Floor Updates

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Jan 28 2015 9:30 AM

The Senate convened.

McConnell, Durbin

Opening Remarks

Jan 28 2015 9:53 AM

Today -
  • Following the leaders' remarks, the Senate will be in morning business for one hour, with Republicans controlling the first half and Democrats controlling the second half. 
  • At approximately 10:50 AM, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 1, the Keystone XL Pipeline approval bill. 
  • At 2:30 PM, the Senate will conduct up to 18 roll call VOTES on the following amendments to S. 1: 
  1. Cardin Amendment #75 (drinking water);
  2. Peters Amendment #70 (PHMSA certification re: Great Lakes);
  3. Sanders Amendment #23 (solar rebates);
  4. Cruz Amendment #15 (expedited LNG exports);
  5. Merkeley Amendment #125 (tax increases; infrastructure);
  6. Moran Amendment #73 (lesser prairie chicken);
  7. Whitehouse Amendment #148 (campaign finance disclosures);
  8. Daines Amendment #132 (Sense of Congress re: designation of National Monuments);
  9. Coons Amendment #115 (sense of Congress re: climate and infrastructure);
  10. Collins Amendment #35 (energy retrofitting assistance for schools);
  11. Carper Amendment #120 (new fuel cell motor vehicle tax credits/fueling stations);
  12. Murkowski Amendment #166 (wilderness study areas);
  13. Heitkamp Amendment #133 (sense of Congress re: renewable energy tax credits);
  14. Cantwell (for Gillibrand) Amendment #48 ("underground injection" definition);
  15. Murkowski (for Barrasso) Amendment #245 (no effect on Indian treaties);
  16. Cardin Amendment #124 (no effect on Indian treaties);
  17. Daines Amendment #246 (sense of Congress re:  Land and Water Conservation Fund); and
  18. Burr Amendment #92, as modified (Land and Water Conservation Fund).
  • Note: All the above amendments are subject to a 60-vote affirmative threshold.
Senator McConnell: (9:32 AM)
  • Spoke on the Keystone XL Pipeline.
    • SUMMARY "Constructing this infrastructure project would pump literally billions of dollars into our economy. It would support thousands of jobs, and it would do all with minimal environmental impact. That's according to what we've heard from the president's own State Department. So it just makes sense to get this bipartisan legislation to the president for his signature. We hope he will sign the keystone jobs bill into law. The president should expect more good ideas to head his way. That's the goal of this new Congress. We want to get Washington functioning again, and we want to pass commonsense ideas."
  • Spoke on education.
    • SUMMARY "I am certainly glad to see President Obama's dropped his plan to make it harder for the middle class to save for college with 529's. I fought to ensure these plans were tax free at the federal level. Thanks to this incentive to save millions, literally millions of Americans use 529's to help prepare for college expenses. These are good plans and promote responsible savings. I'm not sure why President Obama would have sought to undermine them in the first place, but it's certainly good to see the president coming around to Republicans' pro-middle class view on this matter."
Senator Durbin: (9:35 AM)
  • Spoke on the Department of Homeland Security. 
    • SUMMARY "The House Republicans' message to the Senate is very straightforward. Accept our controversial immigration amendments or we will shut down the Homeland Security Department. That's the height of irresponsibility. Now is not the time to play politics with Homeland Security. Just this weekend, the world witnessed another horrible terrorist act, the beheading of a Japanese hostage by the terrorist group ISIS. In light of the terrorist threat that we currently face, it would be the height of irresponsibility to shut down the Department of Homeland Security as threatened by the House Republicans. That's one of the key government agencies charged with protecting Americans. Today I'm calling on the Senate majority leader for a clean appropriation bill that we move forward on the calendar this morning. Let's pass this bill. Let's make sure that we do it in a timely way."

Barrasso, Moran, Blumenthal, Menendez

Keystone XL Pipeline Approval (S. 1)

Jan 28 2015 11:00 AM

Senator Barrasso: (9:51 AM)
  • Spoke on the Keystone XL Pipeline. 
    • SUMMARY "Under Republican leadership, the Senate is working again for the American people and the best example of that is the bill we're considering right now in the Senate on the Keystone X.L. Pipeline project. The Obama administration has blocked and delayed this job-creating project for six years. Now, Republicans are moving forward. We're moving it forward as well. We've had an open debate on the bill and we've allowed amendments to the bill. Imagine that. We're actually debating legislation on the floor of the Senate and senators are actually offering amendments to that bill."
  • Spoke on energy. 
    • SUMMARY "This is an idea that has bipartisan support in the Senate as well. So it should be a no-brainer. Plans to send American energy overseas are wrapped up in Washington red tape. And Americans who are eager for the jobs on these projects continue to wait. This bipartisan bill will do a lot to fix that problem. It would set clear deadlines for Washington to make timely decisions on these import permit and export permits, important permits to export liquefied natural gas. Once there is an agreement an appropriate environmental tree view, the secretary of energy will have 45 days to act on a permit application. Increasing American natural gas exports would do three important things. It would create jobs, that of course is number one and most important. These are American jobs, jobs for Americans, the private sector wants to create these jobs, not government jobs, private sector jobs. Second thing, it would help to reduce our nation's trade deficit. And the trade deficit currently stands at $39 billion. The third thing is that these exports would support our American allies."
Senator Moran: (10:17 AM)
  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • SUMMARY "The fair tax repeals all federal corporate and individual taxes, payroll taxes and state and gift taxes and replaces them with a revenue neutral personal consumption tax. The fair tax allows Americans to keep the entirety of their income, putting individuals in charge of their own finances, not the government or more specifically not the Internal Revenue Service. All Americans should be able to trust the I.R.S. which exercised great authority over the lives of Americans in this country, but we know from past experiences that expectation is no longer founded. And so getting rid of the Internal Revenue Service is a significant benefit that comes from the passage of the fair tax. I recognize that consumption taxes can be regressive, meaning they are harmful to those at lower income levels, and so the fair tax takes that into account by providing a rebate, a rebate for those who fall below certain poverty income levels so that the basics, the things that we by necessity need to buy in our individual daily lives are not covered by a tax."
Senator Blumenthal: (10:27 AM)
  • Spoke on the Department of Homeland Security. 
    • SUMMARY "My hope is that we will debate immigration policy, that we will approve an immigration reform bill that it will be on a bipartisan basis, just as it was during the last session. That there will be a lot of good-faith disagreement on the floor of this chamber about those policies and about the president's action. But that we will keep the lights on at the Department of Homeland Security, that we will shine the light on threats to our security that need to be exposed and pursued, that we will further the security of this nation and protect the public by making sure that the D.H.S. funding as a clean bill is approved right away and that we move forward to make sure that D.H.S. continues its vital service to the American people."
Senator Menendez: (10:40 AM)
  • Spoke on the Department of Homeland Security. 
    • SUMMARY "It's a fool's political errand that is neither good policy nor particularly humane. Our friends on the other side have accepted these anti-immigrant poison pill amendments knowing full well they will sink the Department of Homeland Security funding bill because they've allowed extremists like Steve king to dictate the party's strategy on immigration. Let's not continuously go down that dark path of partisanship instead of funding national security programs to keep our families and our communities safe. In my view, it is shamefully and woefully irresponsible for Republicans to hold up funding for operations that protect every American against terrorism in the wake of what happened in France and against cyber attacks at a time when North Korea has just carried out a dramatic attack against a major American corporation."