Tuesday, Jun. 23, 2015

Senate Opening

Senate Opening

Jun 23 2015 10:01 AM

The Senate convened.

McConnell, Reid

Opening Remarks

Jun 23 2015 10:22 AM

Today –

  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 2146, the legislative vehicle for the Trade Promotion Authority bill, with the time until 11:00 AM equally divided.
  • At 10:30 AM, there is a filing deadline for all second-degree amendments to both H.R. 2146, and H.R. 1295, the preferences and Trade Adjustment Assistance bill.
  • At 11:00 AM, the Senate will VOTE on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 2146.


Senator McConnell: (10:02 AM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "So this is where we are. Let's vote today. Let's vote today to move ahead on T.P.A., an important accomplishment for the country. Then we can vote to move ahead on T.A.A. and AGOA and preferences. And then we can vote to move ahead on customs. If we all keep working together and trusting each other, then by the end of the week the president will have T.P.A., T.A.A., and AGOA and preferences on his desk. With customs in the process of heading his way as well. Today is a very big vote. It's an important moment for the country. It sets in motion the completion of a project we set out on literally months ago. Completing work on all four of the bills reported by the Finance Committee. That is what my friend on the other side said they wanted and that is what can be achieved by continuing to work together."


Senator Reid: (10:08 AM)

  • Spoke on the South Carolina shooting.
    • "The confederate flag has no place in the future of South Carolina. It belongs in the past every place in America, not just South Carolina. Everyone who desires to fly that flag on private property can do so but no state in this great nation should allow this flag to soar above the capitol. We must always stand for what is right. We must stand for equality and justice, to act and defend. We must preserve the rights of every American not because it is the safe thing to do, not because it is popular. We must stand and defend equality and justice because it is the right thing to do. We must take meaningful action to ensure the safety of our citizens."
  • Spoke on gun violence.
    • "Fort Hood, 13 Americans killed. This was on a military base. Tucson, Arizona, six Americans killed. Carson City, Nevada; four Americans killed. Connecticut, 27 Americans dead, 22 innocent little children. Boulder, Colorado - a movie theater - 12 killed. The Navy Yard, here, just a few, maybe a mile from here at the most, here in the District of Columbia, 12 killed. Charleston, South Carolina, of course we know, nine killed. These are not all the violent acts. These are but a handful. All these violent events occurred within the past few years. Our country, the United States, is the only advanced country where this type of mass violence occurs. The only country. Per capita, in America, we kill each other with guns at a rate 297 times higher than Japan, 49 times higher than France, 33 times higher than Israel. In every other country - this is by far, far too much. We can do something about this sad, violent reality. Let's do something. We can expand, for example, background checks for people wanting to buy guns, to prevent a criminal from buying guns. Is that asking too much?"

Hatch, Wyden, Brown

Vehicle for Trade Promotion Authority (H.R. 2146)

Jun 23 2015 11:02 AM

Senator Hatch: (10:18 AM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "Now it is time to finish the work to pass this bill and get it to the president's desk. We need this bill to ensure that our constituents' voices are heard in the trade negotiating process. We need this bill to give our trade negotiators the tools they need to get a good deal. And we need this bill to extend access to foreign markets so we can grow our economy and create good, high-paying jobs here at home. That is what this bill is all about and why we have been working on this process for so long. We're very close to the finish line. We need just one more burst of energy and a few more steps to get us there. I urge all of my colleagues who support free trade, open markets and the advancement of American values and interests abroad to join me once again in supporting T.P.A. and working with me and with my colleague, Senator Wyden, to get all the pending trade bill passed in the Senate and signed into law."


Senator Wyden: (10:25 AM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "In my view, the Congress has an opportunity with this legislation to show that it can work in a bipartisan way to take on one of the premier economic challenges of our time. Our job is to get past the policies of the 1990's and move towards getting trade done right. Colleagues, let's pry open foreign markets and send more of our exports abroad. Let's fight for the American brand and the Oregon brand against the trade cheats and the bad actors who are blocking our way. And let's raise the bar for American values and open up our trade policies to sunlight. I urge all in the Senate to vote "Yes" on cloture today and to support this package as it advances this week and be in effect we get three of the important bills done this week and set in motion the fourth."


Senator Brown: (10:42 AM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "There is no question people lose jobs because of decisions we make. So our answer, anything short of providing for those workers who lose their jobs today - not doing this on a promise. We are basically trusting the majority leader who doesn't really like, I understand, doesn't much like the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. We are relying on the word of Speaker Boehner who doesn't particularly like Trade Adjustment Assistance. We know that most of the members of his party in the House of Representatives don't particularly like Trade Adjustment Assistance. So we are going to rely on their promise - we are voting today on the fly. We are saying to workers in this country, yeah, we've made decisions that may have cost you jobs. We're going to try to help you when you lose that job, but we're still going to go ahead today and do that. That's why I ask my colleagues to vote no on this motion today to invoke cloture on Trade Promotion Authority."

Vote Results (Cloture)

Vehicle for Trade Promotion Authority (H.R. 2146)

Jun 23 2015 11:33 AM

Invoked, 60-37:

Cloture on the motion to concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 2146, the vehicle for the Trade Promotion Authority bill.

The vote results will be posted here within one hour.

McConnell, Brown, Sanders, Cornyn

Vehicle for Trade Promotion Authority (H.R. 2146)

Jun 23 2015 11:47 AM

Senator McConnell: (11:33 AM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "I want to say to our colleagues this this is a very important day for our country. We've demonstrated we can work together on a bipartisan basis to achieve something that is extremely important for America. Not only when we confirm this Trade Promotion Authority will we have the mechanism in place for the president to finalize an extraordinarily important deal with a number of different Asian countries, it will indicate that America is back in the trade business, it will also send a message to our allies that we understand there's somewhat wary about Chinese commercial and potentially military domination and that we intend to still be deeply involved in the pacific."


Senator Brown: (11:35 AM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "While they say it's a net increase in jobs, they also acknowledge that people lose their jobs because of decisions we make. So we make decisions here today that throw people out of work, we know that, across the political spectrum that's acknowledged, but we today don't do anything to help those workers that lose their jobs so we make a decision to throw people in Mansfield, Ohio and Cleveland, Ohio out of work but then we don't take care of those workers that lost their jobs because of our decisions. It's shameful."


Senator Sanders: (11:37 AM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "This trade agreement is supported by Wall Street, by the pharmaceutical industry who want to charge people in poor countries higher prices for the medicine they desperately need. This agreement was opposed by every union in this country, working for the best interests of working families by almost every environmental group and many religious groups. In my view, this trade agreement will continue the policies of NAFTA, CAFTA, permanent normal trade relations with China, agreements that have cost us millions of decent-paying jobs. We need a new trade policy in America, a policy that represents working families and not just the big money interests I strongly disagree with the majority leader who called this a great day for America. It is not a great day. It's a great day for the big money interests, it is not a great day for working families."


Senator Cornyn: (11:37 AM)

  • Unanimous Consent –
  • At 12:30 PM, the Senate recess until 2:15 PM for the weekly caucus luncheons.  
  • At 4:00 PM, the Senate recess until 5:00 PM for an all-senators briefing.
  • (Without objection)  
  • Spoke on trade.
    • "We're not through yet because there are other parts of this trade package that we're going to need to process this week but the promise and commitment we made on this side of the aisle said if our colleagues across the aisle trust us to move through the Trade Promotion Authority bill, we will continue to work with them and keep our commitments to them and hopefully more than just the trust that produces these pieces of legislation will result from this increased confidence and trust in one another. We know we're going to find things we disagree on and we'll fight like cats and dogs when we need to, but when we actually agree on the policy and can find it within ourselves to work together, the American people are the beneficiaries."

Carper, Manchin, Flake

Vehicle for Trade Promotion Authority (H.R. 2146)

Jun 23 2015 12:29 PM

Senator Carper: (11:44 AM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "Most of the Democrats in our country support what their president has proposed, and the Republicans as well. But what we need to do while we move forward with Trade Promotion Authority, we need to keep in mind not everybody will be helped by this, there will be some people that will be disadvantaged. We have an obligation to them, how would we want to be treated if we were in their shoes. There is a sister piece of legislation to go along with Trade Promotion Authority. I would just ask the Republican whip from Texas just to give us some assurance or reassurance to build trust around this issue, when we're contacted by folks around the country today or tomorrow or the next day, what are we going to do to provide assistance to those people who may be disadvantaged because of Trade Promotion Authority and the trade deal that's going to be negotiated? Can you give us some assurance there?"


Senator Manchin: (11:49 AM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "I guarantee you in a developing country, they are not going to be as tough as we are in human rights, on environmental quality that they should be aspiring to. They're not going to be tough on those things. They're trying to build an economy. They're trying to build basically a nation, bring it up. They're going to be a little bit lax on these things. That's unfair competition, which my dad always warned me against. Now, when we talk about European trade, I'm not worried about European trade because they are basically on the same, level playing field that we are. But when you're trying to build a country up, should you sacrifice and tear your country down? Should you give away everything that we have worked hard for and built? Because I want to help these countries. I have not a bit of problem helping the countries. I am not an isolationist. But I basically would have put something in there that would have protected our manufacturing base."


Senator Flake: (12:05 PM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "I'm not a particular fan of Trade Adjustment Assistance. When economies move forward you have dislocations. We can't account for all of them. In fact, we've seen some of the problems with previous T.A.A., I believe some of it went to those who were laid off at Solyndra and with some of these things that had very little to do with trade because the way you seek such assistance, we don't do the best that we could to keep track of where those jobs were lost to. Having said that, we all recognize as the senator from Texas said earlier that it's the price we pay - T.A.A. is the price we pay to get T.P.A. and we recognize that in this body there are compromises that need to be made. That's how we move legislation. And that's how we get important legislation like T.P.A. passed so that we can have more free trade and our economy will benefit because of it."

Ayotte, Donnelly, Gardner, Thune, Hatch, Grassley

Vehicle for Trade Promotion Authority (H.R. 2146)

Jun 23 2015 04:05 PM

Senator Ayotte: (2:15 PM)

  • Spoke on the Internet Tax Freedom Act.
    • "I know in my home state of New Hampshire, where we've chosen not have a sales tax, it would be completely unfair for us to consider passing this proposal, which is a brand-new tax grab that erodes New Hampshire's competitive status of choosing not to have a sales tax, and also the concerns we all should have about a central taxing authority holding all of this private sales information in each of the states and what could be done with that information and how will consumers' information be protected. New Hampshire's reserve did notes and internet retailers can't afford this radical federal invasion of our state, and I hope that my colleagues will see the importance of extending the Internet Tax Freedom Act to encourage job creation. But under no circumstances should the internet tax moratorium be held hostage by a new and invasive sales tax that would not only undo the benefits of the tax moratorium but also burden our small businesses by becoming tax collectors for other states."


Senator Donnelly: (2:30 PM)

  • Spoke on the export-import bank.
    • "The ex-im bank costs zero in taxpayer dollars. In fact, it turns a profit. Since 1992, the bank has returned more than $7 billion in profits to the Treasury. Just last year, $675 million were returned to the Treasury. And the default rate, 0.175%. That's less than one fifth of one percent. That is an effort to manage in a fiscally prudent, fiscally responsible manner. In fiscal 2014, ex-im authorized about $20.5 billion for 346 transactions which contributed to $27.5 billion of U.S. exports and more than 164,000 jobs right here in the United States. These aren't in most part huge corporations. They're small companies that wouldn't be able to find financing elsewhere. In 2014, 90% of the transactions approved by the bank were in support of small businesses. So what happens if ex-im's charter is to expire? It will be forced to shut down. Unwind current obligations, and the loss of future financing could result in a significant amount of business being lost overseas."


Senator Gardner: (2:56 PM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "I urge my colleagues to continue their support for free trade agreements and so that the United States can help grasp the great opportunity that awaits us in the Asia pacific. We've held several hearings over the past couple of months in the Foreign Relations Committee and beyond talking about the benefits of free trade. Last week we were joined by - a couple of weeks ago joined by experts in Asia and economic leaders around this country, all of whom believe that of we have an important role to play until expanding trade and expanding the opportunities that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will lead it to when that agreement comes to this floor, thanks to Trade Promotion Authority. It is an important measure that we must enact. It is an important statement of good faith that the united States truly is interested in the Asia region, the Asia pacific region and making good on our efforts to truly pivot to Asia to rebalance the policy we support that we are making good on our word that we are in the region to stay."


Senator Thune: (3:05 PM)

  • Spoke on the defense appropriations bill.
    • "The authorization act is the first step in a two-step process which has to be followed by the appropriations bill that actually provides the funding. But Democratic leaders and the president, even though many of them supported the defense authorization bill, are upset that government agencies like the E.P.A. and the I.R.S. aren't receiving the Democratic' preferred level of funding. So they've decided to hold appropriations bills hostage in an effort to get what they want. Well, it's unfortunate that Democrats are holding funding for our troops hostage in order to get more funding for the E.P.A. and the I.R.S. If Democrats believe funding levels on appropriations bills are not acceptable, they'll have the opportunity to offer amendments to increase the funding. But in order to do that, they have to allow us to actually proceed to consideration of these bills on the senate floor."


Senator Hatch: (3:21 PM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "Of course, without T.P.A., these two trade agreements, which are among the largest and most ambitious agreements in our nation's history don't stand the chance. T.P.A. gives our negotiators the tools they need to get the best deals possible. T.P.A. gives Congress and our constituents a strong voice in the negotiating process. T.P.A. assures once an agreement is reached our country will be able to deliver on the deal. Utahans depend on international trade. Utah's job creators like those throughout the country need greater access to foreign markets in order to compete. Put simply, they are not going to get that access without T.P.A. So for the sake of the thousands of Utah companies that export goods around the world and tens of thousands of Utahans whose jobs depend on those exports and for really hundreds of thousands of companies all over this country, and more, I urge my colleagues to join me one more time in supporting our T.P.A. legislation."


Senator Grassley: (3:42 PM)

  • Spoke on the REACH Act.
    • "I'm introducing called the Rural Emergency Acute Care Hospital Act. And for purposes of shortening the name of that legislation, it has the acronym, REACH, so I'm going to refer to it as the REACH Act. Since January 2010, 55 rural hospitals closed their doors. So you can see in the years that we have listed here, it adds up to 55 hospitals. Now, even more troubling is that the pace of rural hospital closures appear to be accelerating. Again, as you can see in the chart, the number of hospital closures has increased very definitely over the last five years. These closures are creating a health care crisis for hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country. The REACH Act will create a new rural hospital model under Medicare that will enable struggling rural hospitals to keep their doors open and maintain the most critical hospital service emergency medicine. When a rural hospital closes, the community loses the lifesaving capability of the emergency room. According to the national conference on state legislatures, 60% of trauma deaths in the United States occur in rural areas. After a traumatic event, access to an emergency room within one hour can make a big difference between life and death."

Baldwin, Capito, Moran

Vehicle for Trade Promotion Authority (H.R. 2146)

Jun 23 2015 06:10 PM

Senator Baldwin: (5:02 PM)

  • Spoke on the Veterans Administration.
    • "I hope I speak for all of us when I say that there is no room for politics when it comes to ensuring that our nation's veterans receive the timely, safe, and highest quality care that they have earned. Our legislation takes steps to give veterans and their families a stronger voice in their care by strengthening opioid prescribing guidelines and other measures. It works to improve coordination and communication throughout the V.A. and puts in place stronger oversight and accountability for the quality of care that we're providing our veterans. Our goal is simple - put these bipartisan reforms in place to prevent tragedies like Jason's from occurring to other veterans and their families."


Senator Capito: (5:11 PM)

  • Spoke on the Veterans Administration.
    • "This bill reforms the overreliance on painkillers by the V.A. while ensuring that veterans receive appropriate medication. This legislation not only updates and strengthens the guidelines for opioid prescriptions, but it expands the scope of research, delivery and integration of alternative pain management. Chronic pain should not be something that our veterans are forced to live with and the V.A. must be on the cutting edge of developing effective pain management. This bill will elevate the role of patient advocates. Like I'm sure Jason's wife was a great patient advocate. Require community meetings hosted by the V.A. and establish a joint D.O.D.-V.A. Working group to improve coordination and communication at all levels of government."


Senator Moran: (5:37 PM)

  • Spoke on cyber security.
    • "These hearings matter, and the information that we are gardening and attempting to garner is important for those who are employees of the federal government. They need to know what has transpired so they can better protect themselves where they are at risk because of these hacks, and secondly, and perhaps more importantly, we need to know what has transpired here, what processes need to be in place to prevent additional challenges to our information technology because it's a matter of our national security. For the sake of our feral employees and their well-being, but also for the sake of American citizens and our national security, this is not an issue that have the opportunity to avoid. Answers need to be forthcoming and decisions need to be made system-wide, not just at O.P.M. but throughout the entire federal government as we work to protect those who work for the federal government and as we work to protect the American citizens from a national security perspective."

Wrap Up (The Senate Stands Adjourned)

Wrap Up

Jun 23 2015 06:17 PM

Tomorrow –

  • The Senate will convene at 9:30 AM.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of H.R. 2146, the legislative vehicle for the Trade Promotion Authority bill, post-cloture.
  • At approximately 5:30 PM, absent an agreement, all post-cloture time on H.R. 2146 will expire.
  • Note: The amendment tree is filled with respect to H.R. 2146.