. I think MACT is a major rule that needs a major reset by congress. EPA could then device a new rule truly aimed at protecting public health and carrying out the law rather than trying to push a particular fuel - coal - out of the market."

Senator Cornyn: (9:52 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "While this rule claims to be about public safety, it is a job-killing, ideologically driven attempt to cripple the coal industry in the United States. An industry that employs an awful lot of people, feeds a lot of families. And this administration, unfortunately, is using the EPA to destroy a major source of reliable, affordable electricity we sorely need. The president talks about an all the above energy policy, but yet his administration through this regulation that we seek to disapprove today is going to effectively take one of those most abundant, low-cost sources of energy off the table for the American people. Of course Congress would never pass such a law in our own right, so the administration is using a ruling from an unelected group of bureaucrats who aren't subject to political accountability. This is another example of executive overreach, and it's bad news for consumers and job creators alike. Power companies have confirmed that Utility MACT standards for new power sources are so stringent that no new coal-fired power plant will be built in the United States. No new coal-fired power plant will be built in the United States. No matter how modern and how clean the technology will allow that power plant to operate. And so the consequence will be that Utility MACT will damage grid reliability, it will destroy jobs and it will raise electricity prices. Not a small matter when many of our seniors are on fixed incomes and are going to suffer as a result of this rule that really does not do what its advocates touted for. The costs of Utility MACT will exceed the benefits by roughly 1,600 to 1. Some claim that doesn't matter, that benefits are benefits, no matter what the cost; no matter how many jobs it kills, no matter how much it raises the price of electricity on seniors in my state who are living in very hot summers according to EPA, more than 99% of the health benefit from Utility MACT will not even come from mercury reductions but rather from reductions in particulate matter that are already regulated at safe levels under the clean air act. Either the EPA will be double counting existing benefits or else it will be setting new levels for other by-products that are not justified by public health concerns. In short, the benefits of this regulation are dubious, but the costs are real. And they're already harming the United States economy with the existing power plants being shut down and others being scrapped. The United States currently has more than 1,400 coal-fired electricity-generating units operating more than 600 plants. Together these power plants generate almost half of the electricity produced in our country. Again, we're not talking about taking wind energy off the table. We're not talking about other ways to generate electricity. But this is one of the cheapest, most abundant sources of energy in our country, and we're simply killing it."

Senator Rockefeller: (9:57 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "I passionately believe that coal miners deserve better than they're getting from coal operators and West Virginians deserve better also. So let's start with the truth. Coal today faces real challenges, even threats, and we all know what they are. First, our coal reserves are finite, and many coal-fired plants are aging. The cheap, easy coal seams are diminishing rapidly and production is falling, especially in the central Appalachian basin. The average age of our nation's 100-plus coal-fired plants is 42.5 years old with hundreds of plants even older. These plants run less often, are less economic and obviously less efficient. Second, natural gas use is on the rise. Companies are switching to natural gas because of lower prices, cheaper construction costs, lower emissions and vast, steady supplies. Even traditional coal companies like consolidation and are increasingly investing in natural gas as opposed to coal. Third, the shift to a lower carbon economy is not going away. And it is a disservice, a terrible disservice to coal miners and their families, to pretend that it is, to tell them that it is, that everything can be as it was. It can't be. That's over. Coal companies deny that we need to do anything to address climate change, despite the established scientific consensus and mounting national desire, including in West Virginia, for a cleaner, healthier environment. Despite the barrage of ads, the EPA alone is not going to make or break coal. Coal operators would love to this I that that's the case because it a great target, and it is much easier to criticize than to do something. There are many forces exerting pressure, and that agency is just one of them ... Here we are with another all-or-nothing resolution, which is absolutely destined to fail, and we are arguing and months, weeks, years go by. This foolish action wastes time and money that could have been invested in the future of coal and instead with each bad vote that they get, the coal operators, they give away more of their leverage and they lock in their failure. This time the issue is whether to block on EPA rule, as has been said here, the mercury and air toxics standards, that require coal-fired plants to reduce mercury and other air toxic pollution. I oppose this resolution because I care so much about West Virginia. Without good health, demeaned here in this debate so far, it is difficult to hold down a job or live the American dream."

Senator Thune: (10:15 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "Utility MACT, which is the most expensive regulation in EPA's history with an estimated cost of $10 billion. These are costs that we passed on to families and small businesses across the country at a time when we're experiencing the worst economic recovery in over 60 years. We all know the statistics. Unemployment has been at 8% now for 40 consecutive months. We will unemployment is above 14%. There are 23 million Americans who are not working today, madam president. 5.4 million Americans have remained out of work for over a year. Despite these facts, President Obama continues to push regulations like Utility MACT that are going to make energy more expensive and at the same time destroy good-paying jobs. According to the National Economic Research Associates, Utility MACT will cost between 180,000 and 215,000 jobs by 2015. The United States stands to lose approximately 1.65 million jobs by the year 2020. We simply cannot afford these politically driven regulations at a time when 23 million Americans remain unemployed or underemployed. Low-income and middle-class families are the ones hit hardest by the administration's actions. Families that earn less than $50,000 already spend 21% of their income on energy costs compared to 9% for those making more than $50,000. Thanks to the EPA's regulatory actions, those costs are going to go up an average of 6.5% and as much as 19% in some areas. Middle-class incomes have already fallen by over $4,300 these past three years and now President Obama wants to further burden them with higher energy costs. These higher energy costs are not some far-off projection. In many cases these costs are already being realized PJM reported two-year capacity price increases of 390%. PJM is reporting a nearly tenfold increase in wholesale energy costs in northern Ohio. According to one of their spokespersons, capacity prices were higher than last year's because of retirements of existing coal-fired generation, resulting largely from environmental regulations which go into effect in the year 2015. The result could cause electricity bills across the PGM region to increase up to $130 and potentially much higher in places like northern Ohio. In addition to electricity rates, EPA's agenda will drive up the cost of food, transportation, fuels and manufactured goods as those costs get passed on across all the sectors of the economy. The end result is more pain for the middle class, slower economic growth and fewer jobs."

Senator Alexander: (10:22 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "On this rule, this clean air rule and the earlier interstate rule, I believe EPA is right. The effect of upholding it rule will finally to require that most coal plants everywhere in America will have to install two kinds of pollution-control equipment. Scrubbers SCR's and this will basically finish the job of capturing sulfur and nitrogen oxides, fine particles and the 187 toxic pollutants that were specifically identified by congress in the 1990 clean air amendments. The Tennessee Valley Authority has already committed to install this equipment by 2018. But TVA alone can't clean up Tennessee's air because dirty air blows in from other states. So let me say what upholding this rule will do for the people of Tennessee. First, it will hasten the day when Memphis, Chattanooga and Knoxville are not three of the top five worst asthma cities - which they are today - and Nashville is not competing to be the top ten. pollution increases chances of being hospitalized. Some of these toxic emissions cause cancer and interfere with children's development. Number two, this rule means visitors will soon not even think of calling the great smoky mountains the great smoggy mountains because it's one of the most polluted national parks in America. We want those nine million visitors to keep coming every year with their dollars and their jobs, instead of seeing 24 miles on a bad air day from Clingman's dome, our highest peak, this rule should mean we'll gradually move towards seeing 100 miles from Clingman's Dome as the air cleans up and we look through the natural blue haze. Third this rule should mean fewer advisory health warnings in our streams that say don't eat the fish because of mercury contamination. Half of the mercury in the United States comes from coal plants and as much as 70% of the mercury pollution in our local environment, like streams and rivers, can come from nearby coal plants. Fourth, we have seen that Nissan, had it been unable to get an air quality permit in Nashville in 1980 would have gone to Georgia. And in Senator Corker had not had Chattanooga improve the air quality, the Volkswagen site there would be a vacant lot today. We know every Tennessee metropolitan area is struggling to stay within legal clean air standards, and we don't want the Memphis megasite to stay a vacant lot because dirty air blowing in from Mississippi and Arkansas makes the Memphis air too dirty for a new industry to locate there. We know that these rules will add a few dollars to our electric bills, but in our case most of that's going to happen anyway because the Tennessee Valley Authority has already agreed to put this pollution-control equipment on its coal-fired power plants. We know we can reduce the effect of these expenses on monthly electric bills because states may give utilities four years to comply with the rule. And the president may, under the law, give them a fifth and sixth year."

Senator Barrasso: (10:27 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "This amendment protects communities and jobs in the west, in the Midwest and in Appalachia, and specifically jobs that depend on coal. These communities depend on coal to heat and cool their homes at an affordable price, to power the factories where they work, to generate revenue that creates additional jobs. We're talking about affordable domestic coal that also pays for the mortgages on their homes, the clothes and food for their children and the medical care for their grandparents. I will tell you, if the Utility MACT rule is allowed to proceed, it would mandate that virtually no new coal-fire power plants could be built anymore in the United States. Many still in existence would have to shut down. It is painful, painful to think about all of these folks who will be out of work, their bills mounting, their families losing their homes, their future looking bleak ... We are told that there are enormous health benefits. That's what they say, enormous health benefits, they claim, to the public by the issuance of this rule. First of all, how do you protect something if the community is gone? So obviously these folks in West Virginia, Pennsylvania are not the beneficiaries of EPA protection. Second, the medical benefits of the rule come from reductions in particulate matter that are currently well within healthy thresholds set by the EPA I will tell you that EPA is cooking the books. Now, this rule does very little to protect the public health. In fact, it creates a health crisis in this country because of the additional unemployment, the unemployment that this rule is going to cause in the west, the Midwest and in Appalachia."

Senator Cardin: (10:39 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "Maryland's experience shows that an aggressive time line is not only achievable, but it's also desirable. Power plants are capable of meeting aggressive time lines and the benefits are on parallel. Air pollution control protects public health and saves billions of dollars associated with medical costs. The Environmental Protection Agency is required to do a study cost-benefit. How much cost for how much benefit? Every dollar of compliance cost, we save $3 to $9 as far as saving costs for our economy. That's a great investment. We like those types of investments. The Maryland experience also shows that we need a national standard to effectively address air pollution. Maryland has done what's right, but our children are still at risk. Why? Because air pollution knows no state bong industry. We're downwind. We've done what's right. But our children are still at risk. That's why we need these standard. We showed that you can do in a cost-effective way creating jobs for our communities. You can have a clean environment, you can have a growing economy. In fact, you can't do it without. That's what these regulations are about. As Senator Alexander said, we've been waiting 20 years for these regulations. We've been waiting - 1990 Congress passed the Clean Air Act. In 2008, our courts said you can't delay it any longer. It is our responsibility to protect the public health. It is our responsibility to do what's right. I urge my colleagues to reject this resolution that would deny us the opportunity of protecting our public health."

Senator Manchin: (10:44 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "I'd like to say a few words about the little state of West Virginia who does the heavy lifting that helps this entire nation. We mine the coal, we make the steel. We have done just about everything we possibly can. We have more people that probably serve percentage-wise in the military than any other state. We've given our all for this great state. And we'll continue to do the heavy lifting. But what we need to do is make sure that the EPA, make sure this government is working with us and not against us. The government's role is to be a partner, not an adversary, but an ally. And that's what we're asking for. We're asking for it to work with the businesses and not against them. We're asking them to understand our actions. Their actions will put thousands of hardworking Americans out of a job in the worst economy in generations. Don't raise electricity rates on consumers who can barely afford monthly bills today. It is mostly seniors and people struggling with their families trying to make a living. The economic realities is that the environment and economy have to work hand by hand. It has to be in balance. From the day I arrived in the Senate, I've been determined to stop the EPA's job-killing agenda, and this resolution of disapproval takes an important step to rein in this out-of-control agency. Let me explain this to you. Where I come from in the state of West Virginia, like most states, we do our rules and regulations through a legislative process. People have to vote. We don't give bureaucratic agencies the right to set policy. The people have given us that responsibility and that right for us as elected leaders to set the policy. And that's what we're asking here. We have this agency stepping way beyond its boundaries, farther than our founding fathers ever intended that's putting an absolute burden on the backs of every American. Along with a handful of other rules on the verge of being implemented are already in place, the Utility MACT rule would cost the U.S. economy up to $275 billion over the next 25 years. According to Electric Power Research Institute and the Utility MACT would cost 1.3 million jobs over the next two decades, according to the National Economic Research Association."

Senator Sanders: (10:52 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "Power plants are responsible for one-third of the mercury deposits in the United States, but Senator Inhofe's Resolution would let them keep right on polluting. His resolution would also eliminate protections against cancer-causing pollutants like arsenic as well as toxic suit that causes asthma attacks. Leading medical organizations have said "Senator Inhofe's Resolution would leave millions of Americans permanently at risk from toxic air pollution, from power plants that directly threaten pulmonary, cardiovascular and neurological health and development." We are talking about preventing thousands and thousands of premature deaths. We are talking about preventing heart attacks. And we are talking about what is a very serious problem in my state, and that is asthma ... You know, we hear a lot from some of our Republican friends about jobs. Well, the truth of the matter is, is that if we are aggressive if cleaning up these coal power plants, we can create and we have already seen created many, many good, decent-paying jobs. In fact, if the utility industries will invest in pollution controls, we can create almost 300,000 jobs a year for the next five years. Meaningful, good-paying jobs making sure that our air is cleaner and that our people do not get sick. So let's talk about job creation. Job creation, cleaning up our environment. And this is not just theory. I'm the Chairman of the Create Jobs Subcommittee, and we heard from constellation energy which installed pollution controls at their 1,280 megawatt coal plant in Maryland that cut mercury emissions by 90%. This $885 million investment created at its peak 1,385 jobs on site, at the plant, for boilermakers pipefitters, operating engineers, ironworkers, electricians, teamsters and laborers, just the kind of jobs we want to create. The American people know we have to rebuild our infrastructure. We can create jobs doing that. This is one of the areas where we can create decent-paying jobs and help keep our kids from getting sick."

Senator Risch: (10:58 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "This is not a job-creating bill. Virtually everybody who has looked at that has said this will kill jobs. This will move jobs overseas. Everyone who's looked at this has said that it will increase the cost of energy for the American taxpayer. So it does two things. It kills jobs and it increases the cost of energy. Why would anyone vote for this? This is absolute foolishness. Today Americans are concerned about jobs. They are really concerned about jobs. Everywhere I go people ask me about jobs. They ask me about the economy. And today we as senators have the opportunity to do something about that. This resolution clearly, its failure and the implementation of the rule that the EPA has put in front of us is going to kill jobs and it's going to increase the cost of energy in America. It is going to do precisely what so many senators come to the floor and whine about, and that is run jobs overseas. If you're a job creator, if you're someone who is thinking of investing, if you're someone who wants to move the American economy forward, you look at every single aspect of it, and when you see something like this, it isn't just this, it's this in a parade of never-ending and regulations that kill jobs and increase the costs for the job creators. These are things that clearly urge job creators to create the jobs in a place other than America. That's just flat wrong."

Senator Carper: (11:03 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "The 1990 Clean Air Act says look, there is problems with toxic air emissions. We not sure really where they are coming from, but let's spend a little bit of time and have EPA figure it out. They spent about ten years trying to figure it out. In the year 2000, the last year of the Clinton administration, the conclusion was reached that a lot of the emissions of these toxic to air emissions, mercury and arsenic and heavy metals, acid, gases, a lot of it comes from utilities, a lot of it comes from utilities. The Bush administration, brand-new in 2001 said let's go to work and figure out what to do about it. Five years later, in 2005, the Bush administration said here is a rule to deal with, not with the 70 toxic emissions but with one - mercury. Just one. And immediately lawsuits were filed. And of course the federal court said in 2008 what about the other 70? You didn't do anything about the other 70. Mercury. And what you did with mercury was a cap and trade system which doesn't really work for mercury. So the courts remanded it back to EPA. And said let's try that again. Senator Alexander who has been working on this issue and I have worked literally for years to try to make sure that the congress provided some leadership, that we do see emissions of these toxic air emissions and sulfur oxide and there has not been an application with many of our utilities to not support legislation. We finally gave it a real try, a great try in 2010. My friend, Senator Inhofe, was part of the effort to try to get legislation enacted. Finally I think the utilities said we would rather take our chances on an election in 2010 and we'll see what the election yields and maybe have to deal with the EPA well, we had an election, and now the courts say EPA, you have to rule on this, you have to provide some leadership or the congress won't. The EPA has done that. It's not like we're jamming it down anybody's throat. I say tomorrow I offer legislation that by 2015 it's got to be a 90% reduction in mercury, by 2015. What EPA has said is by 2015, there has to be a 90% reduction. Plus to address another bunch of toxic emissions. But EPA said states can automatically give an automatic one-year extension. If utilities have problems with getting this done by 2016, they can apply for another two-year extension. This started in 1990. It's 2012. If you play out the string, it could be as late as 2018 to comply. In the meantime, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, a bunch of us on the East Coast, we are downwind of the states that put up this pollution in the air, we have to breathe it, we have to breathe it. Look, the technology exists to fix this problem. 50% of the states, 50% of the utilities have already applied the technology. It works. It's broadly deployed. Utilities, most of them, have the money to pay for this. If they don't, they have the ability to raise capital. And the workers, there are tens of thousands of workers who would like to do this work. And the idea that we have to choose between a cleaner economy and a - a stronger economy and a cleaner environment, that's a false choice."

Senator Blunt: (11:08 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "The EPA with this rule has finalized a regulation that would require power companies to reduce emissions in a period that's just unrealistically short. A three-year time frame means that in many facilities, power-generating facilities, you don't reduce emissions, you close the plant. What this really stands for is an assault on coal and coal-based utilities. The Director of EPA, Lisa Jackson, said, the administrator said that recently current challenges to the coal industry are entirely economic. That's what she said, entirely economic. I don't know how anyone who is paying attention to the EPA to regulations or to the price of coal could say that the problems are entirely economic. They're not economic at all. We have more recoverable coal than anybody in the world. We now think we have more recoverable natural gas than anybody in the world. By 2016, under the current EPA rules that are out there, plus this one, our utilities in our state would go up as much as 23% for the average Missourian, more than that for people in some parts of our state, a 23% increase on the utility bill by 2016. The estimates are that by 2020, we will lose 76,000 jobs because of that increase in utility rates. And wherever those jobs go, they're not going to go to California or Massachusetts or somebody that has bills that are higher than ours today. They're going to go to places that care a whole lot less about what comes out of this smokestack than we do. Last year, in states where coal generated at least 60% of the electricity, customers paid 30% less in energy prices than states that use less coal than that to produce their electricity, and in our state, as I have said before, 82% of our electricity comes from coal."

Senator Boxer: (11:14 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "We know for every $3 we invest, every one dollars to three dollars, we're going to get back nine dollars in health benefits. So if you do the math and follow the math, it's clear that this is cost-effective, critically important. Just ask a parent who has a child who was rushed to the emergency room with asthma, whether they want this done. Just ask a utility, a coal-fired utility that has made these improvements already, half of them have, and they'll tell you it hardly had any impact on electricity prices, and they're happy with it. So if this resolution were to pass and the policy behind it were to pass, it means that instead of rewarding those coal-fired utilities who are doing the right thing, we are rewarding those who haven't done the right thing and continue to spew forth these toxins. What is at stake? What is at stake? And I ask you rhetorically, I say to the people who oh may be listening to this, who do you trust more? Senators, politicians, or physicians? Or the nurses? I think you should trust on these numbers the professionals who have looked at this. If this resolution were to pass and EPA is blocked from implementing this new clean air standard, we will see up to 11,000 additional premature deaths. 4,700 heart attacks, 130,000 cases of childhood asthma, 6,300 cases of acute bronchitis among children, 5,700 emergency room visits, 540,000 days of missed work. And, again, the rule provides $3 to $9 in benefits for every $1 that is invested. Now, you're going to hear other things from the opponents of the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency. But the people of America are smart. They were just asked two months ago if they want us to interfere with the environmental protection agency as they clean up the air, clean up the mercury, clean up the toxic soot, and they said by 78%, stay out of it, politicians, and let the Environmental Protection Agency do its job. We should thank the coal companies who have already cleaned up their act, not reward those who have delayed cleaning up their act There was hardly any fluctuation in utility rates when half of the coal-fired plants made these improvements. Do not fall for scare tactics. Because we know upgrading a utility is something that's got to be done. And it's built into the long-term plans of these utilities."

Senator Paul: (11:22 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "From all the hysteria, would you think pollution is getting so much worse. All measurements of pollution show we're doing a good job and b we've ever done. Most of the emission, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, they're going down. Do you know over half of mercury comes from natural sources? Forest fires emit more mercury than power plants do. We already have eight regulations on mercury, a plethora of regulations at the state level and the question is, is mercury getting worse or is mercury getting less? Well, for the last five years, the amount of mercury that's being emitted has been cut in half. If you measure mercury in the blood of women and children, it's getting less. If you say what is a safe level of mercury in the blood, we're below that. If you look at populations that eat nothing but fish, the Seychelles Islands, they've found zero evidence mercury is hurting any of them. When you look at mercury emission, they're going down. The question is, are we going to have a balance in our country? Does the other side care whether you work or not? You can do everything possible to try to eliminate this last 1%, but the question, at what cost? Many are estimating 50,000 people are going to lose their jobs. Do you care if you have a job? Yes, we want to be safe, but there has to be a balancing act. The question you have to ask, is the environment cleaner or worse off? The environment is so much cleaner than it used to be. The rules in place are somewhat balanced, and are keeping pollution under control. What we don't want to do is go so far over the top that we lose jobs. This new rule is estimated to lose 50,000 jobs."

Senator Kyl: (11:25 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "I'll simply say adopting this resolution is very important to prevent the implementation of a regulation which I think has been very clearly been established does not meet the test that would be required for the promulgation of a public health regulation and fails any test of cost-benefit analysis. And therefore I urge my colleagues to think about the effect on the industry, on the people of America, on the economy at this time, and adopt the resolution offered by the senator from Oklahoma."

Senator Inhofe: (11:26 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "Let me clarify a couple of things. First of all, several have made comments about the Clean Air Act. I was very supportive of the clean air act, it's done a great job and I think that should be clarified. I think the other things that certainly we've had three medical doctors testify as to the health implications on this, and I would only say this, that if you were really concerned about what's happening on this thing, keep in mind what the senator from Alaska, Senator Murkowski, said. This maximum achievable control technology is just not there. So if you vote against this amendment and they allow this rule to continue, you are effectively killing coal in America that's accountable for almost 50% of our energy."

Senator Pryor: (11:27 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "Turn on the evening news you see ads for clean coal. We need clean coal. We're like the Saudi Arabia of coal. We have, they say, 400 years' worth of coal supply in this country. And we have the technology now to take 90% of the mercury out and a local of the particles and we should do it. This is our chance to do it. This is a rule that's been 20 years in the making. This is not something that people dreamed up the last couple years. It's been 20 years in the making that congress has mandated that we do this. And I'd say this, in closing for my part of the closing, is that we should not have to make ourselves a false choice here. We don't have to be anti-coal and pro-health. We can be both. We can do what's good for the health of the country and good for coal and that is have clean coal, uphold this rule and vote against the Inhofe resolution."

Senator Boxer: (11:28 AM)
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "Power plants account for 62% of all the arsenic pollution that we are fighting against. Why would anyone who cares about the people they represent vote for this resolution and stop the EPA from cleaning up our air? Vote no. There is no reason to risk the health of the American people for voting for the Utility CRA Resolution. If the resolution passes and if that resolution were to become the policy of this country, thousands, hundreds of thousands of Americans every year will be harmed. This is not rhetoric. This is fact. Scientists have told us this. The health groups have told us this. I urge a strong no vote."

Reid, McConnell

Opening Remarks

Jun 20 2012

  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval. The time until 11:30 AM will be equally divided, with the Republicans controlling the first 15 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 15 minutes.
    • At 11:30 AM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Proceed to S. J. Res. 37.
      • If the Motion to Proceed is Agreed to, the time for debate with respect to the Joint Resolution will be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees. Upon the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on passage of S. J. Res. 37.
    • Thereafter, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 3240, the Farm bill, and conduct a series of ROLL CALL VOTES on the amendments listed below, alternating between Republican and Democratic sponsored amendments. There will be no amendments or motions in order to the amendments prior to the votes other than motions to waive points of order and motions to table. There will be two minutes of debate, equally divided, prior to each vote and all votes after the first vote will be ten minute votes. NOTE: The Senate is not expected to conduct ROLL CALL VOTES on all of the amendments. Upon disposition of all amendments, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on passage of the bill, as amended (60 votes required).
      1. Bennet-Crapo amendment #2202 (agricultural land easements);
      2. Manchin amendment #2345 (dietary study);
      3. Merkley amendment #2382 (organic crop insurance);
      4. Schumer amendment #2427 (ACRE);
      5. Stabenow amendment #2453 (NAP);
      6. Udall-CO amendment #2295 (bark beetle);
      7. Warner amendment #2457 (rural broadband);
      8. Wyden amendment #2442 (microloans);
      9. Wyden amendment #2388 (farm to school);
      10. Leahy amendment #2204 (rural development);
      11. Nelson-NE amendment #2242 (rural housing);
      12. Klobuchar amendment #2299 (transportation study);
      13. Carper amendment #2287 (poultry feed research);
      14. Sanders amendment #2254 (biomass);
      15. Thune amendment #2437 (crop insurance);
      16. Durbin-Coburn amendment #2439 (crop insurance);
      17. DeMint amendment #2273 (broadband);
      18. Coburn amendment #2289 (MAP);
      19. Coburn amendment #2293 (limit millionaires);
      20. Kerry amendment #2454 (North Korea);
      21. Kyl amendment #2354 (North Korea);
      22. Lee amendment #233 (Forest Legacy);
      23. Lee amendment #2314 (CSP/CRP cut);
      24. Boozman amendment #2355 (Ag research, law info);
      25. Boozman amendment #2360 (TEFAP).
      26. Toomey amendment #2226 (energy title);
      27. Toomey amendment #2433 (sugar);
      28. Lee Motion to Recommit (FY 2008 levels);
      29. Johnson-WI Motion to Recommit (Nutrition and Agriculture titles);
      30. Chambliss amendment #2438 (conservation crop insurance);
      31. Chambliss amendment #2340 (sugar);
      32. Chambliss amendment #2432 (FMPP);
      33. Ayotte amendment #2195 (GAO crop insurance fraud report);
      34. Blunt amendment #2246 (veterans);
      35. Moran amendment #2403 (food aid);
      36. Moran amendment #2443 (beginning farmers);
      37. Vitter amendment #2363 (pets);
      38. Toomey amendment #2247 (paperwork);
      39. Sanders amendment #2310 (genetically engineered food) (60 votes required);
      40. Coburn amendment #2214 (convention funding) (60 votes required);
      41. Boxer amendment #2456 (aerial inspections) (60 votes required);
      42. Johanns amendment #2372 (aerial inspections) (60 votes required);
      43. Murray amendment #2455 (sequestration) (60 votes required);
      44. McCain amendment #2162 (sequestration report re: DoD) (60 votes required); and
      45. Rubio amendment #2166 (RAISE Act) to S. 3240, the Farm bill (60 votes required).

Senator Reid: (10:02 AM)
  • Filed Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 1940, the Flood Insurance bill.

Senator McConnell: (9:36 AM)
  • Spoke on the Obama economy.
    • SUMMARY "It's become pretty clear over the past few months that President Obama now views his job as the deflector in chief. No longer content to lay all the nation's problems at the feet of his predecessor, he's taken to creating controversies out of whole cloth. And whether it is a manufactured fight over student loan rates or the so-called war on women, the goal is as clear as you can imagine: get reporters to focus these things and maybe the rest of the country will as well. Get them to focus on anything other than the president's own failure to turn the economy around. And maybe he can squeak by without folks noticing it. That's the plan at least, and frankly it couldn't reflect a more misguided view of the American people. Now, they know who's been in charge the past three and a half years, and the fact that the president had a tough job to do doesn't mean he gets a pass on how he's handled it or on the solutions he has proposed. Most Americans don't like either one of the president's two signature pieces of legislation - Obamacare or the stimulus. They're not particularly thrilled about seeing America's credit rating downgraded for the first time ever. They're scared to death about its $16 trillion debt, trillion-dollar deficits and chronic joblessness. And many, including myself, are deeply concerned about this administration's thuggish attempts to shut its critics right out of the political process. These are the kinds of things Americans have been telling us for three years they're worried about, and we're not about to be drawn into some rabbit hole so the president doesn't have to talk about it. We're going to stay focused on all of these things, not because of some political advantage but because the American people demand it. So the president can come up with the excuse du jour but we're going to about jobs. We're going to talk about the deficits and debt. We'll talk about the constitution. And when it comes to jobs, let's be clear. This administration has been engaged in a war on the private sector, and in many cases it used federal agencies and a heavy-handed regulatory process to wage it largely out of view."
  • Spoke on the Utility MACT Rule Resolution of Disapproval.
    • SUMMARY "What we see, an administration that always seems to assume the worst of the private sector and whose policies are aimed at undermining it. And nowhere is it more clear than at EPA that's why I support Senator Inhofe's ongoing efforts including a vote today to push back on the EPA, which has become one of the lead culprits in this administration's war on American jobs. Senator Inhofe is focusing on just one regulation out of the many that are crushing businesses across the country - the so-called Utility MACT which would cost American companies billions in upgrades but their competitors overseas, of course, it would cost them nothing. This regulation would expand the already massive powers given to EPA by increasing red tape and costing the taxpayer over $10 billion each year. In my state, Kentucky, alone it threatens the jobs of over 1,400 people working in aluminum smelter plants as well as approximately 18,000 coalminers, not to mention those engaged in industries that support these jobs. Kentucky power, operator of the only coal-burning power plant in my state, recently conceded defeat in this fight. After the EPA demanded upgrades to its plant at a cost of nearly $1 billion, raising the typical residential customer's monthly electric bill by a whopping 30%. At that time that price it's no wonder the plant found the new regulations completely unworkable. The EPA may have won this battle, but the real losers are more than 170,000 homes and businesses spread out among 20 eastern Kentucky counties that depend on the Kentucky power plant for their energy. The proponents of the Utility MACT say it's needed to improve air quality. What they can't tell you is what these benefits would be. Or the effect of leaving the plants in their current condition. Look, we all support clean air, but if we waved through every regulation with regard without to its actual impact, we wouldn't be able to produce anything in the country. What we do know is a substantial amount of the electricity we produce in this country comes from coal, and this new regulation would devastate the jobs that depend on this cheap, abundant resource. This is just one battle in the administration's war on jobs, but it has a devastating consequence for real people and real families in my state and in many others."

Jun 20 2012

The Senate Convened.

Jun 20 2012

The Senate is considering the motion to proceed to S. J. Res. 37, the Utility MACT rule resolution of disapproval.  The Senate is also considering S. 3240, the farm 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.