tv U.S. Senate CSPAN June 14, 2011 9:00am-12:00pm EDT
to the current case even though all of you were talking in the great terms of watergate and teapot dome and all of which i've reviewed in preparation for today. in this case, if i understand correctly, fast and furious starts off with charges against a murderer who shot and killed brian terry and the people involved. the weapons that happen to have been weapons that were allowed to walk under fast and furious, is there any conceivable way if we're not talking to the murder suspect or people involved that we're touching that investigation? do you believe that we're by not looking at that at all, but rather, looking at the actions of high-ranking federal officials, mostly here in washington at atf and justice, that we in any way are close to allowing a murderer of a law enforcement agent to walk? ..
communicating steadily to justice. on the other hand, what i liked the questions answered here, it's become this committee's view that the decision process leading to many of the actions taken under fast and furious well above the level of the phoenix district office or the u.s. attorney there is, in fact, what we believe is flawed, ill-conceived and covered and potentially covered up. that's what we are investigating. that would seem to be the question for all of you. i want to get your answer. they have asserted we are in the way of some meth addicts who got $200 again who are being charged in a murder, and they're saying our investigation of their decision process in fast and furious, talking about officials here in washington involved, that the two are connected. you see any connection, mr. rosenberg? >> i think that what you are
doing at, strategy, your methods, operational weaknesses, and this is well within the investigative authority of committees. that's what they're supposed to do. you fund these programs, and empower them, to those sorts of things. what you're looking at now is right in the wheelhouse of mcgrain. look at how they define, you know, what it was that was being looked at and what was appropriate. and how they were operating, what decisions they made, where the decisions good or bad. and at that particular point, there was nothing that would taint those what went on. it's very much like what you
look at in 2002. trying to find out who knew what, how high it went, and how we can change it. another, you know, investigation that i helped out on was john dingell's investigation of the environmental crimes section of doj between 1992-1994. they involved a centralization of environmental crimes, prosecution decisions in main justice, win at the same time they would be centralizing almost all other criminals in investigations at that time. and the committee looked at that, was strenuously opposed by not only the justice department, but groups outside, former attorneys general. but zero wing and on what was
going on, what was the effect of those kind of decisions, organizational decisions, ultimately won the day. the policy was reversed many of the people in environmental crimes section had to resign or were fired. and everything was put right. >> thank you. mr. cummings. >> i want to thank all of you. this is, as eleanor, i tell you, this is an interesting discussion or and as an officer of the court, i wholeheartedly agree with the chairman that i, too, and i think everybody on this side of the aisle wants to make sure that anyone who is responsible for brian terry's death to be prosecuted. i think it would be a sin and
shame if that did not happen. and it is in that vein that i am posing these questions. now, professor tiefer, i've contended that both executive branch and congress have legitimate inches, justice department is trying to prosecute alleged murderers and gun traffickers. as a matter fact, come june 17 someone will be on trial with regard to the murder of brian kelly -- terry, i'm sorry. and we are trying to investigate allegations of abuse and mismanagement within the same agencies. i think we should be able to achieve both goals, and i think you talk about negotiations. i just think we have an interest in achieving both.
i agree that congress has the authority to investigate. we can issue subpoenas. we can demand documents, and we can have depositions. but we have exercised that authority responsibly, especially when these are, and there are open criminal cases ongoing. i'd like to ask you about some steps of the committees have taken in the past to avoid compromising ongoing prosecutions. first, the department has raised serious questions with some of the documents covered by the committee's subpoena. according to the department, they may include records that, and this is the department now, they say they may identify individuals who are assisting in the investigation, that identify sources and investigative techniques, that represent risk to individuals safety, and that prematurely inform subjects and targets about their investigation in the matter that permits them to obstruct our
prosecutorial efforts. my question is not whether we have a right to these documents. we already have some of them. my question is whether we should entertain a request from the department to talk to them before we release them publicly, assuming they have not already been released publicly. >> thank you for your question. mr. cummings. by the way, slight detour. i mentioned that mostly chair is when i talked about these past investigations. the ranking member with dick cheney, i don't know if you quite see him as your sort of model, but i will say that -- >> i do. [laughter] >> i will remain silent on that one. >> anyway, i gave the iran-contra committee many examples going full speed ahead.
at the other end, i decided the ad scam committee in my memo. and that was a committee which said we need to be extremely cautious. we don't want to get in the way we are going to asking for nerve center testimony at the heart, and so they held off. they had a discussion to talk about and he decided with the justice department to behaving properly and respectfully toward the committee, telling it what there was. they decided that they would wait until the trials were over. i mentioned that because that was an fbi informant investigation, because of the way abscam had been done. and just like the atf investigation, something important for congress to do. i have said that what i think is the justice department should be starting by providing more documents, allowing better examination and privilege laws.
and i think then the discussion that you're saying is very important before things are released would be on the basis that the committee should pursue. >> let me ask you this because i only have a limited amount of time. assumed the decisions to release these documents ultimately rests with the committee, do you think it would be prudent to give the department and opportunity to warn us if a public release could put people in danger and impair their investigation? let me make it clear. i said brian kelly and i met brian terry. >> i will be brief, given the timeline. yes, it is prudent and open? situation that the committee will hear from the justice department before making it public. >> as i listen to you it seems like i'm always reminded of this book, the speed of trust. it talks about how important it is, and he talks about how important it is to establish a trusting relationship.
and it sounds like what you're saying is you must have to have some trust going on here to get to the point of negotiations, that is between the committee and the justice department it is that a reasonable conclusion? >> i certainly think the justice department should try hard to earn the committees trust, but yes, it has a relationship of trust. >> just one more question, mr. chairman. i don't see any harm in taking this debt. our decision is better informed in the task and have other committees sought the department before releasing documents public we? >> very much so. >> i didn't hear you. >> guess. before releasing documents publicly, if there's a stated justice department concerned there has been this consultation about how the committee which has the authority to decide should exercise that authority.
yes. >> my time has expired. thank you. >> no problem. the gentleman from utah, mr. chaffetz for five minutes. >> thank you all for being here. if a president and/or and attorney general states that mistakes were potentially made, that something went awry, does that give the committee and added need or imperative to pursue these documents? does that add weight to the idea that they should be producing these documents? >> i think when you look at the department of government, interior, all the other commerce departments can be looked at by the justice department. who looks after the justice department. i think when you have reason to believe there's mismanagement inside the justice department to leave that to the justice department is not acceptable to me. so i think that's been a
concern. there's one department where you do not want mismanagement and abuse is the justice department. and i think your committee has every right to find out exactly what the conditions are. >> but is that hiding from the fact that if the attorney general and/or the president were to state that yes, something went awry there, does that give us more imperative to pursue those documents and comply with -- >> i think that does justify your inquiry, yes. >> congressman, if i could -- i disagree with mr. fisher but the concern at least one could envision in a situation like that, the way i would answer your question is no, i don't think it changed the calculus one iota in either direction. which is to say you do not want to find the committees position where they start to set a standard where you begin to suggest that only in circumstances where there is an admission, does congress is right kicked in, or and when i get very, in my work, is it not
true that congress can only investigate waste, fraud, and abuse? no, you're not limited, at least not from a legal perspective. i can understand the question from perhaps a political one, which is you might have an easier time selling the committee's actions publicly, or justifying the committees time in a public setting under the circumstances. but i would caution against anybody thinking that it changes your legal rights or authoriti authorities. >> but that doesn't diminish them at all. >> absolutely. >> what is the remedy? the department of justice, we're not going to do this, what's the remedy? what's the next step? >> go ahead, mr. fisher. >> not going to turn over documents? >> they continue to refuse to comply with the subpoena. what's the remedy? >> next up, and it's taken me time, is of course contempt citation. and has to go to the floor of
either chamber. and not too many people like to be held in contempt of congress, and that's -- the administration should do everything it can to avoid that step, not already because of your experience with your subpoena, you are thinking in that direction. but that's the last step. >> anybody else care to comment on that? >> i think it's exactly that, the other remedy is for the negotiations are further -- >> wait, why should the committee have to negotiate? >> i think contempt is a big escalation and a big step forward, both politically and i think definitely legally. it involves as lou mentioned -- >> we didn't have a diminish. >> agreed, congress and. it's not a rights question, but escalating it to the level of owning an executive branch
official and content which in this case i think would be the acting director of atf who is officially the person under subpoena, if i understood the chairman's documents, that has only happened 12 times in history of this country, and/or three times has he gone to the full floor of the house of representatives. the other nine have only been committee or subcommittee votes. that is a pretty big escalation by the house against the executive branch official. certainly a justifiable one but it is a big one. >> let me give an example, and hope -- help you in your question. in one of the iterations of whitewater, this committee, once again, the chairman was mr. klinger, went after the white house counsel, jack quinn, who was the holder of -- the custodian of the documents that
the committee was going after. and the president never claimed executive privilege. but alluded to it and kept putting it off. and at one point made a conditional claim of executive privilege, depending on x, y and z. well, the committee got fed up and what they did with schedule, schedule a contempt vote for two weeks hence. actually, they had already contacted -- contented quinn discusses the floor on the house two weeks hence. and within a two-week period, the documents were all turned over. so, that kind of an opportunity, it's what we call a staged
process, which i believe that investigative oversight is. so from one point of persuasion to the next to the next to the next. and what's happened over the last 15, 20 years is we skipped the threats, you know, i subpoena and then subpoena mean and the threats of content. and then holding contempt over somebody's head. jack quinn did not want to be held in contempt. >> and, mr. chairman, my time has expired but from my vantage point nobody wants to have to go to this step. but here you have in this particular case a president and an attorney general who are both claiming to be oblivious to what was going on, which i think weighs in on the issue of executive privilege. but -- >> as that's what the recent case law says. >> the gentleman's time has expired spent and i yield back.
>> i thank the gentleman. the gentleman from virginia. there will be a second and for those who can stay. mr. kohn like. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for having to think that it is an intellectual feast because this is where the tectonic plates between the two branches come together. and we either collide or we generally subside. so it's a fascinating topic. let me ask, mr. tatelman, is it your view that congress has unfettered right access to information it requires or believes it requires a respective of the judicial consequence? something is under, adjudication, or a criminal trial, that is all fastening but that has nothing to do with exercise of congress is absolute right to access information it seeks. is that your position? >> absent some countervailing constitutionally-based claim,
yes. >> an absolute right to? >> just. >> is that your position, professor tiefer? >> i find in the supreme court's opinions that where, what, where the persuasive opinion of justice brennan and hutchison versus united states said was that if there was an immediate painting trial, -- painting trial that he would hope they would be something other than an interference with that trial by the congressional committee. so, in other words, the judicial position is that there should be some -- i'm hesitant to you'd -- use the word accommodation but they should be something other than a congressional committee proceedings full speed ahead without thinking about the consequences. >> but to his credit
mr. tatelman does not quibble. is an absolute right as he reads the constitution, while the late supreme court justice brennan may wish for consideration on our part, the constitution doesn't mandate it. as a matter-of-fact mr. tatelman's reading of the constitution is that's all in the fine print but we can't come if we wish, choose to ignore the consequences even if it's pending litigation over criminal trial. is that your reasoning as well, or deeply that really or that opinion by mr. brennan put some check and balance on the otherwise unfettered right of congress to seek information from the executive branch? >> i think what's being said is that the court would do what it was, was within its power if the congress ran roughshod over, in the case of an immediately, that's the phrase in the case,
immediately pending trial. >> thank you. let me ask. let's deal with a hypothetical here. well, let's not deal with a hypothetical. let's deal with the example that chairman katie about oliver north. refresh my memory but if this sequence is right, oliver north was indicted and convicted in a court of law at a crime. >> correct. >> that conviction he appealed, and subsequently the appeal was successful, in part because of what was perceived to be compromised -- compromise testimony here in the congress, is that correct? >> more narrowly and i think the statement by the chairman was correct on this point, on the issue of immunity, the obtaining of the court immunity order, that was the basis on which the appeal was successful. >> okay, fair enough. here's my hypothetical. what if somebody in congress or whole bunch of people in
congress at that time decided willfully to taint his testimony in order to ensure subsequently that he could not be found guilty, or that an appeal would be successful, that was a deliberate strategy here in the congress. if mr. tatelman is correct, his interpretation of the constitution, even the u.n. might -- you and i might agree that is wrong morally, it is nonetheless the right of congress to do that, is that you're having? >> i don't think -- welcome i -- >> i'm just following the logic here. >> there is a lot out there. >> excuse me, this is my time, sir. if we have, as mr. talbott said, and unfettered absolute right for information of the executive branch in respect of the consequences want us to stop in and by the congress, not like this one, but one that might be more politically motivated to
deliberately taint the outcome of a pending criminal trial. you look like you're ready to answer, mr. fisher. >> i would say on the absolute right i think you have to establish a committee chaired legitimate inquiry, and i think you do. there are some increase which i don't think would be legitimate, perhaps going into some individuals employee and executive branch, private file and so forth. so have to establish some legitimate business. >> mr. chairman, i know i'll have another chance and thank you. i would simply say to you the constitution does not say that. it doesn't talk about legitimate. >> we'll come back to it in my next round. thank you. >> i look forward to. the gentlelady from new york. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you for calling this hearing. thank you this afternoon to our panelists for being here. congress and the american people have a right to know how their money is being spent. and one of the panelists mentioned the american people lose when we we don't get information when we are seeking. so this is a very important
inquiry. i just have one question and then i'm going to yield my time back to the chairman for any further questions he might have. i'd like to ask each one of the panelists, if you look at the circumstances in this case, is there any reason why the department of justice should not comply with our request? start with mr. rosenberg and go right down. and i think that's just a yes or no answer. >> from all that i know, what's in the papers that i received an looking at, there's nothing yet that would dissuade me from saying that they should comply. >> thank you. mr. tatelman? >> i would be even more cautious than that. i think when you phrase the question as you have, congresswoman, it's complicated. i think there may be -- in other words, we don't know enough as well as other public or as they somewhat we have seen thus far, i mean, i wouldn't feel comfortable answering that
question either way. i don't have enough information to know for sure whether there's something lurking out there that might give them a more legitimate reason they somewhat have asserted thus far its article but there may be things out there and maybe other information that we're just simply not aware of yet. >> thank you. doctor fisher? >> you are just getting into some documents, some access we don't have a full picture but you have enough of a picture i believe that there is at least concerning of mismanagement and possible abuse, and i think that the department of justice would be very wise to work with your committee and otherwise it can be easily interpreted of some kind of obstruction to make sure that interesting information does not come to light. >> thank you, dr. fisher. >> as things stand now they owe you the documents. it's their job to make a record that would support keeping anything back, and so far they haven't set out to make such a
case. >> thank you and i yield my time back to the chairman. >> thank you. mr. tiefer, you sort of gave the answer i was hoping my follow-up on. what you said earlier, and i think what you repeated here, i want you to elaborate on, when we asked a question, we can, in fact, be unreasonable in our broadness, it can happen because we don't know what we don't know. ultimately the negotiation that i think we're talking about earlier is about telling us why our discovery is overly broad, making the case for what we don't need, or we may consider narrowing. and then as i think you are saying, make the case for what not being delivered for some specific reason, i've it is imprudent which is our decision, or it's constitutionally protected, which is their decision and the responsibility to assert. would that sort of summarize your position?
>> yes, mr. chairman. >> i want to go quickly to mr. connolly's statement though, which i think mr. tatelman, you got the bullet on. the 27th amendment exists because at the founding of our country they were very afraid that congress would raid the treasury, isn't that true? that's what we are not allowed to raise our own day, arbitrarily during the term. >> in part, yes, absolutely. >> the reason it got past 200 years late was the american people objected to a pay raise that congress gave itself enough to put it over the top, having sort of lingered out there for all those years and that's your recollection? >> i believe it was the stated mission finally came around and provide the necessary last votes, just. >> by the way, i approve of the amendment, albeit the less. but let's go back to mr. connolly's statement. if, in fact, we were arbitrary, capricious, let's say we are trying to cover up joe smith, a
congressman's wrongdoing, buy anything with the actual prosecution, defend our speaker john smith. wouldn't the court reasonably take an objection from the administration, from the attorney general, and consider it as its obligation to balance as every get as much as it would balance the executive branch, wrongful assertions? isn't that the role of the court? >> yes, mr. chairman, but also more it's the role of all of your respective constituents if they believe the congress has gone far beyond what is reasonable or what is prudent, as you put it. the remedy -- but any particular case at hand, yes, in part it's the courts good anna ballis but in part it's also, congress and executive come all three branches in some sense working together. i think the question that i was responding to was nearly phrase with respect to congress is right think --
>> and i agree. mr. fisher, if you could respond and in our time is up. >> you mention how a court would decide. i think in the interest of your committee and congress, and the administration, not to go in that direction, no one knows what a court will do. you don't know who will be selected. you don't know what the result is why think both branches should figure out politically what accommodation meets your mutual interests. >> i agree with you it's better to rely on case law than to try to make it. with that we recognize the taliban from oklahoma for five minutes. >> thank you very much, and thanks for being here to have his testimony. it's important to us. operation fast and furious utilize a lot of components of the doj including domestic intelligence operations. public intelligence and responsibly. historically congressional investigations cover all levels of doj officials and a place on the attorney general and his subordinate lien personnel. what has been the scope of pass congressional inquiries in the doj? can you define that? are we within the scope at all
to be able to ask questions of doj? is there a legitimate reason for doj to withhold documents information, information in your own personal perspective? anyone can answer that. i will let you just jump in as you choose to. >> if we point to even one single house investigation, it was called the superfund investigation 1982-1983. in which the house did overcome a claim of executive privilege for investigation at the justice department and there was a follow-up house judiciary committee investigation. it look at the criminal possession get a look at the civil division and look at the land division. i don't think that there's an office -- this committee held janet reno herself in content. nothing is off limits. >> thank you. >> i would agree that justice department is not immune from
these investigations at all. i think all of us have given an example in a statement are very detailed on that. >> thank you. >> look at ruby ridge which dealt with the killings of that, were investigated and the investigations of four or five different agencies, including justice department with regard to whether there was inappropriate, unicom activity with respect to the rules of engagement, et cetera. and the senate committee got all those documents, and this is the most sensitive part of doj, the professional. >> all these things are very sensitive and very delicate but there is a reasonable role for oversight in this committee to be able to engage in the oversight. let me ask it in a separate way.
and the privacy act, exception for congressional committees, do you know the reason the doj can't voluntarily present documents if they chose to? is not necessary from a subpoena or to push them but to be able to sake in the voluntary disclose these things and say, you know, there's a letter that's been given, i want to engage in this to help in anyway i can. do you know any reason why they could just voluntary do this? >> the privacy act says that documents that privacy, that cover documents shall be available to all joint committees, committees and subcommittees. i don't see why giving it to a
joint committee, committee or subcommittee can't be done voluntarily. >> anyone else might comment on that? >> yes. there are some nearly limited grounds in which the justice department can't on its own provide document. grand jury documents they have to have a court order for. income tax returns, there's some very narrow specifications about what can be provided. outside of those narrow grounds, the answer is they can provide voluntarily. >> okay. with that i would yield back. >> thank you. you know, earlier there was discussion about the u.s. attorneys? , the firing of the u.s. attorneys. i sat on judiciary here, so i remember it very well. i want to get into that for just a moment. the administration claimed that have absolute right to hire and fire u.s. attorneys, and that was, in fact, confirmed. and yet we went forward with
investigation because we were trying to get to the bottom of whether or not one the more of those individuals was fired for reasons related to the performance of their duty. in other words, to thwart prosecutions, to protect political friends of the administration and so on. wouldn't that be the best example of legitimate overseeing, not just of u.s. attorneys and the attorney general, but even of the administration because they questioned the president as to whether or not he had the authority to fire without a review of whether that firing was for some other reason other than constitutional right. mr. fisher? >> i think is a very powerful case because i can't imagine anything more dangerous than for the justice department to use u.s. attorneys in a partisan way. that was the issue. that was a terrifying moment, and congress had every right to find out -- i don't think congress ever got as much information was needed to understand what actually went on and there was no accountability
from the president to the ag on them. no one seemed to know exactly who did what. >> professor tiefer, did you have anything else on that? >> that was indeed a very strong strong reason to do that oversight. >> with that i think we're ready for a second round. zip ty just talked i will hold my for a moment and go to the ranking member. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i'd like to ask the witnesses about the status of the c.r. compares to other historical precedents. on march 16, 2011, chairman issa committed this investigation by writing to atf to provide a wide range of document. certainly we had right to do so. these included memoranda, reports, e-mails and other key medications relating to the death of brian terry, fast and furious and other related conflict. the letter requested all doctors
be produced within two weeks by march 30, 2011. when we did not receive the documents the chairman issued a unilateral subpoena for these documents the next day on march the 31st, 2011. there was no committee business meeting, debate or vote on the subpoena. but professor tiefer, before today were you aware that the chairman -- chairman issa subpoena came only 15 days after his original request for documents? were you aware of that? >> the answer is no, i hadn't gotten that. >> and the majority staff memo for this hearing states that after the subpoena was issued, and i quote, doj's subsequently refused to produce documents responsive to the subpoena. but the department in fact have produced to the committee or made available to the committee, staff, approximately 1336 pages
of subpoena documents to date. professor tiefer, were you aware of that fact? >> my sense is that you say they produce documents responsive is widely to say they didn't produce other documents, and that was my sense, yes. there was a mixture including withholding of important documents. >> so, professor tiefer, your testimony assumes that the department has asserted executive privilege to withhold documents. before today you are aware that the department has not asserted any kind of executive privilege or withheld any documents to the committee, is that right? >> that is correct, and i would expand on that. i believe in as much interplay, not just negotiating but, frankly, finding between the committee and the justice department before taking the
ultimate step. one of the steps is to force, and this has worked in the past and people at this table have been with me in this, forced executive branch to say we're going to claim executive privilege or we're not going to claim executive privilege. and at this point they haven't been put to that. >> now, if they are still, let's say we have a situation where justice is trying to pull together the documents and gather responsive documents based on protocols agreed to by the committee, but have not completed that process, and is acting in good faith, a little earlier you talked about privilege law. at what point does the law come up? i mean, if they are still trying to get the documents, at what point does the law come up? is that a little premature?
because it seems to me you've got to figure out what you have in response to the request, the subpoena, and then it seems to me that then you've got to make a list of documents that, you know, you don't think should be submitted. and so that's basically what the law is about, is that right? >> on the one hand that's certainly been the way the justice department has done in the past and our efforts to wean it off of that process haven't succeeded. i've often wished that instead they would turn over the things that are not privileged as they come across them, and only log the things that they're withholding. but you're right, the process has been the way you are saying. they want to have them all before they decide what they're going to claim. >> so let me make sure i understand this. you think they should turn over all the documents and say look, give us back these? that's not what you think, is it? is that what you're saying?
>> let me put you this way because i was at both ends of this process. i represent the house of representatives when we have it incomes up years and they were not willing to sit and wait. they went to the important ones. but when the shoe is on their foot, then they want to count all the documents before they decide which to claim privilege on and that has been their traditional way through all administration. >> right now i guess you are aware the department is now conducting the searches with 19 officials approved by the committee staff. you are aware of that, right? >> i believe it, having gotten a subpoena, they would be in big trouble if they work. >> but you said something very interesting. you said that you believe it has to be a fight. is that what you said? you don't usually hear that word in this committee. >> yes, there have to be a fight. this is not a love making process.
[laughter] spent we are doing really well there, allies you. finally, i found out that we are doing our job right up your. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. mr. lankford? >> thank you. i have one quick statement and i would like to yield time to the chairman after that but my statement would be, justice department informed the committee on may the second that they would make 400 pages of documents available. when the staff went to go view those documents, they were heavily redacted. is it appropriate, i'm going to ask this to dr. fisher, is it appropriate for doj to redacted documents sometimes heavily, page after page after page in response to a subpoena? >> i don't think it's appropriate and i think it sends the wrong signal that it looks like there's some things they don't want you to see. so, if they're trying to establish the bona fides, that's a good way to do it spent hundreds of pages of dr. stone
help to be able to count that, they turn over hundreds of pages when they're all heavily redacted at that point. at that point i will yield back to the chairman. >> i will follow-up on a good line of questioning. as all of you i think know, the only discovery that's been literally handed over to us was all 100% available on the internet. so it was public record. and i know sometimes even public record can be sensitive but not in this case. however, the question i think for everyone's edification of your comment in camera review is historically and most kimmel -- criminal cases, civil case so people can see with no reduction, of course they don't get to take it with them. is that your understanding of what is normally appropriate when you don't deliver something and yet you bring them in for breaking and in camera review so you can then decide how to solomon -esque, split the baby and have? >> i think it's inconsistent if it's intimidation able to see the documents.
>> i guess i'm getting pretty much yes is from everyone. professor tiefer, you talk about the long history you have of knowing how justice does business both sides. i certainly remember when they raided william jefferson's office without notice, and took at gunpoint everything they wanted. that certainly was not showing any difference or negotiation with the speaker work with our constitutional separation. are we doing something similar here from which you can see? >> i think there was no deference whatsoever in that process, that it was a series of front to the separation of powers, and one can argue the margins here but whether the proper process could be stretched out a little more or not but there's no comparison you are respecting the separation of powers much more than they did in the jefferson raid. >> no, for the record, i would like to mention that ranking
member grassley, senator grassley had been requesting these documents and went in our possession a letter saying they wouldn't give it to him because he wasn't the chairman. he had been requesting them since january, or even before, but certainly formally since january but i want to be on the record that yes, we did, mr. cummings, we did only allow two weeks but we allow two weeks because they basically said we have the documents, we just won't get into you because you are not titled. chairman leahy would've had to request them so i figured well, transit, chairman leahy were somewhat similar and i had an expectation that we would get something. professor tiefer, i wanted to follow-up on something though. you talk in terms of the history of ag and their operations, just as. rolling discovery, isn't that the norm in most other discovery that this committee does where people say it's voluminous and they start giving you them as they get to them if you're working with the department of
interior, most of the other areas to your knowledge of? >> yes, it does very from office to office. i think they have a problem here because some of the best evidence of these e-mails, and it's not so easy to do rolling discovery of e-mails. but as far as documents and categories of documents, yes, that would be the normal practice. >> mr. tatelman, same thing, you are using information, out in trades and drag even when we're asking for legislative language or research, we ask you for some and then you get additional. and just for the record, that's my experience with every else is you get was easy and then you end up with what's very hard at him. i do want to set the record straight on one thing. i was off last week in my district, and so i was not aware, doj has produced 80 pages of nonpublic docket as of last friday.
and i look forward to reading those. and with that i recognize the gentleman from virginia for five minutes. >> into again, mr. chairman. and mr. rosenberg, i know you were chomping at the bit, but i was running out of time. where we left off, mr. tatelman, you agreed with the assertion that congress as you read the constitution as an unfettered absolute right to seek information irrespective of the judicial consequences of the executive branch. subsequently to the chairman's question, i think you indicated, but, of course, a court ultimately adjudicate the dispute, should there be a dispute between the two branches, am i reading you correctly? >> your question, congressman, was whether not congress has the right to access the information. and the answer to that question i will stand by my original answer was absolutely a right to subject of countervailing constitutional privileges being
asserted, but that there may be reasons, either political or otherwise why congress may choose not to assert that. >> i sure that. i was just trying to establish what your view was. but you would agree that in the event of a dispute, the ultimate arbiter of a dispute is the court of law? >> not necessarily in a dispute between the legislative and executive branches. chairman issa's hypothetical involving criminal trial in which there is a judicial role to play there, but if you eliminate that part of the situation, no, not message. congress and executive branch can and often do resolve these disputes over the rights and privileges and prerogatives without involving courts of law quite frequent. >> what if they don't? what if they can't? >> there's certainly precedent is to establish the fact that the courts are routinely cautious and very hesitant to get involved and when the two cases in the late 1970s where the court, the d.c. circuit
court on two occasions refused to rule on the america even the minor situation, the court does rule on the merits of the dispute. it ruled congress had a right to bring the case, it had standing to pursue and the right for the information. >> i have a limited amount of time. i get your point, thank you. let me pose this question. does the executive branch have a legitimate right to be concerned about the protection of fbi informants? >> yes spent if congress were seeking even in camera unredacted document that would reveal the identity of those informants, might the fbi and executive branch by extension have legitimate reason, nonetheless to fear wittingly or unwittingly the revelation of such information? >> they have a legitimate reason to fear that, not only a reason to withhold it. >> no legal reason to withhold it? >> none that i'm aware of. >> do all of you agree with
that? >> i wouldn't put it that way. you raise a nice question because both sides have to make judgments about whether their course of action is not only legitimate but plays well in the public. so any effort by congress to say we want the names of some informants or we want the name of this chief of staff of some cia -- you don't do that. you're going to get injured, and i think the executive branch has to worry that it doesn't injure itself also. so everyone makes on both sides some judgments. >> well, mr. rosenberg, i want to give you a chance because i sadly had to cut you off, but you are reacting to the discussion about what if we have a congress that deliberately as a strategy thought this information in fact to negatively influence the outcome of attending trial? >> i think the question was raised spent i'm sorry?
>> congress' powers to upset and to screw up a particular trial is certainly there. but there is a particular line that i think i'm aware of in the case law that if there is an attempt to interfere with, or help convict or, you know, someone, that that would raise serious due process question. >> okay. so there are inherently, you know, some limits on congress otherwise unfettered right to seek access to information from the executive branch. this might be one of those cases. >> very rare. >> but is it not also relatively infrequent that congress seeks this kind of information when they're in fact is a pending investigation or a criminal trial? is a frequent that congress brushes that aside and seeks to subpoena information nonetheless
the? >> question again, please. >> well, how frequent is it that congress chooses even when there is a pending investigation, ongoing criminal open investigation, nonetheless to subpoena documents that may be related to that investigation? i'm under the impression congress has always shown -- i'm sorry, as mostly shown historically some restraint under those circumstances. >> it can show restraint but if what you are choosing has to be done to fulfill a legislative purpose, and i think you have to go it. >> that's a different question. my question was how frequent is that that congress brushes aside those concerns and pursues the subpoena nonetheless the? >> i don't think congress brushes aside, but it is frequent that congress does go after the kind of information you are asking for it is a frequent. >> when there is an open criminal investigation?
>> yes. >> professor tiefer, is that your -- >> i would ask the joe to have an additional 30 seconds. >> i'm sorry. >> you are doing fine. another 30 seconds. >> if we brought me because that's an argument is made for open cases of other kinds, environmental enforcement and so forth, our members -- our memos show a number of times and criminal ones, the most famous instances in history, like watergate and iran-contra our criminal cases. doesn't happen often? know. doesn't happen? yes. >> enough so that we can take it that it is a prerogative of congress to do it? >> i would just remind professor tiefer that in the case of the investigations hearing cards, the watergate hearings they proceeded before criminal investigations were underway. the irwin hearings proceeded a full year before those criminal investigations. >> i yield back spent i guess the professor stands corrected
here. i would ask unanimous consent that the statement delivered to us by the department of justice on today's hearing be introduced into the record. without objection, so order. i am going to follow up on that line of questioning. mr. rosenberg, in the bolger case, weren't we dealing with informants? wasn't the whole case about informants who were committing crimes under the protection of the department of justice? >> absolutely. >> and didn't -- i guess it would've been claimed and burton, didn't they basically, you know, pursue that in spite of the initial pushback by doj? >> they were claims that there were ongoing investigation. their ongoing litigation. one of the litigations was members of the families of some of the 20 or 25 victims who were bringing tort claim suits. >> so just following up on that line, the german from virginia,
is for us to decide whether or not it's appropriate to hold back, that ultimate has a summit in which we see enough to know that it may be prudent to delay for or in some other way explore, it can be allowed by the executive branch from isn't that what case law show? >> yes. >> and some of you remember a congressman who now works down the hall, mr. waxman, work their criminal cases and civil cases going in the falluja four and in the pat tillman case? were to both of those when the chairman of this committee brought both of those before the congress, including testimony? didn't they both have other activities going on? anyone remember the? i mean i do but i want to make sure i am remembering correctly. >> i remember that, just. >> so it seems like we do have a strong issue.
i think, mr. fisher, at one point you had talked in terms of the political and i think mr. tatelman did, too. political versus legal and political versus constitutional. our investigation about whether the policy including a 20 year old policy or 22 year-old policy at atf, has been asserted to say that it's okay for guns to walk. it's okay for deadly weapons to get in the hands of people have been could kill a federal agent or some other innocent bystander. that questioning, that policy which is at the heart of this investigation, should we wait while the atf rule is still in place, while there still may, in fact, be guns or explosives or drugs walking? that's the real question here, is the balance of prosecution versus the balance of this policy, is that a legitimate question for this committee to
explore sooner rather than later? mr. rosenberg. >> absolutely. as i mentioned, the investigation of environmental crimes unit was exactly that. a policy of centralizing the prosecutorial decisions in washington as opposed to any other kinds of prosecutorial decisions was one that was ongoing. and the point of the ongoing news was disturbing in that it made for perhaps discriminatory kind of decisions had been made, not on the ground, not by people who are investigating them, but washington itself. and it took two and a half years, and there was a voluntary rescission of that policy. but to wait around until they,
you know, they talk about it and discussed it, it seemed to mr. dingell at the time to be unquestionable, that they had to go after. >> you are in rarefied and good cup if you're investigation is compared even in a small lake to chairman dingell's. mr. fisher? >> two words, political and legal the way he described it, the two words come together because you have political concern about this atf policy in place for a long time, and you have legitimate legal concerns. something that you have to investigate to make sure it doesn't continue. >> with that i'm going to do something unusual. i'm going to yield back my own time and thank all four of our panelists for probably the most, i hope that c-span watchers are watching this, that they appreciate, except for possibly with thomas jefferson alone in his study, we have a brought this much intellectual capital to hearing in a very, very long time.
>> good morning. thanks for joining us this tuesday june 14 and the u.s. senate is about to gavel in. they will start with about an hour of general speeches before turning to to judicial nominations for new jersey. a vote on those nominations is planned for noon eastern today. senators will recess after that vote at about 12:30 eastern for weekly party lunches. when the return at 2:15 eastern down will reserve -- they will resume work. and now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2. abundantly with inner joy and external blessings, enlighten our minds this day sthao we can
reach beyond to knowing and beyond doubting to certainty. purify our hearts so that the wrong desires may not only be kept under control, but may be destroyed. strengthen the wills of our lawmakers so that they may pass beyond resolving to doing and beyond intention to action. answer for them the questions no human wisdom can answer. we pray in your merciful name. amen.
the presiding officer: join me in reciting the pledge. of al legiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., june 14, 2011. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable jeanne shaheen, a senator from the state of new hampshire, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: following leader remarks, the senate will be in morning business until 11:00 a.m. this morning. the majority will control the first half. the republicans will control the final half. at 11:00 the senate will be in
executive session to consider the cecchi and salas nominations. following votes on this there will be recess for weekly caucus meetings until 2:15 p.m. at 2:15 there will be an additional roll call vote on the coburn amendment regarding ethanol. on the cloture vote senator rubio will be recognized to give his maiden speech to the senate. madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the morning business consistent of -- consist of one full hour equally divided rather than ending at 11:00. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: madam president, on this side of the aisle for democrats, protect the seniors on medicare is our top priority. i heard our friend, the ranking member on the budget committee, come here and talk for hours, and he keeps talking about things that really have no bearing on what i think is important for the country today,
and that is we know that the republicans have put forward a budget that destroys medicare. that's what we've received, we voted on it over here. it was turned down. the top priority s&l protecting -- priority is protecting taxpayer handouts especially to oil companies. we had a full debate over here and said let's take these handouts, and even executives said they don't need the money -- let's take that money and apply it towards the deficit. overwhelmingly republicans voted "no" and we couldn't get it done. it appears clear they would rather balance the budget on the backs of seniors, medicare than ending giveaways to oil companies. madam president, these oil companies have made the largest
profits in the history of the world. they have last quarter $36 billion in net profits. the republican plan to end medicare as we know it would put bureaucrats between seniors and their doctors and raising seniors' drug costs forcing them to pay $6,300 more out-of-pocket costs every year. the american people are opposed to this plan to end medicare. a poll released yesterday shows that less than half of republicans support the republicans' plan to end medicare. overwhelmingly the independents and democrats join with these republicans who oppose the republican plan to end medicare. we believe there is a need to reduce our deficit. that's why we have working with vice president biden representing the democrats in the senate, senator inouye, the
chairman of the appropriations committee; and senator baucus, the chairman of the finance committee. we're meeting and progress is being made. there is no question we should be closing tax loopholes, and i'm sure that vice president bide bayh den is leading the -- vice president biden is leading senators and the house members toward that end. closing these tax loopholes, madam president, here in the washington, d.c. area, as i do my morning exercise, i walk past a station right off the waterfront, gasoline $5 a gallon. i haven't looked at it in the past week, but that's what it is. it is over $4 a gallon all over the united states in many, many different places. we shoulding focusing on that
instead of ending medicare. so i would tell my friend, the ranking member of the budget committee, come and talk about the republican plan to end medicare as we know it. what about the subsidies for these oil companies? shouldn't we get rid of them. it's time republicans ban in their -- abandon their ideological plan to medicare and work with us to strengthen our promise to seniors instead. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: madam president, since the attacks on 9/11 and the very beginning of the war on terror in 2001, most americans have understood that we can no longer kind of passively wait for the next enemy attack. in order to defeat, dismantle and disrupt al qaeda, our intelligence, military and law enforcement officials would have to work together to defeat terrorist cells whether they are in the tribal areas of pakistan or, frankly, here in our own
backyard. and yet, some have begun to think after the killing of osama bin laden that we can now sit back and relax a little. there was a recent arrest in my state, in the hometown of my colleague, senator paul, of two foreign fighters who have openly admitted to conducting attacks against u.s. soldiers and marines in iraq, and that shows how misshapen the notice s. let's look at that again. here are two iraqi terrorists arrested in bowling green, kentucky, within the last couple of weeks. the director of central intelligence stated in an open hearing on capitol hill last week that about 1,000 members of al qaeda and iraq continue to fight us over in iraq. now we know that at least two of them -- at least two of them -- have left the battlefield over there to live right here in the united states. the case of wahd ramadan alwan
and mohammed sharif hami show us that terrorists continue to pose an imminent threat. we owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who made sure they couldn't inflict more harm on americans here or abroad once they arrived here. anyone who has read about the investigation into their activities can only be impressed with the courage, the skill, and the professionalism of those who were involved in this effort. specifically, i want to thank the men and women from the f.b.i.'s louisville division, the u.s. attorney's office for the western district of kentucky, the louisville joint terrorism task force, and the justice department's national security division. every one of those folks involved clearly did their job,
and they did it very well. that having been said, madam president, i think it's safe to say that a lot of kentuckians, including me, would like to know why two men who either killed or plotted to kill u.s. soldiers and marines over in iraq aren't sitting in a jail cell in guantanamo right now. when it comes to enemy combatants, our top priority, as i've said repeatedly, should be to capture, detain and interrogate. that wasn't done here. these men are foreign fighters, unlawful enemy combatants who should be treated as such. alwan is on tape admitting to have procured explosives and missiles in iraq and to using them daily -- daily -- to conduct strikes. he said he had personally used
improvised explosive devices, or i.e.d.'s, hundreds, hundreds of times over a period of several years. he's talked about using them against u.s. troops and the damage he's done to u.s. military vehicles like humvees. he told undercover agents he was -- quote -- "very good with a sniper rifle. and in reference to attacks on u.s. troops, he said -- quote -- "his lunch and dinner would be an american." he admits that he -- quote -- "collected everything. t.n.t., electronic detonators, tank, explosive detonators, i.e.d. detonators, mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades." he often said -- he also said he often placed i.e.d.'s after curfew and it was this activity that led to him being formally
asked to stkwroeupb the mujahedin. he tried to show his expertise as a fighter by drawing diagrams of four types of i.e.d.'s, explaining how to build them and discussing various occasions in which he used these devices against u.s. troops in iraq and describing one particular time of i.e.d., al wan said quote that anything lethal could be stuffed into it, such as ball bearings, nails, gravel and whatever item that kills. al wan's fingerprints have allegedly been found on i.e.d.'s in iraq in an area in which he is known to have lived. once al juan -- al wan made his way to the u.s., he is alleged to have continued his fight against americans in iraq by burrowing himself into a community where he thought he
would go undetected. like alwan, hammadi was an experienced fighter in iraq. he, too, had participated in i.e.d. attacks and was part of an insurgent group that had 11 surface to air missiles. now, together, these two men organized shipments of money and weapons including rocket grenade launchers, stinger missiles and c-4 explosives that they thought they were sending back to the war zone in iraq. now, anyone who has taken up arms against u.s. forces in the field of battle is an enemy combatant, pure and simple. and should be treated like one. they should be hunted and captured, detained and interrogated and tried away from civilian populations according to the laws of war. unfortunately, since the earliest days of this administration when the president signed a series of executive orders which directed
the closing of the military detention facility at guantanamo bay and limited the ability of the military and intelligence community to detain and interrogate prisoners, a higher priority has been placed upon prosecution than on executing the war on terror. but i can say with certainty that kentuckians don't want foreign fighters who bragged about killing and maiming u.s. soldiers in a combat theater treated like common criminals in their own back yard. they don't want foreign fighters to be afforded all of the legal rights and privileges of u.s. citizens. they don't want foreign fighters to have their interrogations curtailed, and they don't want their fellow citizens in kentucky subjected to the risk of reprisal that is associated with these kinds of cases. reprisals against civilian
judges, reprisals against civilian jurors and the broader community in which civilian trials are held. that was one of the many reasons that residents and lawmakers in new york city rebelled against the administration's equally foolhardy plan to try khalid sheikh mohammed in a courtroom in new york. and that's to say nothing of the security costs and the disruption that civilian trials for terrorists create for any american community. we have firsthand experience of this from the 2006 murder trial of zacarias moussaoui in alexandria, virginia. despite all of this, however, the administration seems fixated on the idea that once we have caught terrorists, the goal isn't to get as much intelligence out of them as quickly as possible to prevent further attacks on soldiers and
citizens but to prove that we can treat them the same way we treat everybody else. my response to that is maybe we could -- maybe we can do that. you can put them in a u.s. court, but why in the world would you want to? you could, but should you? the administration likes to tout its confidence in the u.s. legal system. well, i don't believe the american people need to try any enemy combatants in our own hometowns and cities to prove that our court system works. we know it works for american citizens. prosecution is certainly important, but let's be clear prosecution is not our ultimate goal in this war. our goal is to capture or kill those who want to kill us here and abroad and who are plotting even now as this case clearly proves to wreak havoc on our
troops overseas. this is really quite simple. those we capture should be interrogated, and if necessary indefinitely detained and tried in a military setting. through these interrogations, additional intelligence can be derived that leads to additional targets, thereby weakening al qaeda and other associated terror groups at a moment when they are vulnerable. now, the good news is we already have the perfect solution for a case like the one i have been discussing in kentucky. these men don't belong in a courtroom in kentucky, madam president. they belong at the secure detention facility at guantanamo bay, cuba, far, far away from u.s. civilians. sending them to gitmo is the only way to ensure that they will not enjoy all the rights and privileges of u.s. citizens.
sending them to gitmo is the only way we can be certain there won't be retaliatory attacks in kentucky. how would you like to be the judge in this case? how would you like to be the jurors in this case? do they run the risk of being targets for the rest of their lives? are they in a sort of witness protection program indefinitely? why should we object -- subject u.s. citizens to this kind of risk? sending them to gitmo is the only way we can prevent kentuckians from having to cover the cost and having to deal with the disturbance and disruptions that would come with a civilian trial, and sending them to gitmo is the best way to ensure that they get what they deserve, and so today i'm calling on the
administration to change course, get these men out of kentucky. sending them to guantanamo where they belong. get these terrorists, get these terrorists out of the civilian system, get them out of our back yards, and give them the justice they deserve. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 11:00 a.m. for one hour, with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each with time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, with the majority controlling the first half and the republicans controlling the final half. the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much, madam president.
madam president, i rise today in support of the ethanol subsidy and tariff repeal act which senator coburn has offered and i have cosponsored along with senators burr, cardin, collins, corker, lieberman, risch, shaheen, toomey and webb. madam president, i know that the fact that this amendment is on the floor, scheduled to be voted on at 2:15 this afternoon, has caused some deep consternation on my side of the aisle. there is objection to the procedures used. i am not going to get into that. i am going to say a vote is a vote and we are facing a vote at 2:15 unless something changes. now, to be candid, if there were an offer to bring this to the floor next week or the week after for a time specific and a
commitment specific, i believe that the author and myself and our cosponsors would certainly agree to that, but in the absence of that offer, it is important that the united states -- the united states senate takes a position on a program that has become both gross and egregious, and i want to explain why i feel that way. madam president, no other product i know of has the triple crown of government support that corn ethanol enjoys in this country. its use is mandated by law. oil companies are paid by the federal government to use it so there is a subsidy, and corn ethanol is protected by a rather high tariff. consequently, it's been very profitable for farmers. this amounts to almost almost $6 billion a year of
taxpayers' money that goes to support the corn ethanol industry in this country. put another way, that's that's $15 million each and every day spent on this subsidy at a time when candidly, madam president, we simply can't afford it. they say there are very few privileges left out there. this is one that is enormous, and i think we have to take a look at it, and i think if this bill passes, this amendment passes, nearly $3 billion is saved between july 1 and the end of the year. that's not insignificant, and it goes into the general fund and it helps abate the debt and deficit. since 2005, we have spent spent $22.6 billion on this subsidy, and it gets more expensive every year.
in 2011, the government will spend $5.7 billion. in 2012, $5.9 billion. in 2013, $6.2 billion. and you can see since the program came into being in 2005 -- and i voted against it then -- it was at $1.5 billion. then next year, $2.6 billion. next year, $3.3 billion. next year, $4.4 billion. next year, $5.2 billion. 2010, $5.7 billion of a trifecta of triple crown subsidies to go to recompense people for using corn ethanol. it is wrong. on top of this subsidy, we have imposed a 54-cent per gallon tariff on ethanol products from brazil, india and australia and others that could import it more
cheaply than it's grown here, and this then contributes to making the united states more dependent on oil imports from opec. our amendment is simple. beginning july 1, we would repeal the 45-cent per gallon ethanol subsidy which goes overwhelmingly to large oil companies and it would eliminate the 54% -- 54-cent per gallon tariff on imported ethanol. i believe very strongly that we need to act to repeal these subsidies and these tariffs before another $2.7 billion in taxpayer money -- which is $15 million a day -- is wasted over the remaining six months of this year. let me describe the real-world impact of these unwise subsidies and tariffs to our economy. last week, i was in the central
valley at an event, and i would say anywhere from six to eight farmers came up to me and said thank you for trying to end the ethanol business. i can no longer afford feed. and i began to think and so we took a look at what the situation is, and the fact is that this ethanol policy is inflating the price of corn and impacting other sectors of the economy. today, approximately 39% of our corn crop is now used to produce ethanol in this country. here's where it's gone. the percent of corn from 2000, 7%. 2005, 14%. and 2010, 37% of the entire corn crop goes to produce ethanol. corn futures have reached a
record $7.99 a bushel on the chicago board of trade last week. prices are up 140% in the past 12 months and continue to rise. in 2006, prices were $2 a bushel so today they are $7.99 a bushel. so this has been a real spike in the price of feed. if it continues, one can expect major price increases in grain and food as well. the average price of corn has risen 225% since 2006. here it is. 2005, 2006, here it goes. it goes down slightly. and it has gone up. in california, the annual feed
costs for foster farms -- this is the largest poultry producer on the west coast -- has tripled over the past year, increasing foster farms' cost for feed by more than $2 million. and this is more than the largest profit the company has ever made. and i hear similar stories from small producers, from co-ops, from dairymen and cattlemen throughout california. the price of feed is raising to such an extent that experts are predicting a mass slaughter of hogs and dairy cows this summer. in other words, it is becoming cheaper to slaughter the animals rather than to feed them. that's wrong. paul cameroon of imperial county, california, recently wrote to me "as a cattle producer who has never asked for ao subsidy of any kind, i only ask that ethanol production stand on its own and allow true
supply and demand to dictate the real price of corn." it seems to me he is spot on, and it seems to me when you look at charts like this on grain prices, on the huge subsidy that oil companies get, on the protective tariff, that one has to say enough is enough. the usda predicts that continued demand from the livestock, ethanol and food industry will reduce corn reserves to the lowest level since the mid-1990's. and these low grain reserves will have repercussions globally. we know that rising food prices exacerbate global poverty and could intensify political unrest in some parts of the world. but the bottom line is diverting 39% of our crop towards ethanol is artificially driving up corn
prices, which in turn is straining people and industries that depend on affordable corn. in addition to impacting the price of corn, the $6 billion annual ethanol subsidy is fiscally irresponsible. if the current subsidy were to exist through 2014 as the industry has proposed, the treasury would pay oil companies at least $31 billion to use 69 billion gallons of corn ethanol that the federal renewable fuel standard already requires them to use under the clean air act. the biggest recipient receiving money is b.p., and it, according to reports, receives $585 million. i know my time is running out. if i may just conclude in one
minute. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much. so we can't afford and we should not pay oil companies such as exxonmobil and b.p. to follow the law to the tune of $6 billion a year. so, as the g.a.o. has found, the mandate for the use is duplicative in stimulating domestic production and use of ethanol. it can and is resulting in substantial loss of revenue to the treasury. let me just say one thing about the tariff. the tariff on low carbon sugar cane ethanol, which i proposed repealing in 2006, makes our nation more dependent on foreign oil. how? the combined tariffs on ethanol are 60 cents per gallon, at least 15 per gallon higher than the ethanol subsidies they supposedly offset.
so this is essentially a major trade barrier. so, we have a real problem with this triple crown. we mandate its use. we pay people to use it. and then we set a large tariff barrier to prevent anybody from importing any ethanol, whether it's corn or sugar, that's cheaper. and this is expensive. $15 million a day, $6 billion, as i've said, a year. i know many of my colleagues agree with the substance of this legislation, and i appreciate very much that the amendment is being considered under somewhat unusual circumstances and procedures. i hope we can have a fair vote. i hope that members will not disregard the import of what we are doing. we are essentially saving the government nearly $6 billion a
year by simply repealing the subsidy, repealing the mandate and repealing the tariff. i believe the time has come. thank you very much, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. udall: madam president, i rise today because i believe the united states is headed down a slippery path towards an escalation of military force in libya. i also believe that if the united states military is to be involved in such an escalation, then the united states congress must exercise its constitutional authority and approve or disapprove of the president's proposal. i supported president obama's initial decision to engage in a limited military operation to prevent an imminent humanitarian catastrophe. president obama and the international community were
clear, the targeting of civilians by muammar qaddafi would not be tolerated. now it's been over 60 days since the president notified the congress that he intended to use military force in libya. we are adrift. we are without direction. we are in danger of fighting an expanded war, a war that was originally justified as a limited military operation arcs no-fly zone to prevent civilian casualties and an imminent catastrophe. this war has now been slowly expanded to one that is pushing for regime change. madam president, we have been down this path before. let's not go there. in libya, we are now receiving reports that helicopter gun ships are being used to target ground forces, something that was never originally intend under the premise of a tphoefld.
it -- no-fly zone. it seems the no-fly zone has slowly evolved into what some have called a no-drive zone. the congress has not approved this action. i do not believe the u.n. security council approved such an action in 1973. we also hear it is now the policy to support regime change and that there are some plans to arm rebel groups. some outside groups and members of congress are clamoring to escalate the war in libya. they believe air power will never dislodge gassed gassed and his -- dislodge muammar qaddafi and his family. the u.s. has not approved the use of military use. flooding the region with small arms is also being proposed. this would be a major mistake and could lead to a host of
unintended consequences. we do not know enough about the rebels fighting qadhafi, but we do know there are plenty of mercenaries as well as members of al qaeda waiting to exploit any chaos. if arms are flooded into the region, there is no guarantee that they will be able to be accounted for. and in my opinion, there's a high likelihood that those arms could end up in the hands of some very unsavory and dangerous individuals. the bottom line is this, congress has not had the opportunity to weigh in. like my colleagues, i deplore muammar qaddafi. i supported democratic transition and his departure from power. but the military goals should be defined and limited as a matter of policy. it should not include regime change. this would be a dangerous escalation. as many of you know, the senate
foreign relations committee was planning a markup for last thursday of senate resolution 194, titled expressing the sense of the senate on the u.s. military operations in libya. i had strong concerns about the resolution we were scheduled to consider. a sense of the senate is clearly not an authorization for use of military force. a sense of the senate does not meet the requirements of the war powers act. and a sense of the senate falls short of meeting our constitutional obligation to declare war. i drafted an amendment to senate resolution 194, and i ask unanimous consent that the text of this amendment be included in the record at the conclusion of my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: my amendment stated -- quote -- "that the president is not authorized to deploy ground forces, including special operation forces, in pursuance of any goals related to united
states policy in libya unless expressly authorized by congress or as determined necessary by the president to protect a member of the united states armed forces currently deployed in the region." end quote. i believe that any authorization of military force should contain similar language. i understand that senator webb and senator corker have introduced a resolution with these prohibitions and exceptions to protect our troops, and i support these efforts to limit the mission in libya. it is important that we do not escalate military actions in libya. an escalation would be a dangerous course, and it would be costly to the region and our country. while the markup has been postponed, it's my understanding that senator kerry and others are working on language that would fulfill our constitutional obligations and comply with the war powers act.
i look forward to consideration of a resolution of this kind in the foreign relations committee and strongly believe it should include language similar to the amendment that i was going to offer. i've been proud to serve in the united states congress for more than a decade. we have fought two lengthy wars during this period of time. i have seen the impacts on our military, on their families, on our national deficit. before the united states escalates its involvement in another overseas conflict, congress must weigh in. it is our constitutional duty. thank you, madam president. mr. durbin: would the gentleman from new mexico yield for a question? mr. udall: i'd be happy to yield. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: madam president, i want to thank the senator from new mexico, my colleague on the senate foreign relations committee, for his statement on the floor this morning. it reflects my sentiments
completely. i have felt since i was first elected to the house of representatives and my time in the senate that we have an awesome responsibility under the constitution to speak for the american people when the united states of america makes a decision to engage in conduct that relates to our military, particularly when it comes to a declaration of war. it is clearly understood that if american citizens are under threat of attack or on american soil is under threat of attack, the president has the power to move and move quickly as commander in chief to protect us. in this instance the war powers act after 60 days suggests that it's now at that point the responsibility of congress to step forward, speaking for the american people, and to make a decision as to whether we go forward with military commitment. and what the senator from new mexico has suggested, i think, goes right to the heart of our constitutional responsibility. it is a responsibility which we swore to uphold. it is also a responsibility which politically we try to
avoid. it is a hard debate and a hard decision. i'm sure the senator from new mexico feels as i do that some of the toughest votes that we've ever had to face as members of congress relate to this decision. because if the decision is made to go to war, you know that the lives of americans are at risk. that's why i believe what the senator from new mexico has said on the floor this morning is so critically important. i'm going to work with him and with the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee to move forward on a resolution which is consistent with the war powers act, which expressly states the feelings of the american people through their representatives in congress about this decision and ourb constitutional responsibility -- and our constitutional responsibility. i sincerely hope that we can resolve this before we end this work period, which will be about july 1. if we can bring an issue forward on the floor for that purpose, i think it's in the best interest of our senatorial responsibility. i might say because i've discussed this with the senator from new mexico, we know that one of our colleagues on the
other side of the aisle wants to expressly authorize the use of ground forces in libya. let me make it clear, the president has not asked for that. he is not engaged with ground forces, land forces in libya. and i would at this time not only reject it, i would fight t. i think it's a bad decision to engage the united states in a third theatre of war with ground forces, i think is way too much at this moment in our history. so i thank the senator from new mexico for not letting this issue disappear amidst the hubbub of all the agenda we face on the floor of the senate, but to come to the floor and remind us of our constitutional spofpblt i'll close by thanking as well senator cardin of maryland whorbgs has been a lead sponsor -- maryland who has been a lead sponsor in our efforts. i'm working with him and the senator from new mexico and other like-minded senators. i know that wasn't in the nature of a question, but i would ask you, do you agree?
mr. udall: senator durbin, thank you very much for your statement. i believe that all of us working together, our chairman at the foreign relations committee, senator cardin, others, the presiding officer, who is also on the foreign relations committee, with us, i think we can come to a resolution which complies with what the president has stated. and the president says he has no intention of sending ground forces into libya, but it's important at this point in time, as you have pointed out, as the constitution mandates, that we step in and express the will of the american people on this issue, and that is the whole purpose of -- of what i'm on the floor for today and i look forward to working very closely with you. with that, i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
mr. coats: i ask to vitiate the call of the quorum. i note the democratic side has not used up its full allotment of time, but as another speaker is not here, i will go ahead and hopefully be able to yield time to them as -- if someone else does come forward. madam president, i have been on the senate floor several times now in the last several weeks to discuss our grave economic condition, the need to reduce washington's out-of-control spending and most importantly the urgent need to start taking action before time runs out. if there is any remaining doubt in anyone's mind that the u.s. economy is facing an historic and unprecedented fiscal crisis, consider a few of the recent news reports since i last spoke on the floor which was just not that many days ago. the report came out saying national unemployment increased to 9.1% with over 22 million americans unemployed or
underemployed. this is not how we rebound from a recession historically. there is something more going on here than the normal economic downturns and upturns of the cycles, the economic cycle. this is something of risk proportion. since i last spoke on this floor, two more rating agencies, moody's and fitch, have issued serious warnings that it may downgrade america's ratings, aaa debt ratings. this comes after s&p already lowered its outlook of the u.s. economy to negative. and just last week on the cover of "usa today" was the frightening headline, the united states owes $62 trillion of unfunded obligations amounting to $534,000 per household. those are unfunded obligations. we have funded obligations that we currently owe in addition to that, and some put that even
higher. there was an interview yesterday by bill gross who heads up pimco, the largest holder of bonds, largest bond fund in the country -- in the world, actually. bill gross told in this interview, indicated that the money owed to cover future liabilities in entitlement programs in the united states is actually in worse financial shape than greece and other debt-laden european countries. much of the public, of course, is focused on our public debt which are running running $14.3 trillion, but what hasn't been focused on as much is the unfunded liabilities that will come due, the obligations and promises already made that will have to be paid for, that will be in addition to the the $14.3 trillion already on the books. and taken together, gross said this is going to equal nearly nearly $100 trillion. it's a number beyond anyone's
comprehension of what what $100 trillion means to the american taxpayer, to america's ability and obligation and responsibilities to pay its debt. now, maybe that $100 trillion is a little high. it doesn't matter whether it's it's $80 trillion or $90 trillion or or $100 trillion, it's something that's going to put our country in a very, very difficult position. i want to read one more piece from the cnbc interview with bill gross. we have always wondered who will buy treasuries, he said, after the federal reserve purchases the last of the $600 billion to ease the second leg of its quantitative easing program later this month. it's certainly not pimco he said and it's probably not the bond funds of the world. madam president, i have quoted erskine bowles before about his take, a democrat, chief of staff to president clinton, who was one of the co-authors of the report that the commission
presented at the request of the president, laying out the dire crisis that we face and recommendations as to how to address it. erskine bowles, the cochair of the president's fiscal reform commission, said the growing national debt and federal deficits are -- quote -- "a cancer and they are going to truly destroy this country from within unless we have the common sense to do something about it." this is the challenge before us, each member of the house of representatives and each member of the senate and the president of the united states. this dwarfs all other matters before us and before this congress. with all due respect, the senate's spending several weeks on the small business innovation research act, federal aviation administration's bill and now the economic development revitalization act has left little time for the debate that
ought to be undertaken on this floor in continuous fashion to address this crisis because it -- it has implications for the future of our country, the future of this nation. the rapid escalation of the deficit and debt requires our full engagement, not later but now. the growing consensus among those who have given serious analysis to our fiscal plight calls for an all above approach in addressing the problem, including, dare i say it, including entitlement spending, which essentially is social security, medicaid and medicare. if congress and the white house are serious about preventing the destruction of our economy, it's time that we get serious about talking about entitlements, including medicare, because the hard truth is that if medicare is not included in the debate, any effort to put together any
kind of a credible plan necessary to bring about fiscal integrity will be defeated. medicare has proven to be the greatest fiscal challenge facing this country. it alone last year took in in $1.8 trillion of new liabilities, which is more than we spend on all defense nondiscretionary spending, nondiscretionary spending is -- nondefense discretionary spending is that spending that goes to every other function of the federal government other than interest on our debt that has to be paid and other than the obligations that have to have mandatory payment, which we don't have control over at this particular point in time. the medicare trustees recently sounded the alarm bells and report announcing that the program's total of unfunded future obligation is a staggering $38.4 trillion. they cautioned that the hospital
trust fund known as medicare part-a would be exhausted by 2024. this was five years earlier than what they had predicted just a year earlier from today. so one year has passed and the trustees are now so alarmed, they're saying we're going to run out of money five years earlier than we thought. what are they going to say next year? they will probably even shorten that time even more. economists and policy experts on both sides of this aisle, republican, democrat, conservative, liberal, have been warning about the dangers of medicare spending and the impact on our national debt for years, and yet congress has pushed its responsibilities forward, always will take care of it after the next election. back in 2006, the chairman of the federal reserve alan greenspan warned lawmakers, saying that medicare spending is unsustainable and could one day drive government debt and interest rates substantially higher. madam president, i suggest that date is here and it's knocking
on our door. michael canon, director of health policy studies at the cato institute said and i quote -- "nothing presents as great a threat to the federal budget and therefore to economic growth as the persistent and rapid growth of medicare." at a white house summit last year, president obama recognized the unsustainability of entitlement spending. this is a quote from our president -- "almost all of the long-term deficit and debt that we face relates to the exploding costs of medicare and medicaid. almost all of it. that is the single biggest driver of our federal debt, and if we don't get control over that, we can't get control over our federal budget." i am quoting the words of the president of the united states. who now has taken the position that we shouldn't address the medicare problem, and yet as president, he has said almost all of our deficit and debt that
we face relates to the exploding costs of these two programs, medicare and medicaid. and he repeats it by saying almost all of it, the single biggest driver of our federal debt. alice rivlin who served as budget director under president bill clinton said it best -- "there is no mystery about what we ought to do. we just need to get on with it." mr. president, we just need to get on with it, but that hasn't happened. and despite the president's own recognition of the single biggest driver of our federal debt and despite the warning sirens from economists and even the medicare trustees, the president has yet to submit a single proposal to address this urgent problem. others in positions of leadership have also decided to ignore these critical warnings about medicare and its looming insolvency and threat to our fiscal house. they have rejected any proposals for -- quote -- "changing medicare as we know it."
well, this category of people are the do-nothings. i wonder if i could just ask for two more minutes? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coats: unanimous consent for that. thank you. let me -- let me skip forward here. this has not happened. despite the president's own recognition of it, we have not taken this plan forward. there are do-nothings who think that if we do nothing, medicare will be secure. actually, the do-nothings are the ones that are making medicare insecure. it is those that have taken the responsibility to stand up and recognize this problem and be free and open in debate and be honest with the american people, they are the ones that have had the courage to go forward and yet they get reviled for -- quote -- "throwing grandma under the bus or taking medicare away." a lady last week came up to me and said you're taking away my 88-year-old mother's health care. he was upset and rightfully so, but he was also -- i told him he
was upset at the wrong person because we're trying to save that health care, we're trying to save medicare. we have two options, madam president, and i will conclude with this. we can either continue with the status quo and let medicare go bankrupt or we can step up to the plate, debate thoughtful proposals and work to keep our promise to america's seniors by enacting meaningful reform. it is those of us that are willing to step up to the plate that are here to save medicare, not destroy medicare. it is those that are saying we need to do nothing or refuse to do anything that are going to cause medicare to go bankrupt and take benefits away from the seniors. this is the debate that we have had. we are burdened by this, we need to address it, it's the challenge of the day. let's go forward, stand up, do the right thing. madam president, i appreciate the extension of time and yield back my time, whatever is left. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. chambliss: madam president, i ask that i be allowed to speak as if in morning business and
that i be followed by senator coburn. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. chambliss: i rise today to speak on my colleague from oklahoma's amendment to the economic development act which would repeal the volumetric ethanol excise tax credit. his amendment is number 436. for months, there have been very heated debate surrounding the blender tax credit for ethanol and the tariff on imported ethanol. some of my colleagues advocate repealing ethanol-related tax incentives immediately, while others are adamantly opposed to changing course on tax policy that was passed at the end of last congress and that would extend these tax credits through the end of this year. regardless, it is clear that congress must make a decision on whether to reform the ethanol blenders tax credit and import tariff this year. in my home state of georgia, i see both the positive and the negative effects that this tax policy has had. while it has spurred the growth of the ethanol industry, some say it has caused drastic increases in the price of
corn-based feedstock prices. a new study prepared for the upcoming g-20 meeting shows that biofuel subsidies are directly related to food price volatility. i believe that because the credit is set to expire in december of this year and that many ethanol producers have the credit embedded in their business plans, that congress should not immediately repeal the tax credit. when it expires at the end of this year, even though i supported this tax credit for all of the years that i have served in both the house and the senate, i think the time has come. and if we tell the blenders today at the end of this year this tax credit is going to expire, and it needs to expire then, so i do not intend to support an extension of that tax credit beginning upon the expiration at the end of this year. regardless of where one stands on the underlying issue itself,
i believe that the amendment deserves to have a vote on its merits and not be blocked by a procedural tactics. because so much attention has been paid to the issue and because we've had such extensive debates, this amendment deserves an up-or-down vote rather than being stopped by filibuster. for this reason, i intend to vote in favor of the motion to invoke cloture on the senator from oklahoma's amendment, and i encourage my colleagues to do the same. and i yield the floor. mr. coburn: may i make an inquiry of the chair? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: how much time remains for the republican morning business? the presiding officer: 15 minutes and 20 seconds. mr. coburn: thank you. it's interesting days in our country. we find ourselves in a very deep hole, and it's not the american
people's fault. it's congress's fault. we continue to spend money that we don't have on things that we don't need. and when we do that personally, we end up filing bankruptcy. pretty soon we run out of new credit cards to take on, and we get to the point where we can't pay our debts. and that's a question that's in front of our country today, as our economy is struggling, we have this massive debt, and we ought to be about every small, medium and large thing we can do to solve the problem. not to solve the problem to say that we can't pay our bills, but to solve the problem so we create a prosperous future for our kids and those that follow us. there's a lot of controversy over the amendment that i offered and its claim by the majority leader inaccurately that this amendment was rule 14.
it wasn't rule 14. according to the procedures of the senate, you can file cloture on any amendment at any time. that's a privilege that every senator has here. now why would somebody file a cloture on an amendment? it's because over the first five and a half months of this year, through the leadership of the senate, we've been unable to have a free and open debate and free and open offering of amendments. so, this -- because the procedure is rarely used doesn't mean it's not ethical and not accurate. as a matter of fact, the reason the procedure was put there was in case at a point in time when your rights as a senator to offer amendment are being limited by the majority. that's why we have this rule. because you can take 16 of your colleagues and file a cloture petition and, therefore, have a vote on your amendment. so what we're hearing going on in the background today is the
reason you shouldn't vote for this amendment, even though you agree we should save $3 billion, much as senator california outlined, $3 billion that the very people who are blending and receiving the $3 billion don't want, the argument is because they don't like the way the amendment came to the floor. well, explain to the people at home when you have an opportunity to save this country $3 billion and you know it's the right policy but you're not going to vote for it because you don't like the amendment came to the floor. and i would remind my colleagues that of the $3 billion we're going to save, $1.2 billion of it we're going to borrow from china and we go on and spend it. and we're going to charge that $1.2 billion to our kids and our grandkids. the interesting thing is that we have grown over 20-some years to rely on ethanol for 7% of our
fuel. is and it's been a very expensive process. it's expensive directly because when you go to buy gasoline today, it's not the price you pay at the pump that you're actually paying. you can take all the subsidies and all the tax credits and all the low-interest loans and all the nonrepayment of all the grants and all the moneys that have been put into this program, and when you buy that tank of gas, every gallon that you put into your car after you pay for it, you already paid $1.72 through your taxes to have that gallon there. so we're not getting rid of the mandate on ethanol at 7.5%. it has helped us in some ways. it's a very inefficient fuel. it causes us to stkaoupl more few -- to consume more fuel, produce more co2. but the fact is we have an amendment on the floor that is designed to take away a subsidy.
and the only reason we're talking away the subsidy is because in law we're saying you have to do it anyway. and i would introduce for the record a letter from the refiners who state -- this is the national petroleum refiners association, who represent 97% of the people who give this tax credit. 97% of the $3 billion, they say they don't want the $3 billion. the vote's going to come down really clear. we're going to give $3 billion to some of the most profitable companies in america or we're not. the interesting thing is they're saying please don't give it to us. please don't give us this money. now think at a time when we're
borrowing the money to give it to them and they're saying don't give it to us, we're going to have a vote on the floor and very likely not win because of a procedure or because of parochial interests. the fact is every gallon of ethanol that's blendeds to gas hraoerpbgs whoever does -- gasoline, whoever does the blending gets 45 cents a gallon. and they don't need it because they're going to blend it anyway. so the real question is: will we continue to be ignorant in washington or have the common sense the american people want us to have? the common sense is if you're paying somebody to do; and by law they have to do it anyway, and then they write you a letter and say please don't pay me any more to do this, i'm going to do it for you anyway, why would we continue to send them the money? why would we continue to do that, especially when 40% of it
we have to borrow from the chinese to be able to pay it to the american oil company. it makes no sense. there's no logic that you can come up with. the calculations out of iowa state university on this $3 billion is that the amount of jobs that have come out of this in the past cost $14 million a year a job. $14 million a year per job created out of this subsidy. no wonder we're broke. no wonder we're failing financially. no wonder we're failing our children and our grandchildren, because we continue to do things that don't have any correlation with logic or common sense. and i know the arguments. i know the argument is that we passed this last year as part of
the extension. as a republican, i was one of the few republicans that didn't vote for that extension. because not only did we pass additional tax cuts and additional unpaid programs, we cut no spending to be able to pay for it. so what we did was borrow a whole bunch more money and not solve any of the critical issues that lie in front of our country. 40% of last year's corn crop went to ethanol. as a matter of fact, there's so much ethanol production, last year we shipped 400 million gallons overseas. that's great, except when you take the time to think about that with that 400 million gallons, we sent $500 million worth of subsidy. so now we're subsidizing the ethanol that go to europe with your tax dollars so they can
have cheaper gasoline than we have because they're taking $1.72 per gallon and getting the benefit of our tax dollars to have cheaper ethanol in europe than they can get from other places. so there's nothing about this that makes sense other than if you are a wonk and study the politics and the procedures and the parochialism that goes on inside the political body. and that's what's got us in trouble. we're more interested in power and position and party. i'm sick of both parties. we better start focusing on the real problems in front of our country. we're going to have a $1.6 trillion deficit this year. and the way you get rid of a $1.6 trillion s deficit is $1 billion or $2 billion or $3 billion at a time. here's something that makes absolutely no sense. here's something that has no
true demand for it. here's something that is $3 billion that the people we're paying to say they don't want the $3 billion, and we're not going to take them up on it? what part of stupid are we? i mean, you know, this is like a ferrell movie. it doesn't make sense. it's comedic. we've had a lot of debate. let me just talk for a minute about what's going on in the agricultural community throughout this country if you're a poultry, milk or livestock producer. you can't bring your cattle to feed lots right now because the corn is too expensive. $7.65 a bushel yesterday. you can't afford to fatten your cattle, so they're not bringing them in from the range. we're slaughtering dairy cows all across this country because
70% of the cost of dairy cows is the corn that you feed them. we're going to get all sorts of untoward interruptions and price increases in our food if we continue this silly policy. 70% of the cost for chickens is feed. we're having chicken processors close and go into bankruptcy. we're having chicken raisers, the actual chicken farms -- a lot in oklahoma, a lot in arkansas, a lot throughout the south, even over in delaware and in virginia -- that can't afford to feed the chickens. so what's going to happen because we have this false subsidy? the fact is 15% right now of the food increases in this country that you've seen in the last year are directly associated with this policy. directly associated with this
policy. and that doesn't have any effect on the fact that what can we do by sending $7 corn out of this country to our balance of payments which would help our trade imbalance? instead we're burning it, and it's a highly inefficient fuel. it's a highly inefficient fuel. everybody knows when they fill wup 15% or 10% ethanol, they get much poorer gas mileage. everybody knows that. in oklahoma, we have all these stations where it says ethanol-free. why do people pay 10 cents or 15 cents more a gallon? because they win on mileage. they actually get better peformance when they don't have ethanol in our fuel. we all know that. it's just in some states you don't have that option. we're fortunate. we can still by real gas. i understand we have about 3 minutes left. i will close with the following statement. this is going to be an historic
vote. not about ethanol, not about subsidies. it's going to be a historic vote that sends a signal to the american people. either the people in washington get it and are going to stop wasting money on programs that they don't need to waste on, and they're going to start acting in the best long-term interests of the country. they're either going to do that or they're not. saopbd when we see the results of this vote, you're going to have a hard time explaining i voted against that because i didn't like the way the amendment came up. the fact is here's $3 billion we don't have to spend over the next six months. if we don't spend it, that's $3 billion we're not going to have to borrow from our children and they're not going to be paying interest on for the next 30 years. this comes down to the point in time, does the senate recognize the amount of trouble we're in
the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: thank you, madam president. i rise this morning to talk about america's energy future. the reality is we need a diversified energy future. what i mean by that is we need to develop all of our energy resources. in my home state of north dakota, we're doing just that. we have coal and we're developing deny coal technologies. we have oil and gas. we have hydro, biofuels, ethanol and biodiesel. we have solar, we have wind, we have biomass. and we're working aggressively to develop all of them, both traditional sources of energy and our renewable sources of energy. ten years ago, in 2000, when i started as governor of north dakota, we set a course to develop a comprehensive energy plan, to develop all of our energy resources, both
traditional and renewable, and to do it in tandem by encouraging private investment, private investment that would spur the development of new technologies, new technologies to develop traditional sources of energy and renewable sources of energy and create new and exciting synergistic partnerships. it would both diversify our energy mix, help us produce more energy, more cost-effectively, create good-quality jobs and improve environmental stewardship, and that's exactly what's happening. that's exactly what's happening in our state and that's exactly what we need to do as a nation. let me give you some examples from our state. oil and gas. oil and gas development has taken off in north dakota. we are now the fourth largest oil-producing state in the union. we recently passed states like louisiana and oklahoma. we're producing it from new formations like the balkan
shale. we're doing it from new directions and horizontal drilling. we figured out how to use those technologies like directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing in new ways that produce more energy but do it with good environmental stewardship. for example, in the case of high drawd i can fracturing, we recycle the water. we go two miles underground, we drill underground for miles so it's a much smaller footprint. one well now produces what 10 or 12 wells used to produce. and the water we use to force the oil to the surface, we send back down, recycle it, reuse it again, and ultimately we put it back down the hole. in the case of coal, we take lignite coal and we produce synthetic natural gas. we put it in pipelines, we send it to other parts of the country. just like the gas you pull out of the ground. and at the same time, in one of our grants, we're capturing co2 co2, the -- co2, the
carbon dioxide, capturing it, compressing it, putting it in pipelines and sending it out to the oil fields for secondary or tertiary recovery. so those are some of the new developments that we're undertaking in traditional sources of energy. but as we do with things like oil and gas and coal, we're also developing through renewables as well. for example, wind. our state is now the ninth largest wind energy state of all 50. we are continuing to move up the ranks, and that includes investing billions of dollars to make it happen. again, more energy for our country from more diversified sources, creating good jobs in the process, and think how important that is. think how important it is to create good jobs at a time when we have more than 9% unemployment, 15-plus million people out of work, an economy that we need to get going and growing, and energy development represents an incredible opportunity to make that happen.
but when we talk about energy development, we need all of the different sources of energy and each has strengths and each has weaknesses. that's why we need the fix. in our state, we also produce biofuels, ethanol and biodiesel, and clearly the discussion today is how do we best create that environment to continue the development, the production and the growth of ethanol in a way that is cost-effective, that serves the taxpayers of this country but continues to develop that vital industry for our country at a time when we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, when we need more guessically produced energy, when we need quality jobs, when we need a growing economy? and we can do it. we can do it with the right kind of energy policy, with the right kind of energy policy, and that's what we're talking about today. think about ethanol. it helps reduce our dependence
on foreign oil. for every gallon of ethanol we use as part of the fuel mix, that's one less gallon of gasoline we're bringing in from the middle east. and by increasing supply, we help reduce the cost of gasoline at the pump for our consumers. and in addition to that, we're creating good-paying american jobs. in 2010, the ethanol industry employed 400,000 workers in good jobs throughout the united states, 400,000 jobs. they provided an important market for american farmers throughout our country. it displaced the need for 445 million barrels of foreign oil. let me repeat that. it displaced the need for 445 million barrels of foreign oil, and it reduced the price of gasoline at the pump by 80 cents a gallon for the american consumer. now, in addition to all that, the ethanol industry paid
paid $11 billion in federal taxes in 2010. i want to emphasize that point. in 2010, the ethanol industry paid $11 billion in federal tax. so it is an important industry to our country and we need to continue it. the point of the discussion today, though, is how best to do that, and so for this discussion today is how do we create the right environment to stimulate private investment, to stimulate private investment so we have that growing economy, more jobs, more energy, but we also generate more tax revenues with less government spending so we both grow our way out of this debt and deficit, we get this economy going, we create a better energy future for these young people and young people all over our great country. well, that's why i have sponsored legislation along with senators thune and senator
klobuchar, that will reform the ethanol tax credit, it will provide deficit reduction and set us on the right path for alternative fuel development in our country for the long run. the legislation is called the ethanol tax reform and deficit reduction plan, and it's the right way, it's the right way to transition from the current veetc, volumetric ethanol excise tax credit, rather than the amendment today to simply do away with veetc. this is the right transition for us to make from the veetc to creating the right environment to stimulate development and energy growth in biofuels for the future. the ethanol tax reform and deficit reduction plan provides provides $1 billion in deficit reduction right away. it provides $1 billion in deficit reduction, but it also provides the right transition for ethanol by providing the
right kind of energy policy. specifically, we provide incentives for things like blender pumps that offer consumers choice, and we provide the right kind of incentives for research, development and deployment of second generation ethanol, specifically cellulosic ethanol, so that instead of making ethanol from food products, we're making it from stover and wheat straw and other sources. by combining blender pumps, flex fuel vehicles and commonsense regulation on the part of the e.p.a. that encourages higher fuel blends, we create the business environment that will foster growth in the ethanol industry. what does that mean? that means, number one, we avoid the ongoing cost of subsidies like the veetc. second, we set the ethanol industry up for long-term growth.
third, we gain jobs. we gain jobs at a time when we badly need them. we produce more energy, which reduces our dependence on foreign oil, and we gain tax revenues. we gain tax revenues to help reduce our deficit. so we not only spend less cie grow our eco andreduce the that growing economy builds on the $11 billion that the industry is already paying in federal taxes, and we grow that base while we're growing our job base. that's the right way to move forward, to move out of our deficit situation in this economy, to get our -- our economy going and also to produce more energy. this is a market-based approach that will give customers more choice and also reduce their fuel costs. for example, you go into the station, there is a blender pump there. you have a flex fuel vehicle. can you dial up whatever blend you choose, anywhere from zero
percent biofuels all the way up to 85%. whatever works best for you, whatever works best for your pocketbook, whatever works best for your vehicle. we have blender pumps in my state. we have an incentive for blender pumps in my state. as a result, we have more blender pumps than any other state in the country. and the reality is today if you buy fuel in north dakota, almost all the fuel you buy will have ethanol in it and you don't even realize it. why? because at a 90/10% blend, every vehicle can use it and it's the lowest cost priced gasoline at the pump. so dealers want to sell it, consumers go up and buy it and they simply buy it because they pick the lowest cost fuel at the pump and it's a 90/10 blend. that's where we're going with this, a market-based approach, and that's how it can work for the benefit of our economy and for the benefit of our energy
future, for the benefit of reducing spending and for the benefit of growing our tax revenues. that's the choice that we have today, and that's the right way to approach job creation and energy development in our country. we are reducing spending, we're improving and creating an environment for private sector investment that will help us build a pro-business climate for energy growth and for economic growth in our country, and i urge my fellow senators to make that pro-growth choice. thank you, mr. president, and at this point i yield the floor. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations which the clerk will report. the clerk: nominations, the judiciary, claire s. cecchi of new jersey to be united states district judge for the district
of judge. esther salas of new jersey to be united states district judge for the district of new jersey. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will be one hour for debate equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees. the senator from new jersey. mr. lautenberg: thank you, mr. president. i have been asked to make a request for the committees to meet. mr. president, i have got nine unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and the minority leaders, and i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. lautenberg: thank you, mr. president. today's distinct honor -- today is a distinct honor for me to have the opportunity to fulfill the constitutional commitment that each of us has to assure
the public at large that justice is being administered as it should be. we fulfill this commitment by making sure that vacancies on the federal bench are filled with individuals who have the proper experience and will provide the kind of fairness and balance in decisionmaking that confirms america's basic tenets. mr. president, during a two-year hiatus that i took from the senate, i was honored with a naming of a federal courthouse in newark. and i was so pleased to have that association with the justice administered in our society. but before the building was
dedicated, i asked that anen description that i authored be -- that an inscription that i authored be placed on the wall. it reads exactly as i labored to write it, and it says that the true measure of a democracy is its dispensation of justice. as a matter of fact, when i shared that moment with my dear departed colleague senator ted kennedy, who questioned whether i wrote it because he knew i wasn't a lawyer, but we joked about it and i confirmed it. that's the way i saw things. the sentiment behind that quote underscores how seriously i take my role in recommending new
jersey district court nominees to president obama. that's why i'm so proud to come to the floor today to urge my colleagues to confirm president obama's nomination of judge claire cecchi and judge esther salas to the united states district court for new jersey. both are well qualified for the court, having devoted their careers to upholding the rule of law. throughout her career, judge cecchi has demonstrated her ability to navigate complicated legal matters and manage complex cases. and during the confirmation process, she showed the temperament, let us know something of her candor and to display the kind of character that she brings to the bench. for the past five years, judge
cecchi has served as a united states magistrate judge in the district of new jersey, where she's provided over hundreds of civil and criminal cases. before joining the bench, judge cecchi spent 14 years in private practice, focusing on complex civil litigation. and one of her passions is to try and encourage young people to pursue a career in the law. she's hosted a program called bring your child to work day programs in the district court as well as a mock trial for a local sixth grade class, to let young people have some understanding of what goes on to make sure that justice is fairly served in the federal courts. justice cecchi's community spirit is pronounced in her activities. she volunteered for the junior
league, orphans, with aids, human needs, food pantry and salvation army to name just a few. she graduated from fordham university law school, graduated cum laude from barnard college at columbia university. before being appointed to the bench she was a partner at two new jersey law firms and was an assistant corporation counsel for the city of new york. like judge cecchi, judge salas earned the respect and admiration of new jersey's legal community. first as an accomplished litigator and for the past five years as a united states magistrate judge. and she's going to be the first latina in new jersey to serve as a magistrate judge. she was the first latina, i should say. and in a newspaper profile a few years ago judge salas recalled
how when she was ten years old her family lost everything in a fire in the apartment building where they lived. the judge's mother said to her -- and i quote it as she gave it to us -- "things are going to be fine. we've gotten this far and we're going to make it. what determination that showed. and i'd like to tell this story because i believe it demonstrates how judge salas's experience has shaped her life and her career. she's known hardship but she has also known great success as a member of new jeers legal community. before she became a magistrate judge, she served nine years as an assistant federal public defender in newark, representing indigent clients in a variety of cases. in addition, judge salas has
worked in private practice, handling appellate work for a new jersey law firm. she is a graduate of the rutgers university school of law and she clerked for a new jersey supreme court judge eugene cody. additionally, judge salas has served as the president of the hispanic bar association of new jersey, an association to which she has devoted countless volunteer hours for her career. as i shared with the judiciary committee when i introduced judge cecchi and judge salas in march, i am not a lawyer, but i have a deep and abiding respect for the law, and i was pleased to recommend judges cecchi and salas because both are unquestionably qualified to serve on the district court, and they'll bring honor to the
people of new jersey and our country. so i am dhaft my colleagues in the senate will -- so i am confident that my colleagues in the senate will agree and vote overwhelmingly to confirm their nominations and that, mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. lautenberg: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. lautenberg: i ask unanimous consent that further calling of the roll be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without
objection. mr. lautenberg: and i ask further that the remaining time be available and i just want to take a moment, if i may, to check with the clerk, please. okay, and i ask the time during the quorum call be equally divided. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lautenberg: wand that, mr. president -- and with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: sk unanimous
vote for the confirmation of two of new jersey's most outstanding judicial professionals to fill two vacancies for the united states district court judges for the district of new jersey. and i understand that vote will be taking place around noon. both of these very qualified women are now united states magistrate judges. judge claire cecchi and judge esther salas are among the most respected leaders in new jersey's district community. both have demonstrated skill and professionalism on the bench and an impressive ability to manage the heavy and complex dockets before them. judge cecchi has a broad range of litigation experience having worked in the private sector for over 14 years. after serving in the office of corporation counsel for the city of new york, she practiced with robinson, st. john and wayne and later with robinson lapidus and
level liu, both large and respected firms. she is no stranger as working for both defendants and plaintiffs. in the course of her distinguished career she focused on security litigation and complex tort matters to employment law, criminal cases, construction cases and contracts. in handling a case involving a suit by the securities and exchange commission, a prominent cast against two companies in federal court in the southern district of tphorpblg, judge -- in new york, judge tkefp which i demonstrated out-- judge cecchi demonstrated outstanding legal skills. she was singled out for her depth and range on the subject. judge cecchi went to the firm of carpenter, pwef knit and morris morrisey where she worked on
environmental and court cases, class actions and deployment law. she is a -- and employment law. she is a graduate of fordham university and began her career clerking for the honorable kevin thomas duffey of the southern district of new york. as a u.s. magistrate judge she has shown a unique set of judicial skills that makes her an exceptional choice for the position of united states district judge for the district of new jersey. magistrate judge esther salas has been an exceptional public servant. in 2006, she became the first hispanic to serve as a united states magistrate judge for the district of new jersey. in her handling of a docket of well over 400 cases, she has earned the respect of many in the legal community who have said that she is the finest judge they have worked with in many years of practice. in a ten-year environmental dispute involving 350 attorneys,
she managed the resulting avalanche of motions and countermotions, including federal and state claims for more than $300 million in cleanup costs and damages. her handling of the case prompted several lawyers not only to credit her with being the principal moving force in bringing the parties to agreement, but recommending her to the judiciary committee with their unqualified support. prior to serving as a u.s. magistrate judge, judge salas worked for almost ten years on the federal public defenders office where she zealously provided her clients with the best legal advice and skilled defense in what were often difficult cases. judge salas clerked for a superior court judge. a proud new jerseyan she earned degrees from rutgers university and rutgers university law skaofplt she is a member of the new jersey state bar, a past
president of the hispanic bar of new jersey and extraordinary jurist. these two extraordinary nominees, two of new jersey's most respected legal professionals both deserve confirmation by the full senate as u.s. district court judges for the district of new jersey. i urge my colleagues to confirm the nominations and give new jersey two respected and distinguished district court judges who have earned the confidence of the legal community of my state. the recommendation of the judiciary committee and, in my view, deserve a unanimous vote in the full senate. thank you, mr. president. with that, i yield the floor and observe the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: