Senate Calendar

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mar 28 2012

Senator Coburn: (6:14 PM)
  • Spoke on Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "We have a bill that we're considering that, to me, is mindless. It's about the politics of division, and it's not about any truth. The fact is the major oil companies that reside in our country pay the highest tax rate of anybody in the world and pay over 41.5% of every dollar of revenue they make; comes straight to the federal government. There aren't any other businesses that compare to that. Google doesn't compare to that. Facebook doesn't compare to that. Apple doesn't compare to it. They're all half that rate. So we're already taxing the oil company - as a matter of fact, to the tune of almost $36 billion last year came to the Treasury from the major oil companies in this country and the bill we have on the floor won't improve the revenue one dollar. That's a fact. There will not be one increase in dollar over a ten-year period that will come to the effect if you pass this bill. Now, why is that? Most people don't know, but my background is as an accountant. That was my first training. My first field. And accelerated depreciation just delays the time that the federal government gets the tax dollars they're going to get. It doesn't change the amount of tax dollars You match revenues with expenses. Oil depletion allowance isn't allowed for the large oil companies. It's been gone for 20 years, 20 years - accelerated depreciation on what is called intangible drilling cost oz. It really won't have any major effect on oil companies. It'll literally kill the smaller companies because their capital needs are recaptured over a long period of time, if you eliminate intangible drilling costs. So what does that mean? That means you'll have less exploration in our country, where you will actually harm the exploration by the middle and small oil companies. And someone will say, well, we don't want to do that for them. We don't want to affect the - we just want to affect the big oil companies. The big oil companies will pay no more net - no increase change in their net taxes over a period of ten years. So the only thing that you could actually claim with this bill is the time value of money over that period of time. And the time value of money right now is less than 2% a year. So what are we really talking about? We're talking about a political game and we're not talking about energy security. We're not talking about creating 2 million to 4 million jobs. We're not talking about substance. We're talking about politics. And the shame is that nobody out there is talking about a vision where America doesn't send $200 billion of its wealth out of the country a year."

Senator Whitehouse: (6:51 PM)
  • Spoke on the Highway bill.
    • SUMMARY "I come to the floor of the Senate this afternoon to urge Speaker Boehner and the House of Representatives to pass the bipartisan Senate Highway jobs bill now. This is an important bill that would save or create nearly 3 million jobs with really a stroke of the president's pen. From Washington in the northwest, 33,700 jobs. Rhode Island in the northeast, 9,000 jobs in our small state, to Florida in the south, 81,700 jobs. This is the jobs bill that we need to act on. Rhode island would receive $227 million a year for highways, roads and bridges from this bill and that would hold us steady at funding - this year's funding levels ... In the Senate, we passed it with 74 votes and another senator making it 75, expressing that had he not been required to be at a funeral in his home state, he would have voted for it. So you have 75 votes on a bipartisan bill ... It is a highways bill, it is a jobs bill and the House should move on it. What have they done instead? Well, House Republicans initially proposed funding transportation programs with a 30% cut in existing transportation funding. That, obviously, would have been a disaster. It would have resulted in the loss of an estimated 600,000 jobs across the country. So, of course, it was overwhelmingly opposed by transportation advocates and by business groups. The House Republicans then tried to introduce something called the American energy and infrastructure jobs act back at the end of January. This bill was so extreme and so flawed that it was even opposed by many House Republicans. It ended transit programs and went after things like offshore drilling. Transportation Secretary LaHood was a Republican member of the House of Representatives himself for many years. He said about that house bill that it was the worst transportation bill I have ever seen and that it would take us back to the horse and buggy era. So with bipartisan opposition to this extreme worst bill that Secretary LaHood had ever seen, Speaker Boehner was forced to pull it and that was that for that effort. Then they spent months going after budget proposals that would reduce spending on our highways and on our bridges and ultimately they have really thrown in the towel It is very unfortunate that the House at this point cannot sort itself out to come up with its own transportation bill, can't sort itself out to pass an extension. As bad as an idea that could be, they can't even do that. And a deadline is coming at them that is non-negotiable."
  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Tomorrow --
    • The Senate will convene at 9:30 AM and resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 2230, the Buffett Rule, with the time until 11:30 AM equally divided. The first hour will be equally divided, with the Majority controlling the first 30 minutes and the Republicans controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • At 11:30 AM, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 2204, the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • The amendment tree is filled. All second degree amendments to S. 2204 must be filed at desk by 10:30 AM.
The Senate stands adjourned until 9:30 AM Thursday, March 29th.

Mar 28 2012

Confirmed, 96-1:
Executive Calendar #497, Susie Morgan, of Louisiana, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Vote Results (Du nomination)

Executive Session

Mar 28 2012

Confirmed, 59-39:
Executive Calendar #464, Miranda Du, of Nevada, to be United States District Judge for the District of Nevada.
The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

Grassley, Landrieu, Lee, Inhofe

Executive Session (Du and Morgan nominations)

Mar 28 2012

Senator Grassley: (5:02 PM)
  • Spoke on the judicial nominations.
    • SUMMARY "We are moving forward in the regular order and procedure of the Senate. This year we have been in session for about 35 day, including today. During that time we have confirmed 14 judges. That's of average than better than one confirmation every three days. With the confirmations today, the Senate will have confirmed nearly 75% of President Obama's article 3 judicial nominations. Despite the progress that we're making, we're still hearing complaints about the judicial vacancy rate. We're filling those vacancies, but again I want to remind my colleagues something that the United States Senate has no control over. That of the 98 current vacancies, 50% of the vacancies have no nominations. So, it's impossible for the Senate to respond to the complaints that we hear in the senate or from the White House that somehow not moving fast enough on nominations. You can't have a vote in the United States Senate on some - to fill some vacancy where there's no nominees up here from the President of the United States. So if the President of the United States wants us to act any further, get the job done. Get the nominees up here. So, of course, as you can tell, I'm growing a by the weary of the vacancy rate being blamed on Senate Republicans."
  • Spoke in opposition to the Du nomination.

Senator Landrieu: (5:13 PM)
  • Spoke in support of the Morgan nomination.

Senator Lee: (5:19 PM)
  • Spoke in opposition to the Du nomination.

Senator Inhofe: (5:23 PM)
  • Spoke on S. 2248.
    • SUMMARY "What does this legislation do? SUMMARY "It is" clear that the state has sole authority. This would include federal land located within the borders of a state. It also requires hydraulic fracturing on federal lands to comply with the state laws. The activities related to hydraulic fracturing are already regulated at the federal level under the variety of environmental statutes, including portions of the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Air Act. States better understand their unique geologies. A lot of people don't understand."

Boxer, Leahy

Buffett Rule bill (S. 2230)/Executive Session

Mar 28 2012

Senator Boxer: (4:14 PM)
  • Spoke on Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "What's not good is that big oil is getting corporate welfare. Big oil is ripping us off at the pump. They never had greater profits. We're being asked to sacrifice and pay more at the pump because of instability in the world, because of problems with the refineries, even though we have never drilled as much as we're drilling now. Big oil exports our oil now. We have never had as many exports as we have now. And big oil gets billions of subsidies, so big that I will tell you $2 billion a year in U.S. tax breaks. And let me tell you, to just explain how that compares to something we do that's very near and dear to my heart and every mother and father, grandma, grandpa or aunt and uncle, which is we put about a billion dollars a year into after-school programs. When we have millions of children waiting, $1 billion a year on after-school programs where we give away $2 billion a year to the most, shall we say, successful companies in America. I want to show you what I'm talking about because I don't want people to think this is rhetoric. These are the facts. So when my Republicans colleagues come on the floor and defend these profits, let's talk about what they are ... In 2009, this is all the five oil companies made $64 billion. In 2010, big oil made $74 billion. And in 2011, they made a whopping $137 billion. So they went from $64 billion in 2009 to $137 billion in 2011, and my Republicans colleagues are crying bitter, bitter tears for them. Oh, let's keep giving them back $2 billion a year. Why? Why would we do that? When we are sacrificing and our constituents are paying more at the pump and big oil is profiting from it. There is no reason for this kind of an increase at the pump. There is no reason for it. Look at what's going on here. If they just made the normal profits that they made, we could have some relief at the pump, but oh, no. And so now we're going to reward them, the Republicans are, by allowing them to keep these subsidies ... Let's look at the CEO's of big oil for a minute, these poor guys that are fighting for these subsidies, let's look at them. CEO's for the big five made more than $14.5 million in total compensation in 2010. This is it. Average compensation. That's 307 times the average salary of a firefighter. That's 273 times the average salary of a teacher. That's 263 times the average salary of a policeman. That's 218 times the average salary of a nurse. But they need subsidies for their companies, and they need to rip us off at the pump so they can make a little more money. $14.5 million just isn't enough for a poor oil company executive. Give me a break. And stop giving them a break, because they don't need this break."
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "As a result of Obama health care that I proudly supported, already five million senior citizens are able to afford their prescription drugs. Your mother, your father, your grandma, your grandpa. And that's important. What's going to happen to those people if this whole thing gets overturned? They will get sick and they will not have those medications. In addition, what else is happening, madam president? 2.5 million young Americans are now covered because they can stay on their parents' health plan until they turn 26. Right now without this law, when you graduated from college you were out of luck. And you have to find your own health care. Obama plan said you should be able to stay on your parents' health plan until you turn 26. I can't tell you how many people have written to me to thank me for that. So 2.5 million Americans. So over there in the Supreme Court, they're talking about legalese, and I appreciate that. They're talking about severability. They're talking about a lot of interesting things. But one thing I want to talk about is what's going to happen to five million senior citizens who are able to stay on their medication as a result of the Obama health plan, what's going to happen to the 2.5 million Americans who are young who can stay on parents' plan till they're 26 if something happens over there across the street in terms of this legal case ... That's going to happen to 54 million Americans who now have access to free preventive care such as screenings for colon cancer, mammograms and flu shots? This is new, folks. Before you didn't get free prevention. Had you to pay a co-payment."

Senator Leahy: (4:36 PM)
  • Spoke on the Du and Morgan nomination.
  • Spoke on Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "Over the past ten years, BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, ConocoPhillips have seen combined profits of nearly $1 trillion But despite this massive windfall, big oil continues to receive billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. Subsidies that are unnecessary, unconscionable, and money out of the pockets of the American taxpayers who are already paying record prices for the product of big oil. So the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act will eliminate these harmful subsidies, level the playing field for all Americans. Big oil does not need these big tax breaks. I might note they get all this from the taxpayers, they get these subsidies from the taxpayers. By suggest when you look at the price of gasoline at the pump today, they certainly don't appreciate what the taxpayers have done for them. In fact, they want to gouge them a second time, first take their tax dollars for the trillion dollars worth of subsidies, but then charge them record prices for gasoline ... And despite their ever-increasing profits, unneeded subsidies, the five major oil companies have done nothing to bring down prices for average consumers. They ask the taxpayers to give them these huge subsidies and they say, oh, by the way, thanks for the huge tax subsidies you're giving us, thanks for giving us your tax dollars, but we want more money on top of that. And that's padding their pockets at the expense of hard-working middle-class families in states like mine of Vermont. Now, if we eliminate these tax breaks, we'll end more than $2.4 billion per year in unnecessary tax breaks. This could help bring the federal government's deficit down, can also reinvest in clean energy technologies. It will benefit everyone. This is kind of an easy matter, madam president. Senators can make a choice. Stand with the American people and stand up to big oil, or just continue business as usual."
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "Americans are already beginning to see some of the benefits of insurance reform. Seniors on Medicare have high-cost prescriptions and have been trapped with a coverage gap known as the doughnut hole are now beginning to receive help. The Affordable Health Care act completely closes the coverage gap by 2020. 2010, more than 7,000 Vermonters received a $250 rebate to help cover the costs of their prescription drugs when they hit the so-called doughnut hole. Last year nearly 6,800 Vermonters with Medicare received a 50% discount on their covered grand-name prescriptions. That saved them $714 per person. Since the Affordable Health Care Act was signed into law more than 4,000 young adults in Vermont have gained health insurance coverage under these reforms that allows them to stay kids were college students. 81,649 Vermonters on Medicare and more than 100,000 Vermonters with private insurance gained access to and received preventive screening coverage with no deductible or co-pay. If all this is happening with a state with 600,000 people can you imagine how many millions of people this country are benefiting? For years we've had republican and democratic senators rightfully say that judges should not make law from the bench. For the sake of the health and security of our nation the Supreme Court should not cast aside this last mark law and congress' time honored ability to protect the American people."

Mar 28 2012

Senator Wicker: (3:07 PM)
  • Spoke on Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "Earlier this month, President Obama said the only solution was to start using less. That lowers the demand, prices come down according to the president. He later asserted that, "how much oil we produce at home is going to set the price of gas worldwide." To quote the President. Somehow, using less will lower the prices, according to the president, but producing more will not lower the prices. In other words, the president believes in only half of the principle of supply and demand. Indeed, basic economics tells us otherwise. It tells us that alleviating demand can lower prices but having a greater supply does that, too. The argument that the president is trying to make that domestic production is inconsequential does not add up. Not expanding production forces American wealth to go overseas because we have to buy our oil from overseas. As Charles Krauthammer recently wrote in "the Washington Post, "drill here and you staunch the hemorrhage. You keep those dollars within the united states economy." and that's exactly what we need to do in these troubling times. According to the institute of energy research, we have enough oil within our borders to supply our own fuel needs for 250 years. That's not senator wicker talking. That's not a presidential candidate talking. That's the institute for energy research. 250 years that we have here in the united states, and yet they are being kept off-limits by the administration. Now the administration wants an $85 billion energy tax hike. This new tax will not translate into cheaper gasoline, a fact my democratic colleagues have, in fact, acknowledged. It will make it more expensive to produce, drive up imports and hamper economic investment. According to a study by the congressional research service, higher energy taxes will increase gas prices and likely increase foreign dependence, exactly what we don't want to do."
  • Spoke on Wicker amendment #1966 (domestic strategic production goal).
    • SUMMARY "The amendment would establish a production goal for the Obama administration's five-year offshore oil and gas leasing plan. It calls for three million barrels of oil per day. And 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas production and reduce foreign imports by nearly one third. By setting these benchmarks for the output of oil and natural gas, we can make measurable progress towards energy independence."

Senator Hoeven: (3:16 PM)
  • Spoke on Hoeven amendment #1984 (Keystone XL).
    • SUMMARY "It's legislation that would approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and authorize that that construction proceed. That authority is provided to Congress under the commerce clause of the constitution, and with gas prices now close to $4 and going higher, Congress needs to act. President Obama has turned down the pipeline, he continues to block the Keystone XL pipeline and it is time for Congress to act on behalf of the American consumer. Every single American, every hard-working American, is feeling this pain at the pump. Keystone XL pipeline would help us produce more supply, more energy supply for our country to help reduce the price of gasoline at the pump. It will help us create more jobs in this country to put more - close to 13 million Americans who are now unemployed to help put those Americans, put more of those Americans back to work and of course, to helpSUMMARY " reduce our reliance on oil from the Middle East This is about supply and demand. You increase supply, you put downward pressure on prices. You increase demand, you put upward pressure on prices. Global demand for oil is growing. We know that. Global demand is growing. So we need to increase the supply, wise that growing demand continues to push gasoline prices higher With the current policies that the administration has in place, we will actually produce less supply in the future. Less supply in the future. So think about that. If gasoline prices are a function of supply and demand, it's not only the supply and demand today, it's what people anticipate the supply and demand will be in the future. If you have growing global demand, which we know we have, and we have an administration that is constricting supply, then not only do you have an issue in terms of present supply and demand but people say there's going to be less supply, growing demand, that puts upward pressure on prices. So the actions of the administration have a direct impact, a direct correlation with the price of gasoline at the pump and under this administration gasoline prices have more than doubled. So what we need to do is we need to produce all of the above. We need to produce all of the above."
Senator Murkowski: (3:30 PM)
  • Spoke on Murkowski amendment #1976 (ANWR).
    • SUMMARY "Members here have heard me talk over and over again about the prolific oil resources that reside in Alaska. According to the Energy Department, we've got over 40 billion barrels of oil that could be produced up north, providing not only the energy but the energy security, jobs, new revenues. We've got a pipeline that is built already. We don't need to deal with the permitting issues there. It's just waiting to carry oil. And we've got overwhelming support from Alaskans on this. What we don't have is what is perhaps most important and that's permission from the federal government to actually develop our huge oil fields. And the biggest on the continent is in the northwest corner of ANWR. For years we have sought to develop a total of 2,000 acres in what is known as the 1002 area for which Congress set aside back in 1980 to access for energy exploration. They knew back then that this area had great potential. The 1002 area is projected to contain more than 10 billion barrels of oil. If you were to put it in context this way, 1 million barrels a day coming down that pipeline, coming to us from ANWR I've got an amendment that's designed to really address this debate. It would prohibit surface development entirely and yet it still allows for a very substantial portion of the oil to be accessed from our state lands with drills reaching beneath the coastal plain. And we do this by allowing only subsurface occupancy. We use extended horizontal drilling production."
  • Spoke on Murkowski amendment #1985 (energy and mineral development).
    • SUMMARY "We know that the federal government can't necessarily set global commodity prices but it can it can create a situation where capital that might be invested in America mineral production is stranded for long periods of time and that's exactly what we see happening. I think it's unacceptable. So what we shouldn't do, then, and particularly in the case of energy and minerals development, is to subject projects to an unnecessarily long permitting process. I have an amendment that would begin to remedy this situation and it would do so by using the very language that the President used last week with his executive order he signed on March 22. My amendment incorporates provisions that have attracted pretty broad bipartisan support on the past Highway bill that was considered by this body. These provisions are ones that will work. According to a September 2010 report by the Federal Highway Administration, these reforms have cut the time required to complete environmental reviews in half. They've mitigated the delays calls by last-minute legal challenges. What they do more specifically is take the President's executive order and put some teeth to them, if you will."
  • Called up Murkowski amendment #1985 (energy and mineral development) (Durbin objected).
  • Spoke on Murkowski amendment (rule-making implementation).
    • SUMMARY "I actually have a second amendment that literally takes the President's Executive Order and provides instructions to the agencies to do a rule-making to implement them within one year. This is not something that the senator from Alaska has designed. This is the President's executive order. But I think it is designed to get us to an expedited permitting process so that we don't have the lag times that we see, whether it's on transportation infrastructure or whether it is on energy issues."
Senator Vitter: (3:44 PM)
  • Spoke on Vitter amendment #1965 (OCS leasing).
    • SUMMARY "What it would do is replace President Obama's current five-year plan for outer continental shelf leasing with basically the plan that existed previously, which is double President Obama's plan. So President Obama's plan, which he put in place after coming into office, is about half of the previous plan. It backs us up, it turns us around, moving us in the wrong direction. Amendment 1965 would turn us back, move us in the right direction and adopt pretty much that previous plan to expand our access to our own U.S. energy resources offshore."
  • Called up Vitter amendment #1965 (OCS leasing) (Durbin objected).
  • Spoke on Vitter amendment #1997 (Western Oil Shale).
    • SUMMARY "This is another huge opportunity we have in the United States right here at home, and that's enormous oil resources that we can get from western shale. According to the Institute for Energy Research, "the USGS estimates that unconventional U.S. Oil shale resources hold 2.6 billion barrels of oil with about 1 trillion barrels that are considered recoverable under current economic and technological conditions. These 1 trillion barrels are nearly four times the amount of oil reserves, Saudi Arabia's proven oil reserves." that's the potential we have right here in this country, near must reserves - enormous reserves available now, recoverable now. What's the problem? Well, one big problem is that the Obama administration has canceled all leases to access this oil shale. There was movement to properly, responsibly access that 1 trillion barrels. That has been canceled under the Obama administration. My amendment, number 1997 - again, obviously, an energy amendment; can affect price at the pump - would expedite movement toward that important research - resource, and would get us moving again in the right direction, accessing that U.S. Energy resource."
  • Called up Vitter amendment #1997 (Western Oil Shale) (Durbin objected).
Senator McCain: (3:52 PM)
  • Spoke on the McCain amendment #1948 (waive Jones Act)
    • SUMMARY "The Jones Act has a direct impact on oil supplies, on the cost of oil, and the cost of other products. Because what the Jones act says, incredibly, is that any ship that goes between two U.S. ports - i.e., whether it be Honolulu, Hawaii, San Francisco or, one of the Gulf Coast ports to the northeast or anyplace between two U.S. ports - can only be transported by U.S.-owned, U.S.-built, U.S.-owned, and U.S. crude vessels If we repeal the Jones Act, we would have an immediate effect on the price of oil because when you're transporting oil from the Gulf Coast to the northeast and it costs two or three times more, if that supply is restricted to be transported only by these 56 tankers, then obviously, according to figures that are accurate, that it costs two to three times more, then by allowing other foreign-flagged ships to move these goods and services but particularly oil tankers, you could cut the cost of oil - of gasoline immediately. So the next time you hear the President of the United States or my friends on the other side of the aisle, there's nothing that can be done now about reducing the price of a gallon of gasoline, you can do it by repealing the Jones act immediately. And if there's ever - if there's ever a law that long ago outlived its utility or usefulness, if it ever had any, it was this law that was passed in 1920. Only American-built - you can't even buy another one that is - a tanker or a ship that's built in another country and not have it fall under the Jones act, even if it is American-owned, an American crew. Amazing."
  • Called up McCain amendment #1948 (waive Jones Act) (Durbin objected).
Senator Barrasso: (4:03 PM)
  • Called up Barrasso amendment #1956 (accelerate permitting) and Barrasso amendment #1957 (existing environmental review documents) (Durbin objected).
  • Spoke on Barrasso amendment #1956 (accelerate permitting).
    • SUMMARY "Amendment number 1956 would accelerate permitting for oil and gas exploration on our federal public lands. And that's why I just offer that. So I take a look at the amendments, the discussion on the bill on the floor, and that's why specifically I offered an amendment that would rescind the administration's rules requiring what is called master leasing and development plans. These regulations were put into place over two years ago by the secretary of the interior. It is unclear why the secretary issued these regulations. They add more red tape. They cause more bureaucratic delay and they slow down American energy production. This amendment would also require the administration to set goals for oil and gas production on federal public lands. It would ensure that the United States maintains or increases onshore oil and gas production."
  • Spoke on Barrasso amendment #1957 (existing environmental review documents).
    • SUMMARY "I have also filed that second amendment, 1957, which would require federal agencies to use existing environmental review documents for oil and gas permitting. We take a look at that amendment, this would expedite the time that it takes to prepare environmental analyses under the national environmental policy act, often known as NEPA. Too often NEPA delays onshore and offshore exploration. My amendment provides a commonsense solution. It requires agencies to use in whole or in part an existing environmental review document if the document is substantial the same as the permit under consideration. This amendment doesn't exempt agencies from complying with NEPA and does not provide for categorical exclusions. It provides for agencies to use their previous work so they don't have to reinvent the wheel."
Senator Murkowski: (4:08 PM)
  • Spoke on Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "The legislation that has been introduced, S. 2204, is not going to put an end to federal subsidies for oil and gas producers, because there are none. There are no subsidies here. The oil and gas industry actually sends money to the federal government to the tune of tens of billions of dollars each year, and it's not the other way around. Basic tax deductions that allow businesses to retain more of their earned dollars is not the equivalent of handing them a check. And so I think that's the first thing that we need to get out on the table and make very clear. And the second point that I just want to reinforce is s. 2204 is simply not going to work. By definition, increasing costs will not lower prices. There is nothing that i can think of that if we tax it more, it will make it more affordable and more abundant. It just doesn't work that way. And judging from both history and some recent international examples, it's virtually certain that s. 2204 would have damaging effects on this country. Back in 1980, the carter administration imposed a windfall profits tax - we remember that. This was a tax that was imposed on domestic crude oil. And according to the congressional research service, that tax reduced domestic oil production. It increased our dependence on foreign nations. And it collected far less in revenue than was expected. The example that is more current on an international scene is one that I spoke to yesterday, and this is the example in Great Britain. A year after raising its oil tax rates, production declines in Great Britain have increased from 6% per year to 18% per year. So, as a result, Great Britain is reversing that course. They're now planning to offer new incentives to encourage producers to return to the North Sea. All we need to do is look at a real time example of what one country did in an effort to deal with high gas prices. They increased the taxes. Investment and production goes overseas. Now they're turning the corner on this, and they're working to reduce their taxes. I think there is clearly a better way here. The other side of the aisle has refused to even consider amendments that will increase federal oil and gas production, create good jobs in this country, generate billions of dollars of federal revenues at a time that we desperately need them. Restrain, if not, reduce gasoline prices and increase our domestic energy security. We believe -very strongly that the solution to these many problems should be a reasonable combination of increased domestic production for which we have huge, huge world-class untapped resources which are still locked up by our federal government. America could be the world's largest oil producer, and we could be independent of OPEC."

Mar 28 2012

Senator Schumer: (2:04 PM)
  • Spoke on the Highway bill.
    • SUMMARY "Once again we're facing the specter of an unnecessary shutdown caused by intransigence in the House Republican caucus and time is ticking away. Should we reach the March 31 deadline without passing a bill, states' contract authority for construction projects will cease and 2.9 million jobs will be put at grave risk. It doesn't have to be this way. Speaker Boehner has once again been painted into a corner by the extreme wing in his caucus which is committed to blocking a responsible Highway bill at every turn. It's clear that Speaker Boehner has run out of options. He's tried to pass a highly partisan house-drafted house bill, and that failed. He has tried to pass a 90 day extension on that failed and then a 60-day extension on Tuesday and that failed as well. Now we've learned that the House will not vote on any type of extension today, either. Time is running out. Speaker Boehner simply cannot pass a Transportation bill of any length without democratic votes, and it's time he accepts that. Fortunately, there's an easy way out that already has a stamp of approval from some of the most conservative Republicans in Congress. The House could pass the Senate bill. If Speaker Boehner put the Senate bill on the floor, there's virtually no question it would pass by a large majority."
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "It's obvious that at this time when there are so many needs, giving oil companies the kinds of tax breaks we do makes no sense at all. Getting rid of these corporate subsidies to big oil is a no-brainer. Decades ago they were passed. Oil was $17 a barrel at the time. There was a worry that there wouldn't be enough production. Maybe it made sense in those days to give oil companies an incentive to explore and produce. But with oil hovering at $100 a barrel, it makes no sense. But it remains on the books, amazingly enough. It defies logic for this government to spend billions of dollars for taxpayers to give dollars out of their pocket every year when they are struggling to big oil. In tax giveaways while big oil is making record profits. Believe me, the free market gives the oil companies enough of an incentive to produce. When oil is $100 a barrel, they don't need a subsidy to produce. They're going to produce every bit of oil they can. They make huge profits so they don't need a financial nudge from Washington. At the same time, middle-class Americans get hit with a double whammy. They're paying $70 or more to fill up their gas tanks and then some of their hard-earned dollars are being used to line big oil's pocket. Economists estimate the typical family will pay almost $1,000 more on gasoline this year than last. But families in my home state of New York and across the country are still struggling to make ends meet. As the economy slowly recovers, they cannot afford to get gouged at the pump. With billions of dollars worth of tax subsidies and gas prices at near-record highs, it's no wonder that the top five oil companies are on track for another record breaking year. These companies are not only the most profitable businesses in the U.S., they're among the most profitable in the world. In the past decade they took home a trillion dollars."

Senator Cardin: (2:17 PM)
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "According to EIA, the price of gasoline has increased dramatically every year. 2011 higher than 2010, and 2012 is projected to be higher than 2011. This price increase is occurring despite the fact that the United States has stepped up its crude oil production considerably over the past four years by 1.3 million barrels per day. Production is at an eight-year high. The U.S. is the third-largest producer of oil behind the Saudis and Russia. And domestic oil consumption is at a 15-year low. Americans are driving 35 billion fewer miles today than they did in 2010. If we are producing more and consuming less, why are prices going up? Supply and demand would tell us they should be going down. The answer to that question is straightforward. Crude oil and other products derived from it, including gasoline, are fungible commodities traded on world markets. Increasing global demand for these commodities is putting a relentless upward pressure on prices. Growing demand for oil in developing countries has reshaped the global market. Developing nations now consume 47% of the world's oil. In 1970 it was 25%. The number of cars in the world exceeded one billion for the first time in 2010. With one half of the global growth occurring in china, Beijing adds 1,500 new cars every day. Another reason for price increases is market uncertainty over crude oil supplies. Much of the world's crude oil is produced in the Middle East and north Africa, regions plagued with turmoil. Right now the United States accounts for about 9% to 11% of the world's crude oil production. This is despite the fact that we have less than 2% of the world's total proven oil reserves. We have 2% of the world's reserves, and we're producing 9% to 11%. We are in fact drilling here and drilling now with more oil rigs in operation than the rest of the world combined. According to economist Dean Baker at the center for economic and policy research, even if the U.S. productions could be increased by one-third overnight, that would increase world supply by 3%, which would lower price of oil by 7% to 8%. As baker notes, this is not trivial but is not the difference between $2 a gallon of gas and $4 a gallon of gas The biggest impact the United States could have on oil and gasoline prices is not on the supply side. It's on the demand side. We account for close to 25% of the world's petroleum consumption, even though we account for less than 5% of the world's population. The best way to continue reducing our demand for crude oil and gasoline would be to promote fuel efficiency with higher cafe standards. We made progress. We're doing better. We know we can do better than our current standards. Replace conventional fuels with alternative fuels such as propane, natural gas and biofuels. That will help us consume less oil."

Senator Sanders: (2:26 PM)
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "At a time when the American people are getting ripped off at the gas pump, the last thing that we need to be doing is giving big oil companies massive tax breaks, which only add to our deficit and national debt crisis. In my view, we have got to do more than simply end these outrageous tax breaks that big oil has enjoyed. In my view, we must also end excessive oil speculation on the oil futures market. There has been a major debate over the last several years as to whether spikes in oil prices are caused entirely by the fundamentals of supply and demand or whether excessive speculation in the oil futures market is playing a major role. That debate is over. That debate should be put to rest. Let's simply look at the facts. When we were in elementary school and in high school, we learned that what supply and demand is about is when supply is high and demand is low, prices go down. When demand is high and supply is low, prices go up. The reality of the matter is that today the supply of oil and gasoline is higher right now than it was three years ago when the national average price for a gallon of gas was just $1.96 a gallon. More supply than three years ago when gas was $1.96 a gallon. In terms of demand, the demand for oil in the United States today is at its lowest level since 1997. Internationally, during the last quarter of 2011, world oil supply exceeded demand by nearly 2-1 while at the same time crude oil prices increased by over 12%. So let me recapitulate. Supply is high, demand is low, and yet oil prices are going off the roof. What's happening? Well, what's happening now is that there is a growing consensus within the business community, among economists, among people who study this issue that the reason that oil prices are soaring is that excessive speculation on the oil futures market is the cause."

Senator Levin: (2:41 PM)
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "At a time when some argue that the federal debt is so out of whack that we need to cut funding for programs that provide food to hungry children or health care to our seniors, surely we ought to be able to agree that the most profitable corporations in the country no longer need these enormous subsidies, and here we are. Those oil gas subsidies have not reduced the price of oil or gas. That's obvious. The price of gas is complex. I've said many times before, and I'll say it again now, that the huge increase in speculation plays an important role in the price - the high price of gas. The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair, has spent years examining these issues, and the evidence is compelling and overwhelming. The financial speculators have played a huge role in driving up gas prices at the same time that supply and demand have not significantly changed. To the extent that supply and demand have changed, supply is up and demand is down. So if market forces were really in control here, the price of gas would be going down, not up. Some estimate that as much as 50 cents on the price of every gallon of gas is the result of excessive speculation. And another huge portion of the price is simply the wide profit margin for the oil and gas companies. I agree with my colleagues that we must do what we can to ensure that gas prices do not swing wildly and that they do not pull precious resources out of the all-too-tight budgets of American families. I think we've got to focus on some of the true causes for the rapid rises and the swings in gas prices and not hide behind unfounded assertions that taking away corporate welfare from an already incredibly profitable handful of companies will somehow or other drive up gas prices. Study after study and expert after expert have told us that removing these subsidies will have no impact on those prices. For instance, the co-director of the University of California-Berkeley center for the study of energy markets has said, "the incremental change in production that might result from changing oil subsidies will have no impact on gasoline prices.""

Senator Reed: (2:50 PM)
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "I join to the stop wasting taxpayer subsidies. We need to reduce the deficit and develop clean energy solutions. While the oil industry is thriving, making $137 billion - with a "b" in profits last year, Rhode Islanders are paying nearly $3.90 per gallon at the pump. Working families are being forced to cut back because of high gas prices. In turn, big oil companies should have their wasteful tax subsidies eliminated. We should be working to fuel the United States economy, not the oil cartels and big oil companies. That is why I am a proud cosponsor of the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act, which put a stop to these wasteful tax breaks and use the savings to invest in clean energy that will create jobs, save money for middle-class families and increase America's competitiveness in the global clean energy economy. Addressing gas prices and reducing our dependence on oil requires smart, balanced and responsibility national energy policy. There are no silver bullets but short-term and long-term steps we should take. In the near term we have to be ready to respond to geopolitical steps by making it clear we are prepared to release oil from the strategic petroleum reserve if such a measure is necessary because of geopolitical developments. We need to continue efforts to prevent excessive speculation and speculators from manipulating the market and needlessly inflating energy prices. And I have asked the commodities future trading commission effectively our cop on the beat to do that and sought to provide them with the tools and funding to achieve this objective. We also need to continue investment in smart-growth policies to promote mass transit and next-generation vehicles and alternative energy. That is why I vote for things like better fuel for cars and mass transit. Improve energy efficiency and developing clean energy technologies will help cut our oil addiction We need a balanced, well thought out national energy policy, one that will help reduce our dependence on oil and the amount paid at the pump. What we should not be doing is continuing to give away billions in corporate welfare to big oil while middle-class families see their gas prices rise. It isn't fair. The oil companies who soak up these subsidies are effectively charging taxpayers twice for the same gallon of gasoline. Middle-class families are struggling. Oil companies are not. I urge my colleagues to repeal these oil subsidies, make clean energy investments in America and take commonsense steps to get our fiscal house in order."

Senator Merkley: (2:56 PM)
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "This is a tough time for Americans. We all know families who are sitting around the kitchen tables struggling to figure out how to make ends meet. But those tough time have not extended to the boardrooms of the big five oil companies. In 2011 alone, those companies saw more than $100 billion in profits, a sum that's difficult to get your hands around, difficult to understand. What is $1 billion, let alone $100 billion not in revenue, but in profits. Exxon is sitting on $8 billion that it has not reinvested. Shell is sitting on $13 billion cash in hand. The five-largest companies together - BP, Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell - have cash resources of $59 billion and have made nearly $1 trillion in profits over the last decade. Meanwhile American taxpayers are not only being forced to hand over larger and larger portions of their paychecks at the pump, they are also being asked to have the share of their taxes go in additional subsidies to these large companies. Let me restate that. When you go to the pump and you pay $4 or more than $4, well, the oil companies make a tremendous profit. There's nothing wrong with making a profit in America. But what seems wrong is that these same companies are then coming to these hallowed halls and saying we want a handout from the general fund. Now those companies know that there's many other pressing needs in America. Indeed, there are many folks who are hungry across our nation. There are many families who are hoping but cannot save enough to send their kids to college. Many families who are pressed by the loss of our manufacturing jobs, our middle-class, living-wage jobs who are finding that on service jobs they are having a tough time meeting the mortgage. So families are struggling, and certainly they would like to see this body say we understand the challenges you face. We understand the cost of tuition for your children is way outpacing inflation, and you're worried about the possibility of your children having the full opportunities that should be available within our society. But they're worried about keeping their home. But they're worried about finding that next job if their current job goes away. But they're wondering why aren't we helping with those problems with these funds instead of giving those funds away to the oil companies."

Coats, Roberts

Buffett Rule bill (S. 2230)

Mar 28 2012


Senator Coats: (1:24 PM)
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "The good news is that Americans are increasingly understanding and learning that we can be a major player in producing energy. We're discovering abundant amounts of energy in this country that we didn't think that we had. A lot of that is right here in our backyard. That's the good news. Now, the bad news is that we have had an administration that for three years has been promoting policies that work against the goal of our achieving more energy independence. And that's the problem with the bill that we are currently discussing. Because that bill raises gasoline prices by raising taxes on oil production. Why in the world would we want to raise prices on gasoline at a time when America's economy is struggle to come out of recession and we're working hard to get people back to work and at a time when gasoline prices are rising through the supply and demand issues that we've had, why in the world would we want to do anything that would further increase the cost of gas at the pump? The current tax code provides for a number of targeted tax incentives for the energy sector. It is foreign note that the vast majority of those subsidies go to the so-called new wave of energy production, the renewables. Only a small minority of those subsidies and credits go to producing the oil and the gas that we need that drive this economy. So that eliminating only those benefits that go to the production of the needed oil and gas that benefits our economy, at the same time extending the subsidies and credits and support for the renewables, is not the direction that we need to go. So it's not about producing more energy. It's about targeting just one sector of our energy industry: that is, a fossil fuel energy source that is absolutely essential to driving our economy. If we want to eliminate oil and gas subsidy, we ought to put all subsidies for energy on the table. Senator Wyden and I have coauthored a bill for comprehensive tax reform, and in that bill we look at the idea others saying let's get on a level playing field and we're willing to make adjustment even in our own bill if necessary to achieve that so that we can lower tax rates on American companies and on the American people by getting us more to a level playing field."

Senator Roberts: (1:36 PM)
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "Let's examine some of these real factors that are affecting our prices of energy. First off, there is tremendous increased demand outside of the United States, in particular Asia, China. They have caused the price of oil to rise rather dramatically. Even with the increased production in Canada, the United States and Brazil, declines in the North Sea, Mexico, Sudan and Libya have impacted the global supply. Second, our U.S. refining capacity has decreased as a result of the stricter environmental regulations, where they get their crude from. Both have lowered the supply of gasoline enough to prop up prices. We see reports in the press every day about one refinery making it big and the other refineries are having a lot of difficulty. Third, restricted domestic energy development on federal lands disrupted our futures projections. Fear over Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions is leading to fear over gasoline. People try to stock up in anticipation of any supply disruption that would be based on the possibility of a conflict in the Middle East. Lastly, I would simply point out that speculators ignore the inflationary aspects of the monetary policies of several central banks and the globe. It doesn't take a speculator to know when the U.S. Treasury prints more money, it drives down the value of the dollar, drives down the price of oil materials priced in dollars. Despite this fact we have too many seeking a solution for a problem that isn't there. One of the regulatory bodies found in their investigations as we look for somebody to blame, there have already been studies and investigations into whether excessive speculation is really manipulation. And they are manipulating prices. Let's just take a look at what they found. Last year a federal trade commission report on the manipulation of gas prices determined that none complaints investigated violated any FTC rule. A similar study by the CFTC stated in its analysis, "Does not support the proposition that speculative activity has systemically driven changes in oil prices." Last but not least the administration's own financial fraud enforcement task force set out to investigate illegal speculation in the energy markets. And to date it has found none. The effects of high gas prices on economic growth and on each individual business and family are certainly well understood. We should be finding effective solutions to fix a failed federal energy policy rather than trying to place the blame where it doesn't exist."

Durbin, Brown-OH

Buffett Rule bill (S. 2230)

Mar 28 2012

Senator Durbin: (12:55 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent:
    • At 4:30 PM, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 1 hour of debate, equally divided, on:
      1. Executive Calendar #464, Miranda Du, of Nevada, to be United States District Judge for the District of Nevada; and
      2. Executive Calendar #497, Susie Morgan, of Louisiana, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
    • Circa 5:30 PM, the Senate will conduct 2 ROLL CALL VOTES on the nominations.
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "We reach the point where everyone is under the tent of insurance, this will continue. Uninsured people will get sick. Those who buy insurance will pay for them. That is cost shifting. It happens every single day in America. The health care reform bill said you have to have health insurance. It is a mandate. But we know that some people can't afford it. If you're poor, lower-income categories, we will enroll you in Medicaid, so you will have at least Medicaid insurance to pay your medical bills. At memorial medical center in my hometown of Springfield, Illinois, Ed Curtis, who runs that hospital, said to me, senator, if you just did that alone, if we could just get Medicaid payment for everyone who walked through the door, we would be fine. What hurts us are those who pay nothing because they can't. That's a problem. The bill that we passed went on to say that if you're working, you will never have to pay more than 8% of your income for health insurance premiums. People would rather pay nothing. But 8% is a lot more manageable than put people who are facing 10%, 20%, 30% of their pay going to health insurance premiums. So we basically have created a requirement to have health insurance but a helping hand to reach that goal. So what about the people who already have health insurance? They are untouched by this mandate. Just continue on. Let life continue. You've made your choice. You have health insurance. Doesn't affect you. What I find interesting are so many senators, primarily from the other side of the aisle, who come to this floor condemning government administered health insurance, get the government out of health insurance. You hear that speech over and over. What they don't tell you is their own health insurance policies are administered by the federal government. You and I are eligible as members of the United States Senate - so, too, are members of the House - to be part of the federal employees' health benefit program."
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "Until we have a choice in the vehicles that we drive or in the sources of energy that we use, we're kind of stuck with oil companies. But we're not stuck with paying a $4 billion annual subsidy to these oil companies. That's what the tax breaks we give to oil companies comes to. Senator Menendez of New Jersey has said stop it, take the $4 billion, invest it in renewable, sustainable energy research and take the rest and reduce the deficit. The five biggest oil companies had profits of over $137 billion last year. They won't miss $4 billion. And we should be ashamed that we continue to shove subsidies at them when they're so profitable. What is happening when it comes to oil exploration? It's a legitimate question. We are now at an eight-year high in terms of the oil production in America. Starting under President Bush, continuing under President Obama we have more oil and gas rigs in place working today in the united states than in the rest of the world combined. So those who say, if we just drilled a little more, gasoline prices would come down. You have to look at that. We are increasing the supply yet the prices go up. And, secondly, we also understand that when it comes to these gasoline prices, that even when the supply goes up, the prices are going up. Defies the law of physics. Demand is down because of the recession. Supply is up and prices are going up. That violates principles of economics 101 that I studied in college. What Senator Menendez is suggesting is a move in the right direction, not just because we can't justify anymore the subsidies to oil companies, but because we should be investing in new ideas that will move us forward in the right direction."

Senator Brown-OH: (1:11 PM)
  • Spoke on the auto bailout.
    • SUMMARY "One of the untold stories of the auto rescue is not just that in my state, 800,000 - 800,000 people are - work directly or indirectly for the auto industry, 800,000 people. Most of those are part of the supply chain that make products and sell those products - I mean, a large number of them that sell those products that are assembled in Lordstown or in Toledo or different places in Ohio. But one of the untold stories is that not only were these jobs saved and these companies saved from going bankrupt and who knows what would have happened to a say the like mine which pretty much of the state is dependent on the auto industry. But in the case of the tee low doe jeep plant, prior to the auto rescue, only 50% of the products, the components that went into the jeep wrangler were made in the United States, only 50%. After the auto rescue, after the President and the Vice President negotiated with the auto industry and - and the auto task force and the House and Senate weighed in and senator Durbin is a leader of - leader as a leader of this body, weighed in, now 75% of the products, the components that go into this jeep wrangler are made in the united states. So we're not just seeing the 5,000 jobs at Lordstown making the Chevy Cruz or the jobs at Honda assembly plants in Mariesville, Ohio, or Toledo or for, we're also seeing a lot of the - or ford, we're also seeing a lot of the supply chain, a lot of the components are made in the united states. And these are good-paying, often union jobs and often not union jobs, but they're all good-paying industrial jobs that give people a ticket to the middle class, helps them send their son or daughter to school, or buy a car. All that this has meant. Without that, my state would probably be in depression."
Senator Drubin: (1:13 PM)
  • Spoke on the auto bailout.
    • SUMMARY "I would say to the senator from Ohio, that's a good point and one that we ought to make over and over again, because there's no question that the downturn in the recession forced the management of these auto companies and the workers to step back and take a look at the challenges they faced. Mr. Marchionne, the CEO of Chrysler, said this morning we're where we are today because our UAW workers, union workers, sat down at the table and said, we've got to agree on a future together or we're sunk. They agreed on that future and he said, now my work force is excited and productive. And you've just made the pointed. More business - you've just made the point. More business is coming back from overseas. It's a great success story and it's not lost on the American people. When President Obama said I never wanted to start an automobile company, he realized if we had not jumped in they might not exist today."

Senator Brown: (1:15 PM)
  • Spoke on the auto bailout.
    • SUMMARY "It wouldn't have just been Chrysler and General Motors that faltered. Honda, northwest of Columbus, and Ford, one of the other big three - one that didn't ask for the rescue - both of those companies wanted us to do the rescue because they knew if we didn't, their whole supply chain would begin to fall apart, too. So this mattered not just for cries will he and GM, saving them now that they're putting tens of thousands back to work, including the foreign companies that have invested hey and hired a lot of American workers."

Inhofe, Alexander, Grassley

Buffett Rule bill (S. 2230)

Mar 28 2012

Senator Inhofe: (11:52 AM)
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "I talked for quite sometime yesterday on the floor about this, that by raising taxes on the oil and gas industry, it sounds good because people don't like the oil and gas industry, they've been vilified, so everybody thinks we ought to get the oil and gas industry. I think they understand it, but what they don't admit is that that's the way you increase prices at the pump. You've simply got to pay for all that stuff. So even Senator Menendez and several democrats have said this bill is not going to lower gas prices. It would raise gas prices. And I don't think anyone who looks at it logically could come to any other conclusion. As I discussed Monday on the floor, the Democrats' plan goes against everything we know about basic economics - higher taxes and limits supply. Whenever you limit supply, the prices go up. I don't think there is a person out there who doesn't remember back in his elementary school days the basic concept of supply and demand. If we have this huge supply out there, but if we cut the supply, the demand is going to be greater and the price is going to go up. President Obama and his allies don't have an answer to high gas prices. That's because higher prices for all the energy that we use are exactly what they want. This administration remains committed to a cap-and-trade green agenda. It is a plan that severely restricts domestic development and drives up the price of gas and electricity. Let me put it another way. Their policies are designed to make traditional energy more expensive so their desired green energy can compete. That's no question what the Obama administration has wanted. You all remember and we've quoted so many times on the Senate floor that Steven chug told the Wall Street Journal, somehow we've got to figure out, speaking on behalf of Obama and the Obama administration, not so much the democrats in the House and the Senate, but this is the Obama administration. He said, "Somehow we've got to figure out thousand boost the price of gasoline - somehow we've got to big out how to boost the prices of gas leaning to the levels in Europe." We all know the infamous quote by President Obama when he said under his cap-and-trade plan "electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket." In the word "necessarily." it's going to happen. The President had it right. The point of the cap-and-trade legislation is to make you pay more on your bills. Energy is energy. If you raise the price of energy on your utility bill or gas prices at the pump, it all relates to the rest of it. If you have - if you somehow put coal out of business, so you have to use more natural gas and more gas, then that is - then that raises the price because it makes more demand for that particular product. I think most people understand that. That's very basic. If we are serious about lowering prices at the pump, then we need to open up the vast oil and gas reserves that we have at home to develop. After all, CRS recently reported That that we have more recoverable reserves of oil, gas, and coal than any country in the world. More than Saudi Arabia, more than China, more than Canada, all of them combined. In fact, with more than 160 billion barrels of recoverable oil, we have enough to maintain America's current rate of production and replace all of our imports from the Persian Gulf for 50 years."
  • Spoke on Inhofe amendment #1974 (America's Jobs in Domestic Energy Production Act).
  • Spoke on Inhofe amendment #1963 (Gas Regulation Act of 2012).
  • Spoke on the Inhofe amendment #1967 (Inhofe-Upton Energy Tax Prevention Act).

Senator Alexander: (12:14 PM)
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "In the President's budget, that big oil receives multiple tax subsidies that are exclusively for big oil doing away with them, they say, would save about $4.7 billion in the fiscal year next year or about $22 billion to $24 billion over five years. So far it sounds like big oil, with $22 billion is bigger with its subsidies than big wind with only $14 billion, but here's the catch. Many of these subsidies that the President is attacking oil companies for having are regular tax provisions that are available to hundreds, even thousands of companies in America. For example, Xerox, Microsoft, Caterpillar all benefit from tax provisions like the manufacturing tax credit. Amortization, depreciation of used equipment that the President is counting as big oil subsidies. And, of course, wind energy companies also benefit from many of these same provisions but the production tax credit that benefits mostly wind is in addition to the regular tax code provisions that benefit many companies. So the only way to make a fair comparison is to look at subsidies that mostly benefit only oil or mostly benefit only wind and by that measure big wind gets more tax breaks than big oil. So the big proposed by the Senator from New Jersey that is limited to just five big oil companies is limited to them even though many of the tax breaks or tax credits or deductions they receive are the same tax credits that many other companies receive."
  • Spoke on wind energy.
    • SUMMARY "First we can't afford it. The federal government borrows 40 cents of every dollar we spend. You can't justify such a subsidy, especially for what the U.S. energy secretary calls a mature technology. According to the Energy Information Agency in 2008, big wind received in subsidies 25 times as much per megawatt hour as all other forms of electricity combined. Second, wind turbines produce add relatively puny amount of unreliable, expensive energy. Wind produces about 2.3% of all of our electricity. A better alternative is clean, natural gas. An even better alternative is cleaner, nuclear power which nuclear power reactors power our navy and produce 70% of our pollution-free electricity. Using windmills to power a country that uses one-fourth of the world's electricity would be the energy equivalent of going to war in sail boats ... Second, we should limit a handful of jump-start research and development projects to take it from the R&D stage to the commercial stage. I'm thinking about DARPA, that led to the interned and the stealth and other remarkable technologies. Or incentives for the first 200,000 electric vehicles purchased in America. These are a strictly limited number of jump-start R&D projects. Third, we should end wasteful long-term special tax breaks, such as those for big oil and those for big wind. I'm talking about the tax breaks that are exclusively or mostly for big oil and big wind. And this savings from those subsidies should be used to double clean energy research and to reduce our federal debt. But that is not what this bill does. This bill ends subsidies for five companies that many other companies receive, and it extends subsidies for a few companies that other industries don't get. This debate isn't even about an energy plan, which is what we should be debating when gas is around $4 a gallon right now."

Senator Grassley: (12:36 PM)
  • Spoke on wind energy.
    • SUMMARY "Wind energy has become more efficient and cost-effective. The cost of wind energy has declined by 90% since the 1980's. Wind has accounted for 35% of all new American electric generation in the last five years. Wind has already provided 20% of the electric generation in my state of Iowa. It supports as many as 5,000 good-paying jobs in our state. As a result of the tax incentive, the wind energy has actually created new manufacturing jobs in the United States. Today 60% of the wind turbines' value is now produced in the United States compared with just 25% six years ago. There are now 400 facilities building wind components in 43 states. That is why a bill in the House of Representatives to extend the wind energy production tax credit has 80 cosponsors, including 18 Republicans. If we fail to extend the incentive, thousands of jobs will be lost in wind manufacturing industry. Unemployment remains high at 8.30%. Why would Congress exacerbate the unemployment in our country by failing to extend this successful incentive?"
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "I support research efforts to develop clean energy, but I don't support imposing a tax hike on one energy industry so that we can spend billions through our federal bureaucracy. This idea is nothing more than a tax increase to pay for further Washington spending. It's this kind of activity that helped create the fiscal mess that our country is in right now. Secondly, I strongly support nuclear energy. In fact, I believe there are four critical elements to a comprehensive energy policy. They are drilling for domestic oil and gas, promoting renewable and alternative energy, supporting conservation, and, of course, fourthly, nuclear energy. Nuclear is an emission-free resource. It certainly should play a key role in providing our nation and economy with a reliable emission-free energy."

Menendez, Murkowski, Bingaman

Buffett Rule bill (S. 2230)

Mar 28 2012

Senator Menendez: (10:51 AM)
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "I come to the floor to talk about what is the pending business before the floor, which is my legislation to end big oil subsidies in this country. You know, middle-class families are hurting, struggling to make ends meet. And yet today we're here on the floor of the United States Senate fighting an uphill battle against those on the other side of the aisle who with one hand would continue handing out $24 billion in wasteful subsidies to five of the biggest, most profitable oil companies in the country, and with the other hand take away vital programs from our nation's veterans, its seniors, disabled children, just to name a few. We hear our Republican friends talk about balanced budgets, and we hear them talk about austerity. We hear them saying we all have to tighten our belts. We all have to make hard choices on Medicare and veterans and veterans' benefits and student loans, just to name a few, and yet they will not in that austerity or shared sacrifice say that we will end unnecessary tax breaks to big oil. They'll continue to ask the same things they've asked a thousand times before, which is that the American taxpayer subsidize the richest five companies in the world while we cut programs for our wounded soldiers, for our seniors, and for our students ... The notion that gas prices will go up - this is only in Washington, only in Washington. Anyplace else in this country, I tell you, they get it. But only in Washington hearing from the other side that cutting subsidies will somehow raise gas prices. The notion that gas prices will go up if we end subsidies to big oil is nothing more than republican snake oil. And the American people aren't buying it. Let me put it plainly. By subsidizing - we are subsidizing these companies to the tune of over $2 billion per year. Collectively, just these five companies - not talking about other producers, just these five companies - they made $137 billion last year. Can anybody here with a straight face tell the American people that if they could only live with $135 billion in profits that they would give up their $2 billion and therefore if they could only live with $135 billion, they wouldn't need to raise gas prices a dime, unless they are so greedy that $135 billion is not enough in profits, that they need out of each and every taxpayers' pocket in this country another $2 billion to add to their profits I find it hard to fall for the crocodile tears that taking $24 billion over ten years, a little over $2 billion a year, when they are going to make a trillion dollars over a decade, is somehow not enough that that leaves them with not enough profits, $24 billion, from $1 trillion, and that because we take those $24 billion, gas prices are going to go up. Well, all of these subsidies haven't made gas prices go down, and as a matter of fact, as I pointed out yesterday, at a time that they were making $137 billion in profits, they were producing 4% less oil. So come on. It's time to give working families in this country a break. We can do that as we vote to end big oil subsidies."

Senator Murkowski: (11:12 AM)
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "The first point that I have heard is that American taxpayers are somehow or other subsidizing the oil companies, and I think again it's important to put this in context. This argument I think rather bizarrely labels basic tax deductions somehow or other as a subsidy, as though the federal government is allowing businesses to retain more of their earned dollars, because that's what's happening here with the situation of the oil companies. They have earned the dollars and they are basically keeping more of the dollars that they have earned, that somehow or other that action is the equivalent to handing them a check, handing them a check from the government, whether situation with Solyndra where they got a check from the government. So I think it's important to put in context that when some say that we need to end subsidies for oil companies, I think what that really translates into is raising taxes on oil production. And, again, I think it's important to note and understand that this is an industry that does pay substantial, substantial taxes to - to the treasury. Their taxes are already higher than we see in most industries. The four largest companies some have an effective tax rate over 40%. In 2010 they paid $55 billion in income taxes to federal, state, local, and foreign governments. That's a huge sum. It probably increased along with the oil prices back in 2011 ... One of the other points of contention that has been raised by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle is that raising taxes on oil companies won't increase gas prices. Well, it's certainly not going to lower them. I think we can probably agree on that. If you raise taxes on oil production, you're going to get less oil production. And it's a question that I think we need to ask. Think, think of any situation where if we tax it more, we will have more of it and it will be more affordable. It doesn't make sense here. But both the president and the sponsor of the legislation before us have publicly stated that more production can help lower prices, loss of oil production due to punitive taxes, I think we see this play out time and time again, whether it was back in the carter administration, they advanced a failed windfall profits tax, I mentioned yesterday on the floor the example that we're seeing play out in Great Britain right now. One year ago the United Kingdom decided to do essentially what's being proposed here. They reacted to high oil prices by raising taxes on the industry, and the net result was companies produced less, they diverted their investment elsewhere. In the year since the UK increased this tax - imposed its tax hikes the production decline has tripled from 6% to 18%. They're now looking at reversing that decision and have announced new oil tax breaks to try to bring that production back. Another point that has been raised is somehow or other oil companies are getting special treatment, and I just mentioned this a little bit. Again, the four largest oil companies have an effective tax rate that's over 40%. And what that means in terms of where they stack up with other industries. This is a higher effective rate than in most other industries that we would see there. Another point that has been raised, oil companies aren't investing their profits in more oil production. Now, the President seems to disagree with this statement, arguing that the U.S. is producing the most oil that it has seen in years, but the reality is, that efforts to produce oil here in this country have been blocked or slowed by the federal government seemingly at every turn. And I think it is important to again put this in context in terms of where we are seeing increased production because that part of the discussion is true, we are seeing increased production. But not necessarily on our federal lands. You've got a situation where 96% of all production increases have occurred on our state and our private lands. This comes from the administration's own EIA that we have seen production on the federal side drop under this administration. The fact that exists is that America's largest untapped oil fields, whether they are in the offshore areas, whether they are in the mountain west, whether they're in Alaska that's not even on this map, these are still off-limits under federal law, and none of these resources are counted when people say that the U.S. only has 2% of the world's reserves We're not even allowed to count these areas that have not been truly proven up. And it's because of the lands being off limits or the permitting delays that we see that the U.S. is not a larger producer of oil. And if the federal government wanted to, it could allow us to become the world's top oil producer, be virtually independent of OPEC sources."

Senator Bingaman: (11:28 AM)
  • Spoke on the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill.
    • SUMMARY "The United States is now the third largest oil producer in the world after Russia and Saudi Arabia, and this trend also is true if you look at the subset of domestic oil production which we would define as federally owned resources. That is, oil production on federal land. This chart I think illustrates it very well. Production on federally owned land is higher in every year of the Obama administration than it was in the previous administration. Between 2006 and 2008, as I said before, we had a total of 1.78 billion barrels of oil produced on federal land. Between 2009 and 2011, that is - the total is over 2 billion barrels being produced on federal land. Secretary Salazar testified to the energy committee recently that oil production from the federal outer continental shelf increased by 30% between 2008 and 2010. Offshore production decreased somewhat between 2010 and 2011 because of the BP disaster in the Gulf but it still remained higher than it was in 2008, and that production, of course, is increasing substantially again in 2012. So the energy information administration suggests that clearly the decrease that was experienced in 2011 in offshore production was due to the deepwater horizon disaster. It projects that domestic oil production will increase over the next ten years in part due to ongoing development in the Gulf of Mexico. The projection is that it will increase by over a million barrels per day as compared to 2010. Annual production onshore on federal lands has increased by over 8 million barrels between 2008 and 2011. It is now over 111 million barrels. So oil production has always fluctuated a bit from year to year, on federal lands and on private lands. There's no doubt that will continue to be the case. The important point here is that we need to put to rest once and for all the claim that the Obama administration is causing a reduction in production of federally owned resources. That simply is not the fact. We should also be aware that the industry has access to a great deal of productive federal acreage that it has not yet developed. This chart is instructive. This is total federally owned acres leased for oil and gas development as of 2011. You can see that there are 74 million acres that are currently under lease. This is federal land currently under lease, both onshore and offshore. The striking thing about this chart is that roughly 25% of this is actually being produced and producing oil and gas at this time. And there are many reasons for that and I'm not accusing anyone of not diligently pursuing this. I'm just saying that there is a lot of land under lease, a lot of area under lease that is available for production and I assume that the companies that have leased it are aggressively purr doing that production. This final chart that I want to show covers the number of acres offered to industry for lease on the outer continental shelf, all of which were in the resource rich central and western Gulf of Mexico and the number of those acres actually leased. As you can see from this chart, the blue area is the area that was offered for lease but not purchased and the red is the area that was actually leased. The administration, of course, has announced that they will have another lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, in the central and western Gulf, and this will cover 38 million additional acres. So there is a very substantial amount of land being offered for lease. It's useful to keep in mind that federally owned oil production today is about 37% of our total domestic production. Many of our oil resources are located on private lands or on state lands and resources from all of these areas are important in meeting our energy needs. We need to produce domestic oil and produce it responsibly. There are a lot of good national security and economic reasons for that. I've always supported doing that but to suggest that some change in policy regarding domestic production is going to change the price of gasoline at the pump is just disingenuous."

Barrasso, McCain, Graham, Thune

Buffett Rule bill (S. 2230)

Mar 28 2012

Colloquy: (Senators, Barrasso, McCain, Graham, Thune)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
Senator Barrasso: (10:20 AM)
  • SUMMARY "During the last two years since the health care law has been passed, the American public has found out now that it was passed, they now get to know what's in it. And they don't like what they're seeing because instead of providing patients with the care that they need from a doctor that they want as at the cost they can afford, they are seeing time and time again a significant change on promises that the president has made broken."

Senator McCain: (10:22 AM)
  • SUMMARY "One of the things that I find when I watch the talk shows I'd ask the senator from Wyoming that always the first thing they say is the most important thing about Obamacare is that parents can keep their children on their health insurance plan until they reach age 26. Well, you know, I think all four of us right now would be glad to put that into law as an amendment in a New York minute. If they want to stay till 30 in the basement, it's fine with me. But the fact is that for that to be the centerpiece with - this is why we have to preserve Obamacare is of course a bad joke. What we're arguing about here is the . 100,000 pages of regulations to implement this plan We have promised to repeal and replace Obamacare if - depending on not only - not only the supreme court decision but the will of the people as expressed perhaps next November. One of the areas that I think we have not focused enough attention on is two: one the unsavory process that resulted in the passage of this legislation, behind closed doors, everybody at the Blair house, bludgeoning the AMA and pharmaceuticals and the deals that were cut here. But another area was a promise made by the president that he would consider - wasn't committed to, I'll admitted - medical malpractice reform. Here we're talking about 20% to 30% of the health care costs in America, in the view of some, can be attributed to the unnecessary tests that are administered and prescribed by physicians and health care providers because of the fear of ending up in court. Yet in all of this bill there's not one mention that I know of that has meaningful approach to medical malpractice reform."

Senator Barrasso: (10:25 AM)
  • SUMMARY "There are a number of things that continue to drive up the cost of care and one of the things that i believe should have been included in the health care law were things that we knew that actually could help lower the cost of care. Lower unnecessary testing. And part of all the studies show is doing away with these junk lawsuits that result in significant numbers of additional tests, expensive tests being done seems to me often more time to help protect the doctor than actually to help the patient get well sooner. I have lots of concerns. Even in a rural state like Wyoming, I see my colleague from South Dakota on the floor as well as our colleague from South Carolina, this is a national concern and I believe should have been included in any health care law that was really supposed to target lowering the cost. I mean that's what the president promised in the beginning, that families would see their health care premiums go down by $2,500 per year and instead the premiums have gone up by about $2,100 a year. On so many of these things, and my colleague from South Carolina I have - has cosponsored legislation to give states the opportunity to opt out of a number of the provisions of the health care law, laws they are so onerous and you look at the president and his proposals, and I would think that any national health care law ought to look at certain components of things to down the cost of care and, in fact, what I see with the mandates in this one-size-fits-all approach and the demand that everyone in the country buys government-sponsored or government-approved health care insurance, that the rates are going up instead."

Senator Graham: (10:27 AM)
  • SUMMARY "I've enjoyed the opportunity to create legislation that would allow states to opt out of Medicaid expansion under this bill. About 30% of the people in South Carolina will be eligible for Medicaid in 2014 if this bill was fully implemented. It is the second largest expense in the state of South Carolina. You get three federal dollars for every state dollar you put on the table to deal with Medicaid. Sounds like a good deal until Medicaid explodes in costs and becomes the number one driver of the budget in South Carolina, Wyoming, South Carolina, and Arizona. And under this bill the problem we have today with Medicaid becomes Medicaid on steroids and I'm confident there are plenty of democrats who have governors who are democratic governors who will say wait a minute before you expand Medicaid, put additional burden on my state budget, let's see if we can find more creative ways of dealing with it and give people the ability to opt out would be good policy One of the problems with health care is getting doctors to take Medicare and Medicaid patients. Well, what do we do with Medicare? We took $500 billion out of a system that's $30 trillion underfunded, $500 billion out of Medicare to help the uninsured. We've got an uninsured problem we but we got a Medicare problem that's going to be an absolute Medicare or Medicaid patient, doing the country a service, and you get sued, we'll go to arbitration. Require arbitration. Let the panel render their judgment. And if you want to go to court, you will have to lose the payroll. To me that's fair. I want people to have a chance to litigate their differences when it comes to alleged malpractice, but I wants doctors to feel like there is an incentive to serve Medicare/Medicaid patients. All I can say is what was promised in this bill, the remedies to our health care system, none of them have come true, and what you see two years later are our worst fears being realized at a faster pace. We were promised, the president promised if you like your health care, you will be able to keep it. What's going on in the country is that employers are dropping health care for their employees because it's just cheaper to pay the fine. What's happening in this country is that the idea of being able to expand Medicaid without bankrupting the budgets of this country at the state level is just when you look at the consequences, it's just a nightmare in the making. We were promised that this bill would reduce the deficit. Well, to me, health care includes doctors, and in the bill itself we never dealt with the problem that doctors face of having their budgets, their reimbursements cut. That was not even addressed in Obamacare. That's a couple of hundred billion dollar liability. So the idea that this thing has been paid for as promised no longer exists. It is adding to the deficit. It was projected to be $900 billion in costs. Now it's about $1.7 billion. So the basic promises around what this bill would do for our budget, what it would do for choices in health care have not come true, and I'm here to say to our democratic friends fix this before it's too late. You will find people on our side willing to meet you in the middle when it comes to reforming health care because it needs to be reformed, but the model you have created, centralized health care that is going to damn state budgets beyond belief, is going to drive private sector insurance out of the market and is going to have a budget consequence on top of what we already have is not the right model."

Senator McCain: (10:33 AM)
  • SUMMARY "Could I just ask my colleagues if they remember the cornhusker kickback, another Democrat holdout took credit for $10 billion of new funding in community health centers, exemption for nonprofit insurance in their states. Vermont and Massachusetts were given additional Medicaid funding. $300 million increase for Medicaid in Louisiana. The list goes on and on, the process that they went through culminating, as the senator from South Carolina mentioned, on Christmas Eve a process that obviously most Americans find unsavory. And is it interesting, I would ask my two colleagues, if that these same people, organizations, the AMA, the hospital, the pharmaceuticals and others who all signed up and were bludgeoned into supporting Obamacare - and by the way, that negotiating - as the president promised, that there would not be lobbyists in the white house. They were in the Blair house. That they - they would not play a major role obviously, but the fact is these same people, these same organizations come to our office and ask for relief from Obamacare. Isn't that fascinating? I mean, time after time, members of the same organizations that supported Obamacare come and say look, we can't live with this provision. We can't - it's impossible for us to comply with that provision. It's a fascinating commentary on trying to do the Lord's work in the city of Satan."

Senator Thune: (10:35 AM)
  • SUMMARY "The one thing that everybody has mentioned here this morning which I think you didn't - that didn't really have a seat at the table were the states. Think about the states and what this means for them. You are actually passing on in the first three years, the federal government said it was going to pay 100% of the costs of the new populations that are going to be covered under Medicaid, but if you look at what happens after that, the states then are starting to have to bear more of the burden and be forced to pay at least another $118 billion, according to one congressional report through the year 2023, which crowds out priorities like education, law enforcement, and all the things that we expect our states to do. And so the states got all these mandates shoved down their throats, making it more difficult for them to meet the responsibilities they have to the people in their individual states, because the federal government has not only said you're going to have to pay for this but they have also become very prescriptive about what you can and can't do. And so states no longer are going to have and frankly haven't had a lot of flexibility even in the past when it comes to setting eligibility standards determining who can and can't be covered by Medicaid in their individual states. They just get the costs shoved down their throat, very little input into how they are going to implement this program, and so much so that governors all over the country are reacting to this, and that's why you have 26 governors who are part of the litigation that's going on right now at the supreme court to challenge the mandate on Medicaid which will be heard today by the court Now interestingly enough, when it passed, there were lots of statements made at the time about how many jobs it was going to create. In fact, if you go back, the former speaker of the house said it would create four million jobs, 400,000 jobs almost immediately. That's former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Interestingly enough, that contradicts what the Congressional Budget Office director said. He testified that the new law would actually reduce employment over the next decade by 800,000 jobs. Now, there is an analysis done by UBS that stated that the law is "arguably the biggest impediment to hiring, particularly hiring of less-skilled workers." So what we are seeing again is a promise made about creating jobs and the very opposite I think is what you're going to see. Now, there was a Gallup poll just recently that found that 48% of small businesses in this country are not hiring because of the potential cost of health insurance under the health care law. 46% are not hiring because of concerns over other government regulations. But if you look at the impact this legislation is having on hiring in America today, what we're hearing from the people who hire, the job creators out there and our small businesses, this is a huge impediment to hiring."

Senator Barrasso: (10:42 AM)
  • SUMMARY "Just this month, March, 2012, there is a report out that 2011 actuary report on the Financial Outlook for Medicaid, and the figures are astonishing how this health spending law called Obamacare or the so-called Affordable Care Act, but because you call it that doesn't mean it is affordable, as we see from this report. It drives up federal Medicaid costs by hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars through 2020. It forces many more people onto the Medicaid rolls. And, you know, the president has talked so much and used interchangeably the words "coverage" and" care" but what receive care as my colleague from South Dakota talked about reimbursement rates for physicians when we see how Medicaid in many ways underpays sometimes even the cost of seeing the patient, it is harder for those patients to get seen. So I think the President has used two words interchangeably which are in no way interchangeable. Someone can have a Medicaid card but not be able to get care, and the concern is now with Medicare, as my colleague from South Dakota said, $500 billion of Medicare taken out of Medicare, not to strengthen Medicare, not to increase the security for people on Medicare, not to improve Medicare but to start a whole new government program for other people, the Medicare patients are having a harder and harder time finding a physician to care for them. So I would say the president of the United States by using those two words interchangeably, coverage and care, has, unfortunately, misled people to think that coverage equals care and we know it does not. And that is the concern, one of the concerns with the health care law as we talk about the broken promises and the unfunded mandates sent to the states."

Senator Thune: (10:48 AM)
  • SUMMARY "But I do want to point out, too, in so many ways this thing because of the new mandates, because of the new taxes, because of the new costs is just going to make everybody's lives more complicated, more difficult, including our states. And we represent states where the - our governors, our legislators work really hard to balance our budgets, live within their means, not spend money they don't have and here they are forced by the federal government to swallow these additional costs that are coming because of this - this new health care plan. Basically what the Obama administration has done, it's put shackles on the states when it comes to making decisions about eligibility needs in their states. They'll have to lower spending on Medicaid providers and in some cases they - our states are trying innovative approaches, and yet the federal government is going to make that much more difficult. The bottom line is the combined effect of the health care, the Obamacare's policies has taken power from the states, given more of it to Washington, it's forced unrealistic new spending mandates on the states that will crowd out local priorities that the senator from Wyoming mentioned like education, like law enforcement, the things that I think constituents in our individual states expect their governors and their state legislatures to deal with."

Reid, McCain, McConnell

Opening Remarks

Mar 28 2012

Senator Reid: (10:32 AM)
  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 2230, the Buffett Rule bill. The first hour will be equally divided, with the Republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 30 minutes. Thereafter, the time will be equally divided, with the Majority controlling the time from 2:00-3:00 PM and the Republicans controlling the time from 3:00-4:00 PM.
    • At 5:00 PM, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 1 hour of debate, equally divided, on:
      1. Executive Calendar #464, Miranda Du, of Nevada, to be United States District Judge for the District of Nevada; and
      2. Executive Calendar #497, Susie Morgan, of Louisiana, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
    • If all time is used, circa 6:00 PM, the Senate will conduct 2 ROLL CALL VOTES on the nominations.
    • On Tuesday, Cloture was filed on S. 2204, the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill. The amendment tree was filled. All first degree amendments to S. 2204 must be filed at desk by 11:00 AM today.
    • Under the rule, the ROLL CALL VOTE on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 2204, the Menendez Energy Tax Credits bill, will occur one hour after the Senate convenes on Thursday (unless an agreement is reached to hold the vote earlier).
  • Spoke on the Du nomination.

Senator McCain: (10:11 AM)
  • Spoke on the Du nomination.

Senator McConnell: (10:13 AM)
  • Spoke on energy and gas prices.
    • SUMMARY "Yesterday afternoon, i came to the floor to suggest that what has been happening in the senate this week is precisely the kind of thing the American people really don't like about Washington. Gas prices have more than doubled under President Obama, and the Democratic-controlled senate. This is a problem that affects every single American. It drives up the cost of everything from commuting to groceries. And yet, the Democratic response is to propose legislation that even they admit doesn't do a thing to lower the price of gas. We have got seven democrats, in fact, on record saying the bill doesn't do a thing to lower gas prices. One of them has called it laughable, but this is apparently the best our friends on the other side can do, the most, apparently, they are willing to do. At a time when gas prices are at a national average of nearly $4 a gallon, this is what passes for a response to high gas prices for Washington Democrats. A bill that simply does nothing about it. But it even gets worse than that because not only is the Democratic solution to high gas prices a bill that even they admit does nothing to lower gas prices, they won't even allow Republicans to offer any amendments that would help. Not only are they pushing a bill that won't lower gas prices, high gas prices, the message democrats in Washington are sending this week is simple: get used to it. Get used to it. Because they've got nothing, nothing but a phony proposal aimed at distracting people from the fact that they have nothing to offer. Maybe the reason they voted yesterday to get off their own bill is they realized the American people were onto them. Maybe they realized they didn't have the political issue they thought they did. Well, my point is that they should be more concerned about helping Americans than helping their own campaigns. So if Democrats won't allow us to offer any proposals to address this crisis, we're still going to talk about them anyway. Because Americans need to know that there are some things we could - we could do about this issue. We could actually have an impact on high gas prices right here in Congress. They need to hear us debate these ideas and they need to know that Democratic leaders in the senate won't even allow a vote on any of these ideas. This whole episode is completely and totally unacceptable."
  • Spoke on Kentucky-Louisville rivalry.

Mar 28 2012

The Senate Convened.

Mar 28 2012

The Senate is considering the motion to proceed to S. 2203, the Buffett Rule bill.  The Senate is also considering two judicial nominations.  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.