Senate Calendar

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mar 21 2012

Senator Durbin: (6:40 PM)
  • Performed Wrap Up â€"
  • Tomorrow --
    • The Senate will convene at 9:30 AM and proceed to a period of Morning Business for 1 hour, with Senators permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each. The time will be equally divided, with the Majority controlling the first 30 minutes and the Republicans controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • Following Morning Business, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 3606, the JOBS Act, post-cloture, with the time until 12:30 PM equally divided.
    • The filing deadline for second-degree amendments to the Motion to Concur in the House amendment to S. 2038, the STOCK Act, must be filed at the desk by 10:30 AM.
    • At 12:30 PM, the Senate will proceed to 7 ROLL CALL VOTES on:
      1. Reid (for Reed) amendment #1931 (disclosure);
      2. Reid (for Merkley et al) amendment #1884, as amended, if amended (crowd funding);
      3. Passage of H.R. 3606, the JOBS bill, as amended, if amended;
      4. Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Concur in the House amendment to S. 2038, the STOCK Act (There will be 4 minutes of debate, equally divided, prior to the vote)
        • If Cloture is Invoked, all post-Cloture time will be yielded back, the amendment will be withdrawn and the Motion to Concur will be Agreed to.
      5. Executive Calendar #441, David Nuffer, of Utah, to be United States District Judge for the District of Utah;
      6. Executive Calendar #462, Ronnie Abrams, of New York, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York; and
      7. Executive Calendar #463, Rudolph Contreras, of Virginia, to be United States District Judge for the District of Columbia.
    • All roll call votes after the first roll call vote will be ten-minutes votes.


Senator Wyden
: (6:47 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Landrieu: (7:02 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

The Senate stands adjourned until 9:30 AM Thursday, March 22th.

Whitehouse, Reed, Brown-OH

JOBS Act (H.R. 3606)

Mar 21 2012

Senator Whitehouse: (6:04 PM)
  • Spoke on the DISCLOSE Act.
    • SUMMARY "The bill we're introducing today has been trimmed down so that it just does two simple things: one, if you're an organization, like a corporation, a SuperPAC's or a 501-c-4 group, spending money in an election campaign in support of or in opposition to a candidate, you have to tell the public where that money came from and what you're spending it on in a timely manner. That should not be a controversial idea to anyone. At least to anyone who's not seeking special influence. If you are a top executive or a major donor of an organization spending millions of dollars on campaign ads, you have to take responsibility for those ads by having your name on the ad, and in the case of an executive appearing in the ad yourself. That's it - disclosure and a disclaimer. These are reasonable provisions that should have wide support from democrats and republicans alike. The DISCLOSE Act of 2012, trims down the original DISCLOSE Act in another way. We have raised the threshold for donations that require now; it may sound like $10,000 is a ridiculously high threshold, that that's just an awful lot of money. But when you look at what's happening in these SuperPAC's, $10,000 in this particular world is no big deal. 93% of money raised by SuperPAC's in 2010 and 2011 that can be traced to specific donors came in contributions of $10,000 or more. So we will catch probably 93% of the money in this reporting provision while leaving smaller donations and dues payments to membership organizations private. The act also does not require the disclosure of nonpolitical donations, affiliate transfers, business investments and other transfers of money that have nothing to do with electioneering. At the same time, however, the bill also contains strong provisions to prevent the use of dummy organizations or shell corporations to hide their donations from public view. The way this bill is drafted, if somebody sets up a phony organization to take a contribution and in turn make that contribution to another phony organization and in turn make that contribution to another phony organization before it finally lands in the SuperPAC's that is benefiting a candidate, we will be able to trace that series of transactions. So it's a good law, it's a simpler law, it's an effective law. It only goes after high dollar givers, and passing it would prove to the American people that congress is committed to fairness, that we are committed to equality and that we are committed to the fundamental principle of a government of the people, by the people and for the people."

Senator Reed: (6:18 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Brown-OH: (6:24 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.
  • Spoke on Ohio being the first state to have four teams in the Sweet 16 NCAA tournament.

Carper, Cantwell, Franken

JOBS Act (H.R. 3606)

Mar 21 2012

Senator Carper: (5:38 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Cantwell: (5:46 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Franken: (5:51 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Durbin, Sessions

JOBS Act (H.R. 3606)

Mar 21 2012

Senator Durbin: (5:17 PM)
  • Spoke on televising Supreme Court proceedings.
    • SUMMARY "In a democratic society that values transparency and participation, there can't be any valid justification for such a powerful element of government to operate outside the view of the American people. For too long, the American people have been prevented from observing open sections of the Supreme Court - open sessions of the Supreme Court. Except for the privileged few, the VIP's, members of the Supreme Court bar or the press, the most powerful court in our land, some might argue in the world, is inaccessible to the public and shrouded in mystery. I'm pleased to stand in the committee, judiciary committee with Senator Grassley, the ranking member of the judiciary committee, asking that the Senate pass our bipartisan bill that would require televising open Supreme Court proceedings. With the benefit of modern technology, the Supreme Court proceedings can be televised using unobtrusive cameras and the court's existing audio recording capability. Our bill respects the constitutional rights of the parties before the court and respects the discretion of the justices. The court can decline to televise any proceeding where the justices determine by a majority vote that doing so would violate due process of one or more parties. In our view, Senator Grassley and myself, this is a reasonable approach that balances the public need for information and transparency, the constitutional rights of those before the court, and the discretion of the judges."
  • Unanimous Consent: The Senate proceed to the consideration of S. 1945, a bill to permit the televising of Supreme Court proceedings, that the bill be read a third time and passed, and the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate (Sessions objected).

Senator Sessions: (5:30 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I want to congratulate my matter that is - the Senate and the Congress has considered quite a number of years. It has not decided to take this step to direct a co-equal branch of government how to conduct their business, and I don't think we should. So i think it would be inappropriate to pass this on a UC without a full debate and discussion and a full vote on it. So I would say that. Also, I would note that the justices have opposed this policy. I think we have a duty to respect the co-equal branch of our government. They feel like it would impact adversely the tenor and tone of the oral arguments, that justices would have to feel burdened to explain why they're asking a question, to perhaps instead of just citing a case by name that all the lawyers would know, but to explain to non-lawyers now what was on their mind as a part of their process of questioning. And so I think that's a factor. I would also note that it raises constitutional questions. Why do we want to push to the limit and perhaps over the limit and try to dictate to a co-equal branch how to conduct the adjudicative process? Not the political process. We're the political branch. That's the nonpolitical branch, where judges are given lifetime tenures so to insulate them from pressure and to allow them to dispassionately decide complex issues."
  • Unanimous Consent: The Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of S. 67, that the committee reported amendment to 671 be agreed to, the bill be amended as read a third time and passed (Durbin objected).

Senator Durbin: (5:33 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent: Would the senator be willing to modify his request to include the passage of other bills which are part of that passage and have similarly important elements in terms of keeping America safe?
    • S. 179, Strengthening and Investigations of Sex Offenders and Missing Children Act;
    • S. 1793, the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act; and
    • Discharging the Judiciary Committee from further consideration of S. 1696, the Dale Long Officers Benefits Improvements Act, agreeing to a substitute amendment which is at the desk and passing the bill as amended (Sessions objected).

Senator Sessions: (5:35 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Mar 21 2012

Senator Cardin: (2:53 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Boxer: (3:03 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Hutchison: (3:11 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Kerry: (3:30 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Mikulski: (3:40 PM)
  • Thanked colleagues for their tribute.

Senator Murray: (3:52 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Schumer: (3:56 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Whitehouse: (4:03 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Isakson: (4:08 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.
  • Paid tribute to Furman Bisher, premier sportswriter, who passed away on March 18, 2012.

Senator Coons: (4:12 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Murkowski: (4:15 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Menendez: (4:22 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Shaheen: (4:30 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Manchin: (4:34 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Lautenberg: (4:38 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Gillibrand: (4:49 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Udall-NM: (4:53 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Snowe: (5:00 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Klobuchar: (5:11 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Mar 21 2012

Senator Reid: (2:32 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator McConnell: (2:48 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Reid: (2:52 PM)
  • Tomorrow, the Senate will proceed to 3 ROLL CALL VOTES on:
    1. Reid (for Merkley et al) amendment #1884 (crowd funding);
    2. Reid (for Reed) amendment #1931 (disclosure); and
    3. Passage of H.R. 3606, the JOBS bill, as amended, if amended.

Brown-MA, Feinstein, Hatch, Durbin

JOBS Act (H.R. 3606)

Mar 21 2012

Senator Brown-MA: (1:39 PM)
  • Spoke in support of Reid (for Merkley et al) amendment #1884 (crowd funding).
    • SUMMARY "For those of you who may be listening up in the gallery or on television, crowning is an opportunity for individuals to invest money upwards of a thousand dollars, upwards of a million dollars total, so $1,000 per person, totaling $1 million. Not dealing with a lot of the traditional SEC filings that are in place and a lot. Other problems in which only very wealthy people in years past have been able to participate in these types of offerings. For example right now if I had a good idea and wanted some of my friends to invest in it and then we go and start marketing, we couldn't do that. That's illegal. One of the President's objectives in his jobs speech was the to talk about new opportunities and crowning is one of them. He supports it, the House has done a similar crowning bill and we're actually taking this crowd funding opportunity. I know our bill is different than the house bill in that the House bill doesn't require that you actually are a legal business or even some kind of incorporated legal forum before you try to issue stock and that bothers me somewhat in that you can have somebody in their living room issuing stock with no check and balance. That's important. It doesn't require that you offer securities through an intermediary. You could put up your own twitter site, buy shares, is my great idea, come on and buy shares. All the experts agree that we would need to require an intermediary like an ebay where the crowd can identify the good and bad players the way that even identifies - ebay allows bad sellers on their site. It allows investments to take place that can't be done right now and allows the groups to use the seed money to create those new ideas and new jobs. Startup businesses are the entities looking to create jobs at this point and or use that money as seed money to go to a traditional lender and say we have a great idea and some money to back it up and ask to you sign on with us. I'm hopeful that the amendment comes up, I understand it is, and I'm looking forward to having that very important vote."
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act.
    • SUMMARY "I'm on the floor today to call on my colleagues to ban together and pass - band together and pass this reauthorization and send a strong signal that the senate stands united in recognizing victims from across the country to give them the help that they need and obviously deserve. In Massachusetts, VAWA is supported by law enforcement and many service providers on the front lines of assisting domestic violence victims. I know previously as an attorney I dealt in family law matters. I know of the yeoman's work these entities do and on Friday I will be visiting voices against violence in Framingham, Massachusetts, to support services to survivors of sexual assault and ensure a trained rape counselor is available after hours. The YMCA uses those funds for a proactive program that has service providers working closely with law enforcement to provide information, identify and provide information for domestic violence victims and advocate on their behalf at a time when quite frankly these folks need advocates. Because of VAWA, reach beyond abuse in Waltham has supported many cutting-edge prevention efforts with teams of placement of advocates in police departments as a symbiotic, a give and take relations in those departments. The Jean Charger uses funds to establish a homicide prevent project and was recently recognized by the White House for their work. I could go on and on about the tremendous involvement and great organizations, not only in my state but throughout this country that are making a difference in the lives of victims. And we need to stand as a body and not get into party rhetoric and declare to women across America they are not alone in this fight. We need to do everything to help the millions of women like my mom who once in this situation and are now survivors and help them become survivors and not just victims."

Senator Feinstein: (2:00 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Hatch: (2:09 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "The Obamacare episode showed a fundamental disrespect for the opinions and constitutional commonsense of the American people. Faced with growing unrest and real concerns about the impact of this law on families, the economy, and access to health care, the law's proponents assumed that the American people were just too dumb to get it. But once Obamacare became law, the American people would become to love it, as well as the benefactors who gave it to them. That's what we thought. As Speaker Pelosi once explained, we have to pass the bill so we can find out what's in it. The great liberal conceit was on full display in the process that led to this bill becoming law. We know better than you, they said. We can plan one-sixth of the American economy and you will eventually come to like it. Well, as we all know, the American people had something else in mind. They reminded Congress and the President that this country and people are sovereign. They stood up as free men and women, rejecting Obamacare before it became law and refusing to embrace it afterward. And as their understanding of the law has deepened, they have remained constant in their commitment to full repeal. According to a Rasmussen poll this week, over half of support the full repeal of Obamacare. Next week the Supreme Court will hear oral argument on the constitutionality of this misguided law. In arriving at their decision later this year, they will consider Obamacare through the prism of past precedents and the constitution's original historic meaning. But the justices of the Supreme Court are not the only ones evaluating the constitutionality of this law. The American people, as citizens of this nation, have their own obligation to consider whether this law comports with our constitution and principles of limited government. On that, the verdict is already in. According to a recent Gallup poll, 72% of American adults including 56% of self-professed Democrats believe that the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional. The average American who opposes this law on constitutional grounds might not be a law professor or an appellate advocate, but those citizens and taxpayers understand that our constitution was designed to guarantee liberty and that it did so in part by limiting the powers of the federal government and maintaining the sovereign powers of the states."

Senator Durbin: (2:23 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Brown-MA, Feinstein, Hatch, Durbin

JOBS Act (H.R. 3606)

Mar 21 2012

Senator Brown-MA
  • Spoke in support of Reid (for Merkley et al) amendment #1884 (crowd funding).
    • SUMMARY "For those of you who may be listening up in the gallery or on television, crowning is an opportunity for individuals to invest money upwards of a thousand dollars, upwards of a million dollars total, so $1,000 per person, totaling $1 million. Not dealing with a lot of the traditional SEC filings that are in place and a lot. Other problems in which only very wealthy people in years past have been able to participate in these types of offerings. For example right now if I had a good idea and wanted some of my friends to invest in it and then we go and start marketing, we couldn't do that. That's illegal. One of the President's objectives in his jobs speech was the to talk about new opportunities and crowning is one of them. He supports it, the House has done a similar crowning bill and we're actually taking this crowd funding opportunity. I know our bill is different than the house bill in that the House bill doesn't require that you actually are a legal business or even some kind of incorporated legal forum before you try to issue stock and that bothers me somewhat in that you can have somebody in their living room issuing stock with no check and balance. That's important. It doesn't require that you offer securities through an intermediary. You could put up your own twitter site, buy shares, is my great idea, come on and buy shares. All the experts agree that we would need to require an intermediary like an ebay where the crowd can identify the good and bad players the way that even identifies - ebay allows bad sellers on their site. It allows investments to take place that can't be done right now and allows the groups to use the seed money to create those new ideas and new jobs. Startup businesses are the entities looking to create jobs at this point and or use that money as seed money to go to a traditional lender and say we have a great idea and some money to back it up and ask to you sign on with us. I'm hopeful that the amendment comes up, I understand it is, and I'm looking forward to having that very important vote."
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act.
    • SUMMARY "I'm on the floor today to call on my colleagues to ban together and pass - band together and pass this reauthorization and send a strong signal that the senate stands united in recognizing victims from across the country to give them the help that they need and obviously deserve. In Massachusetts, VAWA is supported by law enforcement and many service providers on the front lines of assisting domestic violence victims. I know previously as an attorney I dealt in family law matters. I know of the yeoman's work these entities do and on Friday I will be visiting voices against violence in Framingham, Massachusetts, to support services to survivors of sexual assault and ensure a trained rape counselor is available after hours. The YMCA uses those funds for a proactive program that has service providers working closely with law enforcement to provide information, identify and provide information for domestic violence victims and advocate on their behalf at a time when quite frankly these folks need advocates. Because of VAWA, reach beyond abuse in Waltham has supported many cutting-edge prevention efforts with teams of placement of advocates in police departments as a symbiotic, a give and take relations in those departments. The Jean Charger uses funds to establish a homicide prevent project and was recently recognized by the White House for their work. I could go on and on about the tremendous involvement and great organizations, not only in my state but throughout this country that are making a difference in the lives of victims. And we need to stand as a body and not get into party rhetoric and declare to women across America they are not alone in this fight. We need to do everything to help the millions of women like my mom who once in this situation and are now survivors and help them become survivors and not just victims."

Senator Feinstein: (2:00 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Senator Hatch: (2:09 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "The Obamacare episode showed a fundamental disrespect for the opinions and constitutional commonsense of the American people. Faced with growing unrest and real concerns about the impact of this law on families, the economy, and access to health care, the law's proponents assumed that the American people were just too dumb to get it. But once Obamacare became law, the American people would become to love it, as well as the benefactors who gave it to them. That's what we thought. As Speaker Pelosi once explained, we have to pass the bill so we can find out what's in it. The great liberal conceit was on full display in the process that led to this bill becoming law. We know better than you, they said. We can plan one-sixth of the American economy and you will eventually come to like it. Well, as we all know, the American people had something else in mind. They reminded Congress and the President that this country and people are sovereign. They stood up as free men and women, rejecting Obamacare before it became law and refusing to embrace it afterward. And as their understanding of the law has deepened, they have remained constant in their commitment to full repeal. According to a Rasmussen poll this week, over half of s support the full repeal of Obamacare. Next week the Supreme Court will hear oral argument on the constitutionality of this misguided law. In arriving at their decision later this year, they will consider Obamacare through the prism of past precedents and the constitution's original historic meaning. But the justices of the Supreme Court are not the only ones evaluating the constitutionality of this law. The American people, as citizens of this nation, have their own obligation to consider whether this law comports with our constitution and principles of limited government. On that, the verdict is already in. According to a recent Gallup poll, 72% of American adults including 56% of self-professed Democrats believe that the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional. The average American who opposes this law on constitutional grounds might not be a law professor or an appellate advocate, but those citizens and taxpayers understand that our constitution was designed to guarantee liberty and that it did so in part by limiting the powers of the federal government and maintaining the sovereign powers of the states."

Senator Durbin: (2:23 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress.

Barrasso, Grassley, Blunt

JOBS Act (H.R. 3606)

Mar 21 2012

Colloquy: (Senators Barrasso, Grassley, Blunt)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.

Senator Barrasso: (1:18 PM)
  • SUMMARY "Earlier today Senator Durbin called on Republican members to give up their federal health care. He makes an interesting argument. But once again Democrats in the Senate are ignoring history, as the senator did today. Ignoring the facts and ignores the Democrats' record on this issue. The truth is republicans have already offered in this body to give up their health insurance coverage. In fact, here's the rest of the story. During the debate on the health care law almost two years ago today, Republicans offered to forego their private coverage and instead enroll all members of Congress in Medicaid, the government's safety net program for low-income individuals. The Democrats in this body unanimously rejected this idea. Unanimously rejected this idea. Every Democrat voted "no." This was on an amendment by former Senator LeMieux from Florida, an amendment that asked to enroll all members of congress in the Medicaid program. Yet, at least 50 of the newly covered individuals under the democrats' new law is going to get coverage. These people will get their coverage through Medicaid. So the President's solution for health care in this country is to put 50% of the newly covered individuals under Medicaid, but yet the Democrat members of the United States Senate unanimously voted "no." if Democrats believe that Medicaid is good enough for the 24 million people they will soon force on to the rolls, my question is why isn't it good enough for the Democrat members of Congress?"

Senator Grassley: (1:21 PM)
  • SUMMARY "President Obama in 2009 and throughout his campaign in 2008 decided that he would combat the failure of the Clinton administration on health care reform and not being successful there by repeating over and over again to Americans, if you like what you have, you can keep it. It's basically what we heard on at least 47 different times while the bill on health care reform was being debated. We heard that from the president himself. We probably heard it by members of this congress hundreds of times. And while it may have been politically useful to make that promise to the American people, Senator Barrasso, it remains a promise that he can't keep and he didn't keep. The fact is that millions of Americans are seeing changes in their existing health plan due to the health reform law. So basically when the President says if you like what you have, you can keep it, it's not turning out that way, and Americans are seeing it every day. The administration's regulations governing so-called grandfathered health plans will force most firms, and up to 80% of the small business, to give up their current health programs. And that's happening fairly regularly. When those businesses lose grandfather status, they immediately become subject to costly new mandates and increased premiums that follow. So the economics of health care costs and health care insurance dictate that you aren't going to be able to keep what you have, as the president promised. Families in 17 states no longer have access to child-only plans as a result of health law. So if you were a voter in 2008 and the president to you, you like what you have, you can keep it. And you wanted only health insurance for your children, you can't do that today in these 17 states. It's not known how many families that lost coverage for their children because of the law have been able to find an affordable replacement. In Medicare advantage, that's about 20% of the senior citizens of America, there is a study showing Medicare advantage enrollment is going to be cut in half. Choices available to seniors are going to be reduced by two-thirds. Then there is the open question about Americans who receive their health care through large employers. CBO recently released a report that constructed a scenario whereas many as 20 million Americans could lose their employer' coverage. And while I acknowledge that the congressional budget office report provided the number I just mentioned as only one plausible scenario, there are many who believe that's a very plausible."

Senator Grassley: (1:36 PM)
  • SUMMARY "That's not only a promise that' been broken, it's a promise that is easy to qualify. The President said on July 29, 2009, during the consideration of this health care reform law, the President said "Medicare is a government program. But don't worry, I'm not going to touch it." So let's take a look at the health care law and see if that promise was kept. The health care law made significant cuts in Medicare programs. And this is what you can quantify in dollars and cents. On April 22, 2010, the chief actuary of Medicare analyzed the law and found it would cut Medicare by $575 billion over ten years. The President said about Medicare, as I told you, "I'm not going to touch it." But the President has touched it in a big way. $575 billion out of Medicare. And that's - when Medicare is on a path to go broke by 2021. $575 billion isn't going to guarantee Medicare for everybody in the future. We've got to reform and change Medicare if that promise is going to be kept. And we all want to do that. But the President has made that more difficult. The Congressional Budget Office wrote that over $500 billion in Medicare reductions "would not enhance the ability of the government to pay future Medicare benefits" and you know what the President has said during the debate on this bill? I'm not going to touch it. But he has touched it in a big way. The chief actuary had this to say about the Medicare reductions "providers, meaning hospitals, doctors, providers for whom compare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable, and absent legislative intervention might end their participation in the program." So not only touching it in $500 billion-something, but also touching it in a way of limiting access for senior citizens of America, when the President said "I'm not going to touch it," he misled the American people. The CM actuary said in essence these cuts could drive providers from the Medicare program. And I have a hard time to understand how these massive cuts to Medicare count as somehow I'm not going to touch Medicare. On the other hand, the biggest problem facing Medicare in the near term is a if I - is the physicians payment update problem that could have been addressed in the reform bill and you know what? It wasn't addressed. Of course nothing was done about it."

Senator Blunt: (1:31 PM)
  • SUMMARY "You know, four years ago, this was the big division between the two principal candidates for the nomination on that side. Senator Obama's view was there would be no mandate, there is no need for a mandate. In fact, at one point he said that having a mandate would be like solving homelessness by mandating that everybody buy a house. Now, that's not my quote. That was President Obama's quote when he was Senator Obama. Having a mandate on health care would be like solving the housing problem by saying that we're going to require that everybody buy a house. These - this plan does not work, it doesn't come together. The parts of the plan that were supposed to pay for the plan are one by one being discarded. Remember, senators, the CLASS act, the so-called CLASS act, the long-term care act which technically I guess would have produced some money because you collected money the first ten years, the ten years you're counting the money, and you're not allowed to spend any of it for the first ten years. So sure, that would be a net income to the federal government. You're not spending anything, everything is coming in. But even the secretary of Health and Human Services said what many of us said at the time, this plan won't work, so we're not even going to collect the money because we know that it won't - that there is no way this particular structure will do what it's supposed to do. So it's just one broken promise after another, one set of things that the more the American people look at it, they realize that this just doesn't add up. And not only does it not add up financially, it doesn't add up to better health care. We're going to see lots of people. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that I think 20 million people that get insurance now at work would lose that insurance at work once this goes into effect, and that was not a calculation in the original bill. Everybody was calculating at least that anybody who has insurance now would keep - their employer would continue to pay for it. 20 million of them apparently, that's not going to be the case. You know, I would go back to you on that topic of just what employers are going to have to decide to do once they are faced with this new mandated policy that covers not what they think they can afford but whatever some government official decides is the perfect policy for all Americans. Now, imagine that. The perfect policy for all Americans. One size fits all almost always means that one size doesn't fit anybody. But this perfect policy and these employers that's now understood in many cases are just going to take the option. We'll pay the penalty that's less than we are paying now for insurance, and we will have to require our employees to go get their insurance in a subsidized exchange, which means taxpayers are helping buy insurance for people that today the employers are buying insurance for at the rate of at least 20 million and i think that number will be a lot higher than that."

Senator Barrasso: (1:25 PM)
  • SUMMARY "It does seem that way to me with the fact that two years out, Senator Coburn and I put together a report on what we're finding, a checkup on the federal health law, and the title is "Warning, Side Effects" because there are huge side effects from the health care law. The four that we have written out on the prescription pad as we see it as the prescription pad handed out by President Obama, number one is fewer choices. Number two, we have higher taxes. Number three, more government. And four is less innovation. That's what the American people are seeing of the side effects of this health care law, thanks this they don't want. They don't want fewer choices. They want more choices. People don't want higher taxes. They want lower taxes. They don't want more government. They want less government. They don't want less innovation. They want more innovation. That's what the American people ask for. There was a reason to do health care reform because people wanted the care that they need from a doctor they want at a cost they can afford."
Senator Gassley: (1:36 PM)
  • SUMMARY "Could I add one thing at this point? We don't really know how bad this bill is yet - or this law is yet, and I'm going to add something to what Senator Blunt said when you quoted the Speaker of the House saying we don't really know what's in this bill. You're going to have to pass it to find out what's in it. That's what had you to say to get a majority vote even of her own party to get it through the House of Representatives. But in a sense, she is right. You can read every - you can understand every letter of this law, but it has 1,693 delegations of authority for the secretary to write regulations, and until they are written, you aren't really going to know what's in it. And you remember the accountable care organization rules that came out. Six pages out of 2,700 in the bill dealt with accountable care organizations, but the first regulations that were written were 350 pages long. So we really don't know what - how bad this legislation is maybe for a few years down the road, and hopefully we never get that far down the road."

Senator Barrasso: (1:37 PM)
  • SUMMARY "I remember he said he's going to bring down the price of premiums by $2,500 per family per year. What family wouldn't want that because the whole purpose of the health care law initially was to get the cost of health care under control. This didn't do that. If I go to a town hall meeting as I did not too long ago in Wyoming and say how many of you under the new health care law are finding that you're paying more for health insurance. Not the 2,500 less a year that the president promised. How many of you are paying more? Every hand goes up. And then you ask the question how many of you believe that the quality and the availability of your own care is going to go down as a result of this health care law? Every hand goes up. And I know in the show-my state of Missouri, that's not what people want. They don't want to pay more and get less. I don't know if my colleagues have been hearing things similar to that at home."

Senator Blunt: (1:41 PM)
  • SUMMARY "That's exactly what I think we're all hearing. Whether you are for this bill or not, my guess is if you're hearing that, if you're asking that question. The president's promised, another promise, that the average family - if his health care plan went into effect, would have $2,500 less as you just said, doctor, per year. In fact, since he became president, insurance premiums have risen by $2,213 a year. Not a 2,500-dollar cut, but a 2,213-dollar increase. In 2008, the employer-provided insurance, the average family premium was $12,860. Last year it was $15,073. These are incredible increases for families that, along with the bad energy policies and other policies put families into a condition that they would hope not to be in and we would hope for them not to be in. So you have got increased cost to families, increased cost to the system. That's the other thing the President said. Another broken promise was that this health care bill would control costs. And recently, according to the Medicare actuary, the person that calculates these costs, the estimate was that national health spending would go up at least $311 billion over ten years under this plan. Now, that's not cost control. That's $311 billion, almost a third of a trillion dollars in increases, payment reductions to hospitals. You mentioned this board that will make these decisions. I'm not sure that there will be enough people on that board that understand rural hospitals, to understand why it's critical that rural hospitals that are critical care hospitals continue to have different arrangements with the government than others do for the government-provided health care like Medicare and Medicaid. And if they understand that, there may not be enough people on the board that understand the unique needs of urban hospitals that have a heavily uninsured population. How is this 15-member board going to be better than the 500 members that serve people in Washington now trying to look at specifics and then be accountable?"

Senator Barrasso: (1:46 PM)
  • SUMMARY "It's interesting. You go home as I do, very, very often, to talk to many of the small business owners in the state of Missouri as I do in Wyoming, as Senator Grassley does in Iowa, and one of the promises that the President made is he said four million small businesses may be eligible for tax credits. Four million small businesses may be eligible for tax credits. Well, turns out that the key word there by the President is "may." May be eligible. Even though the fact that the white house has sent out postcards to all these small businesses, the IRS sent over a million dollars in taxpayers' money to send out millions of postcards promoting the tax credit. The Treasury department's inspector general recently testified that "the volume of credit claims has been lower than expected." As a matter of fact, only 7% of the four million firms the administration claimed. Why? Well, because of the complexity and the whole way the system was set up, the president was able to talk big and deliver very small. And that's why so many people are very, very unhappy with the claims in the health care law because they know these promises have been broken. With regard to the Nancy Pelosi's famous quote that first you have to pass it before you get to find out what's in it, that's why I come to the floor every week with a doctor's second opinion because it does seem that just about every week we learn some new unintended consequence, something new about the health care law, and another reason why Americans are unhappy with it."

Tester, Merkley, Bennet, Reed

JOBS Act (H.R. 3606)

Mar 21 2012

Senator Tester: (12:28 PM)
  • Spoke on the JOBS Act.
    • SUMMARY "In September Senator Toomey and I introduced the small company capital formation act to update the regulation by increasing the total amount of capital that can be raised to $50 million while protecting new investors. Currently, businesses can only raise $5 million under regulation a. A limit that has not been updated in nearly 20 years, and one many view as being too low to be a valuable tool in raising capital. The bill maintains the most attractive elements of regulation a including for issues to test the water before registering with the SEC it also preserves the nonrestrictive told through a Reg A status so they can be resold after a initial offering. New investor protections include a requirement that issuers file an audited statement with the SEC a requirement included in the legislation I introduced as well as the House bill before us today. The bill directs the SEC to establish additional disclosure requirements and requires issuers to leak electronically file offering statements with the commission. Additionally, the bill subjects those offering or selling securities under regulation to negligence-based liability. And it includes disqualification provisions to prevent bad actors from making offerings in a way inconsistent with Dodd-Frank. From what some of the folks have said about the House version of Regulation A you would assume none of these protections are included. The bill I introduced with Senator Toomey is identical to the language included in the House bill, H.R. 3606 that is before us today. The truth is that the substitute amendment that was voted on yesterday made very minor changes to the - changes to the House bill, a adding a study by the SEC five years after implementation of these changes. We should have been able to pass this bill by a voice vote here in the senate since this bill has enjoyed strong bipartisan support in the senate with six bipartisan cosponsors. Regardless of that, I am pleased that this balanced bill also enjoyed a 420-1 vote in thousands. Imagine that. All but one voting member of the House of Representatives agrees on this bill. By note that the SEC recently released information from its forum on small business capital formation increasing the regulation a exemption to $50 million was one of their top recommendations at this forum. By the way, this is an idea that has been on the SEC small business capital formation recommendations almost every year since 1993, the year after the limit was last raised to $5 million. So the idea that this is some risky new idea is not correct. In fact, at a briefing with the SEC a few weeks ago, SEC lawyers suggested there is absolutely nothing scary about S. 12544 and that they are very comfortable with the existing investor protections included in that bill. The bottom line is I'm thrilled, thrilled we will have the opportunity to pass the legislation hopefully very soon and get it to the President's desk."

Senator Merkley: (12:40 PM)
  • Spoke on the JOBS Act.
    • SUMMARY "The first factor is that the House bill does not require someone listing themselves or asking for startup money to provide any financial information. That's a huge mistake. If there is no information, there is nothing to guide, if you will, the wisdom of the crowd. Now, what we do in this Senate amendment is we create a simplified format. If you're seeking less than $100,000, then your CEO simply certifies what the financials are for the company. If you're seeking $100,000 to $500,000, then you need to have to have audited financial statements. So as the amount of money you're asking for increases, the degree to which you need to do due diligence financially and present the details increases as well. Now, there's certainly nothing that would create a particular web site from establishing its own standard above and beyond these particular levels. A second thing is that it is critical that there be accountability for the accuracy of the information. So the House bill not only doesn't require information, but if you put out information, it - there's no accountability. Basically it's an invitation to spin any story you like. What the senate bill, in order for this capital market to work well, you have to stand behind the accuracy of your in information. So it has a basic liability accountability; that is, that you as a director or officer of this organization, you are standing behind the accuracy of what you put out. It has a due diligence protection so this is very, very balanced. It has a requirement that the information be relevant or germane to the conduct of the company, so that's another protection for the business itself. So it's balanced between the two. But this can give investors a basic belief that what is being set up is reasonable amounts of information proportional to the request and that the services and directors are standing behind this information. That creates the foundation for an effective marketplace. A third distinction between the House bill and our amendment 1884 is the House bill does not require companies to go through an intermediary. In other words, under the House bill, if you want to promote your company, you can simply put out an e-mail and the e-mail can say anything you want because you're not responsible for the accuracy and you can send it to everyone in the world. You can proceed to put up pop-up ads that simply promote your company, again, with no accuracy required. But by creating a internet intermediary and that internet intermediary has to register, would create a streamlined formulation here so that you have a funding portal registration much simpler than a broker-dealer. But no doing so, you agree that you're not going to take any position on the various investment opportunities you're listing, so you truly are the marketplace. You're not saying that, by the way, that particular offering by that company's a really sweet deal, you can't pump it, you can't favor it. So you're a neutral marketplace, again, enabling the investor to know that they're getting straightforward information, not something that is - is spun. Another distinction is the House bill has no aggregate caps. The result of that is that a person could lose their entire life savings in one fell swoop. The Senate bill puts on very reasonable, proportional caps and says if your income is $40,000 or less, your cap is $2,000. Between $40,000 and $100,000, your cap is 5% of your annual income. If you're over $100,000, it's 10%. So it allows for larger amounts of money from those who have much higher incomes but provides basic aggregate cap protection so we don't end up with folks who are on public services because they were swindled out of everything that they had. Another key distinction is that under the house bill, you can list your offering and close your offering within a single day, which provides absolutely no feedback loop for any type of detected deception. Under the Senate bill, we create a three-week period from your listing to your closing so you list your idea. If enough people sign up to - to reach your funding request level - say you've requested to raise $600,000. Enough people say up and they're donating - not donating but investing $100,000 here, $100,000 there, you reach your goal, well, as soon as the 21-day period expires, then you close. And so that does give time for some sort of feedback loops regarding any sort of fraudulent activity."

Senator Bennet: (12:52 PM)
  • Spoke on Reid (for Merkley et al) amendment #1884 (crowd funding).
    • SUMMARY "It is a bipartisan amendment which around this place I think is worthy of - of all of us taking a moment to recognize. And it's an amendment that the people that know most about crowd funding support. And I just wanted to read several paragraphs from - from some of those folks from Launch is the crowd funding platform. They note that the compromise "is important because unlike previous bills, for the first time, we have a Senate bill with bipartisan sponsorship, a balance of state oversight and federal uniformity, industry standard investor protections, and workable funding caps." From the National Small Business Association, "would promote entrepreneurship, job creation and economic growth by making it much easier for small companies to raise capital and get new ideas off the ground. This legislation represents a reasonable effort to accommodate differing points of view and to move this important idea forward." One prominent investor protection wrote that the Crowd Fund Act addresses this concern by providing a significant regulatory relief to the very small issuers without unreasonably compromising the investor protection provisions on which the federal securities laws are grounded and the long-term success of the U.S. securities markets has been based The amendment that we have presented, this crowd funding amendment, could unleash billions of dollars, as the Senator from Oregon said, of local investment, investment on main street, or on someone else's main street through the internet, that could allow people with great, innovative ideas for the first time to raise capital from our middle class and from other people that would like to participate in this kind of new business venture. This is not all we need to do. There are many things we need to do and I think there are things in this overall bill that we need to fix. But this bipartisan amendment represents a real step forward."

Senator Reed: (1:00 PM)
  • Spoke on Reid (for Reed) amendment #1931 (disclosure).
    • SUMMARY "My amendment would clarify the definition in this new shareholder threshold section of the underlying bill and ensure that companies are not avoiding these public reporting requirements by using a threshold of 2,000 record holders. If they have 2,000 or fewer beneficial owners. If this is a truly small business that has 1,500 individual share holders, beneficial owners, and they want to go dark, well, that seems to be something that we certainly would and with my language, it would be possible. It doesn't frustrate the expectations of the person who buys a share of nationally known stock that's publicly tax rated that gets every quarter - publicly traded and that gets every quarter the 10-q, the 10-k. And suddenly they don't get anything. They wonder what's going on at the company. I think transparency, information is critical to the success of our capital markets. And I think this legislation will do that. Requiring quarterly reporting of firms with large numbers of share holders, real shareholders, beneficial shareholders, protects investors while at the same time improving market efficiency and transparency. From this information, those individual analysts and brokers who follow companies are able to determine their recommendations, are able to advise clients that you should buy this company; it is a good company. When the company goes dark, that information source dries up, and it's harder for individuals, brokers, investment advisors to give advice. I think that would not be helpful to the market. In fact, I think it might ironically impede capital formation, not facilitate capital formation. Now, there's one important point that has to be stressed. And that my amendment does not affect the employee exemption in the underlying bill. The House bill has a blanket exemption for counting owners of the company for employees. We have reviewed this exemption in our legislation with eminent experts including professor john coats at Harvard law school and he concurs that employees would not be swept up into being counted because they happen to receive compensation through stock in their company. And there are many, many companies - Wawa, Wegmans who really want to have active participation through stock plans but are private companies, want to remain private and have a relatively small number of beneficial owners. Again, my legislation makes no attempt to change the underlying house bill which gives a very broad blanket exception. They do acquire stock on behalf of employee. We specifically asked professor coats, one of the experts in securities laws, whether this would inadvertently trigger or inadvertently complicate the beneficial ownership rule. And his opinion is that ESOP's count as one record holder and one beneficial owner because they don't pass through the votes or the right to direct sales. They don't have the characteristics which are typical of the beneficial owner. The right to vote and the right to go ahead and shoot. They maintain those rights. They do not delegate those to the individuals who might be part of the pool."

Reid

JOBS Act (H.R. 3606)

Mar 21 2012

Senator Reid: (12:18 PM)
  • Proposed Reid (for Merkley et al) amendment #1884 (crowd funding).
  • Proposed Reid (for Reed) amendment #1931 (disclosure).
  • Spoke on Reid (for Merkley et al) amendment #1884 (crowd funding) and Reid (for Reed) amendment #1931 (disclosure).
    • SUMMARY "There are many ways we can improve this I'm sorry we can't do more. To that end, the senate will consider two germane amendments to this IPO bill that will protect investors and help prevent fraud. The first amendment sponsored by Senator Merkley and others deals with companies that raise capital online from small investors. This amendment will ensure watchdogs are in place to protect those small investors and money from fraudulent companies that abuse the institution. People are out there lurking, waiting for ways to cheat. Sorry, but it's true. People who are either immoral or amoral look for opportunities to make money and I appreciate very much the work that a number of senators have put into this amendment. Research - it is an important amendment and it is so important to improve this bill. You'll hear much more this afternoon from the sponsors of this amendment about why it is so important. The second amendment, sponsored by Senator Reed of Rhode Island - all senators have stature, but Jack Reed with his background, his military background, his experience in the House and in the Senate is a man that we all look for his leadership and guidance. His amendment will stop businesses from gaming the system and avoiding oversight by hiding thousands or maybe tens of thousands of investors. This will stop when this amendment passes. Democrats and Republicans agree we need to pass the IPO bill to make it easier for companies to grow and hire new workers. But we must do so in way that prevents fraud and abuse. These two amendments will go toward accomplishing that. I say to everyone within the sound of my voice, those two amendments are not going to make this bill perfect but it is going make the bill a lot better."
  • Majority Leader Reid has indicated that he hopes to have 3 ROLL CALL VOTES before 6:00 PM (when cloture expires on H.R. 3606, the JOBS Act):
    1. Reid (for Merkley et al) amendment #1884 (crowd funding);
    2. Reid (Reed) amendment #1931 (disclosure); and
    3. Passage of H.R. 3606, the JOBS Act, as amended, if amended.

Mar 21 2012

Agreed to, 76-22:
The Motion to Invoke Cloture on H.R. 3606, the JOBS Act.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Mar 21 2012

Senator Bennet: (10:00 AM)
  • Spoke on crowd funding.
    • SUMMARY "I'm on the floor today to talk about a bipartisan bill, a bill that Senator Merkley and Senator Brown and I have worked on crowd funding. And it's an amendment that I hope will come to the floor, and I hope we can get to a vote. Over the past months we've worked together in a bipartisan way on crowd funding, a proposal that would allow crowd funding to thrive but would also contain an appropriate level of oversight and investor protections. We've done something very unusual in this town. We took time to listen to people, and we listened to crowd funding platforms, entrepreneurs and investor protection advocates, many of whom support this bill and have endorsed this bill. We worked hard to incorporate their ideas. And as a result, we've got a bipartisan amendment that has the support of both businesses and consumer advocates. That's something that doesn't happen that frequently in this town, and I hope that we have the chance to vote on it. And I would urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to see this as a real opportunity to take one step - not a huge step, not a huge step, but one important step forward to filling this gap that we see here, to creating an economy again where rising economic output also means rising wages. And the rising economic output also means growing jobs. This crowd funding amendment is a chance to do it. It's bipartisan."
Colloquy: (Senators Wicker, Barrasso, Moran, McCain, Thune)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.

Senator Wicker: (10:04 AM)
  • SUMMARY "A recent Gallup poll shows that twice as many Americans think the law will make things worse for their families than those who believe it will make things better. 72% of Americans believe the individual mandate is unconstitutional. The truth is that Americans deserve affordable, high-quality health care. Not a 2,700-page, big-government piece of legislation that taxes, spends and regulates. The President's health care law has not lowered the cost of health care as promised. It has not created jobs as promised. It has not reduced the deficit as promised. And so, this week we mark an anniversary, not with progress but with bitter realities. President Obama and his joint session to Congress in 2009 assert that his plan "Will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses and our government."In fact, last week the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation updated their outlook of the health care laws' impact on the federal government. Not surprisingly, their latest analysis says Obamacare will cost even more than anticipated. And the anticipated costs were high indeed. But they say that the health care law will cost nearly $1.8 trillion over the next decade, or double the estimated cost that accompanied the bill when democratic majorities, democratic super majorities passed it in 2010. This is hardly the relief that President Obama promised. During his campaign, the president said the plan would reduce health care premiums by an average of $2,500 per family. Instead premiums have grown by nearly that much since he was elected."

Senator Barrasso: (10:04 AM)
  • SUMMARY "The costs seem to go up higher than had this health care law not been passed at all. The numbers and the statistics that we're hearing now from the budget office on the cost seem to be much, much higher than what the president promised. Parts of this health care lawmakers the so-called CLASS Act, it comes out with schemes to make it seem like the cost of the health care law would be much less than what the American people now know it to be. It's no surprise to me - and I see this in Wyoming and I'm sure you see it in Mississippi, and I would imagine the senator from Kansas who is on the floor, has seen the same thing at home. He has gone to hospitals, in just about every hospital in the state of Kansas as he's traveled around. What we're all seeing is this health care law is even less popular now than when it was passed. That's what I hear at town hall meetings. When I ask do you think you're going to actually pay more under the health care law, every hand goes up. When you say do you think the quality and available of your - availability of your own care at home is going to go down? Again every hand goes up."

Senator Moran: (10:12 AM)
  • SUMMARY "When the Affordable Care Act was passed, many promises were made. But one of the things that was sold to the American people, or at least the attempt was made to sell to the American people was there will be greater access. I would certainly say that one of the promises that is not being kept about the Affordable Care Act is the likelihood that there is going to be greater access for Americans across our country to health care. Because this bill is underfunded, it's not paid for. The consequences are that the administration is already proposing, congress will always be looking for ways to reduce spending when it comes to health care. And the most likely target is the payments that Medicare makes to health care providers which sometimes doesn't cover the services. When we look for access to health care, every time a decision will be made in order to try to make this more affordable, we're going to see fewer and fewer providers able to provide the services necessary to folks across the country, but especially in rural communities where 60, 70, 80, even 90% of the patients admitted to the hospital are on Medicare. One of the problems with the Affordable Care Act is the reality that it will reduce the access to health care by people who live in rural America. And we will see fewer physicians accepting patients on Medicare. We will see fewer hospital doors remain open, all done in a way that, as this bill takes $500 billion out of Medicare to begin with, we set, the Congress that this, the President who signed this legislation set the stage for there to be less affordable health care available to Americans across the country, but especially for constituents of mine who live in a rural state like Kansas."

Senator Wicker: (10:15 AM)
  • SUMMARY "I have a quote here from President Obama, July 29, 2009, quoting specifically from the President. "Medicare is a government program, but don't worry, I'm not going to touch it.â€? As a matter of fact, only months later, he signed into law the Obamacare act which takes half a trillion dollars from Medicare and it touches on the very issue that the senator from Kansas was referring to with regard to Medicare access for people in rural Kansas.

Senator McCain: (10:16 AM)
  • SUMMARY "I'd like to discuss with my friends, probably in my view what really encapsulates the problems with this legislation. The commitment began was that we would provide affordable health care to all Americans, which meant we had to put a brake on inflation in health care because health care was becoming unaffordable, the highest quality health care in the world. Nothing in my view - I'd like to ask my colleagues - describes that more of how this whole plan went awry than the so-called CLASS Act. Late in the debate, the CLASS Act was thrown in to provide long-term care for seniors, which seems like a worthy cause, but the whole thing was a gimmick. It was described by Senator Conrad, our distinguished Chairman of the Budget Committee, called it a ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of. So they foisted that off on us. Why? Well, initially because of CBO scoring that it would show an increase in finances into - and revenues into the whole Obamacare program. But as soon as those people paying in became eligible, then obviously the reverse happened. Thank god for Senator Gregg, former senator of hall of fame, who had an adopted - amendment adopted that said the program would be solvent over 75 years before the program could be implemented. If it hadn't been for that, the class act would be here today. And then in October, last October, the Secretary of Health and Human Services issued a report confirming that what many of us knew was inevitable, that the secretary could not certify. The CLASS Act solvency is required under law. Here we went through this exercise frantically searching for ways to increase revenue, at least the way that CBO does scoring, so we did the CLASS Act, and thank god Senator Gregg of New Hampshire put in an amendment that said it would be viable over 75 years. There is no way. Not a snowball's chance that they were ever going to be able to certify over 75 years that it was going to be a viable program. So it was kind of entertaining. Guess what late on a Friday night the secretary of health and human services said that she could not certify that the program would be solvency throughout a 75-year period. So the result of this was obviously that they didn't have the false revenues that CBO could score, they didn't have a program that could provide long-term care for seniors."

Senator Thune: (10:22 AM)
  • SUMMARY "I would just echo what the senator from Arizona has said about the CLASS Act. He was down here as was I and I think many of us when we were debating this to say this is a program that is destined to be bankrupt. In fact, if you look at what even the independent Medicare actuary was saying, that was described, the CLASS Act was, as unworkable, and they said it would collapse in short order within the Health and Human Services Department, there was a nonpartisan career staff who privately called the CLASS program "a recipe for disaster.â€? There was plenty of advance warning that this thing wasn't going to work. As the senator from Arizona correctly pointed out, it was used as a gimmick to make the overall cost of this thing look less and therefore bring it into balance. We now know, of course, that the class act couldn't work. They have had to acknowledge that and the amendment that was put on by the senator from New Hampshire, Senator Gregg, that forced them to certify and made that abundantly clear. But to the senator from Mississippi's point, the whole purpose of the exercise was we have got to do something about the cost of health care. We have got to get health care costs down for people in this country. In fact, the President of the United States when he was running for President said, and I quote, "If you have got health insurance, we're going to work with you to lower your premiums by $2,500 per family per year. We won't wait 20 years from now to do it or ten years to do it. We will do it by the end of my first term as president of the united states." I'm sure the senator from Arizona probably remembers very well many of these statements. But the facts tell a different story. If you look at what health care costs are doing and even what was predicted by the Congressional Budget Office, they said that the law was going to increase health insurance premiums by 10% to 13%, which means that families purchasing coverage on their own were going to have to pay an additional $2,100 a year more because of the new law. That's actually been borne out. If you look at the cost of health insurance for people in this country today, it's gone up, not down. It's gone up dramatically since the president took office, about 25% for most Americans. So all these promises about getting costs under control, all the promises about being able to keep what you have, all the promises about, you know, this being done in a way that would protect Medicare, we all know that Medicare was slashed to the tune when it's fully implemented of a trillion dollars. And if you look at the taxes that were imposed by this, a trillion dollars in new taxes, the American people got a bad, bad deal. They know it. That's why the public opinion polls show that."

Senator Wicker: (10:26 AM)
  • SUMMARY "Does anybody recall hearing this staple from the President of the United States in 2009, "if you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.â€? The President of the United States, June 15, 2009. What happened to that one?"

Senator Barrasso: (10:27 AM)
  • SUMMARY "Even the administration admits that wasn't true. Small businesses, people who get their insurance through small businesses are going to have a very difficult time continuing to provide coverage for people because of the mandates, the Washington mandates that say you have to provide Washington-approved insurance. I mean, that's the problem, is that people have what they like. It may be something that they want, that they need, they can afford, and now they are being mandated to have something that they may not want, may not need and may not be able to afford. So, again, you have another broken promise, which is why Senator Coburn who has practiced medicine for about a quarter of a century - and I practiced medicine for about a quarter of a century, have come out with a report released yesterday, called warning, side effects, a checkup on the federal health law. Fewer choices. That means people can't choose to even keep what they had. Fewer choices, higher taxes, more government, less innovation. None of those things are the things that the American people have been promised by the president ... From the looks of this over 2,000-page law is going to result in over 100,000 pages of regulations, pages worth of regulations. I know there is one part of the law, a couple of pages, four to six pages, they had 400 pages of regulations and 50 pages of legal guidance. You talk to hospitals, and I know that those of us travel and visit with hospitals in our states. They say we're spending money on consultants and lawyers to help us understand the law, and it's money we ought to be spending on patients and on equipment and on technology for our hospital to provide care in our community."

Senator Moran: (10:29 AM)
  • SUMMARY "The point that was made earlier about bending this cost curve down, it doesn't do it, it can't do it. That creates the problem that we now all face, how do we have access to affordable health care if you're not reducing the cost of health care. And so the end result, in my view, is that Americans will have less options, less options for their own plans. As employers, they will provide either less options or no options for employees. So the idea that you're going to get what you - keep what you have, that begins to disappear if you're employed. If you're a senior citizen and Medicare has been your primary provider, again back to this idea we didn't bend the cost curve, so in order to make health care affordable, when the legislation fails to do that, we find other gimmicks to do that. And one of the things that this bill creates is IPAB, this so-called independent agency that is going to make decisions about what is covered by your health care plan, and the goal will not be to be better quality health care. The promise was made you get to keep what you have, it becomes something totally different than what you experienced in your health care plan, either in your own private health care insurance or as a beneficiary of Medicare. And so even though Presidents own medical actuary estimates that the law will increase overall national health care expenditures by $311 billion during the first ten years alone and that private health care insurance premiums will rise 10% in 2014, so if we're complaining today about the increase in premium costs, there's more to come. 2014, the Medicare actuary says another 10% increase in your health care premiums. At the center for Medicare and Medicaid services, their economist found that the increasing growth rate in health care spending will occur in every sector of health care, and more recently the Congressional Budget Office, our neutral provider of analysis, says the cost of the health care law may be substantially higher than earlier estimated. One of the things that I would suggest that we should have done that never happened - if you want to keep what you have, if you want to have access to health care in rural and urban and suburban places in the country, one would think we would do something permanent about fixing the reducing payments to physicians, so-called doc fix. One would have thought in health care reform that would have been front and center because if you don't have a physician providing the service, you don't have health care. Yet, we have a Medicare system that's going to reduce the payments. In fact, expected this year it would have reduced payments to physicians 30%. The reality is that no longer will physicians accept Medicare patients, and that option you were promised to keep what you have disappears one more time."

Senator Wicker: (10:32 AM)
  • SUMMARY "So the promise was not to touch Medicare. That promise has not been fulfilled. The promise was to reduce the deficit. That turned out to be an empty promise. You know, also we were told by the President and by Speaker Pelosi that this bill would create jobs. The President said it was a key pillar for a new foundation for prosperity. How has that turned out? Former Speaker Pelosi said in its life, the health care bill will create four million jobs. 400,000 almost immediately. Of course neither of those has come true. The nonpartisan CBO has estimated that the health care law will reduce america's workforce. This is a bipartisan CBO reduce Americans' workforce by 800,000 jobs over the next ten years. And that fact has been confirmed by the United States Chamber of Cmmerce."

Senator Thune: (10:33 AM)
  • SUMMARY "I say to my colleague from Mississippi is one of the areas where jobs may be created is in the federal government because it's going to take an awful lot of federal bureaucrats to oversee and lots of new IRS agents to implement this legislation. When it comes to private-sector job creation, the thing about this is it raises the cost for hundreds coverage - for health insurance coverage for employers. It raises taxes on a lot of people involved in health care. The combination of those things is going to cost jobs."

Senator Harkin: (10:34 AM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "Two years ago President Obama signed into law what I believe will be remembered as the most forward-thinking and humane - humane - reform of our health care system since Medicare. Just like the Republicans opposed Medicare when it came in, and they still want to get rid of it - if you look at the Ryan budget that came out, what do they want to do? Privatize Medicare. They have been at it ever since. And now they don't want this humane reform that we passed two years ago. When the Affordable Care Act became law, I said this, I said we have made America a more compassionate and a more just society. I believe this with even greater conviction now. And in listening to my colleagues, my friends on the other side of the aisle, you would think this is all just about little nuts and bolts and this and that, but it's about humaneness. It is about compassion. It is about justice. And, yes, it is about making the system - the system - work better for patients, not just for insurance companies and the insurance industry. Now, we've moved ahead to implement the law. The results have been striking. Every American now is protected against abusive insurance companies practices of the past. Let me put it another way. Because of the health reform law, Americans now have protections that every senator in this chamber has enjoyed for years. Under the federal employees health benefit program, we now have extended that to Americans. I listened to my friends on the other side of the aisle, they want to take it away from Americans but keep it for themselves. Oh, no, they don't want to give it up. Well, I think what's good for senators ought to be good for the American people."

Senator Levin: (10:41 AM)
  • Spoke on the JOBS Act.
    • SUMMARY "In a few minutes we're going to vote on whether we should end debate on a house bill which carries a false label of a JOBS bill, a bill which cries out for debate and amendment. This bill would allow companies to advertise virtually unregulated stock offerings on television or on billboards. The House bill will allow large companies with thousands of shareholders to avoid SEC regulation. The House bill will allow banks of any size to avoid SEC regulation if they have fewer than 1,200 shareholders. The house bill will allow companies with annual sales of up to $1 billion to evade the most basic transparency circumstance accountability and disclosure requirement when making initial public offerings. This is not a bill which will promote investment in our economy. This bill will discourage investment. As the SEC chairman Shapiro wrote us, if the balance is tipped to the point where investors are not confident that there are appropriate protections, investors will lose confidence in our markets. That's why - the council of institutional investors warns us this is not a bill which will allow opportunities for new workers but one which will create new opportunities for fraudsters and boiler room crooks. I urge defeat of cloture. We should not make it more difficult to vote on this bill by restricting amendments."

Durbin, McConnell

Morning Business

Mar 21 2012

Senator Durbin: (9:33 AM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "There's been a lot of discussion about the affordable health care act passed by Congress. In fact, just next week across the street the Supreme Court will take up this bill and decide whether it's constitutional. It's an important decision. It's one that will affect millions of Americans and scarcely anyone understands the impact of this law and what it means to their daily lives. The first thing I want to say about it is the most controversial aspect of it is the so-called mandate. Individual mandate. What is it? From my point of view, it is the basic method of saying to everyone in America, you have a personal responsibility here. You cannot say I'm just not going to buy any health insurance. You know, I don't think I'm ever going to need it, and I'm not going to worry about it. The problem is, of course, those people who make that statement get sick, some of them get involved in accidents, some go to a doctor and are diagnosed with terrible illnesses and diseases that require treatment and surgery that costs a lot of money. The uninsured people show up at the hospitals. They're not pushed away. They're invited in. They receive the treatment, and then they can't pay for it. It turns out that 63% of the medical care given to uninsured people in America isn't paid for. Not by them. It turns out that the rest of us pay for it. Everyone else in America who has health insurance has to pick up the cost of those who did not accept their personal responsibility to buy health insurance. So what? What difference does that make? It makes a difference. It adds $1,000 a year to our health insurance program. In other words, you and me and everyone with health insurance, we're subsidizing those people who say don't mandate anything on me. Don't tell me I have a personal responsibility. But when I get sick, you can pay for it. That's what the individual mandate comes down to. And I listened to those who say this is just too darned much government to say that people who can afford it need to have health insurance. Keep in mind this affordable health care bill said if you cannot afford it, if you're too poor or your income is limited, there's a helping hand there. Not only in the tax code, but even through Medicaid, to make sure that you have affordable health care insurance which will never cost you more than 8% of your income. A lot of American families would jump at health insurance that only cost 8% of their income. But the law says you have to be willing to pay up to 8% of your income to have health insurance. And the reason, of course, is if they don't pay, everyone else pays. They get sick, they cost us $116 billion a year in uncompensated health care coverage paid for those who do not accept their personal responsibility to buy health insurance."

Senator McConnell: (9:48 AM)
  • Spoke on the JOBS Act.
    • SUMMARY "Or the past several months, I and others have been calling on the Democratic majority here in the senate to take up and pass the various bipartisan jobs bills that House Republicans have been sending across the dome. These bills on their own certainly won't solve the jobs crisis, but they will make it a lot easier for entrepreneurs and innovators to get the capital they need to build businesses and create jobs. And because these bills are more concerned with getting Washington out of the way than getting it more involved, these bills also send an important message that the economy and the country are a lot better off when folks have more control over their economic destinies, not less. Last night, we were on the cusp of passing a collection of bills known as the jobs act. This bill had overwhelming bipartisan support in the house. Nearly 400 members voted for it, and the president himself says that it will create jobs. He supports it and would sign it into law. Unfortunately, a handful of democrats here in the Senate want to slow it down. They denied Americans this bipartisan agreement for jobs that we could have had last night. So this morning, I would ask our friends on the other side to reconsider. I would ask them to put the politics aside and allow this bipartisan bill to actually move forward. We could pocket this achievement and move on to other measures, including the reauthorization of the Export-Import bank, which I suggested yesterday. One bill alone can't undo the damage inflicted on the economy by this administration, but it sure could help, and we need to show the American people that we can do this. This bill is exactly the kind of thing Americans have been asking for - greater freedom and greater flexibility, and that's one of the reasons it had such overwhelming bipartisan support. At a moment when millions are looking for work and democrats say they want more bipartisan action on jobs, this is it."
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "Two and a half years ago, the president said his health care plan would "Slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses and our government." Yet, the Obama administration itself now admits total spending on health care will increase by $311 billion under the president's health care law. According to the CBO, it increases net federal health spending and subsidies on health care by $390 billion and drives up premiums on families by $2,100 per year. Americans wanted lower costs and to have more control of their health care decisions, and they got the opposite instead. They wanted lower premiums. They got higher premiums. They wanted a government that lives within its means, and they got a new entitlement instead. They wanted more options. They got fewer. They wanted better care. It's going to be worse. And that's why Americans want this bill repealed. Look, this bill would be unconstitutional even if it did the things the president said it would, but the fact that it did the opposite of what he promised means it should be repealed either way. Whether the constitutionality of it is upheld or not. It should say something when the President himself isn't even talking about this bill except in closed campaign events. It's time to repeal this bill and replace it with the kind of commonsense reforms that people really want, reforms that actually lower costs, that protect jobs and state budgets and return health care decisions back to individuals and their doctors. That's a reform that both parties and all Americans could support."

Senator Durbin: (9:56 AM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "Those who have followed this debate know that members can disagree, and obviously I disagree with the republican leader on the issue of health care reform. I would say that there are a couple of elements I would add. Yes, we expand the Medicaid roles. That's health insurance for those in low-income categories, but the federal government picks up the tab. It's not an added expense to the state governments for four or five years, and we're hoping their economy gets better. What about the millions of - one million Kentuckians who are going on the Medicaid roles? Those one million Kentuckians have no health insurance today. Will they ever get sick? Will they ever show up at the hospital? Yes, they will. Who will pay their bills? The rest of the folks living in Kentucky with health insurance and the rest of us. Is that fair? Do these people have a personal responsibility to have health insurance as long as we help them if they are in lower income categories, pay the premiums with tax breaks and enrolling them in Medicaid? Of course they do. Accepting personal responsibility used to be the first thing the Republicans told us about their family values. Well, why don't people have to accept personal responsibility and have health insurance so the costs of their care isn't borne by their neighbors and the rest of America? And let me just also add again, members of the United States Senate have a government-administered health care program that protects them, their family and their children. They sign up for it every single year, and not a single one has come to the well here and said I'm so opposed to government-administered programs, i am going to stop enrolling in the health insurance program for members of Congress. Not a one.
  • Spoke on the Highway bill.SUMMA
    • SUMMARY "If we want to create jobs in this country, we know how to do it. We passed a bill here just last week. 74-22, a bipartisan bill. What a miracle, huh? A bipartisan bill passes the bill. A bill that would create maybe 2.8 million jobs, create and save that many jobs in this economy, a bill that will help the American economy expand in the 21st century. What could it possibly be? It's called the federal transportation bill. We do it every five years, and if we don't do it, if we don't build the roads, the bridges, the airports, sustained passenger rail service and Amtrak, make certain that we have mass transit and buses around America, our economy starts to contract instead of grow. We passed this bill with a strong bipartisan vote thanks to Senator Boxer and Inhofe, democrat, republican, progressive, conservative, all time together on this bill. We sent it over to the House of Representatives and they said sorry, we're not going to take it up, we won't vote on it. We're going to send you a bill that allows people to create new start-ups, these new private companies, and we're going to eliminate the regulation that makes sure that investors don't get fleeced. That's how we want to create jobs. Well, that's like hoping that America has amnesia. We remember the subprime mortgage mess when a lot of unsuspecting people were dragged into offices and into mortgages they had no idea were going to explode when the balloon burst. Now once again, the republicans have said the best way to create jobs in the future is to let that happen when it comes to the sale of stock in new companies. I'm with Mary Shapiro, the commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission. She has warned us. We need to put protections in this bill. It is not going to create the jobs they talk about. It's going to endanger investors."

Mar 21 2012

Senator Reid: (9:32 AM)
  • Today --
    • The Senate will proceed to a period of Morning Business for 1 hour, with Senators permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each. The time will be equally divided, with the Majority controlling the first 30 minutes and the Republicans controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • Following Morning Business, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 3606, the JOBS Act.
    • Circa 10:40 AM, the Senate will proceed to a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on H.R. 3606, the JOBS Act.
    • The time from 2:30-3:00 PM will be as if in Morning Business in order for Senators to pay tribute to Senator Mikulski.
  • On Tuesday, Majority Leader Reid filed Cloture on the Motion to Concur in the House amendment to S. 2038, the STOCK Act. The amendment tree has been filled.

Reid

Opening Remarks

Mar 21 2012

Senator Reid: (9:32 AM)
  • Today --
    • The Senate will proceed to a period of Morning Business for 1 hour, with Senators permitted to speak up to 10 minutes each. The time will be equally divided, with the Majority controlling the first 30 minutes and the Republicans controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • Following Morning Business, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 3606, the JOBS Act.
    • Circa 1:40 PM, the Senate will proceed to a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on H.R. 3606, the JOBS Act.
    • The time from 2:30-3:00 PM will be as if in Morning Business in order for Senators to pay tribute to Senator Mikulski.
  • On Tuesday, Majority Leader Reid filed Cloture on the Motion to Concur in the House amendment to S. 2038, the STOCK Act. The amendment tree has been filled.

Mar 21 2012

The Senate Convened.

Mar 21 2012

The Senate is considering H.R. 3606, the JOBS 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.