Senate Calendar

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jun 21 2012

Senator Reid: (5:32 PM)
  • Performed Wrap Up --
    • Cloture was filed on the Motion to Concur in the House amendment to S. 3187, the FDA Reauthorization bill, with an amendment. The amendment tree has been filled.
  • Monday, June 25th --
    • The Senate will convene at 2:00 PM and resume consideration of S. 1940, the Flood Insurance bill, post-cloture. By UC, the Motion to Proceed to S. 1940, will be Agreed to no later than 5:30 PM.
    • At 5:30 PM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Concur in the House amendment to S. 3187, the FDA Reauthorization bill.
  • Tuesday, June 26th --
    • At 11:30 AM, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 30 minutes of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar #652, Robin S. Rosenbaum, of Florida, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Florida.
    • At 12:00 PM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the nomination.
The Senate stands adjourned until 2:00 PM Monday, June 25th.

Thune, Leahy, Manchin, Barrasso

Flood Insurance bill (S. 1940)

Jun 21 2012

Senator Thune: (3:39 PM)
  • Spoke on the expiring Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "I rise to speak my growing concern as massive tax increases loom on the horizon and I didn't think the Senate has not taken a single vote to forestall what many are calling taxmageddon. Washington tends to be a speak where people talk in hyperbole. Tax increases will hit us next year if we don't act. If Congress doesn't act to extend the current income tax rates, the relief from the AMT, relief from the federal estate tax, and other expiring tax relief measures the result will be a tax increase of more than $470 billion on Americans in 2013 alone. Over the next ten years this tax increase would result in nearly $4.5 trillion in new taxes on American families and entrepreneurs. This will be the largest tax increase in our nation's history in absolute dollars and the second-largest tax increase since World War II as a percentage of our economy. And this massive tax increase does not even take into account the new taxes enacted as part of Obamacare that will also go into effect in 2013, and it will impose an additional $23 billion in higher taxes on individuals and businesses. What will these taxes mean, madam president to the average American family? Well, the Heritage Foundation published a study that estimated the tax increase per tax return in every state - in my state of South Dakota, Heritage estimates that the average tax increase per tax return will be $3,187 in 2013. Now, I would say this to my Democratic friends who generally believe in demand-driven Keynesian economics. The average family in South Dakota can do more to stimulate our economy and create new employment by keeping their $3,187 and spending it as they see fit, not as Washington sees fit to spend it on their behalf. Taxmageddon is an apt description when you consider the impact of these tax increases, not just on individual families, but on our entire economy. Until recently we could speculate about the impact of these tax increases on our fragile economy, but the magnitude of the damage was not in dispute. Not anymore. Last month the Congressional Budget Office gave us the most definitive estimate yet of the impact of the nearly $500,000,000,000 when combined with the spending cuts from the sequester. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the combination of massive tax increases and the sequester will result in real GDP growth in calendar year 2013 of only .5%. The picture is even bleaker when you consider that the Congressional Budget Office also projects that the economy will actually contract by 1.3% in the first half of 2013. According to the CBO, such a contraction and output in the first half of 2013 would "probably be judged to be a recession." The sooner we act to extend the current tax rates, the better off our economy will be and the better off will be the 12.7 million Americans who are currently unemployed. The sooner we act, the better off will be the 5.4 million Americans who have been unemployed long term or the 46.2 million Americans living in poverty or the record 46 million Americans who receive food stamps. I agree with President Obama when he said in August of 2009 "you don't raise taxes in a recession." President Obama from August of 2009. Well, if you shouldn't raise taxes in a recession, it stands to reason that you also shouldn't raise taxes that will cause a recession."

Senator Leahy: (3:52 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "We look at tax policy and debt and whatnot, I would urge that senators may want to look at the article written by Walter Pincus in today's Washington Post. The two wars we've been in Iraq and Afghanistan, the two longest wars in America's history will be noted not just for their length; for the fact it's the only time America's gone to war where we have not had a special tax to pay for the war. In fact, the only time America has gone to war where we haven't had a tax to pay for the war, but we've ended up with a tax cut, and we end up trillions of dollars in debt as a result. I hope we'll come to the time that we'll say, especially wars of choice. These aren't cases where we were attacked. A totally unnecessary war in Iraq. Totally unnecessary. We went to war in Iraq. We said we'll put it on a credit card. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Bad guy running it but we have a lot of countries we support with bad guys running them. $1 trillion, thousands of American lives, tens of thousands of coalition and Iraqi lives gone. Our children are going to have a $1 trillion bill to pay for it, and we got absolutely nothing out of it. Go to Afghanistan to get Osama bin laden. We got him. We're stuck there for years. Maybe another $1 trillion to beef up a corrupt government, and our children, our grandchildren will be given the bill. Then we talk about what else can we do that we've not paid for? We should think about it."
  • Thanked colleagues and staff for their work on the Farm bill.

Senator Manchin: (4:22 PM)
  • Congratulated former West Virginia Governor Gaston Caperton.
  • Spoke on prescription drug abuse.
    • SUMMARY "I also rise today to express my deep, deep concern. And my disappointment that the special interest groups that a vested financial interest in this issue have derailed a strong effort to fight the prescription drug abuse. It's an epidemic that is devastating communities all across this nation. They got their victory, they got their victory, but not at my expense. The people who will pay the price are the young boys and girls in communities all across this nation who are seeing their families and their schools and their neighborhoods wrecked by abuse and addiction. What my amendment would do is simply this: it would require patience to get a new prescription to fill their pills. What we have right now in trying to schedule hydrocodone from schedule three to schedule two is the ease of availability and prescriptions being refilled without visits to doctors. The pills would have to be stored and transported more securely and traffickers would be subject to increased fines and penalties. I'm not trying to put anyone out of business. In fighting for this amendment I asked anyone and everyone who was opposed to come to see me and if we could finds a way to work together we would do that. We tried to accommodate groups worried about administrative costs like security costs for scoring hydrocodone or paperwork that would come as a result of rescheduling. But at the end of the day, these groups seem more concerned about their business plans and their ability to sell more pills than the responsibility we all have to protect the future of this country and the future of the generation we are counting on to lead and defend this country. Since the moment the Senate adopted my hydrocodone amendment, lobbyists have been turning out in droves to fight this effort to limit people's ability to get pills and abuse them. Yesterday they got a victory. When the House of Representatives passed a compromised version of the FDA bill that does not contain my amendment and I assume the Senate will do the same also."

Senator Barrasso: (4:32 PM)
  • A Doctor's Second Opinion.
    • SUMMARY "The mandate is interesting. I bring this to the attention of the senate today because President Obama at one point was opposed to the mandate. When he was running for president, during his campaign for the white house, then-senator from Illinois, Senator Obama quipped, "if a mandate was the solution," He said, "we can try to solve homelessness by mandating that everybody should buy a house." Now the President's tune has obviously changed. Now, I believe the mandate is unconstitutional. I believe that if the court strikes down the mandate, the rest of the law should also be found unconstitutional. You know, during the health care debate two years ago supporters of the law repeatedly stated - repeatedly stated - that the mandate was an essential component of the law. So let's review what folks have said. Well, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in the Washington Post, they said "without an individual responsibility provision" - is what they call the individual mandate - "the law doesn't work." The law doesn't work. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi also came to the same conclusion. In two separate blogposts she stated that without the individual mandate, the math, she said, behind the health care law does not work. The current Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Baucus, also came to this same conclusion during the debate on the health care law. During a committee hearing, Chairman Baucus stated that, allowing individuals to opt out, he said, of the individual mandate would "strike at the heart of health care reform." Finally, Senate Democrats in their amicus curie brief filed with the Supreme Court argued that the individual mandate, they said, is an integral part of the health care law. It seems to me that supporters of the law from the very beginning of this debate recognized that without the individual mandate, the rest of the health care law would need to go away. Now it seems Washington Democrats are changing their tune and coming to a different conclusion. In a story published by the Associated Press on June 18 of this year, it was reported that "the Obama administration plans to move ahead with major parts of the president's health care law if its most controversial provision" - obviously the individual mandate - "does not survive." In fact an anonymous high-level Democratic official declared that the administration would move "full speed ahead" with implementation of the health care law. It seems the administration only views the mandate as essential when it is politically convenient. As I've stated many times before, I believe the entire health care law needs to be completely repealed and replaced. This law increases taxes, and it hurts job creation at a time of 8.2% unemployment across the country, at a time when college graduates are moving back home because they cannot find home, when people are underemployed, people have given up looking for work, and yet the health care law adds to the cost and adds to the uncertainty of these uncertain times and a weak economy. The American people want a healthy economy and this health care law is making it worse. If the law's individual mandate is struck down, the president should not implement whatever is left standing. Instead he should work with congress, both sides of the aisle, to implement commonsense, step-by-step reforms that will actually lower the cost of health care for all Americans."

Landrieu, Reed, Whitehouse, Roberts, Stabenow

Flood Insurance bill (S. 1940)

Jun 21 2012

Senator Landrieu: (2:33 PM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "I just want to put this into the record, a short statement on the farm bill. First I want to thank the senator from Michigan and the senator from Kansas. Really an extraordinary job. A very difficult bill, very complicated, and difficult because it's not just a republican-democratic debate or democrat-republican debate. It's really a regional debate that has to take place and there is a lot of give and take. I have been proud to vote for every farm bill that has been before the Senate, to my knowledge, but I voted no today, and I wanted to say why. Despite the great work of Senator Stabenow and Senator Roberts, there was a weak part of this bill, in my view, related to rice farming, and it is such a significant and important part of our farming structure in Louisiana that I cast a vote against the bill to send a signal that more work needs to be done. This bill passed the Senate with an overwhelming vote. I voted for many of the amendments that I think helped to shape it to be even better than when it came out of committee. We beat back several attacks to uproot, destroy or significantly modify the sugar program which has been a very important staple in the state of Louisiana, one of the nation's great sugar growers I was proud to stand with our sugar industry and beat back those amendments. Louisiana farmers and ranchers make a significant contribution to our state, generating over $10.8 billion in economic activity alone. Agriculture, including fisheries, of course forestry and with energy is the backbone of Louisiana's economy. This Farm bill is an important bill. As I said, I'm happy to vote for literally dozens of amendments that strengthened it but held out my final support, hoping that as it travels to the House, the farm provisions related to our rice growers could be perfected. People like to say the United States grows the cheapest, safest and most abundant food and fiber energy supply in the world, and they are right, and the people in my state who do that day in and day out are proud."

Senator Reed: (2:39 PM)
  • Commemorated the 40th Anniversary of the Pell Grant program.
  • Spoke on the Student Loan bill.
    • SUMMARY "Unless we are able to come to an agreement over the next several days, we also face the prospect of seeing the rate on these student loans double by July 1. That would deal another blow to moderate and low-income families. Now, Leader Reid has proposed a very reasonable compromise, I hope that compromise is going to be followed up. I'm hopeful that my colleagues, my Republican colleagues can, you know, use this opportunity not only to continue to keep the lending rate low for Stafford loans but renew our pledge and commitment to the Pell grant. It would be ironic to see on the 40th anniversary of the Pell grants a further undermining of ... Ability of middle and low-income Americans to go to college. In fact, this should be opportunity to do much more Increasing student debt especially during these difficult times would be a tragedy for students, their families, and our nation. I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, on our side of the aisle, all of my colleagues to work together to prevent the increase in the student loan interest rate from doubling on July 1. And that would indeed be a fitting tribute to Senator Pell on the 40th anniversary of the Pell grant."

Senator Whitehouse: (2:46 PM)
  • Commemorated the 40th Anniversary of the Pell Grant program.
  • Spoke on the Student Loan bill.
    • SUMMARY "The Republican budget in the House of Representatives slashes funding and eligibility for Pell grants and eliminates all mandatory funding for the program over the next ten years. We all understand the need to find savings in the federal budget. We all understand the need to make difficult choices. But of all the bad choices we could make, of all the unintelligent choices we could make, failing to invest in Pell grants would really be among the worst. It is frankly shameful that federal financial aid has not kept pace with the rising cost of college. And it is truly misguided to roll back financial aid for a generation of young Americans preparing to compete in an ever-more-global economy. We need a highly trained work force. And Pell grants are very often the keystone in the arch that students must build to afford college."
Senator Roberts: (2:57 PM)
  • Thanked colleagues and staff for their work on the Farm bill.

Senator Stabenow: (3:05 PM)
  • Thanked colleagues and staff for their work on the Farm bill.

Jun 21 2012

Agreed to, 96-2:
Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 1940, the Flood Insurance bill.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Passage)

Farm bill (S. 3240)

Jun 21 2012

Passed, 64-35:
S. 3240, the Farm bill, as amended (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 21 2012

Not Agreed to, 45-54:
Rubio amendment #2166 (RAISE Act) to S. 3240, the Farm bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 21 2012

Agreed to by Voice Vote:
Murray amendment #2455, as modified (sequestration) to S. 3240, the Farm bill.

Jun 21 2012

Agreed to, 95-4:
Coburn amendment #2214 (convention funding) to S. 3240, the Farm bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 21 2012

Not Agreed to, 26-73:
Sanders amendment #2310 (genetically engineered food) to S. 3240, the Farm bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 21 2012

Not Agreed to, 58-41:
Toomey amendment #2247 (paperwork) to S. 3240, the Farm bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 21 2012

Not Agreed to, 56-43:
Johanns amendment #2372 (aerial inspections) to S. 3240, the Farm bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Jun 21 2012

Not Agreed to, 47-47:
Boxer amendment #2456 (aerial inspections) to S. 3240, the Farm bill (60 votes required).
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Udall-CO

Flood Insurance bill (S. 1940)

Jun 21 2012

Senator Udall-CO: (10:39 AM)
  • Spoke on the Wind Production Tax Credit.
    • SUMMARY "The wind energy industry, it supports 4,000 jobs, you have 180,000 homes that are powered by wind, and you have $1.4 million in property taxes from wind projects that go to local communities. So this is an important set of numbers. It's money particularly on the tax side that helps local communities pay for basic services. And it's just critical in this time of decreasing local and state budgets. If you think about it, all of these figures - the jobs, the revenues, the investments - they're prime for significant growth going forward. But that future, that growth are going to be threatened unless we act, unless the Congress acts to extend the production tax credit. There's strong bipartisan support for extending the production tax credit. And the wind energy has a presence in almost every single state in our country. So if you look at the overall picture, this just isn't the time for companies ... to grow reluctant to invest in the future. So we've got to expand the PTC it will incent this country to keep the rapid growth. I am again on the floor to urge my colleagues to work with me to extend the wind production tax credit as soon as possible."

Reid, McConnell

Opening Remarks

Jun 21 2012

  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of S. 1940, the Flood Insurance bill, with the time until 11:00 AM 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:
      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);
      8. Rubio amendment #2166 (RAISE Act) (60 votes required); and
      9. Passage of S. 3240, the Farm bill, as amended (60 votes required).
  • Majority Leader Reid has indicated that the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 1940, the Flood Insurance bill, during today's session.

Senator Reid: (10:32 AM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "As the Republican leader and I have talked, as difficult as it is to work on the bills that I have just mentioned, including the farm bill, it is good for the Senate - I appeared before a committee chaired by Senator Carper and the ranking member was Senator Collins, and they both indicated there today before everybody that the spirit on the Senate floor was good yesterday. Now, that's because everyone can feel we're accomplishing something. Some of the votes were difficult and some - we all wish we hadn't taken some, they were tough votes. But that's what the Senate is all about. I feel comfortable with the last bit that we're trying to work together for the good of the country. I've said lots of times, if we're able to accomplish things here as a body, everyone can take credit for it. You can go back to your states and claim your part of victory for the country. But if we don't get things done, you're part of the blame. And people can go home and lament the fact that we haven't been able to get things done. And people point fingers at them and, "why haven't you been able to get more done?" Today is the longest day of the year. It will bring good tidings to the Senate."

Senator McConnell: (10:35 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "Before the Majority Leader leaves the floor, let me just say I agree entirely that the senate, it seems to me, is sort of getting back to operating the way the senate traditionally has. I think the way Senator Roberts and Stabenow have hand the Farm bill has been exemplary. Members on both sides have gotten opportunities to offer amendments. We've had a lot of votes, but it is an important bill. And so I commend all of those who have been involved and beginning to work us back in the direction that I think most of the Senate will be comfortable with, and I also want to thank my friend, the Majority Leader. He has a tough job setting the agenda and deciding how to go about moving legislation. I think the way we've handled the Farm bill and other measures to which he's referred in recent months has been a very important step in the right direction."
  • Spoke on the Student Loan bill.
    • SUMMARY "Three weeks ago today Republican leaders in the Senate joined Republican leaders in the House in calling on the president to resolve a pending increase in student loan rates. Drawing on some of the president's own ideas, we proposed multiple good-faith solutions to this problem before it's too late. And we've been waiting ever since for the president's response. He's actually been missing in action. He has yet to offer a concrete solution. So you can understand our surprise upon learning this morning of the president planning to call on congress later today to do something about the student loan rates. The Republican-led House of Representatives already passed a bill that would solve the problem. And as I said, Republican leaders in the Senate have been on record supporting multiple, multiple good-faith solutions to this problem for literally we weeks. It is actually the Democratic-led Senate that has failed to act and the president who has failed to contribute to a solution, and the reason is pretty obvious. It was reported yesterday that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching a web site with a countdown clock aimed at raising money after the issue. The implications is that Republicans are the ones dragging their feet. As for the president? Well, this is just another strategy of deflection and distraction. Deflection and distraction. College graduates are struggling to find work and pay their bills in the Obama economy. He'd like them to believe that it is somebody else's fault. Latinos are struggling with high unemployment. He'd like them to believe the republicans are the problem. Middle-class moms are struggling to make ends meet. He wants them to think we're engaged in some phony war on women. The president doesn't have a positive message to send to any of these folks, so he's cooking up false controversies to distract them from his own failure to turn the economy around. Well, on the student loan issue, we could solve this problem in a sitting. Republicans have acted quickly and on a bipartisan basis to help prevent these rates from going up. We passed a bill out of the house. We've reached out to the president. We proposed multiple, multiple solutions. The only reason this issue isn't already resolved - the only reason - is the president wants to keep it alive a little while longer. He thinks it benefits him politically for college students to believe we're somehow the problem. Time to stop playing games, time for the president to act."

Jun 21 2012

The Senate Convened.

Jun 21 2012

The Senate is 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.