Senate Calendar

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jul 24 2012

Senator Bennet: (6:45 PM)
  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Tomorrow --
    • The Senate will convene at 9:30 AM and Majority Leader Reid will be recognized. The time until 2:15 PM will be equally divided, with the Republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • At 2:15 PM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to S. 3412, the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
The Senate stands adjourned until 9:30 AM Wednesday, July 25th.

Shaheen, Udall-CO, Bennet

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 24 2012

Senator Shaheen: (6:03 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act.
    • SUMMARY "We passed a bipartisan reauthorization in the Senate and now it's time for the House to do the same. There are provisions in the Senate version of the bill that offer critical protections for survivors, for Native Americans, for immigrants, for the LGBT community and for students, for young women who are on college campuses and it's that importance of protecting those victims on college campuses that I want to specifically address this afternoon. According to the Department of Justice, 25% of college women, that's one in four, 25% of college women will be victims of rape or attempted rape before they graduate within their four-year college period. The rape, abuse and incest national network reports that college-age women are four times more likely than any other age group to face sexual assault. In addition, experts believe that rape and sexual assault are among the most underreported crimes, so that one in four could be even greater. In the Senate-passed legislation, so the Leahy-Crapo bill, there are provisions to address the challenges that young women face on college campuses. The legislation that we passed here in the Senate requires schools that receive VAWA funds to do the following: First of all, to state the policies and procedures that are in place to protect victims, and to provide prevention education for all incoming students. Many young girls arrive on a college campus to live on their own for the very first time. They're struggling to orient themselves in a new environment and this makes them vulnerable. They need to be given clear guidance about what to do in case they become victims. The legislation also requires institutions to implement a coordinated response both internal and external to the campus. So this means that survivors are helped if they want to hold their attackers accountable whether through a process the university has set up or by bringing criminal charges and working with the police. This provision tells young women you are not alone. You're supported, your school will help you. And the third provision that's very important in the Senate-passed bill is that it would require schools to provide training on domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking for campus law enforcement, and to members of the campus judicial boards."

Senator Udall-CO: (6:14 PM)
  • Paid tribute to the victims of the Colorado shooting and thanked Colorado's public servants.
    • SUMMARY "It's during these times that we're also reminded to cherish those all-too-brief moments that we have with the people we love. And though this heinous crime may have shaken us, it did not break us, and it will not break us. We will mourn those we've lost and those who are injured, and with them in mind we'll heal and we'll become stronger Like all Americans, my heart goes out to the victims and their families, and I also remain hopeful that survivors are going to defy the odds on their road to recovery and we've been truly inspired by their stories. I want to take a moment and applaud the leadership shown by Colorado's public servants from Governor John Hickenlooper, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and especially the Police Chief, Dan Oates. There are also other law enforcement professionals that came to the scene immediately, first responders, medical professionals on site and in a number of hospitals where the victims were taken. I think what's most notable is that they worked . to carry out the city's disaster plan and protect the victims from further harm. The Aurora police and firefighters arrived a mere 90 seconds off the first 911 call was placed and there is no question that lives were saved by the swift and coordinated action of aurora's first responders. I have to say, this incident showed, as similar tragedies have before, that America shines brightest when the night is darkest, and that was literally the situation at midnight on Friday morning in Aurora."

Senator Bennet: (6:31 PM)
  • Paid tribute to the victims of the Colorado shooting and thanked Colorado's public servants.
    • SUMMARY "Scripture tells us "not to be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good." That's what the people of Aurora and Colorado have been doing since the first moment of this tragedy, and that is what we'll continue to do. In time, we'll not remember the morning of July 20th for the evil that killed 12 innocent and precious people. Instead, we'll remember the bright lives of those we lost and the families they leave behind. We'll remember the 58 wounded survivors whose recovery bears witness to humanity's strength and resolve. And tonight, knowing that some are still in critical condition, we pray for their recovery. We'll remember the heroic acts of everyday citizens, our first responders and medical personnel that saved lives that otherwise surely would have been lost. We'll remember the continuing generosity of those Coloradans and Americans who donated blood in record numbers and raising funds to support the families in this trying time. And in time, because we are all Aurora, we'll draw strength from the example set by one great American city and the faith of her people in one another."

Thune, Baucus, Isakson, Snowe

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 24 2012

Senator Thune: (5:17 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "The view that we should extend current tax policy at a time when the economy is weak was articulated interestingly enough by the president just two years ago when he signed and extension of all the tax rates. At that time, President Obama said that raising taxes would have been a blow to our economy just as we're climbing out after recession. Well, interestingly enough, at that time real GDP growth when he made that statement, when that tax rate extension was signed into law, was around 3.1%. That was the average when the president made the statement that if we raise taxes it would be a blow to our economy. Well, real GDP growth this year is on a pace to average around 2% and possibly less. Those numbers consistently are being revised and being revised downward. If it didn't make sense to raise taxes when our economy was recovering, why does it make sense now to raise taxes as our economy is slowing? How does it make sense to raise taxes in an environment where over 23 million Americans are out of work or underemployed when the unemployment rate has been stuck over 8% now for 41 consecutive months? According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, this plan will close a tax increase on nearly a million business owners. Nearly a million business owners. Now, proponents of this increase are going to argue that it will only affect a small segment of our economy. And yet the Joint Tax Committee estimates that the tax increases in the Reid plan will hit more than 50% of all income earned by businesses that pay their taxes at individual rates Small businesses which accounted for two-thirds of all the taxes over the last decade will be particularly impacted. According to a survey of small businesses by the National Federation of Independent Business, 75% beaver of small businesses are organized as pass-thru businesses. NFIB also found that the businesses most likely to be hit are those businesses employing between 20 and 250 employees. According to the U.S. census, the data that they collect, these businesses employ more than 25% of the workforce. And so the million small businesses that according to the Joint Committee on Taxation will see their taxes go up under this proposal employ 25% of the American workforce and account for over 50% of all pass-thru income. And so you're going to see taxes go up dramatically on over 50% of pass-thru income and on small businesses that employ 25% of the American workforce. Now, does that make sense in this economy? The impact of the Reid tax increases on small businesses will be bad enough, but unfortunately these tax increases will have significant ramifications for our entire economy. According to a study released earlier this month by Ernst & Young, the Reid tax plan would hurt our economy in the long term. According to Ernst & Young, the tax increases in the Reid plan would reduce economic output by 1.3%. This would mean $200 billion less in economic activity if translated into today's economy. The Ernst & Young study indicates that the tax policy in the Reid plan would reduce employment by half a percent. Meaning roughly 710,000 fewer jobs."

Senator Baucus: (5:40 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "Some would have you believe that there are one million small business owners earning over $200,000 a year. How did they get to that number? They get that from the estimate prepared by the Joint Committee on Tax. That's the bipartisan group that gives us accurate data, both Republicans and Democrats, senators and House members. The Joint Committee predicts that in 2013, there will be about 940,000 taxpayers with some business income in the upper two rates, about 940,000 taxpayers with some business income in the upper two tax rates. That's not all the Joint Committee has said. That estimate isn't the number of small businesses. That's a different number. Instead, it is the number of all individuals in the top two rates to receive any amount of income from past-due business or rental of real estate royalties and estates and trusts. That number of 940,000 taxpayers does not tell us whether the taxpayer spent any amount of time actually working in the business, or was that person, that taxpayer merely an investor sitting on the sidelines. In addition, that number does not tell us whether the income is from a large business or from a small business. It can be a large business pass-through. So that number of 940,000 doesn't tell us. Is it large or is it small? It does not tell us if the business actually even employs anybody. We don't know that. There are a lot of taxpayers in that bracket who don't employ anybody. They're not small business people. So the one million number is being thrown around includes taxpayers who invest, for example, in publicly traded partnerships which can be purchased on the New York Stock Exchange like any other stock. They are not small businesses, not as ordinary Americans would think them to be. The one million number also includes celebrities, sports stars who receive income from speaking engagements. They're not small business people but yet they are lumped into that same number. But Americans wouldn't record a sports celebrity as a small business person. That's not right. And the one million number also includes best-selling authors receiving royalties for book sales. That one million number includes partners in law firms, hedge funds receive their income as a share of a partnership distribution. They are not a small business. And that one million number also includes wealthy individuals who rent out their vacation homes for just a few weeks a year. Both President Obama and Governor Romney would be considered small business owners in 2011 under this definition. I wouldn't think they're small business people, Americans don't think they are small business people, but they would be included in the definition, as the other side bandies about. So in reality, only a very small fraction of the top earners actually own or control or manage a business that is small, a very, very small number. I have forgotten the exact number. Maybe my staff has it, but it's a small number. It isn't sound fiscal policy to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans just because a small portion of them have income from business and a tiny portion of them manage a small business, but that's what some would have you believe. I don't have the number with me but it is very small, the number of persons in the 940,000-person category that actually are small business. There aren't very many really at all."

Senator Isakson: (5:55 PM)
  • Paid tribute to John Adam Mills, President of Ghana, who passed away today.

Senator Snowe: (5:58 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Dr. Sally Ride, who passed away on July 23, 2012.

Murray, Boxer, Blumenthal

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 24 2012

Senator Murray: (4:45 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act.
    • SUMMARY "The Violence Against Women Act has successfully helped provide lifesaving assistance to hundreds of thousands of women and their families, and every time we have reauthorized this bill, we include bipartisan provisions to address those that are not being protected by it. But here we are back on the Senate floor urging support for a bill that should not be controversial. So today, the women of the Senate and the men who support the Violence Against Women Act have come to the floor with a simple, straightforward message for our friends in the House of Representatives. Stop the games and pass the inclusive bipartisan Senate bill without delay. And in the coming weeks we're going to be making sure this message resonates loud and clear, both here in the nation's capital and back home in our states because we are not going to back down, not while there are thousands of women across our country who are currently excluded from the law. In fact, for native and immigrant women and LGBT individuals, every moment our inclusive legislation to reauthorize the violence against women act is delayed is another moment they are left without the resources and protection that they deserve. You know, the numbers really are staggering. One in three native women will be raped in their lifetimes. One in three. Two in five of them are victims of domestic violence. They are killed at ten times the rate of the national average. And these shocking statistics aren't isolated to one group of women. 25% to 35% of women in the LGBT community experience domestic violence in their relationships, and three in four abused immigrant women never entered the process to obtain legal status even though they were eligible because their abuser husbands never filed their paperwork. This should make it perfectly clear to our colleagues in the other chamber that their current inaction has a real impact on the lives of women across America who are affected by violence."

Senator Boxer: (4:55 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act.
    • SUMMARY "We need to tell the House and ask the House to take a look at our bill and to understand how important it is that everybody be included in the Violence Against Women Act ... We can see that 30 million people are left out of the House Violence Against Women Act. That's why we have seen a number of colleagues in the House call for passage of a bill like the Senate's bill, because we include everybody. It isn't fair to leave entire groups out of the protections of the Violence Against Women Act, and that's exactly what they do in the House. The House bill ignores the wishes of law enforcement and excludes key protections for four million immigrants. It excludes 16 million LGBT persons from critical services, more than 44% of LGBT victims who seek shelters are turned away. The House bill would protect Indian tribes from protecting almost two million Native American women from their abusers. This is outrageous. It's an extremely outrageous omission given nearly half of all Native American women have been victims of domestic violence And yet among the 33 million left out of the House Violence Against Women Act, you see the exclusion of the Native American community. Despite the epidemic of sexual assault and dating violence on our college campuses, the House bill leaves out improved protections for more than 11 million college women."

Senator Blumenthal: (5:07 PM)
  • Spoke on the Violence Against Women Act.
    • SUMMARY "The use of the internet is increasingly prevalent for these kinds of crimes. The legislation that I introduced, included in the Senate's bill, enhances current law for the internet age. That section of the bill is not in the House version. It should be. That is the reason why I am urging the House to adopt the Senate version. But it is also more inclusive in including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender constituents that all of us have in these protections. The LGBT Americans experience domestic violence at the same rate as the general population, but they often face discrimination in accessing services. In fact, a survey found 45% of LGBT victims were turned away when they sought help from a domestic violence shelter. There is a real need, an unquestionable and immediate need to improve the access and availability of services for LGBT victims, and our measure does it. The House version does not It also improves protections for Native Americans that are absolutely vital. One of the invisible, unknown, unrealized facts about this community is that nearly three out of five Native American women are assaulted by their spouses or intimate partners. One-third of all American Indian women will be raped during their lifetime. Those numbers alone should dictate the result. And the members of the tribal council, the Pequot tribal nation and others across the country, the Pequot happen to be from Connecticut, have appealed to me to protect the tribal provisions in the Senate measure. Not to waiver, not to relent to the House version. And so again I urge the House to adopt our measure. And protecting immigrant populations ought to be a given for the United States Senate. The House version of VAWA would endanger the safety of noncitizens and society as a whole. That is a quote from the International Institute of Connecticut, which has urged me to hold firm, to support the provisions of the into the bill and not surrender to the House and relent on protecting immigrants ... VAWA symbolizes for our country what makes America great. We protect everyone who needs it. We enforce the laws equally. Without discriminating against people as to their national heritage or origin or ethnicity or race or other background. Equal protection of the laws is one of the unique constitution principles of the American democracy and the American constitution, and our landmark measure enhances and enforces equal protection of the laws."

Barrasso, Brown-OH, Whitehouse, Levin

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 24 2012

Senator Barrasso: (4:00 PM)
  • Spoke on the Obama economy.
    • SUMMARY "I still remember the day that my classmates and I stood to recite the Hippocratic Oath. That is an oath that has guided doctors for centuries. At its simplest, it can be boiled down a single phrase: "First do no harm." I was reminded of that last week when the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, testified to the Senate Banking Committee, speaking about the approach that Washington should take toward healing our sick economy, he said, "Do no harm." Well, that's good advice. The problem is that we have a president in the White House and Democrats in Congress who don't believe it and don't act that way. Day after day, as the president makes one policy decision after another, his policies do harm to the American economy and to the American people. Just look at how sick our economy has gotten since President Obama has taken over. The Federal Reserve projects that the gross domestic product will grow by as slim as 1.6% this year. That's not nearly good enough to give us the healthy economy that we need ... Because of President Obama's failed economic policies, more than 23 million Americans are now either unemployed or underemployed. I think those 23 million people would say to President Obama, do no harm. We've had 41 straight months now of unemployment above 8%. Our economy created just 80,000 jobs last month, just 80,000 jobs. More people last month signed up for Social Security disability benefits than got a job. That's not doing just fine. Look what the president said about small business owners. He said, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that." He went on to say, "Someone else made that happen." I know a lot small business owners who would say that they worked extremely hard to build their own businesses They were started with men and women with dreams and determination. These people aren't looking for a government handout. But they don't want the government and don't think that their government should be hostile toward them. They work hard every day. They work hard to build their businesses. They try to expand and create jobs in the community. President Obama doesn't seem to grasp that. That's why instead of doing all he can to help small businesses, he's burying them under more regulations, under more red tape, under threats of increased taxes. Democrats here in Washington like to say that they're in favor of creating jobs. Then they turn around and do the very things that hurt the people that create the jobs in this country The share of Washington's total debt that is owed by every man, woman, and child in America today is almost $51,000. The president is saddling our children with debt to pay the bills that we can't afford, for policies that don't work, and for goals the American people don't support. The president demonstrates no sincere effort in cutting government spending. Even as the federal government has grown less efficient, less effective, and less accountable. The American people look at Washington's out-of-control spending and debt and their message to President Obama. please, Mr. President, stop doing harm."

Senator Brown-OH: ((4:19 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "We should act swiftly to extend tax cuts for 98% of American families But we won't. Because special interests and their allies in Congress are holding this hostage. Why? It's the same old song, in order to protect billionaires and millionaires. It seems that the default button for so many people in this institution, certainly the majority in the House of Representatives and far too many in the Senate, is no matter what, you protect the interests of millionaires and protect the interests of billionaires. Let's be clear, regardless of whose plan becomes law, whether it's our plan, where we immediately, today, this week, as soon as possible, whether we immediately grant tax relief for people that are middle class, that is every American will get a tax cut on their first $250,000 of income. You're making a million dollars a year, you still get a cut on your first $250,000. If you make $10 million a year, you still get your taxes cut on the first $250,000. You're only paying roughly 4% on every dollar above $250,000. So we have bipartisan agreement. Let's lock that in, that the middle class will get a tax cut. There's an old cliché that that definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. We've been in this policy shop before, when they sold us the same flawed economic policies based upon tax cuts for the wealthy trickling down to the middle class ... If you cut taxes on the richest in the country, all that wealth will trickle down to the middle class and poor and everybody will get richer and the economy will take off. We had eight years of that experiment. But you know what happened? Between 2000 and 2010, we lost in this country 5 million manufacturing jobs. Under those economic policies of give huge tax breaks for the rich - that was the policy, the fundamental tenet, central core of that policy is huge tax cuts for the rich. What happened? We lost a third of our manufacturing jobs. It's only since we've begun to bring some more fairness with the Recovery Act, with Wall Street reform, with some other things we've done, with the auto rescue, especially important in my state, did we see the economy grow. From 2010 - the unemployment rate in my state in 2009 was 10.6%. Now it's 7.3%. That's not good enough but it's certainly progress. 5 million manufacturing jobs lost between 2000-2010. Since 2010, almost every single month we've gained manufacturing jobs. In the aggregate, some 450,000 to 500,000 manufacturing jobs. So, clearly, this policy of cutting taxes on the wealthy is going to create prosperity. It just didn't work that way."

Senator Whitehouse: (4:26 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "The special capital gains rate allows hedge fund billionaires to avail themselves of that so-called carried interest loophole and pay taxes at lower rates than their doorman, their secretaries, their chauffeurs. If we let the tax cuts at the top expire, these rates revert to 20% instead of 15%. Now, 20% is still a pretty low rate for someone making $100 million a year, but it's more like what a family making $100,000 a year pays. Let's also be very clear about one more thing. The proposal that Republicans prefer, the Tax Cut bill would raise taxes. It would raise taxes on 25 million lower and middle-class Americans. It would raise taxes on those 25 million Americans still struggling in these challenging economic times. Republicans claim not to want to raise taxes, but the Republican Tax bill would let very popular lower and middle-class provisions expire that would cost 25 million Americans an average of $1,000 each. Under the Republican bill, 12 million families would see a smaller child tax credit. 6 million families would lose their earned income tax credit. And 11 million families would lose their American opportunity tax credit, which helps pay for college, provides a 2,500-dollar tax credit for higher education. That popular tax credit has already helped millions of students and their parents pay for college, along with Pell grants, another subject of Republican attack. Extending the American opportunity credit, the college tax credit, through 2013 would cost about $3.2 billion. So Republicans believe that we cannot afford a $3.2 billion investment in higher education for middle-class Americans, but we can afford $49 billion in continued tax cuts for ultrahigh income earners. A $2,500 tax credit might seem pretty small in comparison to the $92,000 average tax break that millionaires, people earning a million dollars a year, would receive from another year of high-end tax cuts, but that $2,500 may make a much bigger difference in the life of that middle-class family with that child trying to get into a college they can afford than that $92,000 would make in the life of somebody earning well over a million dollars a year. Once again, look at the priorities here. Republicans fought to protect the tax loopholes and taxpayer subsidies for big oil. They have fought to protect the carried interest tax loophole that lets hedge fund billionaires pay lower tax rates than their chauffeurs and doormen, and they want to go after the child tax credit. They want to go after the earned income tax credit. They want to go after the college tuition tax credit. That is priorities that, like our tax code for too many Americans, are upside-down. I hope the Republicans will join us tomorrow in voting to advance a measure that would keep taxes low for the vast majority of Americans, and I urge them to reexamine their proposal to raise taxes on 25 million low and middle-class Americans."

Senator Levin: (4:38 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "Many of our Republican colleagues argue that we cannot extend tax relief for middle-class families unless we also extend tax cuts for the wealthiest. They argue that without tax cuts for that wealthiest 2%, we will harm job creators and slow the economy. Their arguments rely on faulty assumptions, mistaken beliefs and misleading statements, and let's get to the facts. It is a fact that every American taxpayer would receive a tax cut under our bill on the first $250,000 of their income. It is a fact that compared to the middle-class tax cut act now before us, the plan that the republicans have put forward would increase the deficit by $155 billion. It is a fact that the bill Republicans have put forward, despite their professed support for tax cuts, would raise taxes on the middle class by failing to extend the 2009 tax cuts for middle-class families, including the American opportunity tax credit and credits that help families with children. Now, what's unfolding on the Senate floor now is the culmination of a rigid Republican adherence to tax cuts for the wealthy as the supreme goal of public policy. Republicans have demonstrated a willingness to risk government showdowns, shutdowns. They have demonstrated a willingness to risk grave economic damage, to risk rising taxes on the vast majority of Americans in pursuit of their highest priority, lower taxes on the wealthiest 2% of us. They want to risk all of that in service to an idea that has already proved a failure. When historians look back at the Republican dedication to tax cuts for the wealthy, they will find it remarkable that so many fought so long and so hard to go back to a failed policy .... Republicans backing the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 painted those grand scenarios of growth so rapid that it would yield increased tax revenue, but instead of growing federal coffers, we got a flood of red ink. So the policy of tax cuts for the wealthy failed as a fiscal policy. It added to our deficit. It failed as an economic policy, coinciding with weak growth and economic output and job creation, and it failed as a vital test of public policy in a Democratic society because it failed the fairness test. Instead, it facilitated massive accumulations of wealth for a fortunate few while most Americans have struggled just to trim. Yet our Republican colleagues persist in their pursuit of the failed policy, persist in fact to the point that they are willing to force a tax increase on more than 90% of taxpayers to potentially send their economy tumbling back into recession in adherence to that failed policy. We're not arguing against this policy of tax cuts for the wealthiest because we seek to denigrate success for class waffle as the public has alleged. We are arguing against these policies because they are broken, they have failed, they are unfair. We should reject them lest they do even more harm. We should reject the republican pursuit of tax cuts for the wealthy at all costs."

Kohl, Manchin, Reed

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 24 2012

Senator Kohl: (3:26 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "We know that taxes are scheduled to increase for all Americans next year, and we know that an across the board tax increase on all Americans would be very bad for our economy. What we disagree on is which tax cuts should be continued We should cut through the partisan gridlock and pass the policies that we all support. One policy we can all support is the tax credit for companies that provide childcare to their work force. This is a powerful and proven incentive for business, especially small business, to arrange on-site childcare for their employees. I originally introduced this tax credit after we passed welfare reform in 1996. The purpose of welfare reform was to move recipients off benefits and into jobs, a path to financial freedom that is too often blocked by the lack of quality and affordable childcare. After years of work, we finally passed the employer-provided childcare tax credit in 2001. Since then, it has offered businesses a tax credit for building and maintaining a childcare center. Businesses can also receive a smaller tax credit for helping their employees find childcare elsewhere in the community. Childcare is a good investment for employee and employer alike. Businesses can get employees who miss less work to deal with family issues and stay in their jobs longer. Parents know that their children are safe, sound and close by while their mom or dad is at work. They do not have to choose between putting food on the table and caring for their children. Now is not the time to add another stress to overstressed working families struggling to survive in a down economy. That is why today I am introducing a bill to continue the tax credit for employer-provided childcare. We all agree that the employer-provided childcare tax credit should not expire. It's included in both the tax bills we are considering this week, and we should extend it now. But support for childcare isn't the only thing the Republican and Democratic Tax bills agree on. In fact, these two bills offer the same exact tax cut extension for the first $250,000 earned by every American family. If a family makes one dollar more than that, they still get the same tax cut extension on their first $250,000. Even millionaires get the same tax cut extension as everyone else. Everybody, including the wealthiest Americans, benefits from the tax cuts that we all can and do support. Bipartisan policies bike the tax credit for employer-provided childcare or middle class tax cuts should not be held hostage because of a partisan debate about other tax cuts."

Senator Manchin: (3:43 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "The two proposals that have been offered, one from our Republican colleagues in the House that unfortunately kicks the can down the road entirely and extends these tax cuts at a cost of $400 billion. What people don't know is that even though it would extend tax cuts for the wealthiest - and this is what they really don't know - it would actually get rid of some tax deductions for the middle- and low-income Americans like the expanded child tax credit. That is tremendously unfair. And another proposal from the Democrats here in our Senate, our side, would cost about $250 billion, which is at least starting to move in the right direction to reduce our deficit. And it keeps a tax cut for more than 99% of all West Virginians and a high percentage in every state such as your own. When considering these two proposals, I kept two priorities in mind: putting our fiscal house back in order and restoring fairness to the tax code. So while I would prefer a bipartisan comprehensive solution, I will support the plan to keep taxes low on families that make less than $250,000. According to the latest available figures from the West Virginia Department of Revenue, more than 99% of all West Virginians will get a break on their taxes under this proposal, and the wealthiest among us will pay the rates that they did during Bill Clinton's presidency, which was the greatest era of prosperity that I can remember in my lifetime. On the other hand, the proposal that includes extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans carries a heavy price for this nation. It's about $150 billion more than the Democrats' proposal. Given our dire budget situation, this country just can't afford that. We simply have to prioritize and close the gap. The fact is we can't keep trying temporary solutions to our serious budget problems. And the truth is these tax cuts won't restore confidence in our government or our economy to create good jobs or keep the ones we have. And they certainly don't put our fiscal house back in order. What they will do is be used as fodder in political ads for the next 100 days against both sides. I cannot understand why we continue to take votes that are more about making one side look bad or worse than the other or taking cheap shots than actually solving the problems that we have before us. So I will continue to work across the aisle in a comprehensive bipartisan plan because when it comes right down to it, these tax cuts simply won't fix the financial problems our country faces."
  • Spoke on the sequester.
    • SUMMARY "For people who don't live and work in the beltway, here's what the sequester is. If those of us in Congress can't agree on a real substantial plan to fix our finances, we'll have to make some very painful cuts in some very important areas: our department of defense, our schools and other domestic priorities like veteran's services and Head Start. Both Democrats and Republicans care about those issues, so both Democrats and Republicans have some skin in the game when it comes to finding an agreement. Because let me tell you, the reason that the sequester was put in place almost a year ago was in case we couldn't come up with an agreement on a big fix, one that the so-called super committee was tasked to put forward. Well, they didn't agree on a super fix, and this is our penalty. I really believe that the greatest mistake that we could make would be to walk away before the end of the year and not vote on a clear direction to fulfill the commitment and promises that we made to the American people, which was that we would fix the country's financial problems or the sequester would go into effect. That's the biggest mistake that we can make as a nation: letting the American people down. So now a year after Congress has failed to reach an agreement, I'm surprised to find that some of my colleagues who voted for the sequester knowing full well that Congress needs the threat of painful cuts before we can get anything done are complaining about something they supported. I stand with those, including the president, who are drawing a hard line in the sand on our finances. Like it or not, this painful sequester is the linchpin to a better government and a better agreement. It's the only way that we're going to get something better. And a better agreement will look a lot like the bipartisan comprehensive Bowles-Simpson framework, not the Bush tax cuts. Because this country needs a real solution, because this country needs to come together on that solution. Because if we can't come together, there will be dire consequences for this country, with or without the cuts in the sequester. I sincerely hope and pray and will work for a compromise. But I believe the threat of a sequester might be the only thing that will force congress to get its job done."

Senator Reed: (3:51 PM)
  • Paid tribute to U.S. Capitol Police Officer Jacob J. Chestnut and Detective John M. Gibson, who were killed in the line of duty on July 24, 1998.
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "This bill will extend the 2001, 2003, and 2009 tax cuts for the middle class through 2013. It will provide tax relief to every American, especially to those families who have struggled through this recession and this weak recovery and restore some fairness to the tax code by letting the top rates return to the Clinton-era levels of taxation. If we do not extend these tax cuts for the middle class, a typical family of four could see their taxes rise by an average of $2,200 in 2013 Unfortunately I fear many if not all my Republican colleagues will block this bill because it doesn't extend additional tax cuts for taxpayers that make over a quarter of a million dollars. They will continue to press for a proposal that doubles down on the failed policies of the Bush era, like improved tax breaks for families with children. Indeed, one of the astounding things about the proposal, that it will, if you look closely, actually increased the tax burden on middle-income Americans. The bill that we propose will benefit every single taxpayer in America. It's only when someone exceeds $250,000 in income that the top two rates revert back to the Clinton-era levels In fact, the vast majority of Americans will avoid an increase and see their rates remain the same. The top 2% of earners, approximately 2.1 million households out of more than 100 million households have disproportionately benefited from the Bush tax cuts for more than a decade. They will get to maintain their benefits up to $250,000. But after that, they will see an increase. This is the nature of our progressive tax system, one which for generations has spread the burden across income levels, making sure and trying very hard to make sure that middle-income Americans don't shoulder a disproportionate burden of the tax, taxes and the need to support this government The Democratic bill will cost the federal government $249 billion in lost revenue for a one-year extension. The Republican bill will cost $405 billion. So, again, if you're talking about people who are trying to get a handle on the deficit, just compare a bill for $249 billion, which is expensive, but quite a bit less than $455 billion, which the Republican plan would cost. And I don't think, again, our nation can afford an additional $405 billion going forward."

Moran, Lautenberg, Cornyn

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 24 2012

Senator Moran: (2:23 PM)
  • Spoke on the Fair tax.
    • SUMMARY "The Fair tax eliminates the payroll, estate and many other taxes to be replaced with a national sales tax levied on purchased goods placing all Americans on equal footing, the Fair tax allows our businesses to thrive while generating tax revenues estimated to be similar to our current three million word long tax code. The process of tax reform has major consequences for every citizen of our country but is a process that must be started because the consequences of inaction are too costly. The truth remains that Americans want and need some sort of tax filing relief. The need for commonsense reform becomes more obvious each and every tax season. Over the course of the last several years American taxpayers have become much more attentive to what is and is not happening in the nation's capitol and made their message heard. That message is simplify the tax code. In doing so we will create an opportunity for economic growth and new prosperity while increasing personal freedom and liberty. By reforming this broken process, this tax code we have today, Americans will once again be more in charge of their lives and their money."
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "If the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, a tax increase of $494 billion will strike the economy. For Kansans, that's an average tax increase of $3,000 per tax return, money they should be using to put food on their family's table, save for their children's education and prepare for their own retirement. It is estimated that 70% of the looming tax increases will fall directly on low and middle-income families. This week Congress will consider a tax proposal from the majority leader that increases taxes. Unfortunately, the exact opposite of what our economy needs. S. 3412 that we're debating this week raises the Death tax on family farms, small businesses and ranches and estates to the level over a decade old when they were brought down on a bipartisan basis. This would increase the Death tax from its current rate of 35% to 55%. According to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the number of estates hit by this tax will rise by 3,600 to nearly 47,000. Nothing hinders the transfer of a family farm to the next generation more than the Estate tax. It is an unfair, unjust burden on our economy and it punishes Kansans who want to continue their family businesses. I've long sought a term repeal of the Estate tax and have pursued opportunities to increase the size of the Estate tax exemption and lower the rates. Now we have a proposal to increase the burden of this tax. That will only create less certainty for farmers and small business owners as they plan for their futures. Under this massive tax increase, 20 times more family farming estates will be hit by the death tax and nine times more small businesses. This tax increase comes on top of significant small business tax increases already in the legislation. According to Ernst and Young, these tax increases on if top two marginal rates would shrink the economy by 1.3% and reduce by over 700,000, reduce by over 700,000 jobs from the American work force. This tax increase legislation will only add more uncertainty to our nation's convoluted, ever-changing tax system. Common sense tells us, doesn't have to be Republicans and Democrats, common sense tells us that a simplified tax code will help boost the economy. The revenues we need to balance our books are not increases in taxes."

Senator Lautenberg: (2:37 PM)
  • Spoke on gun control.
    • SUMMARY "I come to the floor today to ask a question: When will we wake up? How many of our sons and daughters have to die before we go to work? It's time to sound the alarm on gun violence in our country. It's time for us to gather to talk about commonsense solutions, and I'm talking about all of us, all 100. It should not matter which side of the aisle you're on. All of us who serve here have someone that we love, someone that we know, someone that we're in contact with, whether it's our child, our sister, our brother or our father and mother. The lives of our loved ones depend on us, and we should not let them down. Right now our nation's lax gun laws make it far too easy for murderers to commit incomprehensible acts of violence and terror. Very early last Friday morning we witnessed a massacre, and it's gotten such that something we know far too well, that a tragedy even with less deaths, with less wounded, with less hurt is a tragedy of enormous proportion when something like this happens in this great country of ours, with so much to live for, so much to enjoy. But here innocent people. This guy arrived at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, had an assault rifle with a 100-round magazine, a shotgun and two-and guns. He unleashed a barrage of bullets, murdering 12 innocent people and injuring 58 more in a matter of minutes. Right then the theater had a total population of 200 people in the theater, and 70 of them were wounded or killed in a matter of minutes. And even though the police responded rapidly - within 90 seconds - with his high-capacity magazine, the gunman had more than enough time to carry out his reign of terror ... The victims of these tragedies and their families deserve more than solidarity and mourning. They deserve our attention, our action. What do we do to prevent these tragedies in the future will be the real test of character of this body, the best way to prove we're really concerned is to take the action necessary to protect young lives, because on that score now we lose. I've been in the Senate a long time, and I've seen too many Americans murdered by guns, too many lives cut short because of the easy availability of guns. And too many times Congress has sat back, cowered before the gun lobby and done nothing to prevent these things from happening in the future. We can't wait any longer without the public at large challenging our effectiveness, wanting to know what it is that we're doing to protect the next group of children, parents, loved ones Americans deserve a Congress that makes the safety of our families a priority. And that's why I urge my colleagues today, help our people, bring back the ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines like the one used in Colorado on Friday and the one used in Arizona last year. That was the law, I repeat, from 1994 to 2004."

Senator Cornyn: (2:56 PM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "There's now an emerging bipartisan consensus that tax reform should involve lowering rates and broadening the base so that our tax system becomes simpler, fairer, and more conducive to strong economic growth. Don't just take my word for it. Look at the president's own bipartisan fiscal commission, the Simpson-Bowles Commission, that reached that same conclusion. Unfortunately, the president's own fiscal commission's report is inconsistent with the president's current demand that we have to raise taxes. It would mean the large tax increase for many people, who are the people we're depending upon to create those jobs. And the reason is that many small businesses pay their business income on an individual tax return. They are a not a major Forbes 500 corporation, multinational corporation. They're the mom and pop operations that are sole proprietorships, the partnerships, they're even sometimes Subchapter-S corporations. just a reference to the tax code that means you don't pay corporate taxes. You pay flow-thru income. Many people who are small businesses that may reach that threshold of $250,000 or above are business people paying on an individual tax return. If this is an effort to soak the rich, well, the middle class and small businesses are part of the collateral damage. I'd like to remind the president that Americans will spend about $350 billion this year alone just to comply with the tax code. That means hiring accountants, that means hiring lawyers just trying to figure what you owe to the federal government. Small business owners face a particularly heavy burden because they can't afford the army of lawyers and accountants to help them figure out what their tax obstacles are. Yet these are the folks we're depending upon to get America back to work and get our economy growing again. But we effectively have a tax system that punishes them for their success. We can and we should do better."

Jul 24 2012

Senator Sanders: (11:41 AM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "I rise this morning in strong support of the Middle-Class Tax Cut Relief Act that would extend tax cuts for 98% of the American people while letting the Bush tax breaks for the healthiest 2% expire at the end of this year. I also want to express my strong opposition to the McConnell-Hatch bill that would provide tens of billions of dollars in tax breaks next year to millionaires and billionaires who today are doing phenomenally well. Really, this is not a complicated issue. The United States now is seeing growing wealth and income inequality. The middle-class is disappearing. Poverty is increasing. The people on top are doing very, very well at the same time as the effective tax rate of the millionaires and billionaires are the lowest that they have been for many, many decades. This country has a $16 trillion national debt. We have a $1 trillion deficit this year, and to give huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires I believe makes no sense to me and I believe makes no sense to the American people. Our Republican - friends have made it very clear that when they say that they don't want to raise taxes on anyone, that's just code for saying they don't want to raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires. And I should add that if Governor Mitt Romney becomes president, he has proposed even more tax breaks for the very wealthiest people in this country while at the same time cutting Social Security, ending Medicare as we know it and slashing investments in education, transportation, childcare, nutrition and a variety of other programs that benefit working families and the middle class."
  • Spoke on Social Security.
    • SUMMARY "It's imperative that we understand that Social Security has not contributed one nick to our deficit or our national debt, so when people say we have a national debt problem and that we have Social Security and they fuse the two together, that is simply incorrect. As all Americans know, Social Security is independently funded through payroll tax contributions from workers and employers and up until last year, it has received no funding from the federal Treasury. Despite the rhetoric that we hear from Republicans and those on Wall Street, Social Security is not in financial crisis. Social Security has a $2.7 trillion surplus. Social Security according to the social security administration will be able to pay out 100% of promised benefits to every eligible recipient for the next 21 years ... My Republican friends and too many Democratic friends are calling for cuts in Social Security. For example, we know where Mitt Romney stands on Social Security. Mr. Romney wants to begin the process of privatizing Social Security. I disagree with that because I think that would benefit primarily his friends on Wall Street. Because if you privatize Social Security, where are people going to get their retirement benefits? Wall Street. And those guys on Wall Street will end up making huge amounts of money by charging the average American a significant commission for their services. Mr. Romney wants to gradually increase the retirement age to 68 or 69. I don't agree with that. At a time when 23 million Americans remain unemployed or underemployed and when the long-term unemployment for senior citizens is skyrocketing, you tell me, how many employers out there are going to say to a 68-year-old person on a 69-year-old person, we've got a great job for you? I don't think those jobs are going to be there if we raise Social Security retirement age. I don't know what those folks are going to be doing for income Finally, the Romney campaign has put on his web site the following - "Mitt believes that Social Security benefits should continue to grow but that the growth rate should be lower for those with higher incomes." Well, what does that mean in English? While Mr. Romney has been somewhat vague about his intentions and has not spelled out the exact details of this proposal, some of my Republican friends in the Senate have provided what I believe is the road map that Mr. Romney is talking about. Last year, Senators Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul and Mike Lee introduced a bill that would, among other things, reduce the future growth rate of Social Security benefits for the top 60% of earnest. By establishing what they call a progressive price index. Who are these so-called higher-income individuals that my Republican friends are talking about? Under this Republican bill, a worker making about $45,000 a year today retiring in 2050 would receive 32% less in annual Social Security benefits than under the current formula. How much is a 32% cut for this middle-class wage earner? It's about $7,500 a year. And that, my friends, is a lot of money for a retiree. It should come as no surprise that Republicans in Washington and Governor Romney want to slash Social Security. The truth is, Republicans have never liked Social Security and they have been attacking Social Security since its inception."

Senator Schumer: (12:05 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "Today I want to talk about a bill that will reduce taxes for 97% of all small business owners. I want to talk about a bill that will keep $2,200 in middle-class pockets next year. I want to talk about a bill that will extend tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 per year. I want to talk about the middle-class tax cut act and why it should pass with overwhelming and bipartisan support. My colleagues across the aisle have said they want to get our country back on its feet. Well, I know our prosperity has always stemmed from and been measured by the success of the middle class. They're the ones who get in early and stay late, they take on a second job to make it just a little bit easier to pay for college, they wait to retire to save more to help their children and grandchildren. Under no circumstances should middle-class people be worried about their taxes going up, particularly at a time when median income, middle-class income is declining in America. To raise taxes at a time when the middle class is struggling to raise taxes on them makes no sense whatsoever. Under no circumstances, no circumstances should the middle class have to worry about their taxes going up. So what we're proposing here is a one-year extension of the Bush era tax cuts for all Americans on the first $250,000 in income they make. Now, let it be noted that that tweak will go to everybody. You could be making $10 million and will get the same tax break on the first $250,000 that someone making $200 or $220,000 or someone making $80,000 makes. So it does not discriminate and, by the way, we are lucky in America that we have people who have made a whole lot of money. Through starting businesses and employing people. We revel in the fact that America does that. We admired well-to-do people. We don't think they need a tax break when that money could go to deficit reduction. Country says that for the middle class because the middle class obviously has less money and is struggling. So that's why we choose 250 as the line. In addition, there are three more very important tax cuts signed into law by President Obama that working families across America rely on. The American opportunity tax credit, the expanded child tax credit and the earned income tax credit. Our proposal would extend these tax cuts as well. So under our plan, the middle class will be secure in the knowledge that their taxes aren't going to go up over the next five months while we all debate the fiscal cliff and all the things we have to do to prevent our deficit from growing. This should be priority number one, to secure the middle class while we have this debate."

Senator Mikulski: (12:15 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Dr. Sally Ride, who died on July 23, 2012.

Senator Paul: (12:26 PM)
  • Spoke on Pakistan.
    • SUMMARY "Dr. Shakiel Afridi is a physician in Pakistan. He has been put in prison for the rest of his life, basically, for helping the United States get bin laden. I think it's a travesty of justice that we are holding this man or Pakistan is holding this man for the crime of helping America, and I think we shouldn't tolerate it. We send Pakistan $2 billion a year, and recently instead of withholding that, President Obama has given him an additional billion dollars. Exactly the wrong thing to do. I have a bill that will withhold all further aid, all further foreign aid to Pakistan unless this doctor is released I threatened to have the vote this week, but I'm going to delay it for one month to see if the appeal works, to see if he is still safe in one month. But I hate to think of what might happen to him while we're waiting here and that we haven't used every bit of the leverage of this money that we give to Pakistan. It's our money. It's your money. We shouldn't be sending it to a country that disrespects us. If Pakistan wants to be our ally, they should act like it."
The Senate stands in recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus lunches.

Alexander, Isakson, Blunt, Johanns

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 24 2012

Senator Alexander: (11:01 AM)
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "The senator from Washington said Republicans often change the subject. That's exactly what we intend to do. We intend to change the subject from raising taxes to creating jobs. In terms of taxes, according to the Congressional Budget Office report recently, this is hard to believe. You have to go back and read it again. But 20% of Americans who pay individual taxes pay 94% of all the taxes. 20% of Americans pay 94% of the taxes. And the president and his allies are about the only ones in the country right now who are going out across the country to say the way to solve this five years of recession and bad economy that we've experienced is to raise taxes on the people who create millions of jobs. That's their argument, that the way to deal with the bad economy we're in is to raise taxes on the people who create millions of jobs. We don't believe that. We're prepared to keep the tax rates where they are while we deal with what we need to deal with, which is the fiscal cliff that the chairman of the federal reserve board talks about, which he says if we do not deal with at the end of the year we'll produce, according to the Congressional Budget Office as well, a recession in the first six months of 2013. More loss of jobs. So the subject we're here to talk about this morning is how to avoid that."
  • Spoke on the Appropriations bills.
    • SUMMARY "The question we're going to ask is why not bring up the Appropriations bills and do our job under the constitution to limit spending and get a head start on the business of putting the fiscal problems we have behind us. Nothing could create jobs more rapidly than for us to bring Washington into some solvency, create some certainty. People have said we're not going to invest, we're not going to hire until we see whether Congress can act. As far as the Appropriations bills, here are the basics. We have 12 of them we pass every year. A bipartisan group of us went to the floor a few months ago and praised the majority leader and the Republican leader for their agreement to try to bring them to the floor and pass them. That's only happened twice in 12 years. So we worked hard to do that. Nine of the 12 Appropriations bills are ready for the senate to consider. In other words, they have been all the way through the process. They're ready for the Senate to consider. Only the majority leader can bring them to the floor. Yet he said two weeks ago suddenly no Appropriations bills this year. That's 38% of the budget. That's more than $1 trillion. That's our job to do. It's the way we control spending. Yet we're not even going to deal with it. So this morning we're going to talk about the consequences of that and hope that the majority leader will change his mind, bring these bills to the floor. The House is doing its job. 11 of theirs are ready for house action and the House passed six. While they may be at a different spending level than we are we have a procedure for dealing with that called the conference, which is the way we deal with differences between the two houses. Suddenly we're saying no budget, no Appropriations bills. That's why we're on the floor today."

Senator Isakson: (11:05 AM)
  • Spoke on the Appropriations bills.
    • SUMMARY "Right now we're operating for the third year in a row under what's known as continuing resolutions. You know what that means? That means we're continuing to do things just as badly as we did the year before because we are not facing the music, not prioritizing our expenditures, we're not talking about the appropriations of the American people and their tax dollars. Senator Murray was talking about taxes as one part of the equation. It's only one part. Spending is the other part of the equation. You only address spending by taking up Appropriations bills, by having debate and by moving forward The bills are ready. All it takes is for somebody to say bring them to the floor. I hope Senator Reid will reconsider not bringing them to the floor and instead bring them to the floor. Let us talk about the American people's money, talk about jobs, talk about investment in the greatest country on the face of this earth."

Senator Blunt: (11:10 AM)
  • Spoke on the Appropriations bills.
    • SUMMARY "The majority leader's view is if the House decides to spend less than that, somehow we just can't move forward. Now the truth is that's the excuse for this year. In the six years that the current majority has controlled the Senate, they haven't passed a budget three times, and three times haven't brought a single Appropriations bill to the floor. I don't know exactly what the excuse was the other times, but this year it's, well, the House has a different number. The House is a different institution. It's the House of Representatives. They get elected every two years. They bring bills to the floor. In fact, they have had a budget the last two years, and we haven't. I think the House the last year that the other majority controlled, the year that - the last year that Nancy Pelosi was Speaker, didn't have a budget. That may be the only time ever since the Budget Control Act that the House didn't have a budget. But the Senate - I mean since the budget law in 1974. But the Senate hasn't had a budget for three years. You know, there's an old saying, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And clearly, the budget's a plan. And the parliamentarian says we don't have one. The parliamentarian says that the Senate has failed to obey the law for three years now because we don't have a budget. We're not prepared to tell the American people what our budget is. And even in spite of not having a budget, the Senate Appropriations Committee has gone ahead and figured out a number that they could use as the number to appropriate to, and those bills are ready. The only problem is those bills aren't allowed to come to the floor. And just a few days ago - I can't remember what the waste of time of that week was on the senate floor, but I said, and the leadership stakeout, why aren't we doing the things we're supposed to be doing that give us a plan, that tell the American people what we're for and then at the next moment, the next press opportunity, the majority comes out and they asked the leader why aren't they doing that? And the majority leader says, well, because the House has a different number. So we're not going to mark any - we're not going to have an appropriations process until the election is over."

Senator Alexander: (11:18 AM)
  • Spoke on the Appropriations bill.
    • SUMMARY "This is such a breathtaking assertion by the majority leader it's hard to grasp it. I mean, here we are in a fiscal mess. I mean, everybody says that. Now, they'll say it's for a different reason on that side than we do. But everybody acknowledge that. Everybody acknowledges as well that while the rest of the world is in trouble we're just in a little less trouble. And that we can get out of our trouble more easily than the rest of the world and not whole but the single-biggest decision about whether the United States deals with its fiscal crisis and gets the economy moving again is whether the president and the Congress can govern. That's what everyone says and we know that it's true. So, in other words, this isn't out of our hands. This isn't out of our control. In fact it is within our hands. All we have to do is come to some agreement about how much money we can spend, reform the taxes, reduce the debt, control entitlement spending, and this country will take off like a rocket. The retiring head of the World Bank last month told a briefing of about 35 Democratic and Republican senators, all of whom are concerned about this, all of whom are committed to working on it, that people who are making decisions about whether to hire people or whether to invest more money in the United States have stopped. They've stopped because of the uncertainty. And what are they waiting on? They're waiting to see whether we can function. They're waiting to see whether we can govern. They've stopped to wait to see. This is not an encouraging indication about whether the United States can govern."

Senator Blunt: (11:24 AM)
  • Spoke on the Appropriations bill.
    • SUMMARY "Let's get our work done and if we were in the majority, we would pledge we would get our work done. That means that Republican senators and Democrat senators would wind up having to take some votes that they'd just as soon not take. But that's always been part of being in the Senate, that you're here to say what you're for. And you are here for six years to say what you're for. The last six years - if you've served in the Senate, the only time in the Senate, as it would be the case for some of our senators in the senate, the last six years you haven't had chance to say what you are for. We've added to the legislate tough dialogue normal phrases that didn't use to be quite as normal like the continuing resolution, and what's the continuing resolution? That means you basically can't get your work done for the next year, so you're just going decide to put a couple of band-aids on whatever the rules were for last year and move forward. When you talk about continuing resolutions, that's a failure ... We're going to come back in September. The fiscal year - the spending year ends the end of September. And what are our choices going to be? We're not going to have good choices. We've had no Appropriations bills, so the choice is to either let the government stop functioning on October 1 or continue spending money at the level that we decided who knows how many years ago to spend that money in many of these programs because we've really not talked about these programs. So we go from no goodies an even worse choice."

Senator Alexander: (11:31 AM)
  • Spoke on the Appropriations bill.
    • SUMMARY "Bob Zelick, the retiring head of the World Bank, reported the story that there were 35 or 40 of us of both parties who were meeting to try to do what we're talking about, which is to deal with all these fiscal cliff issues coming at the end of the year. He repeated, Bob Carr, the new Foreign Minister of Australia, saying in Washington the United States is one budget agreement away from reasserting its global parameters. All of us believe the United States is the preeminent country in the world. But that comes from a great friend of the United States who wants us to succeed, who knows that we can. He knows we want to economy moving again and they want to get their economy moving again. The main thing we need to do is make this fiscal agreement deal with the debt, deal with tax reform, deal with the payroll taxes, deal with the sequester, deal with the Appropriations bills. This is the single most important thing we can do to get our economy moving again ... He put it that way to reassert, establish, claim, renew, whatever adjective or verb you want to use to maintain America's global preeminence, the way to do that is to get a budget agreement at the end of the year. We're off to such a promising start this year, and now we slid backwards."

Senator Blunt: (11:33 AM)
  • Spoke on the Appropriations bill.
    • SUMMARY "My only thought as we're standing here finishing up this discussion is that as people hear this, they say Senator Alexander, Senator Blunt, they are just talking about how the federal government can spend the money and that being the most important thing. If you're going to get spending under control, of course it's the most important thing. It's not a desire to spend money. It's a desire to debate how we spend the money. It's a desire to plan how we spend the money. It's a desire to give as much notice as we can to the country, to the states, to people who are trying to make job creating decisions that the American government is going to do the right things, that the American government is going to plan for a future that makes sense rather than fail to plan and stumble into a future that continues just to do the wrong things. We have seen the debt of the country almost double now in six years. Surely that's enough indication that what we're doing is not working, and more of the same is not the answer. Getting back to the real responsibility of the senate to do its job. The House is doing its job, and they're going to take some criticism about the programs they said should be cut or redefined. We need to do our job. That's the way this process has to work. It's disappointing that it's not working. We're going to come back here in all likelihood in September with bad choices that will be made. One is to shut the government down. One is just to somehow continue spending money just like we have been spending it as the debt of the United States of America doubled in about six years."

Senator Johanns: (11:35 AM)
  • Spoke on the Appropriations bills.
    • SUMMARY "I look at our assignment between now and the end of the year, and we have some monumental issues to tackle. In fact, so monumental that many are referring to the work that needs to be done as a fiscal cliff. Some are talking in the vein of we are going to cause another recession unless we come to grips with these issues, and I look at this week and so many weeks that have passed this year and nothing is done. I'm going to guess when this week is all said and done, we will probably take three votes. That seems unbelievable for the United States Senate. It doesn't have to be this way. It doesn't have to be this way at all. We could be addressing the important issues that face our nation. There isn't any reason why we shouldn't be addressing those issues. Let's debate bills. Let's vote on them. Let's do the right thing for our country."
  • Paid tribute to U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Hunter H.D. Hogan, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 23, 2012.

Conrad, Durbin, Murray

Democrats' Tax Increase bill (S. 3412)

Jul 24 2012

Senator Conrad: (10:22 AM)
  • Paid tribute to U.S. Capitol Police Officer Jacob J. Chestnut and Detective John M. Gibson, who were killed in the line of duty on July 24, 1998.
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "Let's talk about the legislation before us. It assures 98% of the American people they're not going to have a tax increase, extends expiring provisions on income taxes and income tax relief for everyone below $250,000 a year. It includes incentives to promote work and support families, and it provides relief from the individual alternative minimum tax for one year, a tax that is increasingly affecting the middle class. Now, our friends on the other side say, whoa, wait a minute. That means you're going to have on those over $250,000, a top rate of 39.6%. That's true. What happened the last time we had a top rate of 39.6%? That was during the Clinton administration. What was the economic record then? The longest period of uninterrupted growth in this nation's history, 24 million jobs created. That's what happened the last time we had a top rate of 39.6%. Why is it important that we begin doing something about these growing deficits and debt? Because we are on an unsustainable course. This is one place where the Republican leader and I would agree. We are on an unsustainable course. We have been since the previous administration. Have they forgotten they tripled the debt during that administration? Tripled foreign holdings of U.S. debt, doubled the debt. We are on an unsustainable course. We are headed for a debt 200% of our GDP if we don't act."

Senator Durbin: (10:33 AM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "What we are proposing is a tax cut for those making up to $250,000 in income. That will certainly include all - all - of the middle class and working families across America. The taxes will be higher for those in 2% of the highest income categories, and I think it's fair. I think those who have done so well and have been so fortunate in this great nation should be willing to pay their fair share of taxes. I support the middle-class tax cut the president's proposed. We want to bring it to the floor for a vote. I support it with the notion that we still have to keep our focus on the economy and creating jobs, number one. And deficit reduction and debt reduction, number two. We can do both. We've got to take care that whatever we do to the tax code does not jeopardize our economic recovery. We are on a positive path, 28 straight months of job creation in the private sector. We want to continue it. But we also need to change a reality, a reality that we borrow 40 cents for every dollar we spend in Washington. That is unfortunate, unsustainable. We've got to make sure that the working families across America who continue to fall further and further behind each year and live pay check to paycheck will have a helping hand from our tax code. I think it's fair. Those of us in a higher-income category should pay more. Those who are struggling paycheck to paycheck trying to care for their children, they need a helping hand in the tax code. That is not only just and fair, it is good for the economy. Those in lower incomes are going to spend their money and do it in a fashion that invigorates the economy with the production of more goods and services. The Republican plan that calls for tax cuts even for the highest-income categories, as Senator Conrad just noted, means a tax break of $250,000 for millionaires across America. I'm sorry. The people who are making $20,000 a week - that's what a millionaire would make in the course of a year, $20,000 a week do not need that tax break. They haven't asked for it. They don't need it. And they should be contributing towards reducing this deficit and saving America from deeper cuts in Medicare and education and other expenditures that are critical to so many American families. According to a recent analysis, the Republican plan would actually end up raising taxes on working families. If you give a tax break to those who are at the highest level of income categories and still go after deficit reduction, then the working class families actually would have to pay more."
  • Spoke on the DREAM Act.
    • SUMMARY "It was 11 years ago, 11 years ago that I introduced a bill called the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation that would give a select group of immigrant students who grew up in this country the chance to earn their citizenship if they were of good moral character and if they are prepared to serve in the military or complete at least two years of college. The young people who would be eligible for the DREAM Act came to be known as the dreamers. These are young people brought to the United States as children and infants. They grew up in this country, overcoming great obstacles. They will be our future doctors, our engineers, our teachers, our lawyers, our soldiers. They will make America a better nation. They didn't make the decision originally to come to this country. It was a decision made by their parents. And if their parents were breaking the law in that decision, I don't believe that the children should be held responsible. That's not the American way."

Senator Murray: (10:52 PM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "I come to the floor today to urge my colleagues to support the extension of tax cuts for 98% of workers and 97% of small business owners. This should be a no-brainer. Democrats do not want taxes on our middle-class families to go up, and Republicans claim they want that, too, and they also say they want these tax cuts extending. So this should be easy. When 100 senators agree on a policy, we should be able to pass a bill. But unfortunately Republicans are not focused on the 98% we agree on; they are preoccupied with the 2% that we don't. And they are prepared to take our country over the edge and into the new year in an effort to prevent millionaires and billionaires from paying a penny more in taxes. Republicans are so opposed to having the wealthiest pay the very same rate they were paying during the Clinton years that if they can't force through more tax cuts for the rich, they would prefer taxes to go up on middle-class families. They want 98% of workers to pay the price if millionaires are asked to pay a penny more. This is unbelievable, and a deeply cynical position to take. It doesn't make any sense. We have a fundamental difference of opinion between the two parties about the Bush tax cuts that have added trillions of dollars to the deficit and debt. I am not asking Republicans to set aside their values. It is clear they are deeply committed to putting more money into the pockets of the wealthy. All I'm saying is - all Democrats are saying is that we shouldn't let that disagreement on tax cuts for the rich cause taxes to go up for the middle class. We can certainly have a debate about the merits of extending tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. I'm confident Republicans are ready to stand here on the floor, make their case I'm prepared to make mine. But I urge our Republican colleagues now not play political games with the tax cuts that both sides believe should be extended because holding these middle tax cuts hostage is bad policy, it is bad economics, and frankly it is bad politics ... It's stunning, while Democrats are fighting for tax cuts for the middle class, Republicans are not only holding them hostage to continue the tax cuts for the rich, they're also scheming for ways to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans even more. But their rhetoric is not going fool the families and small business owners in America."

Reid, McConnell

Opening Remarks

Jul 24 2012

  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 3412, the Democrats' Tax Increase bill. The first hour will be equally divided, with the Majority controlling the first 30 minutes and the Republicans controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • At 12:30 PM, the Senate will recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus lunches.
    • At 3:40 PM, the Senate will observe a moment of silence in honor of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Jacob J. Chestnut and Detective John M. Gibson, who were killed in the line of duty on July 24, 1998.
    • On Monday, cloture was filed on the Motion to Proceed to S. 3412, the Democrats' Tax Increase bill. Under the rule, the cloture vote will occur tomorrow.

Senator Reid: (10:02 AM)
  • Spoke on the Democrats' Tax Increase bill.
    • SUMMARY "Republicans claim to share our commitment, our commitment, to keeping taxes low for the middle class. It's very strange that if that's what they believe they repeatedly block our proposal to cut taxes on 98% of American families. Two weeks ago Republicans seemed eager to have those votes. That's what the Republican leader talked about on the floor. They wanted to vote on our proposal to cut taxes for families and vote on the repeating proposal which would raise taxes on families while handing out more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. Democrats tried to give the Republicans what they wanted. We offered to skip the usual procedural delays and hold up or down majority votes. So far they refused. The offer still stands. They want to vote on theirs, vote on ours, do it with a simple majority. So I hope Republicans don't insist on doing this the hard way. And why are republicans delaying votes that they asked for in the first place? They know a majority of senators and a majority of Americans support our plan to help middle class families. Our plan gives 98% of American families certainty their taxes won't go up and it reduces the deficit by almost $1 trillion by ending wasteful tax breaks for the rich. Senate Republicans, their proposal takes a very different approach and that's an understatement. It extends tax breaks for the top 2% of Americans but fails to extend tax cuts to help middle-class families. Their plan would hike taxes by another $1,000 for middle-class families while handing out an extra $160,000 tax break to every millionaire. Democrats will simply never agree we should hand out more tax breaks to the richest 2% of Americans while this economy is in the situation it's now in. But that shouldn't stop us from protecting the other 98% of Americans and do it today."
  • Spoke on Cybersecurity.
    • SUMMARY "Over the last few days some of my Republican colleagues suggested the Senate should delay action on what national security experts have called the most pressing threat facing this country. Instead of considering bipartisan Cybersecurity legislation, they say we should first consider the annual defense authorization bill. I argue we need to move rapidly to address a gaping hole in our defenses against cyber attack. The director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, said that cyber threats will soon overtake terrorism as the most significant threat to our national security, and in the minds of some, it's difficult to separate Cybersecurity and with a people are trying to do and try to do every day, it's the same as terrorism. It's just a different form. A bipartisan group of national security experts led by former Executive Homeland Security Michael Chertoff - by the way, a Republican - and former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell appointed during the Republican administration said cyber threats "represent one of the most serious challenges to our national security since the onset of the nuclear age." The ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, Senator McCain said "we must act now and quickly develop and pass comprehensive legislation to protect our electric grid, our air traffic control system, water supply, financial networks and defense systems and much more from cyber attack." That's a direct quote from John McCain. And he's right. We need to protect our electric grid What John McCain said is really true. We must pass comprehensive legislation to protect our electric grid, air traffic control system, water supply, financial networks and defense systems and much more. Any one of these things would be devastating to our country if a cyber attack was successful. John McCain suggested this a matter of months ago, almost a year ago. But the threat has only grown worse in that time. And failing to act on Cybersecurity legislation not only puts our national security at risk, it recklessly endangers members of our armed forces and missions around the world ... If we're serious about protecting our troops we must protect them against cyber attacks. Acting to secure our critical networks doesn't mean we won't do other things to help the defense industry. Of course. There are some specific concerns about the Defense Authorization bill and I've talked about them. We can't allow the Defense bill to end around the bipartisan Budget Control Act which has been so important to this country. And if we're going to debate the Defense bill, House and Senate Republicans need to make it clear that they're willing to abide by the budget level set by the law that they all voted for with rare exception. And we must also ensure that the Defense bill is not used as a platform to advance irrelevant partisan agendas."
  • Paid tribute to U.S. Capitol Police Officer Jacob J. Chestnut and Detective John M. Gibson, who were killed in the line of duty on July 24, 1998.

Senator McConnell: (10:15 AM)
  • Paid tribute to U.S. Capitol Police Officer Jacob J. Chestnut and Detective John M. Gibson, who were killed in the line of duty on July 24, 1998.
  • Spoke on the Bush tax cuts.
    • SUMMARY "Republicans will head into tomorrow's vote guided by a simple principle: do no harm. This is our view, the best approach to taxes right now is to let every American and every American business know they won't have a higher income tax bill at the end of the year. We think everybody in America should have that certainty. The Democrat guiding principle to extent they have one is ... To them, the goal isn't so much relief for struggling Americans or reviving the economy, it's sending a message. And their message is that some people deserve relief and some people don't and they'll decide who those people are. Regardless of the effect it has on the broader economy or on jobs. It is an approach that isn't based on any economic outcome but on ideology. And Americans are really quite tired of it, because it's been disaster for our economy. Think about it. If Democrats cared more about helping folks and reviving the economy, then they wouldn't be calling for a tax huge yet throughout this entire debate, Democrats haven't offered a single credible argument about how their tax will help struggling middle-class Americans. Surely they didn't think this tax increase was the fiscally responsible thing to do. After all, even if they got it - let's assume they got this tax increase - it would only generate enough money to fund the government for five days. If they got the tax increase they want, it would only generate enough money to fund the government for five days. The larger point is this: the Senate should be in the business of actually making a difference rather than just making political statements. And that's why we think we should have a vote on all three proposals tomorrow. The president's proposal, the Senate Democrats' proposal and ours. Show the American people what's really behind their proposals and what we all stand for. The Democrats believe the president's rhetoric, they'll vote for his proposal. And he'll work to get their support. Now, my guess is that Democratic leaders won't allow a vote on the president's plan. And that should tell you everything you need to know about the Democratic approach to the problems we face. They're either out of ideas, not serious about solving the problems we face, or both. To them, this is more about messaging or passing the buck than it is about helping anybody or preventing calamity at the end of this year. The president has proposed a plan he thinks about help him on the campaign trail. Now, Democrats propose a plan they think helps them here in the Senate. What about a plan that actually helps the American people? It's all politics and positioning to our friends on the other side of the aisle at this point, and it's really quite disgraceful. The time to act on the problems we face is right now."

Jul 24 2012

The Senate Convened.

Jul 24 2012

The Senate is considering S. 3412, the Democrats' tax proposal.  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.