Senate Calendar

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jul 31 2012

Senator Lieberman: (7:11 PM)
  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Tomorrow --
    • The Senate will convene at 9:30 AM and Majority Leader Reid will be recognized. The first hour will be equally divided, with the Republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • On Tuesday, cloture was filed on S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill. The amendment tree has been filled. All first-degree amendments must be filed at the desk by 1:00 PM. If no agreement is reached, the Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill, will be on Thursday.
      1. Reid (for Lieberman) amendment #2731;
      2. Reid (for Franken) amendment #2732 to Reid (for Lieberman) amendment #2731;
      3. Reid amendment # 2733 to Reid (for Lieberman) amendment #2731;
      4. Reid 2nd-degree amendment #2734 to Reid amendment #2733;
      5. Motion to Commit S. 3414 to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee with instructions to report back with an amendment #2735;
      6. Reid amendment #2736 to the instructions of the Motion to Commit the bill; and
      7. Reid 2nd-degree amendment #2737 to Reid amendment #2736.
    • At a time to be determined this week, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 1 hour of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar #518, Carol J. Galante, of California, to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Following the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on confirmation of the nomination (60 votes required).
The Senate stands adjourned until 9:30 AM Wednesday, August 1st.

Reid (UC), Lieberman

Veterans Jobs Corps bill (S. 3429)

Jul 31 2012

Senator Reid: (6:40 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "To say I'm disappointed is a tremendous understatement. This body is debating a measure that would prevent what national security experts on a bipartisan basis have called the most serious threat to our nation since the dawn of the nuclear age I was surprised this morning to hear Senator McConnell say that he would like a vote on repealing Obamacare on this bill. That's really not appropriate. Some Republican senators have said that this matter is going to be filibustered unless they have the right to vote on an amendment to repeal health care reform, and obviously that's it, the Republican leader said that. Then, I thought that might fade away I'm disappointed leader McConnell would rather launch yet another attack, for example, on women's health than work to ensure the security of our nation. I have no choice but to file cloture on this matter. I would hope we could get cloture. But I'm a realist as I've learned after having tried to work through 85 different filibusters in this congressional session, I remain hopeful that they'll come to their senses, realize the need for urgent action on this matter."
  • Cloture has been filed on S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill. The amendment tree has been filled.
  • The Senate is on the Motion to Proceed to S. 3429, the Veterans Jobs Corps bill.

Senator Lieberman: (6:53 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I rise to respond to the statement of the majority leader. First to say that I share his sadness and disappointment that he had to file a petition for cloture on this Cybersecurity Act, but I totally agree with the decision he's made. I don't think he had any choice. I think we're facing on the one hand an urgent, real and growing threat to our security and our prosperity because we're vulnerable - that is, the privately owned cyber infrastructure of our country is vulnerable to attack from foreign enemies, from non-state actors like terrorist groups, from organized criminal gangs who are just out to steal billions of dollars over the internet and from hackers. So we're dealing with a real problem that all the nonpolitical security experts from the last administration, the Bush administration and this one, the Obama administration say is rising rapidly to being the number-one threat to American security over the internet now because of our vulnerability, over cyberspace, a foreign enemy can do us more damage than the terrorists did to us on 9/11. It's that stark. So that's one reality. The other reality is that Senator Collins and I, Senator Rockefeller, Senator Feinstein have been working literally for years on - as Senator Reid said, because of the urgency of the problem, we decided we can't just fight for 100% of what we thought was best to protect our security. We pulled back. We made it not mandatory. We have standards being set for the private sector to defend itself and us better, and we're creating carrots and not sticks to encourage them to opt into those cybersecurity standards. That's one reality. The other reality is in our government, notwithstanding controversy here, all the departments are working like a team, as General Alexander, the head of cyber command at the Department of Defense said, cybersecurity is a team sport, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, the FBI, the intelligence community all working together to protect our country, but they don't have the tools they need, and they urgently need this bill. Yet, the other reality is here in the Senate where once again we're gridlocked. We can't even get the consent necessary to take up amendments to vote on."

Nelson-FL, Whitehouse, Alexander

Cybersecurity bill (S. 3414)

Jul 31 2012

Senator Nelson-FL: (5:55 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "An important subject that is looming over the country right now, and the Congress can do something about it, and that is the possibility of cyber attack. We have had this discussed by a number of people in very high, responsible positions, and the threat is real, and what the threat means to all of us in our everyday lives is the fact that electrical systems could be shut down, water systems could be shut down, the banking system could be shut down, sewer systems could go awry, and you can go on and on, as to the possibility of what is happening. And here for months we have been stymied from passing anything here because of a disagreement in the business community which is going to be one of the main recipients of the potential cyber attack. Now, I will choose my words very carefully as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and say this potential attack is real. And it's real not only from rogue players but also some state actors. And we need to get this legislation up and going. And I am most encouraged to think that we are at a position that we're going to get agreement, that the chairman and the vice chairman of our Intelligence Committee are going to come together in an agreement, and we need to pass this this week, because this is deadly serious."
  • Paid tribute to Oswaldo Paya.

Senator Whitehouse: (6:06 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "The Cybersecurity Act is a strong, comprehensive bill that will make our nation safer. It will provide for the sharing of threat information among the government and private sector, and it will provide for the hardening, for the protection of the networks of the private companies that operate America's critical infrastructure that run our electric grid, that run our financial networks, that run our communications systems and the other infrastructure that is essential to conducting the day-to-day way of life that Americans enjoy that is essential to our national security and to our economic well-being ... It has been disappointing in the wake of that that some elements within the business community are failing to cooperate, are failing to, for instance, provide constructive suggestions in areas where they have disagreement with this important legislation. Indeed, some appear intent on just preventing the Senate from passing legislation that would make us all safer. In some cases these interests are not negotiating to get a bill that protects their interests. They are blockading to stop a bill that will protect all of our interests The Cybersecurity Act addresses both of those issues: information sharing and core critical infrastructure hardening. It does what our military's leading cybersecurity expert says is necessary to be done to protect the nation. That then is the view of the leader of our military cyber warriors and cyber defenders based on both deep experience and access to the most deeply classified information held by the United States government. In contrast, industry arguments against cybersecurity legislation appear to have been developed with little or no awareness of the threat facing our nation."

Senator Alexander: (6:23 PM)
  • Spoke on the wind production tax credit.
    • SUMMARY "It's time to end a temporary tax credit that was put into law in 1992 when President George H.W. Bush was in office The wind production tax credit was a temporary tax break in 1992 to encourage wind power. We give wind developers a 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of wind electricity produced. And now it's about to expire at the end of the year. It needs to be extended again, the developers say. Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program. Just one more time, they tell us, but it's an argument like this that's got us into the fiscal mess that we have as a nation. The United States of America, according to the Joint Tax Committees, is spending $14 billion on subsidizing giant wind turbines over a five-year period, $6 billion of it is this production tax credit We spend too much money in Washington that we do not have, and it has to stop. There are many reasons we don't need this particular provision of the tax code. First, we can't afford it. $6 billion over five years. In addition to the $8 billion more that have come through grants. At a time when the federal government is borrowing more than 40 cents out of every dollar it spends, we can't afford that, particularly for what the energy secretary says is a mature technology. Second, despite all the money, it produces a relatively small amount of electricity, only 2.2% of our electricity in the United States. We're a big country. We use 25% of all the energy in the world, all the electricity in the world. We're not going to operate our country through windmills. Third, the massive turbines often destroy the environment in the name of saving. some are 50-feet tall, blades as long as a football field, weighing seven tons, spinning 150 miles an hour ... Fourth, the stimulus grants that have helped to support it, $1 billion of it went to foreign companies ... We don't need to allow these production tax credits to be renewed is they haven't produced as many American jobs as was claimed. An American University study reported in 2009 that the first $1 billion of stimulus grants to win went to foreign manufacturing companies. What do we get in return for that? A puny amount of unreliable electricity generated mostly at night when we don't need it."

Schumer, Nelson-NE, Lieberman

Cybersecurity bill (S. 3414)

Jul 31 2012

Senator Schumer: (5:01 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I'm very hopeful that we will pass a bill that will find a good and workable balance, one certainly that ensures that our critical infrastructure has the most effective countermeasures to prevent cyber attack but one that will also encourage our dynamic technology industry to continue to innovate, protect freedom of expression, and the privacy on the internet ... We have to do everything we can to protect that free and open access. That's the theme of my speech today. Although we also, of course, have to protect the critical infrastructure behind it. Now, we're all aware of the national security risks if we don't do a cyber bill ... So very important we protect our infrastructure. But, at the same time - and this is what makes the legislation even more difficult - we have to be aware of the risk to critical part of our economy if we don't do it right. If we don't do it carefully, if we don't do it thoughtfully and if we don't balance the need to protect infrastructure with the legitimate rights of the freedom of the internet and privacy."

Senator Nelson-NE: (5:13 PM)
  • Spoke on the Farm bill.
    • SUMMARY "The Senate's five-year Farm bill strengthens and improves the 2008 Farm bill, particularly the natural disaster relief provisions. It beefs up and livestock disaster programs. It provides tools to help reduce fire risk and improve forest health. It improves and increases access to crop insurance to protect against future natural disasters. It authorizes direct and guaranteed loans for recovery from wildfires and drought. And the list goes on. All important programs necessary to deal with this disaster that we're facing in our country today. The Senate's five-year Farm bill makes necessary upgrades to the policies in the 2008 Farm bill to help Americans recover from natural disasters, and it does it without digging the country deeper into debt. The Senate passed this bipartisan farm bill in June, but the House won't take action on it. Plus the House is expected to move a separate bill. Essentially a one-year extension of the old 2008 farm bill. A one-year extension of outdated and inefficient policies is not adequate. It's irresponsible. We need the substantial reforms in the Senate's five-year Farm bill now. A one-year extension of current policy does nothing to help those who need the Farm bill and its disaster relief the most. When you can do better, you should do better ... While America is getting hit by these droughts and fires and now while American farmers and ranchers don't have the disaster relief because there's no Farm bill, the House is merely going to pass a one-year extension of current policies. They want to buy some time, kick the can down the road. Well, now it's time for the house to do its job. Do what's right for the country."

Senator Lieberman: (5:32 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I think sometimes that because most people haven't experienced the consequences of a cyber attack and most are not aware of the constant cyber threat going on, moving money from bank accounts, stealing industrial secrets, because frankly a lot of the businesses that are the victims of the thefts don't want to acknowledge them or announce them for fear of exposing their own lack of adequate cyber defenses but also a kind of general embarrassment. And yet, we now know as a public matter, whether it's sunk into consciousness among most of the American people that some great companies that are very tech savvy, cyber savvy have been the victims of cyber attacks. Sony was, RSA, Google and others that have come momentarily to public attention. But what this has meant has been I think unclear to people so that - and it may, in fact, be unclear to many of the leaders of our - of the private corporations that control so much of our critical cyber infrastructure. In America, 80% to 85% of the critical infrastructure is privately owned. That's the American way. That's the way it ought to be. But it means that when the private sector owns critical infrastructure, which can in this new world of ours and will be a target of hostile action, enemy attack, then we have got to create a partnership with the private owners of this critical infrastructure to raise our defenses, because it's not just their businesses that they're defending. It's the security of the United States."

Collins, Carper, Lieberman

Cybersecurity bill (S. 3414)

Jul 31 2012

Senator Collins: (4:26 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "We've gone from having a mandatory framework to a voluntary approach to enhance the security of our most critical infrastructure. The underlying concept of this approach, which was suggested in a very constructive way by our colleagues, Senator Kyl and Senator Whitehouse, is to encourage owners of our most critical infrastructure to enhance their cybersecurity by providing them with various incentives, the most important of which is liability protections. We've also made changes to improve the privacy protections in the information sharing title of our bill. The bill establishes the multiagency council, the National Cybersecurity Council to respond to concerns that too much power was being given to the Department of Homeland Security. So now we have an interagency body that includes the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, represented by the FBI, the Department of Commerce, the intelligence community, undoubtedly it would be the Director of National Intelligence's office. And appropriate sector-specific federal agencies such as FERC, if we're talking about how best to protect our electric grid. The council would work in partnership with the private sector, would conduct risk assessments to identify our nation's most critical cyber infrastructure. Now, what do we mean about that? We hear that term. What exactly is critical cyber infrastructure? It is that which, if damaged, could result in mass casualties, mass evacuations, catastrophic economic damage to our country, or severe harm to our national security. Don't we want to safeguard critical national assets that if damaged would cause numerous deaths, people to flee their homes, their communities, a disaster for our economy, or severe blow to our national security? I can't believe there's even any discussion about the need for us to have robust systems to protect us against mass casualties, a devastating blow to our economy, and catastrophic consequences. That's a high bar in our bill for defining what is critical cyber infrastructure. It isn't every business in this country, and those that are implying that it is and this is sweeping are not accurately reading the bill. We would be irresponsible if we did not act when the warnings are so loud and are coming from so many respected sources."

Senator Carper: (4:40 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "In recent years when we heard opposition to doing something on cybersecurity, the concern we had it's going to be a top down. This is going to be Homeland Security, which frankly back in its early days didn't have a very good reputation. The idea that somehow Homeland Security is going to be running this, top down, without a whole lot of input from industry, basically we've taken even â€" second most recent version of our bill and changed that. What we said it's not going to be top down, it's not going to be homeland security saying these are the best practices and standards to protect against cybersecurity, but industry, why don't you tell us, us being Homeland Security, us being Department of Defense, us being National Security Agency, us being the FBI, what you think those best practices and standards should be. And give us a chance to work on those together, and at the end of the day, correct me if I'm wrong, but if don't think the deal is for homeland security to come back and say no, got to throw those away. We'll do it our way. That's not what's going to happen here. In our meeting yesterday with folks from FBI, National Security Agency, that's not the way it's going to work. Not the way it works today, not the way it's going to work in the future. What do you think?"

Senator Collins: (4:42 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "He is absolutely correct. This is a collaborative partnership with the private sector, and indeed it has to be. 85% of critical infrastructure is owned by the private sector. So it makes sense to have their involvement. We've restructured the bill to require that and there is another safeguard. Since this is a voluntary system that we have now devised, adopting the Kyl-Whitehouse approach, if the private sector decided not to participate, it essentially invalidates the standards that are developed. So why would this interagency council, which has developed the standards based on the recommendations of the private sector, not adopt reasonable standards? They want industry to participate. That's the ultimate safeguard."

Senator Carper: (4:43 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "One of the criticisms of our bill was not only was it top down, oriented, directed by Homeland Security but also there were just sticks involved. We were not going to incentivize anybody to comply with the standards that might be developed, but we would just hammer somebody. That's not the way it's turned out. And if commend the chairman for doing that but would you just lay out for us in a minute or two here how it would work?"

Senator Lieberman: (4:44 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "This is now a voluntary system This legislation contains authority to share information between the government and the private sector, between two private sector companies that can't be done now. That's critically necessary to improve our defenses. The requirement of standards being promulgated as resulting from a public-private collaborative operation and then offering the carrot of immunity from liability is something that doesn't exist now, and all the experts say though some of the private sector operators of critical cybersecurity infrastructure and we're talking again about the companies that run the electric grid or the telecommunications system or the entire financial system, or dams that hold back water, we're not talking about mom-and-pop businesses back home, some of them are doing a pretty good job of defending that cyber infrastructure, but most of them are not doing enough. And that's where the government has to come in and push them in that direction. So why did we change it from mandatory to voluntary, from sticks to carrots? Because we didn't have the votes to adopt the mandatory, which I think is necessary. We're at a point now in this debate with the kind of never-ending questions about every detail, notwithstanding all the compromises Senator Collins, Carper and I and others have made, that it feels to me - and the filing of an amendment by Senator McConnell to repeal Obamacare - you can have a position on Obamacare, but to put it on this Cybersecurity bill? Not fair, not relevant, not constructive. I think we're coming to a moment where we're going to have to face a tough decision. And I've talked to the majority leader about filing for cloture soon so we can draw this to a choice. Do our colleagues want to act to protect our cyber systems in this session or do they not? And that's a tough choice, particularly if you vote "no" to explain in the light of all the evidence of the constant cyber attacks going on in and the of hundreds of billions of dollars from our industries and tens of thousands of jobs lost as a result to foreign countries. Whether you're going to say, no, we don't want to take that up now. I hope and pray that that's not the case. But the way this is moving right now, in this last week of the session before we break, I'm afraid that we're headed in the wrong direction."

Senator Carper: (4:50 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "First, we've elected not to direct the Department of Homeland Security to mandate new cybersecurity regulations for private owners of critical infrastructure. We said we're not going to do that. Instead, we've endorsed an approach that relies on a public-private partnership and a voluntary cybersecurity program to strengthen the electronic backbone of our most sensitive systems. Instead of government penalties, our bill calls for using incentives like liability protection to encourage critical infrastructure owners to adopt voluntary practices developed by industry. Second, our revised bill provides a framework for the sharing of cyber threat information between the federal government and the private sector. While offering liability protection and better privacy protections for all Americans. And, third, to ensure that federal agencies are better equipped to stop cyber attacks on them, the bill includes a number of security measures that I've worked on for years with Senator Collins and others to better protect our federal information systems. In particular, this bill will help replace our outdated paper-based security practices with real-time security systems that can actively monitor, detect and respond to threats. For example, agencies will be required to continuously monitor their systems like a security guard would watch a building through a video camera, rather than just taking a snapshot, developing the film and reporting on the results once a year ... Finally, our bill makes a number of important investments in developing the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. This is work force development. For example, the bill provides stronger cybersecurity training and establishes better cybersecurity programs in our schools and in our universities. This legislation also makes research and development for cybersecurity a priority so we can develop cutting-edge technologies here at home and bring jobs to our country. Doing so will not only make us safer as a nation, it will help ensure that America's work force is better prepared for tomorrow's job market."

Senator Lieberman: (4:58 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill, with the time until 6:30 PM for debate only.
    • At 6:30 PM, Majority Leader Reid will be recognized (without objection).

Isakson, Coons, Udall-CO, Franken

Cybersecurity bill (S. 3414)

Jul 31 2012

Senator Isakson: (3:45 PM)
  • Paid tribute to Tim Stack.

Senator Coons: (3:49 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "There's been some important and strong work to build a bipartisan consensus around the bill that is before us today. I, like you, I believe, Mr. President, had some real concerns about the information-sharing portions of the bill, title 7, which have to do with permitting private companies to share information with each other about the threats of attacks. One of our big problems right now we're told is that companies of all different sectors of our economy hesitate to share publicly or to share with our national security infrastructure information that's critical to knowing when we're being attacked, how we're being attacked, and how that attack might spread. So title 7 of this bill gives them liability protection to encourage the broad and regular sharing of that information. But those of us who are concerned about the balance between privacy and security, about protecting civil liberties and whether or not we've gone too far in seeking security at the expense of liberty offered a whole series of revisions and changes to this bill, changes which have been accepted. So, too, in a different section of the bill, title 1, that has to deal with critical infrastructure - folks from the private sector raised alarms and concerns months ago that this bill was too prescriptive, too heavy handed, was involved in regulation and demanding certain actions by the private sector. Those concerns, too, have been addressed, I think, in a broad way. And I have been impressed with how many changes Senators Lieberman and Collins have been willing to accept. Out of a broad working group of more than a dozen senators of both parties who over the last few months have come forward with suggestions that have made that portion of the bill truly voluntary for the private sector in a way that balances the role of civilian agencies with parts of our national security apparatus in a way that provides enough liability protection but not too much and in a way that allows the private sector to have a leading role in setting standards. My point then is to say to my colleagues in this body that when they say we need more time to study, I say, we need to come to this bill, we need to come to the floor, we need our colleagues to be clear: what are your remaining concerns? In a meeting last Friday with several senators and representatives of industry, I had read every word of title 7 and urged them to be concrete with us about what their concerns were and I left unsatisfied. I left concerned that some were simply scaring the private sector, some were simply scaring our citizens into thinking this bill is not ready. So for those who still have concerns - and there may very well be broad and legitimate concerns about this bill and about its direction - let's take these two days - I understand that more than 90 amendments have been filed. I think it is the challenge before us to make the amendments germane, narrowly focused and relevant to improve the bill rather than distracting us into issues that are more partisan or more tied to the campaign and to focus on the work that is left before us."

Senator Udall-CO: (4:02 PM)
  • Spoke on the wind production tax credit.
    • SUMMARY "The PTC has created literally tens of thousands of jobs across our country and has the potential to create even more. But if Congress ... doesn't act to extend it, tens of thousands of jobs literally will be lost ... It's important to the businesses in every state in our country. It's an investment in a clean energy future, the production tax credit is. It's a critical investment in American jobs. And, frankly, we're about to lose that investment. And I fear in fact that we've continued through our inaction to create real harm to our wind industry here in America. But it's not too late to act."

Senator Franken: (4:09 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "Over the last few weeks hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans received letters or postcards in the mail from their health care insurers. These notices are letting people know whether or not their insurer met a new rule in the health care law, a rule that if championed, called the medical loss ratio, sometimes called the 80-20 rule. It could also be called the 85-15 rule Under my medical loss ratio provision, insurers who did not spend at least the 80% or 85% of premiums on actual health care services for their beneficiaries have to rebate that money to their consumers. August 1 was the deadline for insurers who didn't meet the MLR threshold to rebate the difference to their consumers and because of the medical loss ratio, more than 123,000 Minnesotans got rebates from their insurer. Those rebates added up to an average of $160 per household. There was more in other states. This isn't unique to Minnesota. Across the country it's 12.8 million Americans who got rebates from their insurers who overcharged them. And other insurers lowered their premiums for last year to comply with the medical loss ratio It squeezes the fat out of the health insurance market and makes your premium dollars go further. For many families, it's actually lowering costs, delivering $1.1 billion this year in rebates."

Mikulski, Barrasso, Durbin

Cybersecurity bill (S. 3414)

Jul 31 2012

Senator Mikulski: (2:15 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "The naysayers here say we can't pass this bill because it will be overregulation and it will lead to strangulation and, oh, my gosh, we can't ask the private sector to spend one dime on protecting itself. Well, let me say to my friends, because I respect healthy criticism, but I want them to know that if anything happens to the United States of America, if the grid goes down, if NASDAQ goes down, if our banking system goes down, when we will not be able to function because the street lights won't be on, that we won't be able to turn the electricity on, I will tell you what will happen. Once again, politicians will overreact, we will over-regulate and we will overspend. Now, in a very judicious, well thought for, well-discussed process we could come up with a legislative framework that would defend the United States of America and at the same time balance that sensible center that another great patriot, Colin Powell, calls us to do. Always look for the middle ground while we look at where we want to go. Now, there is this cyber war and I want everybody to know about it. The cyber attacks are happening right now. Cyber terrorists are thinking every single day about attacking our critical infrastructure. There are nation states that want to humiliate and intimidate the United States of America, to cause catastrophic economic disruption. How do they want to do it? They want to take over our power grids. They want to steal - they want to disrupt our air traffic control. They want to disrupt the financial functioning of the United States of America. Cyber spies are working at breakneck speed to steal many of our state secrets. Cyber criminals are hacking our networks ... This bill means that if we come up with the kind of legislation we want, we can deal with it."

Senator Barrasso: (2:51 PM)
  • A Doctor's 2nd Opinion.
    • SUMMARY "You'll recall that the president's health care law contained one of the largest expansions of Medicaid in the program's history. The president chose to expand the program despite the fact that fewer than half of primary care clinicians would accept new Medicaid patients as of 2008. Fewer than half of primary care clinicians were accepting new Medicaid patients. But yet, that is where the president chose to build his health care reform from. So you say why is it that so many physicians, primary care physicians aren't seeing Medicaid patients? It's because the reimbursements provided to doctors are so low that many simply can't afford to see Medicaid patients and continue to keep their doors open. Unfortunately, the outlook for Medicaid really in this country has not improved. USA Today reported this month, in July, that 13 states are moving to cut Medicaid even further by doing a couple of things. They want to reduce benefits. They want to pay health providers less or tight eligibility for the program. So the program that the president highlights is that one of the cores of his health care law is already in significant trouble. It is not functioning and is getting worse. So the state of Illinois has imposed a new limit on the number of prescription drugs that a patient can receive who is on Medicaid. This cap was imposed as part of a plan to cut $1.6 billion from the state's Medicaid program. Mark Higherman, professor at the University of Chicago law school, told the Chicago tribune that the prescription drug limits amount to a denial of service. That's what we're looking at now, and yet this is the basis upon which the president has built his health care law. According to the most recent estimate by the Congressional Budget Office, over one-third of the people expected to gain insurance coverage under the president's health care law are supposed to do it through this Medicaid program. Clearly with states being forced to cut back their existing Medicaid programs, there are many people who are not going to get the care that they were promised through the president's health care law. For those who can find a physician, many of these patients will have to commute longer distances and will also have to endure longer waiting times just to get the treatment that they are seeking."

Senator Durbin: (3:24 PM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "In response to concerns raised by some in the private sector and some on the other side of the aisle The bill now creates a voluntary incentive-based system of performance standards. Private companies and government agencies will work together to determine the best practices in each sector to prevent a cyber attack. Companies who voluntarily implement the standards will be awarded with immunity from punitive damages in lawsuit, receipt of real-time cyber threat information, and expedited security clearances, among other things. This voluntary arrangement replaces the mandatory system in an early version of the bill. Many of us supported that approach, but in the spirit of compromise and responding to concerns expressed by the business community, the managers have included this voluntary approach. The Cybersecurity Act also authorizes voluntary information sharing. The sharing provision will allow government agencies and willing private companies to enhance the mutual understanding of the real threat and other vulnerabilities. Sharing this information on effective responses and recent cyber threats will enable both the government and the private sector to understand the threat and positive to have respond. A handful of industries have already adopted this approach and it significantly enhances their ability to identify and respond to cyber threats. We should empower the government to share its knowledge with these and other industries and we should make it clear that the private companies can share cyber threat indicators with the government. That's exactly what this act does. We're able to significantly enhance the privacy and civil liberties protections in the revised bill The revised bill, after we negotiated with them, now requires that the government cybersecurity exchanges be operated by civilian agencies within the federal government. Our thinking was that these agencies are more prone to oversight and any excesses by them will be caught earlier than if this is done on the military side, to be very blunt. Military and spy agencies should not be the first recipients of personal communications like e-mails. But from time to time, they will need to be informed and we need to rely on their expertise. That's why the bill requires that relevant cyber threat information be shared with these agencies as appropriate in real time. The revised bill eliminates immunities for companies that violate the privacy rights of Americans in a knowing, intentional or grossly negligent manner. To ensure that cybersecurity exchanges are not used to circumvent the 4th amendment, the bill requires law enforcement to only use information from the cyber exchanges to stop cyber crimes, prevent imminent death or bodily harm to adults or prevent exploitation of minors. The revised bill creates a vigorous structure for strong, recurring and independent oversight to guarantee transparency and accountability. It gives individuals the authority to sue the government for privacy violations to ensure compliance with the rules for protecting private information. These commonsense reforms improve the information sharing section of the bill and they protect the privacy. That's why they've been widely embraced across the political spectrum, from left to right. I think we've found the sweet spot. I think we've found the right balance."
  • Spoke on for-profit schools.
    • SUMMARY "In 2010, the 30 for-profit colleges examined employed 35,000-plus recruiters. 35,000 recruiters. The same schools collectively employed 3,500 career services staff and 12,452 support staff. So by a margin of 2-1, the schools had more recruiters than support service employees. So we can't be shocked when we learn that half a million students who enrolled in 2000 to 2008-2009, left without a degree or certificate. Among two-year associate degree holders, almost two-thirds of the students in these for-profit schools departed without a degree, just a debt. The report also highlighted a growing problem among for-profit colleges, the use of lead generators. For-profit colleges gather contact information on prospective students, or leads as they call them, by paying third-party companies known as lead generators. These generators specialize in gathering and selling information. In this case, very personal information. Here's thousand works. A student browsing the internet searches for the term like "g.i. bill," "student loan," "federal student aid" or any variation. They're directed to various web site as that are owned by these lead generator companies. The web site then claims to pass the prospective student contact into an appropriate school for the student on-line. Typically there's no disclosure to the student that their personal information is being sold to for-profit colleges. When a prospective student does give their contact information, watch out. They will be bombarded with calls and e-mails from aggressive recruiters at these for-profit schools One of the HELP Committee's recommendations is to further regulate the private student loan market. Senator Harkin and I introduced the Know Before You Owe Private Student Loan Act this year. Our bill requires private student loan lenders to verify the cost of the loan to the person before the loan. And council students as to whether they're still eligible for federal student loans at a much lower interest rate. Federal student loans have flexible payment plans, consumer protections and less costs. But many times, students who have not exhausted their federal student loan aid are steered into private loans with interest rates three and four times higher. There's money to be made off those young sometimes uninformed students. I urge the private lenders today and the for-profit schools that keep telling me, "we are doing the right thing," don't wait for this law. Do it now. Make this a policy at your school and prove it."

Jul 31 2012

Senator Lieberman: (11:22 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "We've got to begin processing amendments. And they've got to be what the majority leader has said: germane or relevant. The majority leader has said we'll have an open amendment process, and I thank him for that. No filling of the tree here. But the amendments have got to be germane or relevant. We're dealing with a national security crisis unlike any we've faced before. A broad bipartisan group of us met with the leaders of our cyber defense agencies yesterday. Not political people, not partisan people. And they urgently appealed to us to pass this legislation in this session of congress. It gives them authority to protect us that they don't have now. And, frankly, they worry that without that authority to share information with the private sector, for the private sector to share cyber threat information with each other without fear of liability, for the government to have the ability to create some standards for the private owners of cyber space and then give them the voluntary option to abide by those standards, that all of those add-ons, all of those realities that will be created by passage of this bill are desperately needed now. The fact is they were needed yesterday. They were needed last year. That's why I'm so disheartened to hear this morning that our friends in the Republican caucus are talking about introducing an amendment to this bill that will repeal Obamacare, as they call it. There's a day for that, but it's not this week on this bill. Frankly, I feel the same way about some of the gun control amendments that have been submitted by members of the Democratic caucus. Those amendments deserve debate at some point, but not this week on this bill. We can get this bill done and protect our security. Nobody believes that we're going to repeal Obamacare this week or that we're going to adopt gun control legislation. Those are sort of making a statement. They're sending a political message. And they'll get in the way of us protecting our national security. So I appeal to my colleagues on both sides. Hold back these irrelevant amendments. Let's have a full and open debate on cybersecurity, and let's get it done this week."

Senator Roberts: (11:28 AM)
  • Honored Kansas World War II veterans from the Honor Flight Network.

Senator Lieberman: (11:45 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I think we've now got a broad agreement on a bill containing those same cybersecurity standards that were in our original bill that result from a collaborative public-private sector process and negotiation. But now instead of mandating them, we're going to create incentives for the private sector to opt into them. We're going to use carrots instead of sticks. And we've added some compromises also from the original legislation to guarantee members of the Senate and millions of people out in the country that when we act to share information from the private sector to the government, that we're going to have due regard for the privacy of people's data in cyberspace, personal information. Without compromising our national security at all. There are advocates on both sides of both the information sharing provision and the critical cyber standards provision that think we've gone too far and some think we haven't gone far enough. But while advocates on the outside of the Senate can hold fast to their particular positions, legislators on the inside of the Senate need to take all these deeply held views into account but ultimately our responsibility to get something done. To protect our security. It's our responsibility to pass a law."

Senator Menendez: (12:21 PM)
  • Spoke on the wool cotton trust fund.
    • SUMMARY "Let me begin by clearly stating if understand the majority leader later today will issue a unanimous consent request to move forward on the African Growth and Opportunity Act Trade bill and the Burma Sanctions package those are all efforts that I supported as a member of the Finance Committee, voted for and ultimately want to see passed. I believe that trade is an effective development tool and that by investing in people we can make a long-term and sustainable change in developing countries. But at the same time, I'm very concerned about our failure to reauthorize the cotton and wool trust funds which are crucial to sustaining jobs in the United States and jobs in my state of new jersey. For the past - well, for some time now I have been working tirelessly to reach an agreeable resolution on this issue, one that enables us to pass AGOA and Burma sanctions while simultaneously protecting apparel sector jobs in the United States, hundreds in my home state, thousands across the country, and ensuring that our trade isn't just free but it's also fair, and that just isn't the case right now."

Senator Reid: (12:23 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I support the wool and cotton trust funds and that's very clear in the record of this body for what I believe was wrong with the Olympic uniforms. Such a shame that our athletes over there wearing clothes made in China. I think that's too bad so I support the wool cotton trust and I support the citrus trust fund. There are only three of them and I support all of them. I agree with my friend from New Jersey we need to find a way to move these forward hand ensure American family manufacturers are placed on equal footing with foreign manufacturers so there is an easier place for people to go if they want products made in the United States. I'm happy to work with Senator Menendez and Chairman Baucus to find a vehicle to ensure these American jobs are a priority that is addressed this year. So my friend has the commitment I will do everything within my abilities to make sure we have an agreement on extending these very important trust funds this year."

Senator Baucus: (12:24 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I support the cotton you trust fund, support it strongly and have working diligently to try to find the right vehicle to try to get this passed, the cotton trust fund passed this year. I deeply appreciate your strong passion on this, Senator Menendez, you've come to me many, many times, and looking for an opportunity to pass this, and I deeply appreciate that. This place works on basic comity and sometimes the pathways to get the result are not well known, and difficult to see initially, but I am quite confident this year we're going to find a path way, find a way to get the cotton trust fund passed this year. You have my support to make that happen."

Senator Menendez: (12:26 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "Pursuant to the passage of NAFTA and CAFTA and AGOA, Congress has eliminated duties, for example, on imported shirts from other countries and in some cases it's allowed the use of third-country fabrics to make those imported shirts. Our tariff policy, however, has not changed and while foreign-made dress shirts are entering the United States duty-free, we are charging American manufacturers a duty as high as 13.5% on cotton shirting fabric. Not surprisingly, this made in America tax resulted in American manufacturers moving production offshore where shirting fabric is not subject to those high duties and where the finished product can come back to the united states duty-free. So six years ago, Congress recognized that, in fact, that is simply unfair. Why should an American manufacturer have to pay a duty when those abroad using the same fabric can send it to the United States without any duty. They created the cotton trust fund to provide a combination of duty reductions and duty refunds to shirt manufacturers who continue manufacturing in the U.S. now, that program expired in 2009, and since then, these businesses have suffered and dwindled. I'm just simply trying to, as we promote jobs in Africa and in the Caribbean, I want to appropriate jobs here in the United States. I want the women in the factories that I have met that this is the essence of how they sustain their families, to be able to continue to have those jobs. And that's why i appreciate the effort by the chairman and by the majority leader to try to get us to that point so we can have free trade but also has to be fair to Americans who are here and can compete but can't compete when they have to pay 13.5% tax and people sending in from all over the world have to pay nothing. That's the essence of what I'm trying to accomplish. I will not object when the majority leader proposes his unanimous consent request and will support the effort to move those trade bills."

Senator Cardin: (12:29 PM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "This is an averted tariff. It works against American workers. Cotton mainly in shirts but other commodities, wool and suits. What happens is, as Senator Menendez, you have pointed out, if you manufacture the suit or the shirt out of America and then import it into America, costing us jobs, you pay less tariff than if you are an American manufacturer who imports the product to manufacture the product in America, you pay a heavier tariff which costs us jobs, which makes no sense whatsoever. So I want to thank Senator Menendez for your leadership. I want to thank our leadership of Senator Reid and Senator Baucus for understanding this and giving us an opportunity before this expires on the wool trust fund, it's making sure it works effectively."

Senator Reid: (12:32 PM)
  • Unanimous Consent --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill. The time until 5:00 PM is for debate only (without objection).
The Senate stands in recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus lunches.

Jul 31 2012

Senator Mikulski: (10:25 AM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "During the health care debate, while everybody was being a bean counter, I wanted American women to know they could count on the Senate and the women and men of the senate to stand up for them. So we came to the floor. We suited up, and we fought for a preventive health care amendment that not only passed, but goes into effect tomorrow on August 1. And it will be a new day for women of all ages who will be able to get health care coverage for preventive health care at no additional cost, no co-pays, no deductibles and no discrimination where they're charged more and get less. That's what Obamacare is. If you want to repeal that, then bring it on, we're ready to fight. We want to fight for that annual health care checkup that will involve mammograms, pap testing, pelvic exams. We want to be able to do that screening for that dreaded "C" word ... We want to make sure that if you think that you're possibly a victim, a doctor suspects domestic violence we can screen and counsel. We want women to be able to have access, to be able to know early on what are those illnesses that they are facing. August 1 means that our long-fought battle will actually go into effect. And where does it go into effect? With it's already in effect on the federal law books. Now it will go into effect in doctors' offices. Women will have access to the health care that their doctor says they need, not what an insurance company says they need or what some right-winger wants to take away from them. I'm pretty mad about this. We were mad ten years ago when they wanted to take our mammograms away from us, and we're going to be pretty mad if they try to take our health care away from us. But what we're happy about, what we're happy about, is that for over more than 50 million American women tomorrow, it'll be a new day."

Senator Schumer: (10:32 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I heard the minority leader speak, and it meant two things. First, it meant that the Republican party doesn't want to do cybersecurity. It means that the greatest threat to our nation, probably even greater than terrorism if you speak to some of our military and intelligence experts, will not be dealt with, because we know what he's doing. He's asking for an unreasonable demand unrelated to cybersecurity, knowing that that will stop us from moving forward. It is a sad day. We have some of our colleagues from the other side of the aisle talking about, we must not abandon defense. Well, one of the strongest things our defense of our nation needs is a strong Cybersecurity bill. And because special interests - Chamber of Commerce and others - don't want it, even though every military and intelligence leader have said how vital it is, the tea leaves show us that the other party is going to block us from going forward. It is unfortunate and sad. And then, second, the way he chose to block cybersecurity couldn't be worse in terms of substance and in terms of timing. Today, July 31, the minority leader wants to put on the floor the repeal of so many things that are going to happen tomorrow to women and to men across America that benefits them. So his timing couldn't be worse. The very day before, we're going to see huge benefits the very day before we're going to see huge benefits for the American people, he wants to repeal. Why don't we let people see the good parts of health care before we repeal it. We're not going to repeal it."
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "I want to talk about this day or tomorrow, actually, where so many portions of Affordable Care Act go into effect. 3 million women in my home state will benefit ... Women will receive free basic care for themselves and their children. So many women and men don't get preventive services because it is expensive to them. These services are free, but not only will they make those people healthier, the number-one goal, but they will reduce the costs of health care because every expert - Democrat, Independent, Republican, moderate, liberal, conservative - says if you don't more prevention, you're going to save more money. And tomorrow so many of those preventive services go into effect. More women will go in for annual preventive care visits to screen for cervical, ovarian, and breast cancer. More women will have access to contraception and its additional health benefits like protection against osteoporosis. New mothers will have access to support and supplies for breast feeding. More women will be screened for domestic sexual violence, sexually transmitted infections and HIV and to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, when we say there is a war against women and they get their backs up, they want to repeal this and put nothing in its place. No preventive services, no access to contraception, none of the things I've mentioned. Yes, it is a war on women. Because if they really cared about women and they didn't like Obamacare, they would still have a proposal on the floor to keep these fine pieces of the legislation going forward, so they're not cut off tomorrow, which is what they intend to do. But, of course, thank god, it will not happen. The change that we are making helps every woman who said, I would but I can't afford it. It's just too expensive. They will finally get health care. Removing the co-pays is a greater thing. Cutting the cost of preventive care is something that we long, long wished to do in America and can happen tomorrow."

Senator Boxer: (10:38 AM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "What has happened here this morning is instead of celebrating with us - because tomorrow, august 1, an entire list of preventive services for women goes into effect because of Obamacare - yes, our health care law - the Republican leader says he wants to repeal awful those benefits. He wants to repeal all of those benefits. Not only does the Republican leader in behalf of the Republican minority want to repeal the benefits that go into effect tomorrow for women, he wants to repeal the entire health care bill. He wants to have an amendment to the Cybersecurity bill, which is so critical to our national security. He wants to put an amendment on there to repeal a law that the United States Supreme Court found was constitutional and whose benefits are beginning to take hold in this country. Benefits that mean that right now people are receiving refund checks in the mail because their insurance company overcharged them, and under Obamacare, you can't do that. And hundreds of millions of dollars are going out to our people. The Republicans want, I assume, to force those people to send back their refunds because they want to repeal Obamacare. Look at the list of preventive health benefits that are already in effect because of the legislation .... Getting breast cancer screenings now with no co-pays. They're getting cervical cancer screenings, hepatitis A and B vaccines, measles and mumps vaccines, colorectal cancer screenings, diabetes screening, cholesterol screening, blood pressure screening, obesity screening, tobacco cessation, autism screening ... hearing screening for newborns, sickle cell screening for newborns, fluoride supplements, tuberculosis testing for children, depression screening osteoporosis screening .... Let's take a look at the list that goes into effect tomorrow. The list that my Republican friends want to repeal today. Tomorrow women will get access to all of these things without co-pays or coinsurance. Contraception, well-woman visits, STD screening and counseling, breast feeding support and supplies, domestic violence screening, gestational diabetes screening, HIV screening, and HPV testing. I am stunned that on the eve of the broadest increase in benefits in my lifetime, the Republicans want to repeal these benefits from women. This is a continuation on their part of the war on women."

Senator Shaheen: (10:49 AM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "Thanks to the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that go into effect this week, women will have access to a wide range of preventive services from well women and prenatal visits to gestational diabetes screenings, and they will have access to those services without co-payments or deductibles. So finances will no longer stand in the way of women getting the preventive health they need. This also has the potential to save our health care system money in the long run. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 75% of our health care spending is on people with chronic disease. So by taking these preventive measures, we can slow this growth and the associated cost of disease Over the last several months opponents have continued to roll back contraceptive coverage at both the state and federal level. Every woman should be able to make her own health care decisions, and she should not have to have her boss stand in the way. The provisions that go into effect tomorrow ensure that women can make these decisions."

Senator Harkin: (10:55 AM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "I think we voted twice in the Senate in order to repeal the whole thing. They want to have another vote. But I think it's just more than passing curious that the Republican leader wants to vote to repeal it on the very day when we're expanding health care coverage for the women of America. Interesting. Interesting. Tomorrow is an important day for American women, thanks again to key provisions of the Affordable Care Act ... In the Affordable Care Act we put in a big provision on preventive services. And we said basically that what the preventive services task force of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, what they listed as their "A" and "B," those that had the, if I could use this term, best return on investment, or the biggest impact, that those would be free. There would be no co-pays, no deductibles ... Preventive services to keep women healthy without co-pays and without deductibles. And right on the eve of this wonderful expansion of health care coverage, of making sure that women are not second-class citizens when it comes to prevention and wellness, on the very eve of saying to women that no longer can insurance companies sort of say because you are a woman, you have a preexisting condition. The Republican leader gets up and says he wants to have a vote on repealing the health care bill. Talk about a slap in the face to the women of this country."

Senator Durbin: (11:04 AM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "I was stunned this morning when the Republican Senate leader came to the floor and said the first thing we want to do is to repeal all of this health care preventive care that will be available across America, including the provisions that go into effect tomorrow protecting 47 million of our women and family members across the United States, 2 million in Illinois, I might add, that will be helped by this. And they insist on bringing up on the pending bill on the floor this amendment to basically remove the protection for these women that is built into affordable health care We can't be too surprised at this. Does the senator remember the very first amendment the Republicans offered on the Transportation bill, a bill that we wanted to pass to build highways and airports? Remember what Senator Blunt, the Republican from Missouri, offered as the first republican amendment to the Transportation bill? It was on family planning. Family planning and transportation? I guess some late-night comedians can make a connection here, but I don't get it. And now we have pending the Cybersecurity bill to protect America from a cyber attack which could literally cost American lives, something we're told is the number-one defense threat to America, and Senator McConnell comes to the floor on behalf of the Senate Republicans and says, this bill will not go forward unless we can offer an amendment to repeal the Health Care Reform Act, repeal the protections that are in there for families and women across America. It is stunning that no matter what issue we go to, the Republican senators return to this issue of denying health care coverage and denying protection and preventive care to our families."

Senator Murray: (11:17 AM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "You know, since the Affordable Care Act became the law of the land, women have now been treated more fairly when it comes to health care costs and options. Deductibles and other expenses have been capped so a health care crisis won't cause a family to lose their home or their life savings. Women can use the health care exchanges to pick quality plans that work for themselves and their families. And if they change jobs or have to move, which so many people have to do today, they can keep their coverage. And now starting tomorrow, august 1, additional types of maternity care are going to be covered. Women will be armed with the proper tools and resources in order to take the right steps to have a healthy pregnancy. Starting tomorrow women will have access to domestic partner violence screening and counseling as well as screening for sexually transmitted infections. And starting tomorrow women will finally have access to affordable birth control so we can lower rates in maternal and infant mortality and reduce the risk of ovarian cancer and improve overall health outcomes and encourage far fewer unintended pregnancies and abortions that is a goal that we all share. I also want to note the affordable contraceptive policy we put in place preserves the right of all Americans while protecting the rights of millions of Americans who do use contraceptives who believe that family planning is the right choice for them and who don't deserve to have politics or ideology prevent them from getting the coverage that they deserve and want. Starting tomorrow women are now fully in charge of their health care. Not an insurance company. That's why I feel so strongly that we cannot go back to the way things were while we can never stop working, of course, to make improvements - which we all know are important - we owe it to the women of America to make progress and not allow the clock to be rolled back on their health care needs."

Reid, McConnell, Durbin

Opening Remarks

Jul 31 2012

  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of S. 3414, the Cybersecurity bill. The time until 2:15 PM is for debate only. The time until 12:30 PM will be equally divided, with the Majority controlling the first hour and the Republicans controlling the second hour.
    • At 12:30 PM, the Senate will recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus lunches.
    • At a time to be determined this week, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session for up to 1 hour of debate, equally divided, on Executive Calendar #518, Carol J. Galante, of California, to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Following the use or yielding back of time, the Senate will conduct a ROLL CALL VOTE on confirmation of the nomination (60 votes required).

Senator Reid: (10:02 AM)
  • Spoke on the Cybersecurity bill.
    • SUMMARY "I would just alert everyone to this: I would hope those people led by Senators Lieberman and Senator Collins will work to come up with a finite list of amendments so we can move on to the Cybersecurity bill. I've spoken to the Republican leader yesterday and I'm being really patient trying to get a list of amendments we can agree on. I hope that can be done soon. It is very important that we make a determination whether we're going to be able to get a bill. There's not a lot of time left to tread water, so to speak."
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "There's no question that this bill, signed by President Obama, is landmark. It is a landmark piece of legislation. It signaled an end to insurance company discrimination among many, but especially against those who are ill, against those are preexisting conditions, and especially, against women. As a result of this bill we passed, being a woman is no longer a preexisting disability For many, many years, companies have charged American women higher premiums. Why in because they're women. And for years American women have unfairly borne the burden of high costs of contraception as well. Even women with private insurance often wind up spending hundreds of dollars each year more for birth control. Today women of reproductive age spend two-thirds more out of their own pockets for health care costs than men largely due to the high cost of birth control. But starting tomorrow, no insurance plans must cover contraception. How much? No additional pay at a under health reform, about 47 million women will have additional access to those resources without cost-shank many on the other side have downplayed these benefits or fought to repeal them altogether. Hard to comprehend but true. Forcing American women to - every year - every year millions of women in the United States put off doctors' visits because they can't afford the co-pays. Millions more skip pills or shots to save money Starting tomorrow - again, Wednesday of this week - women will no longer have to reach in their pockets to pay for wellness checkups. They can do screening for diabetes, HPV testing, diabetes screening, all in the law today starting to. All women will have access to all forms of FDA-approved contraception without having to shell out more money on top of their premiums. Any insurance company discrimination will help millions more women afford the care they need when they need t it will restore basic fairness to the health care system. Sometimes the practical thing to do is the right thing to do. That's what the legislation that we worked so hard to pass is all about. It's about doing the right thing for everyone. But today we're going to focus on women."

Senator McConnell: (10:14 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I have listened carefully to the majority leader's speech about what most Americans refer to as Obamacare. I think given the fact that our friends on the other side are going to focus on that bill this particular week, it might be a good idea to have a vote on it on the pending bill. It would be my intent to offer an amendment that I know my friend does not support, but nevertheless many Americans would like to know here ... I think it would be appropriate to have a vote on the repeal of Obamacare. I think it would be good to offer that amendment during the pendency of the bill on cybersecurity which we believe be opening to amendments. I wonder if my friend thinks that might be something both sides would agree would be a good idea?"

Senator Reid: (10:15 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I wonder if the court reporter can state the big smile on my face. Show that. Can you imagine how ridiculous my friend, the republican leader's statement is? Listen to what he said. We're talking about cybersecurity. We talked about the dangers in cybersecurity if we don't do something about it. And he's now telling me that he wants a vote to repeal all the stuff that I just talked about, on cybersecurity? That is very difficult to comprehend. I think we should understand that I don't think a woman getting contraception has a thing to do with shutting down the power grids in America or the financial services in America or our water systems or our sewer systems. That's what cybersecurity is all about. Not whether a woman can have contraception or whether she can have a wellness check to find out she's got cancer from not having had a mammogram."

Senator Durbin: (10:16 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "Do I remember that the very first amendment on the transportation bill was offered by Senator Blunt of Missouri on family planning? Is there a family planning amendment available on every bill now that will be offered by the Republican side? I know the House Republicans have had 33 votes to repeal Obamacare. Are we going to try to match them with similar efforts in the Senate?"

Senator Reid: (10:17 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "Response to my friend is this. I try to be very calm about things in life generally, especially things here on the floor. But I can't remain very calm about this. I have 16 grandchildren. They are evenly divided between boys and girls. I want my granddaughters to be treated so that if they want to go get some-- have some contraceptive device in school I'm bragging about that they got in those schools - they should have the ability to do that. I think as I - I just can't imagine what we're talking about here on the senate floor. Cybersecurity, one of the most important - it's the most important issue, I've already said, dealing with if you want to talk to General Petraeus, he'll tell you what it is. You want to talk to General Demsey, he'll tell you what the important issue is. The number-one issue today is whether we're going to have bad people attack our country and shut it down. Now we're here being asked if we're going to have a vote on cybersecurity, as to whether my grandchildren can have contraception."

Senator McConnell: (10:18 AM)
  • Responded.
    • SUMMARY "I guess the answer is no. My friends are going to spend a week lauding the advantages as they see it of an immensely unpopular bill that was passed a couple of years ago on a straight party-line vote: Obamacare. Yet in a week in which apparently they are going to laud the various provision of it, they're not willing to have a vote in support of it. So I gather that's a vote we will not have. I will request the opportunity to do that again; anticipate listening to my good friend, the majority leader, such a request would likely be blocked."
  • Spoke on the sequester.
    • SUMMARY "For weeks Republicans asked the president to tell the American people how he plans to carry out these cuts. He simply refused to do so. So last week Congress passed legislation requiring him to do so. In fact, it cleared the Senate, I believe, unanimously. Then yesterday there was this, an assistant secretary down at the Department of Labor is now telling people they're under no legal obligation to let employees know if they will lose their jobs as a result of these cuts. We've got an assistant secretary of labor yesterday said employers are under no legal obligation to tell their employees they may lose their jobs as a result of these cuts. In other words, the president is trying to keep those folks in the dark about whether they can expect to lose their jobs or not. Why? Well, I think it's pretty obvious. To insulate himself from the political fallout that will result. The president doesn't want people reading about pink slips in the weeks before his election. So the White House is telling people to keep the effects of these cuts secret - don't tell anybody, he says, keep it a secret - until of course after the election. Once again, the president who holds himself out as a great defender of the middle class and the goals of organized labor is putting his own political goals ahead of hardworking Americans who will be affected by these policies. Rather than let those who will be affected by the cuts know about it, he'll make everybody nervous. For three and a half years - three and a half long years this president has pushed an ideological agenda without regard for the consequences it would have on the very middle class Americans he purports to defend. The president may not want to admit it, but the economic mess we're in is his legacy. His legacy. And after three and a half years of finger pointing, he owes it to the American people to be straight about it."

Jul 31 2012

The Senate Convened.

Jul 31 2012

The Senate is considering S. 3414, the cybersecurity bill.  Republican senators continue to focus on creating jobs, lowering the deficit, reducing gas prices, and replacing the Democrats' health care bill with reforms that will actually lower costs.