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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  September 8, 2011 9:00am-12:00pm EDT

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to us about the nine that they did not give a good grade on. where are theriitie i was not successful closing get out. i ask it with all humility. >> there are some within our control. the overhaul of the congressional oversight committee structure. that is something there has not been a single move to address in the last decade. that is something that needs to be addressed. it is tough. i will give it to congress that there are a lot of rice bowls there beside from that, the intersection between home and security and defense is quite challenging. doing that is important to do. they need to they need to do with thought fully. i think they have waited because at the time the 9/11 commission came out they wanted to overhaul the national intelligence agency
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but then the can kept being kicked down the road. one of the other areas is the civil liberties oversight board which is something that is presidentially appointed group of folks that would oversee the u.s. government privacy and civil liberties issues. we have not been able to stand-up -- a number of people we were trying to get to be the chair of that and various things happened. we don't have somebody yet. we are working on that. we want to identify the members we have on their but although we don't have the people there are private securities offices in each of the agencies and they are very active. they work collectively as a group of. the 9/11 commissioners getting together with next week to talk about and make sure even though there's not a structure that they are able to do their jobs. there are other issues of real id in terms of what the federal government is requiring of
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states but states can pass their own laws and make certain things not admissible. this hamilton/jefferson challenge we are facing. and biometrics is evolving arena that we need to stay very much focused on, making sure -- one thing they pointed out is we don't have what is in place to prevent the invasion in the united states so the the things that we need to continue to work on. when i look at the real fundamental representations of the 9/11 commission, i think between two administration in the last ten years you can check of a lot of mistakes and say we have come a long way. the fact the we still have some things to accomplish we need to stay focused on them but i like to look at those things we were looking at. >> let me ask you. we spoke to you this morning. you know what my next question is which is my hobby horse of
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the ones that are not accomplished yet because i really worry about the consequences of it and that is the additional bandwidth for first responders. they're the bill before congress the president has supported. question to you is what is the likelihood it will pass given all the other things facing congress right now not least of which is budget concerns and fiscal concerns, and second is the president willing to make it a presidential priority to get this thing passed? two administrations here and it hasn't gotten done yet. but people will be heard and people will die if we don't get this thing done. >> guest: as far as 9/11 commissioners point to there is making available to the first responders in state and local communities but also the bill that the district requires to make sure it is going to be servicing that. there are also issues related to
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-- you have a system where you have the system engineering in place as far as the business model or orchestration of that. being able to communicate with everybody, is a very chaotic and -- environment. if there is no system in place that will allow -- there will be orchestration of that into operability and connected the day. one of the real problems they were selling people on the net being able to distinguish and almost overloaded. you need to make sure you are able to build a system that will be able to leverage that interrupt ability. the president is committed to be able to do what he can but there is a big congressional stake in this. there are a lot of differences in equities with this. should we be making more progress on the front? yes. should we have an interruptable
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system within some type of business architecture that will allow communication to take place in emergency situations? not so that the airwaves are inundated with everybody who can access those channels. that would just lead to anarchy. >> host: talk to about your view of how intelligence reform has been implemented and how it is working. the administration is on your second, jim clapper will be with us later today. what is your view of her intelligence reform is working? >> guest: i pause because how would is working now and as far as the future, gin clapper had the thing -- he has been outstanding. he has tremendous -- in the intelligence community. he has the right touch. he recognizes there needs to be
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an interrupt community. the change that has taken place in a positive direction. the real challenge from the 9/11 commission is the dni needs more control over personnel and budget in departments and agencies that have their own cabinet officials where heads with their own appropriators so it is easy enough to say they should be in charge of the intelligence community scattered throughout 16 or 17 departments, but the practical implications of that is challenging. if you want to take away from the secretary of state for the secretary of defense a large chunk of their work force so dni makes the determination, have their their department 0 -- supposed to be able to serve.
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one of the things jim is trying to tackle is the idea that intelligence reform, making sure you have an interruptable system without wasted resources and systems that are not able to be integrated. you are going to have the appropriate systems in place like cybersecurity or other things. a lot of money as people know go into the it structure. >> bringing water. >> i don't want to have a note. they never do in my business. and open the door and pronounced it again. >> guest: president bush had the same reaction to me. talk to as for in a moment. one of the things in the department of homeland security was the intelligence and analysis capability.
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what is the dni's appropriate role when it comes to homeland intelligence and how has that intelligence capability of the department built and our effective is it? >> guest: the department of homeland security has the unique responsibility at the threat needs to come together with information to map it in a way the department of security can take appropriate actions to mitigate those threats and mitigate those vulnerabilities. there are different components in the department of homeland security and intelligence and analysis. they're doing a great job. she needs to make sure the secretary has pulled the stability in the those threats and vulnerabilities that the secretary is responsible for addressing. yesterday we got together. the president has these sessions with the heads of the department issuing responsibility for
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counter-terrorism responsibility of defense and state and homeland security and fbi and cia and went over the 9/11 anniversary preparations. we addressed the threat and talked about our partners overseas and the fbi here and we finished up rightly so with secretary janet napolitano saying in light of that, the engagement that we had this is what we're doing to ensure we are as prepared as possible to protect the homeland. that has to be important not just at large but this is where i am a has to hope that others are able to identify those things in the state's that if the threat factor focused on bridges at home that the the things we should be thinking about in terms of steps we need to take and the department so we can address vulnerabilities.
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so what ima is doing shouldn't be a replication of packaging of the threat. it is announcing we need to make sure we are able to map it against that mission so that the secretary knows there are certain policy issues we need to take and measures we need to take or additional security precautions. >> host: what is the dni's appropriate role in homeland security intelligence? >> guest: we issued a white paper this morning. don't ask me about it. i did read the top wines there. homeland security intelligence, i don't know whether it is used with homeland security information. to me it is the broader universe of information that is out there. intelligence is acquired clandestinely or whatever but homeland security information
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consists of many components. things that will be acquired by law enforcement and investigators or at the border people right out there with applications were from intelligence that is collected. so i think dni needs to make sure that the intelligence community as a whole provides to bob miller and janet napolitano and others who have responsibilities for protecting the homeland that the intelligence machine is able to collect and analyze information in the best way possible that allow them to do their jobs. the president looks to them to make sure they uncover the threats or address problems that exist. they need that intelligence support. they need to be able to ensure they have full stability to take people -- jim clapper in my mind needs to be sure our collection systems and analytic systems are hitting on all cylinders in order to give those two
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organizations, fbi and dhs when they need. that doesn't mean clandestine acquire and open source is a great example of what we need to do to leverage and social media that is out there, there is a new universe of information available now. some things are not available to the intelligence community, but what jim clapper and the intelligence community have to do make sure the universe of information is relevant to homeland security is made available to robert miller and janet napolitano and others. >> you mentioned the fbi and dhs when we talk about homeland related frets and information or intelligence. there has been much written and talked about, the tension inherent in that relationship. is it working better and who in your example is a threat against bridges and tunnels, who is most
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responsible and accountable for passing that -- i live in new york to ray callie or state and local authority? >> guest: a lot depends on where it is acquired. let's say there is a source reporting -- ac a requires information in the system. it will immediately be disseminated. it is one of the things the cia has done a great job making sure that information is available to others. it is made available on fbi systems or d.h. a systems and immediately available in new york. that is the standpoint of a threat to bridge or tunnel or something they need to track down that lead. jt jttf's mission is not to assure their the propagation of information. is an operational environment
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where you combine federal agencies and state and local officials so they can run it down. dhs has a responsibility to ensure state and local officials and private-sector officials have primary responsibility for ensuring that they are aware of this and they can take the steps because it is going to be state and locals who have responsibility to step up to the security presence at a bridge or tunnel or they need to do additional checks. but this is where robert miller and janet napolitano have a good relationship. trying to control dissemination of this information and making sure people don't do anything until janet napolitano speaks to ray kelly on the phone it won't happen. the thing is to make sure it gets out there and people take action appropriately. that is why the nature of the information passed out there
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needs to be and the releaseable level. if the information that was first acquired includes operational information that is exposed to compromise methods that is not information that needs to get to state and local officials. the fact is the threat that might involve a certain type of person or secretary or whatever can get out and needs to get out quickly and one of the things bob and jenna are good about is saying that is my job. they want to make sure they're fulfilling their responsibilities but won't say to someone don't share that threat information. that is the last thing you want to do. don't show threat information, that is my responsibility. >> host: it is fair to say there has been a lot of progress on information sharing, but nothing is perfect and there are inevitable opportunities for failure.
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the attempted christmas day bombing information was imperfect and in perfectly shared. can you talk about the progress you made for the point of insuring the information sharing improved and talk to us about how it has improved and your level of confidence in it? >> guest: one thing we have done that previous administrations have done is leverage experiences so you can correct any deficiencies. the president has insisted whether it was the holland incident or times square or the fort hood shooting that we look back and see what we had available to us and do the forensics on it and say in light of what we knew before that attack what could we have done better or what could we have that -- been able to do if we had a better system with information sharing or whatever? in each of those instances we
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found examples where something -- there was a report that was not disseminated in a timely fashion because the resources on a particular desk, somebody was away so it was there for a day or two. that is easily fixed. you can flag something and make sure there will be back up. the issue of a spelling put into a check. those are things you don't realize until it is a problem. the issue of sharing through the fbi and department of defense was a big issue. this gets to the issue of personnel files and other issues that address personal liberties. but the dod and fbi put in place a process whereby civil liberties would be protected and privacy rights but at the same time there would be visibility across the fbi or dod wall so that if there was information of concern that the fbi needs to
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investigate it will do. the recent example of the individual who was going to carry out attacks in fort hood, we look back on that to see what could have been done differently that would have allowed us to identify this individual earlier. thankfully there was a vigilant struggler who brought concerns to the attention of local authorities but i do think in each one of those instances it brings to the surface some things you don't know our problems until you experience them. sometimes it requires i.t. changes and sometimes system process changes. but in each instance of the agencies have been very good at explaining what happened because they want to be better. have not found any instance where a department or agency tried to cover up. that is what the president said to folks.
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in the oval office he had the heads of department and agencies. i want to get to the bottom of this and find out what happened and make sure we understand what happened and i don't want anybody pulling back on this. sometimes the congress will do their own investigation and sometimes hit us with failures. what we are most interested in is making the difference in terms of our future capabilities. yes, there is an accountability issue and we want to make sure somebody made a mistake despite their best efforts. someone -- that is something else. >> you mentioned i.t.. just before we came on senator john warner mentioned the threat that concerns him right now is the cyberthreat. talk about your view of the cyberthreat and what you're doing to combat it. >> guest: as challenging as the terrorist threat in the
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cyberfred makes my head hurt even more just because of the challenge we face and the openness of this cyberenvironment. we are talking environment that is privately run, privately organized and the u.s. government has the responsibility because the u.s. government will feed off of the internet. we want to make sure it is secure and we can stop any attacks against us but we have an obligation to the american people and the critical infrastructure. there are a number of things underway. the previous administration working with the private sector, being able to have the ability to acquire the signatures of different attacks and share that information within the government and share with the private sector. one of the challenges in the private sector is we want to make sure that they share their experiences with us when they get hacked. we want them to share with us
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but at the same time they have their own concerns that if information gets worse they could have an impact. what we are trying to do is to insure there will be this relationship with the private sector that they feel confident they can share this information with us and we will be able to work with them. there is a debate right now and we sent to the hill a legislative package that has certain statutory requirements of the private-sector and the ability of the government to do things. we don't want to put in place a strict regulatory framework that will be a deterrent to innovation and paralyzed the system. at the same time the ability of foreign actors or groups or individuals to cause damage is serious. the cyberfront is a concern.
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it is an open environment. we made some strides in one of the areas the president has really focused on and insisted we need to work harder and better because of the concerns of the impact not just on civil liberties and hacking and also on our economics. >> host: the u.s. government has the capability of legal authority it needs to combat this threat that if not, what is the source of legal authority? >> guest: the legal authority is addressed in the legislative package. there are some people who feel we need to go even further as far as giving the u.s. government additional capabilities and requirements. more regulation of that. there are ways to address it. do we have the capability? the technical world changes every day and the capabilities of hackers and those trying to do us harm continue to evolve.
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we do have significant capabilities'. we are doing a number of things. we have a pilot that has been running with the industrial base to try to make sure we are able to work with them so that they are subject to being targeted by cyberhackers whether it is other countries or companies that are trying to steal stuff. with these pilots we will experience certain things. we have to do it consistently with issues related to legal liabilities or whatever. but i think we need to look very seriously at this environment if we're going to have it as a backbone of our daily lives. what really needs to be done is make it more secure. some folks feel as though the market is going to develop that once it becomes cost prohibitive for cyberattacks. the losses of billions of
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dollars. allowing the market just to evolve in a way that will ensure additional cybersecurity, there are things the government can do in collaboration with the private sector. >> host: are there specific things you would like to see that the private-sector could be helpful to the government? are there tasks the government has of the private sector in this area? >> guest: part of it is having the dialogue. the dialogue has been very good with certain segments of the private sector. certainly the aviation industry and financial sectors components are very good as well. i do think it is making sure that the private sector companies share with us the department of homeland security has the responsibility to share with us their experiences. we need to understand the different types of sectors and signatures. we need to make sure we have visibility into what their
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experiences are and also to voluntarily -- they can do some things themselves to tighten up their security practices and there are guidelines we can help them with but their security is dependent in large measure on the discipline and the rigor that they have in ensuring the protection of their databases of their critical information. particularly at a time of cost cutting. the economy where it is some companies will pare back those long-term investments because they want to make sure they are able to do when they need to do. if they are paring back cybersecurity they're doing it at their own peril. they need to continue to focus on that and put resources to. >> host: last question. no conversation at this time would be complete without acknowledging and asking you about the impact of the current fiscal crisis.
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there is great concern. in the wake of the cold war starting with bush 41 through clinton there were tremendous budget cuts in the national-security apparatus, the military and intelligence community and law enforcement community. that has been built up steadily over the last ten years to give us the current capability. there is tremendous concern here and nationally about what are the implications for our national security capability in this time of tightening budgets? can you give us a sense what to expect in terms of budget cuts? >> guest: clearly all the u.s. government agencies are going to have to be part of the effort to trim budgets so that we can live within our means. the investment in intelligence as well as in iraq and afghanistan has been very significant. as we wind down in iraq and looking at afghanistan we have
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to make sure we are able to have the capabilities that will ensure that the investment that was made is going to allow us to do what we can to work with our partners, the iraqi government and afghan government and whatever. this is where jim clapper's role is important. he needs to look into the intelligence community and make sure there's no unnecessary redundancy. you need to have redundancy but it needs to be thoughtful and delivered as opposed to a necessary. you have to look at some of these big ticket items. the technical programs. what we need to do is make sure we are focused on not the capability but what is it we are trying to accomplish? make sure we are able to achieve those missions irrespective of platforms or the capability.
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and sometimes we know that congress has certain pet project that agencies have pet project. we need to make sure that they are useful, meaningful, important and necessary for the mission ahead of us. it is a lot easier in washington to start a project rather -- some things serve their time and that is why i give bob gates a lot of credit in the department of defense. he made some tough decisions resulting in a human cry against him but big dollar savings and he was able to invest in other parts of the pentagon. this is where jim clapper needs to make sure that he looks out over the u.s. government and says what are the real -- talking about homeland security information. critically important. to make sure there is going to be the capabilities that exist in our resources appropriately for that. on the i.t. front there's a lot of money invested in i.t. and as
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we move forward these new areas that are integrated network systems there are savings that can be achieved and don't want to hurt ourselves in terms of what the american people expect and want from the intelligence community but having somebody on top of this to save this was -- served a useful purpose during this time. >> host: let me thank you for your time at your service and everybody here wishes you every success. [applause] >> the senate gaveling in this morning at 10:30 eastern senators will return to a bill that overhauls the patent system. five hours debate have been allotted for three amendments including one by oklahoma senator tom coburn that will
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allow the patent office to control all the fees it collects rather than having them placed in congress's annual appropriation fund. on all three amendments as well as final passage affected at 4:00 p.m. eastern. at 6:20 senators will gather and proceed to the house floor to receive the president's speech on jobs. live coverage on c-span beginning at 7:00 eastern. following the joint session the senate will reconvene to vote on whether to proceed to resolution of disapproval of raising the debt ceiling. we now take you to the senate floor for live coverage here on c-span2. senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer.
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the chaplain: let us pray. lord god, through whom we find liberty and peace lead us in your righteousness and make the way straight before our lawmakers. as they grapple with complex issues and feel the need for guidance lead them to the decision that will best glorify you. looking to you to guide them, may they not be overwhelmed remembering that in everything you are working for the good of those who love you.
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may your good blessings continue to be with us and may we, in response to your abiding love ever seek to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with you. we pray in your sacred name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance 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., september 8, 2011.
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to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rus of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorabletom udall, a senator from the state of new mexico, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore. mr. reid: mr. president stph-p. the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. reid: following leader remarks there will be an hour of morning business. republicans will control the first half, the majority will control the final half. following morning business the senate will resume consideration of the america invents act. there will be four roll call votes starting at about 4:00 p.m. that time could move a little bit but not much. and we're doing that in order to complete action on this patent bill that's been so important to the country. it will be the first revision of this law in more than six decades. senators should gather in the senate chamber about 6:30 this evening to proceed as a body to the house for the joint session with president obama. when we return this evening there will be an additional roll call vote on the motion to proceed to s.j. res. 25, which
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is a joint resolution of disapproval regarding the debt limit increase. as i indicated to everyone last night, if the motion to proceed prevails, we'll be back tomorrow to complete that work. that could take as much as ten hours tomorrow. if the motion to proceed fails, then we will have other things to do tomorrow, but there will be no votes. mr. president, i'm told s.j. res. 26 is due for a second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the second time. the clerk: s.j. res. 26, joint resolution expressing the sense of congress that the secretary of treasury, timothy geithner, no longer holds the confidence of congress or of the people of the united states. mr. reid: mr. president, i would object to any further proceedings with respect to this resolution. the presiding officer:
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objection is heard. the bill will be placed on the calendar. mr. reid: mr. president, tonight before a joint session of congress president obama will address the nation in the single-most important issue facing our country: the unemployment crisis we have before us. i look forward to hearing the specifics of this plan. i've spoken to him and i have a pretty good idea of what he's going to talk about. i support its goal, to create good jobs for the 14 million people who have no jobs. and this is a time of dark economic times, and it's important we do this. i applaud the commonsense bipartisan approach he will unveil tonight to invest in badly needed infrastructure, cut taxes for working families and small small businesses to spur job creation. these are ideas which members of both parties should rally. republicans have always
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supported tax cuts. they've done it in the past and they agree that we must bring america's infrastructure up to 21st century standards. i hope that in fact is the case. but if my republican friends oppose these proposals now that they've supported in the past, the reason will be very clear: simply partisan politics. republicans seem convinced that a failing economy is good for their politics. they think if they kill every jobs bill and stall every effort to revive the economy, president obama will lose. my good friend, the republican leader, has said so. he said the republican party's number one goal in congress is to defeat the president. but republicans aiming at the president caught innocent americans in the cross-fire. this week republican leaders have said they want to work with the president and democrats in congress. they want to do this on bipartisan job creation, they say. i hope that in fact is the case.
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mr. president, their actions over the last months speak louder than the words over the last few days. for example, republicans oppose the innovation research program and the economic development administration. both have proven track records of spurring innovation and creating entrepreneurship and creating jobs. the republicans were willing to put more than 500,000 americans' jobs at risk and in fact eliminate those jobs rather than work with us to pass that legislation. the senate passed much-needed patent reform in march, yet house republicans have stalled for months before sending back their version of the bill. i'm hopeful we can send it back to the house untouched. republicans wasted weeks threatening to shut down the economy this spring. they held our economy hostage for months this summer over a routine vote on whether to pay the nation's bills.
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congress took the same vote 18 times while president reagan was president and seven times when george w. bush was president. never was the vote time-consuming or contentious. through it all, republicans have hacked away at funding for the very programs that were helping put this nation's economy back on its feet. results of their tactics, their stall tactics, obstructionism and mindless budget cuts are beginning to show. although the private sector created jobs the 18th month in a row, august saw no change in the unemployment rate. unemployment in nevada is still the highest in the nation. you know, even in spite of all this, mr. president, republicans refuse, have refused to allow us to focus on employment. as democrats introduced jobs bill after jobs bill, republicans made it clear they were more interested in pursuing a political agenda than a jobs
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agenda. we will no longer allow politics ahead of the american people. there are two things we must get done this work period. both these things will create and save jobs immediately. we must reauthorize the federal aviation administration to protect both air travelers and airline workers. that's 80,000 jobs. we must pass a highway bill to fund construction projects across the nation. these two bills combined will save about 2 million jobs, including many jobs in the struggling construction industry, and it will do it now. but we need republican help. we can't get it done without them. this is their chance to prove they remember the word bipartisan. it's time for necessity to trump ideology. senator robert byrd once said -- quote -- "potholes know no parties." the challenges that face this nation today are greater than any speed bump, but the record to recovery is the same.
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partisanship will not solve our jobs crisis. setting aside politics and service to our country certainly will. mr. president, we need to move forward this week and get some things done. i appreciate very much the work, especially of senator kyl, who is the republican whip, in working to put the patent bill in a position that it's in so that we can finish that bill today. we certainly hope to be able to do that. his work has been very, very exemplary and i appreciate it very, very much. next week likely our first vote will be to do something about fema, which is broke. the federal emergency management agency. we've had a string of natural catastrophes that have been just awful. irene, lee, tornadoes don't have names but the one that struck
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joplin, missouri, killed almost 200 people and devastated that town. last night there were a number of scientists that showed some of the things they developed. one of the things they developed, mr. president, these are things they do at universities, hand-made pieces of magnificent equipment that does many things. one of the things they have is something that they can place in the path of a storm. they've never been able to do that before to determine how much, what direction the wind is, how hard it blows, without belaboring the point, one of the instruments there recorded the strongest winds ever recorded in the history of the world, more than 300 miles an hour. that's basically what we have in joplin, missouri. there is no building that is standing. it's devastating.
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the pictures you see of joplin, missouri, is like a series of bombs hit that community. every building was affected. most of them knocked down. the reason i mention that, mr. president, fema has stopped work in joplin, missouri. people were there working for $9 an hour just putting things back in a semblance of order. that work has stopped. fema has had now to look at the places that are impacted right now. they're still trying to get the water out of some of the places because of lee and trying to restore immediate damage because of irene. we have to do something to replenish that money. i was happy to see some of the statements from one of the republican leaders in the house yesterday in effect changing his position on all this has to be paid for. we have, as we speak, mr. president, we're spending billions and billions of dollars every week in iraq and
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afghanistan. i understand that. but that's all unpaid for. unpaid for. certainly couldn't woo do something to -- couldn't we do something to help the american people that's an emergency and figure out some other way in the future to look forward to other disasters. we try to prefund what we think disasters are going to be. these are acts of god. that's what we learn in law school. these hurricanes, these tornadoes, these floods. along the mississippi river, mr. president, we have more than 3 million acres that are under water. this is farmland. it's not just vacant land. it's farmland that's under water. these people need help. we are the ones that can help them. we need to do that, so that's why we're going to have a vote as soon as i can arrange it next week on funding fema so they can continue doing the work that's so important for our country.
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i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the republican leader is recognized. mr. mcconnell: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, later on today, both houses of congress will welcome president obama to the capitol to speak about a very serious crisis we face as a nation. namely, an economic climate that is making it impossible for millions of americans to find the work they need to support themselves and their families. now, in a two-party system like ours, it shouldn't be surprising that there would be two very different points of view about how to solve this particular crisis. what is surprising is the
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president's apparent determination to apply the same government-driven policies that have already been tried and failed. the definition of insanity, albert einstein once famously put it, is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. frankly, i can't think of a better description of anyone who thinks the solution to the problem is another stimulus. the first stimulus didn't do it. why would another one? this is one question that the white house and a number of democrats clearly don't want to answer. that's why some of them are out there coaching people not to use the word stimulus when describing the president's plan. others are accusing anybody who criticizes it of being unpatriotic or playing politics. as i have said before, there is a much simpler reason to oppose the president's economic policies that has nothing whatsoever to do with politics.
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they simply don't work. yet by all accounts, the president's so-called jobs plan is to try those very same policies again and then accuse anyone who doesn't support them this time around of being political or overly partisan, of not doing what's needed in this moment of crisis. this isn't a jobs plan. it's a re-election plan. that's why republicans have continued to press for policies, policies that empower job creators, not washington. according to the "wall street journal," nearly a third of the unemployed have been out of work for more than a year. the average length of unemployment is now greater than 40 weeks, higher than it was even during the great depression. as we know, the longer you're out of a job, the harder it is to find one. that means for millions of americans, this crisis is getting harder every day. it's getting worse and worse.
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and we also know this: the economic policies of this president as tried have not alleviated the problem. in many ways, in fact, they have made things worse. gas prices are up. national debt is up. health insurance premiums are up. home values in moment places continue to fall. and two and a half years after the president's signature jobs bill was signed into law, 1.7 fewer americans have jobs. so i would say that americans have 1.7 million reasons to oppose another stimulus, and that's why many of us have been calling on the president to propose something entirely different tonight, not because of politics but because of the kind of policies he's proposed in the past haven't worked. the problem here isn't politics. the problem is the policy.
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it's time the president starts thinking less about how to describe his policies differently and more time thinking about devising new policies. and he might start by working with congress instead of writing it in secret without any consultation with republicans, a plan that the white house is calling bipartisan. with 14 million americans out of work, job creation should be a no-politics zone, and republicans stand ready to act on policies to get the private sector moving again. what we're reluctant to do, however, is to allow the president to put us deeper in debt to finance a collection of short-term fixes or shots in the arm that might move the needle today but which deny american job creators the things they really need to solve the crisis -- predictability, stability, fewer government burdens and less red tape. because while this crisis may have persisted for far too long
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and caused far too much hardship, one thing we do have right now is the benefit of hindsight. we know what doesn't work. so tonight the president should take a different approach, should acknowledge the failures of an economic agenda that centers on government spending and debt and work across the aisle on a plan that puts people and businesses at the forefront of job creation. the american people are going to have control over their own destiny, they need to have more control over their economy. that means shifting the center of gravity away from washington and toward those who really create jobs. it means putting an end to the regulatory overreach that's holding job creators back. it means being as bold about liberating job creators as the administration has been about shackling them. it means reforming an outdated tax code and getting out of the business of picking winners and
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losers. it means lowering the u.s. corporate tax rate which is currently the second highest in the world. and it means leveling the playing field with our competitors overseas by approving free trade agreements with colombia, panama and south korea that have been languishing on the president's desk literally for years. contrary to the president's claims, this economic approach isn't aimed at pleasing any one party or constituency. it's aimed at giving back to the american people the tools they need to do the work that washington has not been able to do on its own, despite its best efforts over the past few years. now, the president is free to blame his political adversaries. his predecessor or even natural disasters for america's economic challenges. tonight he may blame any future challenges on those who choose not to rubber stamp his latest proposals, but it should be noted that this is precisely
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what democratic majorities did during the president's first two years in office, and look where it got us. but here's the bottom line. by the president's own standards, his jobs agenda has been a failure, and we can't afford to make the same mistake twice. now, after the president's speech tonight calling for more stimulus spending, the senate will vote on his request for an additional $500 billion increase in the debt ceiling, so senators will have an opportunity to vote for or against this type of approach right away. mr. president, i yield the floor. 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 for one hour with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each with the time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, with the republicans controlling the first half and the majority controlling the final half. a senator: mr. president.
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the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska is recognized. mr. johanns: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i have come to the floor many times, as we all do, to discuss issues that are important to our states. in my case, the state of nebraska, and issues that are important to our nation. many times, those comments deal with what seems to be the constant regulatory assault on our nation's job creators. in meetings across nebraska -- and i did 15 town hall meetings in august -- the second and third questions i often get, if not the very first, concern the regulatory burden that our federal agencies are placing on our job creators. this administration has generated nothing short of a mountain of red tape, hundreds of new regulations. of these, at least 219 have been categorized as significant.
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what that means is that they will cost more than $100 million per year. $100 million taken out of our economy to finance regulation. the administration doesn't even dispute the mountain of red tape, nor does it dispute the size of the mountain that is created. in a letter from the president to speaker boehner, the white house identified seven regulations. on its agenda, each costing not not $100 million but at least least $1 billion per year. these costs take important capital out of our economy. these costs weigh on our job creators. these costs punish the little guy, and there's no doubt about it. and this mountain is so massive, the administration has had to
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expand the federal work force itself just to write the regulations and to enforce them. employment at federal agencies is up 13% since president obama took office, so with unemployment in excess of 9%, underemployment greater than that, this administration is expanding the size of government just to fuel more job-suppressing restrictions, and it just makes no sense. it makes no sense to me as an individual senator, but it makes no sense to the people of nebraska. for this reason, i am introducing legislation with the senior senator from arizona to press the pause button on this massive wave of red tape before it engulfs our very economy. our legislation is very straightforward.
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it says our small businesses are getting crushed, our citizens can't find jobs. freeze the regulatory onslaught through 2013. but our work simply cannot stop there. we also need some targeted regulatory reforms to rein in government bureaucracies that are simply out of control. thus, i will also be introducing two other pieces of additional legislation today to help temper the endless quest for additional power, jurisdiction and therefore regulation. the first one would close a loophole that allows agencies to grab power without authority, to grab power without an opportunity for congressional review. under the current state of the law, the congressional review
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act permits congress to use special procedures to step in and to disapprove agency rules. however, in this administration, agencies have recently chosen to use what they call guidance documents instead of rules to achieve their policy preferences and to expand their power. i'm troubled by this trend because their efforts appear to deliberately, intentionally circumvent american law specifically crafted to protect citizens from aggressive bureaucracies. we have an example but there are many. i'd like to use this one. i'm talking about a guidance document issued jointly by e.p.a. and the army corps of engineers on may 2 of this year. it's very recent. the guidance document's goal is
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clear -- to expand federal power over waterways. don't take my word for it. according to the e.p.a.'s own analysis, the guidance would significantly expand the waters of the united states subject to federal control and regulation. the american farm bureau has said the guidance -- quote -- " defines jurisdiction in the broadest way possible." unquote. well, this is a page straight out of this administration's play book. -- playbook. if their policy goal is rejected by congress, they use their regulatory power to accomplish their agenda any way they can. stretch the law, ignore the law, claim that the statute is ambiguous, circumvented, put out a guidance document to interpret it, and that's exactly what they're doing.
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we have seen this playbook used over and over again by this administration and its federal agencies. they should have gotten the message after an unsuccessful attempt during the last congress to vastly expand their jurisdiction over virtually all waters from irrigation ditches to farm pods. but like a child who hears "no" from his parents, they jump ahead. the administration went ahead anyway through this guidance document. as the north dakota farm bureau president describes it, e.p.a.'s guidance is an end run around congress -- and i'm quoting -- "if you can't get what you want without congress's blessing, make an end run around them." that seems to be what's happening here. make no mistake, if this guidance is adopted, e.p.a. could regulate any of the waters found in a state, no matter how small or seemingly unconnected
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to a federal interest." unquote. the agencies could not convince congress to change the law, so now what is happening? the same goal is being pursued in a different way that bypasses us. notably, both the house and the senate have expressed strong concern about the guidance document. 20 senators sent a letter noting that it represents a dramatic expansion of federal power over private land. in another letter, 41 senators asserted that making changes to the scope of the agency's activities through guidance instead of through rule making is -- quote -- "fundamentally unfair." unquote. this letter requested the agencies -- again quoting -- "abandon any further action on this guidance document." unquote. this is a very significant
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concern. this guidance document also has shown us that there is a huge loophole through which agencies can circumvent the rule making process in its entirety as well as circumventing congressional intent in order to expand federal power. so the legislation i introduced today closes the loophole. it amends the congressional review act to cover both traditional rules and guidance documents. no more end run around congress. consequently, agencies would be on notice that the loophole through which they intend to circumvent our will and the will of the american public is now a closed door. in other words, citizens would have another layer of protection from agencies seeking to
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unfairly expand federal jurisdiction. finally today i'm introducing the farm dust regulation prevention act. farmers and ranchers across this nation are concerned about the e.p.a.'s efforts to regulate dust. despite what the administrator is saying in farm country, e.p.a. is still in the midst of their review of the national ambient air quality standards for particulate matter, or put simply, farm dust. in rural america, farm dust is a fact of life. i grew up on a farm. it's dusty there. we kick it up while driving on unpaved roads or working in farm fields. farm dust has long been considered to have no health concern at ambient levels. however, e.p.a. is considering bringing down the hammer by ratcheting down that standard to a level that would be
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economically devastating for many in our rural areas. that just defies common sense. well to, restore common sense to these burdensome, job-threatening regulations and to give certainty to rural america, i'm introducing this legislation. the bill simply says "no" to e.p.a. from regulating dust in rural america. yet it maintains the protections of the clean air act to public health. it provides immediate certainty to farmers in rural areas by preventing revision of the current dust standard for a year. afterward, e.p.a. could regulate farm dust but only if they followed a scientific standard. first they'd need to show scientific evidence of substantial adverse health effects caused by dust. thus far the strongest the e.p.a. can conjure up in terms
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of science is to say it's uncertain. and second, e.p.a. would need to show that the benefit of additional regulation outweighs economic costs. these are commonsense standards. yet, the e.p.a. has unfortunately been unable to see the light, making this legislation necessary. so, there's three commonsense regulatory reforms that are solely needed. a two-year moratorium on job-constraining regulations. number two, making agency guidance documents -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. johanns: may i ask for an additional one minute? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. johanns: making agency guidance documents subject to up-or-down vote by congress in stopping the ill-advised farm dust regulation. problem certainty and relief for our nation's job creators and our american workers.
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i urge my colleagues to cosponsor these important efforts. i urge the white house to support us. the runaway train of regulation is weighing down on america's ingenuity and job creation. it's time to unshackle american workers with these commonsense reforms. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: mr. president, i would like to congratulate the senator from nebraska on his typically commonsense, reasonable presentation about how we might take steps to deal with the smothering regulations that are putting a big wet blanket on job growth in this country. the idea of a time-out to stop the avalanche of new regulations makes sense. farm dust, the idea of regulating farm dust makes no
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sense. slowing down the ability of federal agencies to get around the regulatory process by issuing guidance, that makes common sense. these are three sensible steps that would help create an environment that would make it easier and cheaper for job creators to create private-sector jobs in this country, and i congratulate the senator the senator from nebraska for his comments. mr. president, i believe i have up to 20 minutes. the presiding officer: there's 16 1/2 minutes remaining on this side. mr. alexander: would you please let me know when 5 minutes remain? the presiding officer: when 5 minutes are remaining? mr. alexander: yes. i thank the chair. mr. president, tonight we welcome president obama to the congress to deliver a jobs address. the president will be coming at a time when we have had persistent unemployment at a greater rate than at any time
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since the great depression. no one should blame our president for problems with an economy that he inherited, but the president does have the responsibility for taking responsibility for making the economy worse. unemployment is up, the debt is up, housing values are down. the morning paper reports that we may be on our way -- at least the chances are 50-50, the newspaper says this morning -- to a double-dip recession. the number of unemployed americans is up about 2 million since the president took office. the amount of federal debt is up about $4 million. as i just mentioned in discussing the senator from the senator from nebraska's proposals, the president's policies rather than helping over the last two and a half
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years, have thrown a big wet blanket over private-sector job creation. they made it more expensive and more difficult for the private sector to create jobs for americans. let me be specific about that. the president chose two years ago, rather than focus exclusively on jobs, to focus on health care. and his proposal was to expand a health care delivery system that already costs too much, that was already too expensive. so we have new health care taxes and mandates that make the economy worse. why do i say that? i met, for example, with the chief executive officers of several of the nation's large efpt restaurant companies. -- large efpt restaurant companies. they reminded me those restaurants and hospitality organizations in the united states are the largest employer outside of government and that their employees are mostly young and mostly low-income. one of the chief executives said
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because of the mandates of the health care law, it would take all of his profits from last year to pay the costs when its fully implemented, so he won't be investing in any new restaurants in the united states. others said they operate with 90 employees per store. but as a result of the mandates and taxes in the health care law, their goal will be to operate with 70 employees per store. one of the largest employers are saying instead of having 90 employees per store, we're going to have 70. that doesn't help create new jobs in the united states. or let's take the debt. the president inherited the debt, but he's made it worse. and the economy, the economists who look at debt say we're heading toward a level that will cost us in the united states, one million jobs every year, undermining the right to work law, the president's appointees to the national labor relations board have told the nation's largest manufacturers of large airplanes that they can't build a plant in south carolina.
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it's the first new plant to build large airplanes in 40 years in this country. the boeing country, it sells those airplanes everywhere else in the world. it can build them everywhere in the world. we want to build them in the united states. those kind of actions by the national labor relations board makes it worse. regulation that is put a big wet blanket over job creation such as the one that the senator from nebraska talks about make it worse. the president's refusal to send trade agreements to congress make it worse. let's be clear about this, since the president -- since the day the president took office he's had on his desk three trade agreements already signed by both countries. they seem polyneed approval by our congress. one with panama, one with south korea, one with colombia. we're ready to approve them in a bipartisan way if you'll send them here. what would that mean in tennessee? we make a lot of auto parts in
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tennessee. we could sell them to south korea. at the present time europeans can sell them to south korea at a lower price because of the tariff situation, because the president hasn't sent three trade agreements to congress. all these steps have made the economy worse. and of course with a bad economy, home values have stayed home. that's worse too. so what can we do about this? what are the kinds of things the president could talk about tonight and that we could work on together to make it easier and cheaper to create private-sector jobs? we could change the tax structure in a permanent way, not short-term fixes but long term lowering of tax rates for everyone. closing loopholes, creating a situation where our businesses are more competitive in the world marketplace. that's one thing we could do. we could stop the avalanche of regulations that are throwing the big wet blanket over job growth. the senator from neck suggested a moratorium on -- the senator
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from nebraska suggested a moratorium on new regulations, guidance that circumvent the rules for regulations, stopping whacky ideas like regulating farm dust, as if everybody didn't know that all farms create dust. more exports. the president could send today the three trade agreements to congress. we could ratify them and then crops grown in tennessee, in nebraska, in every other state in this country and auto parts and medical devices could be sold around the world. our state alone has $23 billion and tens of thousands of jobs tied up in exports. this could add to that. and in addition to that, we could agree on advanced research. the president's recommendations have been good on that. but we should agree on that and move ahead with appropriations bills and a fiscal situation that permits us to do the kind of advanced research we need to do to create jobs.
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we need to fix no child left behind. better schools mean better jobs. we need a long-term highway bill. we need roads and bridges in order to have the kind of country we want. we need to find more american enemy and use less. we should be able to agree on that. there is an agenda not of more spending, not of more taxes, not of more regulation, but an agenda that would make it easier and cheaper to create private-sector jobs and get the economy moving again. mr. president, in another time president eisenhower said i should go to korea when he was elected president. he went to korea before he was inaugurated and said i shall focus my time on this single objective until i see it all the way through to the end. country felt good about that. they had confidence in him. he did that and korean war was ended. president obama chose instead of focusing on jobs two and a half years ago in the same sort of
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presidential way, to expand a health care delivery system that already was too expensive and in fact make the problem worse. tonight is an opportunity to make it better. and we're ready to join with him in doing that, especially if he were to recommend lower tax rates, fewer loopholes on a permanent basis, fewer regulations. and if he were to send those three export agreements to us to ratify. now, mr. president, i would like to turn my attention to a different subject. september 11 is sunday. i listen carefully, as most of us in the senate do, to words that seem to resonate with my audiences. i have consistently found there is just one sentence that i usually cannot finish without the audience interrupting me by breaking into applause, and it is this. it is time to put the teaching
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of american history and civics back in its rightful place in our schools so our children can grow up learning what it means to be an american. the terrorists who attacked us on september 11 weren't just lashing out at buildings and people. they were attacking who we are as americans. most americans know this, and that's why there has been a national hunger for leadership and discussion about our values. parents know that our children aren't being taught our common culture and our values. national tests show that 3/4 of the nation's fourth, eighth and 12th graders are not proficient in civics knowledge and one-third don't even have basic knowledge, making them civic illiterates. that's why i made making american history and civics the subject of my maiden speech when i first came to the senate in 2003, and by a vote of 90-0, the senate passed my bill to create summer residential academies for outstanding teachers of american
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history and civics. every year i bring them on the senate floor and those teachers from all over our country have a moment to think about this senate. they usually go find a desk of the senator from alaska if they are an alaska teacher or the senator from tennessee or daniel webster's desk or jefferson davis' desk, and they stop for a moment and think about our country in a special way. those teachers' purpose is better teaching, and the purpose of the academy is more learning of key events, key persons, key ideas and key documents that shape the institutions and the democratic heritage of the united states. so if i were teaching about september 11, these are some of the issues i would ask my students to consider. number one, is september 11 the worst thing that ever happened to the united states? of course the answer is no. but i'm surprised by the number of people who say yes. it saddens me to realize that those who make such statements
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were never properly taught about american history. many doubted that we would win the revolutionary war. the british sacked washington and burned the white house to the ground in the war of 1812. in the civil war, we lost more americans than in any other conflict with brother fighting against brother. the list goes on. children should know why we made those sacrifices and fought for the values that make us exceptional. the second question i would talk about is what makes america exceptional. i begin the first session of a course i taught at harvard's school of government ten or 11 years ago by making a list of 100 ways that america is exceptional. unique, not always better, but unique. america's exceptionalism has been a source of fascination ever since detopo's trip across america in 1830 when he met both davy crockett and jim bowie on
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his trip. his book "democracy in america" is still the best description of america's unique ideals in action. another outstanding text is america's exceptionalism by seymour martin lipsick. the presiding officer: the senator has 10 minutes remaining. mr. alexander: i thank the chair. a third question i ask my students is why is it you can't become japanese or french but you must become an american? if i were to immigrate to japan, i couldn't become a japanese. i would always be an american living in japan. but if i were a japanese citizen who came here and i wanted to become a citizen, i would have to become an american, and we would welcome that person with open arms. why? it's because our identity is not based on ethnicity but on a creed of ideas and values in which most of us believe. historian richard hofstetter wrote it is our fate as a nation
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not to have ideologies but to be one. to become american citizens, immigrants must take a test demonstrating their knowledge of american history and civics. fourth, what are the histories that unite us as americans? in thanksgiving remarks after september 11, president george w. bush praised our nation's response to terror. i call it the american character, he said. former vice president gore in speech after the attacks said we should fight for the values that bind us together as a country. in my harvard course that i mentioned, we put together a list of some of those values. liberty, e pluribus unum, equal opportunity, individualism, rule of law, free exercise of religion, separation of church and state, lays affair, and -- laiz-affaire and the believe that anything is possible. if we agree on those principles, i would then say to my student why is there so much division in american politics?
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just because we agree on the values doesn't mean we agree on how to apply those values. most of our politics, in fact, is about the hard work of applying those principles to our everyday lives. when they do, we often conflict. for example, when discussing president bush's proposals to let the federal government fund faith-based charities, we know that in god we trust -- we have it here in the senate, but we also know that we don't trust government with god. when considering whether the federal government should pay for scholarships that middle and low-income families might use at any accredited school, public, private or religious, some object that the principle of equal opportunity can conflict with the principle of separation of church and state. and then, what does it mean to be an american? after september 11, i proposed an idea i call pledge plus
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three. why not start each school day with the pledge of allegiance, as many schools still do, and then ask a teacher or a student to take three minutes and explain what it means to be an american? i'll bet the best three-minute statements of what it means to be an american would come from the newest americans. at least that was the case with my university students who i taught. the newest americans appreciate it the most and could talk about it the best. ask students to stand and raise their right hand and recite the oath of allegiance just as immigrants do when they become american citizens. this is an oath that goes all the way back to the days of george washington and valley forge. it reads like it was written in a tavern by a bunch of patriots in williamsburg late one night. i recited this with my right hand up. during a speech i recently gave on american history and civics is quite a weighty thing and it startles the audience to say i
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absolutely and entirely renounce and abjur any allegiance to fidelity of any foreign prince, potent state or sovereignty and agree to bear arms on behalf of the united states when required by law. the oath to become an american taken by george washington and his men taken today in courthouses all across america is a solid, weighty matter. mr. president, our history is a struggle to live up to the ideas that have united us and that have defined us from the very beginning. the principles of what we call the american character. if that is what students are taught about september 11, they will not only become better informed, they will strengthen our country for generations to come. i thank the president. i yield the floor. and i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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recognized. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, how much time is left on the
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majority side in morning business? the presiding officer: 19 minutes. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. well, mr. president, we're now approaching the tenth anniversary of 9/11. as with countless others who experienced all that happened that day, recounting 9/11, assessing its implications on our nation is both a profound and deeply personal undertaking. i'll never forget the moments when i was -- when i learned what happened. i was in the house gym. i was a senator then but still went to the house gym. and there's a limb tv on top -- a little tv on top of the lockers. somebody pointed out, one of our colleagues who was in the house with me from the other side of the aisle pointed out. he said look on the tv. it looks like a plane crashed into the world trade center. we all gathered around, watched the tv and came to the conclusion it was probably a little turbo plane that had lost its way. we kept our eye on the tv and then of course we saw the second plane hit the second tower, and
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we knew that it was not just an accident. i quickly dressed, showered, rushed to get into my car. and as i was driving quickly to my office, i saw another plane fly in low over the potomac and then i saw a big plume of the smoke and obviously that was the plane aimed at the pentagon and said to myself world war 3 has started. i quickly called my wife, and our first concern was our daughter who went to high school just a few blocks from the world trade center. we didn't know what would happen. the towers were on fire. we actually took out the almanac to see how high the trade center was and see if it fell in the direction of her school if it would hit it. for five hours we couldn't find jest kafplt they had -- we couldn't find jessica. they successfully evacuated the school. they had to walk down the stairs. she was on the ninth floor.
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being jessica, she escorted an elderly teacher who couldn't get down quickly and lost her way from the group. of course thank god we found her. that was just the beginning of the anguish. the next day senator clinton and i flew to new york. i'll never forget that scene. i think of it just about every day. the smell of death was in the air. the towers were still burning. people were rushing to the towers. firefighters, police officers, construction workers to see if they could find the missing. the most poignant scene i think of all the time, mr. president, was hundreds, literally hundreds of people, average folks of every background holding up little signs, "have you seen my daughter sally" with a picture. "have you seen my husband bill?" because at that point we didn't know who was lost and who wasn't.
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well, it was a very rough time. we think of it every day. we know what happened, and it is something that of course will remain in our minds for the rest of our lives, but of course not close to those who lost loved ones either during the horrible conflagration or in years later. well, now is time, it's the tenth anniversary, so it's a good time to take stock on the effect of the trauma and what it means both locally and nationally. obviously every one of us in america was scared and shocked and traumatized and horrified and angry and heart broken. at first we didn't know happened. then as we learned who had attacked us and why, we had to confront a crisis we didn't feel prepared for. it was an experience we as new yorkers and americans were not used to at all.
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we felt so vulnerable. were we going to be the subject of attack after attack from stateless, neolistic enemies we poorly understood. there was this doctrine of asymmetrical power. small groups living in caves were empowered in technology and could do damage to us, horrible damage that we couldn't stop. could it be that our vast military was a poor match for a small group of technologically savvy extremists bent on mass murder and mayhem directed from half a world away? it seemed more likely, certain even that attack after attack would come our way from a small group willing to use any tactic, from a box cutter in a planeloaded to weapons of mass destruction focused solely on massive loss of life and damage to the economy, not to mention to our collective psyche and confidence as a people. it was also a hammer blow to the
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great city in which i live and have lived my whole life. it raised the question of its future. people everywhere were writing the obituaries on downtown manhattan. people in businesses were leaving, were seriously contemplating leaving. being defuse was the answer, not concentrated. some wrote that maybe now densely populated diverse cities like new york would no longer have a future. a permanent exodus seemed imminent. downtown new york would become a ghost town. who would work here again? who would want to live here? who would dine or see a show here? what global firm would locate thousands of jobs here? it was not an exaggeration to say that new york's days as the leading city on the global stage seemed like they could be over. but our response was immediate, proactive, unified and successful. in the days, weeks and first months after 9/11, america as a
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society and by extension its political system came together and based in a remarkable way. new yorkers, as always, did the same. there immediately developed a sense of shared sacrifice and common purpose that gave rise to a toerpbt of actions -- torrent of actions in the private and public spheres. among the american people there was an unprecedented outpouring of voluntary help, a tradition deeply rooted in our american tradition of community service and voluntary action noted by observers as far back as alexis de tocqueville who in the earliest days of our republic observed that americans of all ages, all conditions, all minds constantly unite. not only do they have a commercial and industrial association in which they take part, he wrote, but they have thousands of other kinds -- religious, moral, grave, futile, very particular, very immense and very small. fueled by this reaction, mr. president, our government went to work immediately at all
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levels, collaborating on the federal, state and local levels. in washington, d.c., the policy response to the situation at hand was remarkable, for its productive, its extraordinary speed and overall the positive impacts it made in both the short term and long term. all of what we did was far from perfect, but when our government is able to be this nimble, responsive and effective, it is worth asking what the elements of its success were so that we might think about how it can apply to future situations, like the one we are in now. if i were to characterize our policy actions post-9/11, i would say they were nonideological, practical. partisanship was subdued. the actions were collaborative, not vituperative.
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they were balanced, fair, they were bold and decisive. and they were both short- and long-term focused. let's take a quick look at each. we were nonideological. post-9/11 we were driven primarily by facts, not primarily by ideology. we asked what did the situation require and how might we best execute that? not how can i exploit this situation to further my world view or political agenda or pecuniary self-interests. we didn't have a debate about the nature of government and whether or how we ought to support disaster victims or the need for housing or to get small businesses and not for profits back open. nor did we wring our hands about the appropriateness of rebuilding infrastructure or responding to the lack of insurance available for developers. rather, we attacked each problem as it became apparent. we professionally engaged, we compromised and we hammered out a plan to address each problem as it arose.
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and we did it fast. we were tempered in our partisanship. partisanship is never absent from the public stage, but the degree to which it is the dominant element in many, in the many influences on public policy waxes and wanes. in the days after 9/11, we were able to keep partisanship on a short leash. i remember being in the oval office the day after i visited new york with senators clinton, and we told president bush of the damage in new york. and i asked the president, we need $20 billion in new york. we need a pledge immediately, without even thinking the president said yes. new york was a blue state, one that didn't support president bush. he didn't stop and wait and calculate politically. he said yes. and to his credit, he stuck by that promise in the years to come. we were collaborative, not vituperative.
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unlike recent tragedies like the fort hood shooting where some sought to heap blame on president obama or the gabby giffords shooting where premature blame was directed at the right wing for spurring the attacker which in turn begat an unseemly round of recrimination. unlike that, following 9/11, people refrained from using the powerful and exploitable event as an opportunity to blame president bush or president clinton for letting an attack happen. rather than looking back and hanging an iron collar of blame around the neck of a president to score political points, people from both parties were willing to look forward, to plan forward, to act forward. this in turn helped create a climate where collaboration was possible. and to his credit, the president, as i mentioned, did not think about the electoral map or political implications of supporting new york. we were bold and decisive.
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we did not shrink from the big thing nor fail to act on multiple levels at once. on one front, we crafted a a $20 billion aid package to rebuild new york. on another, we crafted the patriot act. on still another, the military intelligence communities planned the invasion of afghanistan to root out al qaeda. these were big moves with massive implications for life, the national coffers and the structures of our society. none of the moves was perfect, but rather than, for example, derail the $20 billion aid package to new york because you might think we don't have the money to spend or blocking the patriot act because you believe that it did not do enough to produce civil liberties, in the period after 9/11, those objections were made -- those with objections made a good-faith effort to have their points included in the nation's legislation and had some real success like building in
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punishments against those who leak information obtained from wiretaps or preventing information from unconstitutional searches from abroad from being used in a legal proceeding. but in the end, on the patriot act, for example, democrats who were in the minority and could have played the role of blocker let it pass with a pledge to improve it over time rather than sciutto it will entirely. because while there were parts of that some disagreed with strongly, there were parts that were absolutely necessary. now, compare this to our current stalemate on fiscal policy in the economy where time after time the my way or highway view seems to prevail, leading to inaction, gridlock and failure to do what the economy truly needs. we were balanced and fair. on the one hand, we were pragmatic. we made the airlines and the owners of the world trade center and other potential targets immune from potentially bankrupting lawsuits. it was not an easy decision. it was strenuously opposed by
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some in the trial bar and other democratic allies but it was a reasonable one. and on the other hand we were just. we created with billions in financing the victims compensation fund, the v.c.f., so that no victim or their loved one would be denied access to justice. it proved to be a win-win. the crippled airline industry, so critical to our economy, was able to get back and running, and every injured person or loved one of those lost had an expedited and fair system to pursue a claim of loss. this hearkened back to the kind of grand bargains on big issues that are the very foundation of effective government and the system of difficult fused power that -- diffused power that we were bequeathed by our founders. the kind of bargain the current state of politics, mr. president, makes so illusive today. we were concerned with short-term support, the fema aid to homeowners, renters and small businesses, and with long-term competitiveness, we invested
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heavily in transportation infrastructure to move unless in and out of the central business districts even while we supported the arts and community groups, parks, nonprofits and more to create a vibrant and growing 24/7 downtown that we have today, a hub that is at the very center of the nation's economy and culture, far from the horrible view we had that don't would become a -- that downtown would become a ghosttown shortly after 9/11. so in short, mr. president, the response to 9/11 by all americans, boy both parties, is a road map for how our political system ought to function but is not now functioning. i'm not a pollyanna. i understand the inherent nature of conflict in the political realm and i often partake in it. and i also know that the trauma of 9/11 was uncommon and made possible uncommon action. then we had both the shocking murder of thousands of innocent victims, the heroism of the responders to inspire us and the
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advantage of a common enemy to unite us. but what we were able to achieve then in terms of common purpose and effective collective action provides us with a model for action that we in washington must strive to emulate and even if just in part, even if just sporadically to re-create. we should look back to what happened during 9/11 and apply it to our own time to see how we can make ourselves better and great lake the kind of gridlock, partisanship, finger pointing that seems to dominate our politics today only ten years later. as we survey the current state of our national psyche and the ability of our political system to debate and then implement effective policy actions for the challenges that confront us, it is painfully clear that in the relative blink of the eye, the ability of our political system to muster the will to take necessary actions for the common good has degenerated to a place
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that is much too far away from our actions after 9/11. and the question that haunts me and should haunt all of us is that this -- if god forbid another 9/11 attack were to happen tomorrow, would our national political system respond with the same unity, nonrecrimination, common purpose and effective policy action in the way that it did just ten years ago? or are politics now so petty, fanatically ideological, polarized and partisan that we would instead descend into blame and brinksmanship and direct our fire inward and fail to muster the collective will to act in the interests of the american people? as i ponder it, i have every confidence that the first responders, cops, firefighters and others would do now just as they did then. their awe-inspiring, selflessness and bravery
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continue to be a humbling one during inspiration. i know our building trades workers would again drop everything and just show up, put their lives on the line and throw their backs into the task at hand without waiting to be asked. and i am certain that the american people would come together and find countless ways to donate their time, their energy, their ideas and their compassion to the cause at hand. but what of our political system? i'm an optimist so i want to believe the answer is yes. but i'm also a realist and a very engaged player on the washington scene who has just been through the debt ceiling brinkmanship amongst other recent battles, and that realistic part of me is not so sure the answer is yes. today would we still pass a bipartisan $20 billion aid package to the afflicted city, or would we say that's not my refugee. or woo we take the long view and
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say we cannot afford to spend laugh i can sums of money like that? woo we have to stay within our means? would we be capable of creating a grand bargain that immunized the airlines? or would we instead embrace the politics of asphyxiation and get every excuse to block against yes and prevent our political opponents from achieving something positive? would all parties use the occasion to place blame on the president and on each other to gain relative political advantage? or would we hear first the whispers, then the chatter, then the recrimination that build to the ugly echo chamber of vituperation that has been the sad hallmark of more recent tragedies and national security events? this political accord following 9/11 had its limits, especially in the aftermath of our invasion of iraq when one key rationale for going to war was
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discredited, but even for those who came to view our involvement as distracting and wrong, distracting from the more important political objective of rooting out al qaeda and wrong because it could not work and there was a great loss of life and treasure. even for those of us who came to abhor the war in iraq, it would have been unthinkable then to root against our country's eventual success in iraq. compare that to now when it is fathomable that some would rather america not recover its economic strength and prowess just yet. when we think back to where we were then and to how we reacted and compare it to challenges we confront today, it is clear that while the sacrifice of the victims and the heroism of the responders was eternal, our ability to sustain both the common purpose and effective political action they inspired has proved all too ephemeral.
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i won't count details of our current dysfunction, but sufficientifies it to say our politics are paralyzed. we are frozen in a logical arm wrestling match between the need to get people back to work and jump-start the economy and the drive to rein in the deficit. globally, we're confronted by an uncertain place in an increasingly competitive world. and finally, our challenges are psychological and emotional and aspirational, much like they were in the darkest hours and days after 9/11, and these doubts whispered to us the following question. are we no longer able to tackle the big issues? are we a nation in decline? i'm not saying that the challenges we face today aren't an exact parallel for what we faced then. it's obvious they are not, nor are all conditions the same, but today's challenges from the economic to the global to the social are not intractable, and if any one of our current dilemmas were subject to the
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same policy environment we had post-9/11, i have no doubt we would made substantial progress in tackling it. confronted with a more profound, complex and existential challenge on 9/11, we rose to the occasion. we confronted the problem before us with uniquely american doggedness, pragmatism, creativity, collaboration and optimism because that's what americans do and that's who we are. we believe that no matter how bad it gets, whether hunkered down for the winter in valley forge after a series of humiliating military defeats or arriving like lincoln in washington, d.c., in 1860 to find half our nation and next-door neighbor states are attempting to destroy our union, or f.d.r. confronting in 1932, 25% unemployment and unprecedent ed deflationary spiral in a modern industrial financial economy, or believing that indeed all people are created equal even while you are
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rudely ushered to the back of the bus or facing down totalitarian threats of fascism and communism and believing that, yes, we will tear that wall down. americans believe in a brighter tomorrow. we believe in our ability as a people individually and collectively, both through private action and via our elected representatives who make our nation's policy to get things done to make that brighter tomorrow a reality. we have as a nation faced bigger challenges and we have answered the call and 9/11 was one shining example. we're in better shape now on many fronts as a result of the actions we took immediately after the aftermath of 9/11, and those are well known: rebuilding new york city, compensating families, flushing al qaeda from its base in afghanistan, leading to the fact that osama bin laden is dead. in the middle east, it is not as we feared after 9/11 the hateful
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myopic reactive philosophy of bin laden that took hold and changed their societies. rather, it's imbued with some decent measure of hope and optimism and courage that created a cascading wave of political, social and economic aspiration that has transformed this region from tunisia and libya to egypt and syria, aided and abetted by entrepreneurial innovations pioneered here in america. this transformation is not without enormous dangers, challenges, but consider how much worse it would have been if a pro-bin laden movement was fueling this transformation. it's plain -- we need more of what we had post-9/11 now. i'm not naive. i know it can't be conjured up or wished into existence, but if we are optimistic, if we're inspired by the americans who died here, if we truly
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understand our shared history and the sacred place compromise and rationality hold at the very center of the formation of our nation and the structure of our constitution, then we can again take up the mantle of shared sacrifice and common purpose that we wore after 9/11 and apply some of those behaviors to the problems we now confront. the reality of our current political pliement is that both sides are off in their corners, the common enemy has faded. some see wall street as the enemy. many others see washington, d.c., as the enemy. still others, any and all government as the enemy. i believe that the greatest problem we face is the belief that we can no longer confront and solve the problems and challenges that confront us, the fear that our best days may be behind us, that for the first time in history, we fear things won't be as good for our kids as they are for us. it is a creeping pessimism that cuts against the will that can
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do and will do american spirit, and along with the divisiveness in our politics, it is harming our ability to create the great works that our forebears accomplished -- building the empire state building in the teeth of the great depression, constructing the interstate highway system and the hoover dam and the erie canal and so much more. while government action is not the whole answer. as we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11, if focus on what happened that day intensifies what we lost, whom we lost, and how we reacted. it becomes acutely clear that we need to confront our current challenges imbued with the spirit of 9/11 and determined to make our government and our politics worthy of the sacrifice and loss we suffered that day.
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to return to de tocqueville, he also remarked that, quote, "the greatness of america lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation but rather, in her ability to repair her faults." so like the ironworks and freight praiting engineers and trades workers who miraculously appeared at the pile hours after the towers came down with blowtorches and hard hats in hand, let us put our gloves, let us put on our gloves, pick up our hammers, and get to work fixing what ails the body politic. it is the least we can do to honor those we lost. mr. president, i yield the floor and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama is recognized.
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mr. sessions: i would ask that the morning business be closed. the presiding officer: the morning business is closed. the clerk: an act to amend title 35 united states code to provide for patent reform. mr. sessions: i'd ask the reading of the mattering dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. sessions: and that i be -- i ask unanimous consent to call up my amendment number 600 which is at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from alabama, mr. sessions, he proposes an amendment numbered 600, on page 149, line 20 -- mr. sessions: mr. president, i would ask that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. sessions: mr. president, the amendment that i've offered is a very important amendment. it's one that i believe is
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important to the integrity of the united states legal system and to the integrity of the united states senate. it's a matter that i have been wrestling with and objecting to for over a decade. i thought the matter had been settled, frankly, but it has not because it has been driven by one of the most ferocious lobbying efforts that congress maybe has seen. the house patent bill as originally passed out of committee and taken to the floor of the house did not include a bailout for medco, the law firm or the insurance career for that firm who were in financial jeopardy as a result of a failure to file a patent appeal
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timely. i have practiced law hard in my life. i have been in court many times, i spent 12 years as a united states attorney and tried cases. i'm well aware of how the system works. the system throughout america is you file lawsuits and you go -- you're entitled to your day in court. but if you don't file your lawsuit in time, within the statute of limitations, the limitations on actions that require you to timely file your litigation, you are out. when a defendant raises a legal point of order, a motion to dismiss based on the failure of the complaining party to file their lawsuit timely, they are out. that happens every day, to poor
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people, widow ladies. and it doesn't make any difference what your excuse is, why you think you have a good lawsuit, why you had this idea or that idea, in alabama they had a situation in which a lady asked a probate judge when she could file her appeal and the judge said you can file it on monday. and monday was too late. went to the alabama supreme court and they said the probate judge, who doesn't have to be a lawyer, doesn't have the power to amend the statute of limitations. sorry. lady, you're out. nobody filed a bill in the united states congress to give her relief. and thousands of others like it, every day. so it's a big deal, to whom
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much has been given, much is required. so this was a big-time law firm, one of the biggest law firms in america, medco, one of the biggest health care companies in the country and presumably they have an insurance errors and omission carrier, the law firm does, that they pay to ensure them if they -- insure them if they make an error. and so they, not being willing to accept that. so one time an individual was asking me jeff, you let this go. give in and let this go, and i sort of as a joke said to the individual well, if wilma hale will agree not to raise the statute of limitations against anybody that sues their clients if they file a lawsuit late, maybe i'll reconsider.
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he thought he was serious. of course they're not going to do that. if some poor person files a lawsuit against somebody they're representing and they filed it one hour late, will mahalil will file a motion 20 dismiss. this is law. it has to be objective, has to be fair. you're not entitled to walk in the united states congress well connected and start lobbying for special leave. there's nothing more complicated about that than this. so a couple of things have been raised. well, they suggest that we shouldn't amend the house patent bill, that that somehow will kill the legislation. that is not so. chairman leahy has said he supports the amendment, but he
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doesn't want to vote for it because it would keep the bill from being passed somehow. it won't keep it from being passed. indeed, the bill that was brought to the house floor didn't have this language in it. and the first vote rejected the attempt to put this language in it. it failed. and for some reason, some way a second vote was held and it was passed by a few votes. so they're not going to reject the legislation if we were to amend it. and what kind of system are we now involved in in the united states senate if you can't -- an amendment. what kind of argument is it to say, jeff, i agree with your amendment. i think it's right. i don't think they ought to get this special relief, but i can't vote for it because it might cause a problem. it's not going to cause a problem. the bill will pass.
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it should never have been put in there in the first place. and another point of great, great significance is the fact that this legislation, this issue is on appeal. the law firm asserted that they thought -- it's a bit issue, but they thought that because -- it's a bit unusual but they thought because the notice came in on friday they had until monday. you could count the days until monday somehow, the 60 days or whatever they had to file the answer. well, i don't know that that's good law, but they won. the district court has ruled for them. and it's on appeal now to the court of appeals. this congress has no business interfering in a lawsuit ongoing
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that's before an appeals court. if they're so confident that their district court ruling is correct, why are they continuing to push for this special relief bill when the court of appeals will soon, within a matter of months, i assume, rule. another point, we have within the united states congress a procedure to deal with special leave. if this relief is necessary at all, it should go through the special relief bill. but i can tell you one reason it's not going there now, because you can't ask for special relief while your matter's still in litigation, is still on appeal. special relief also has procedures that you have to go through and justify in an
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objective way that i believe would be very healthy under these situations, under this situation. so for a decade virtually, i think it's been ten years, i have been objecting to this amendment. and now we're here, and i thought it was out, and all of a sudden it slipped in by a second vote in the house, and we're told, well, we just can't make an amendment to the bill. why can't we make an amendment? the senate's set up for legislation to be brought forward, and we offer amendments, and people can vote for them or not. well, this matter has gotten a lot of attention. the "wall street journal" wrote about it in an editorial
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yesterday. "the new york times" today. this is what the "new york times" said today about it: critics who have labeled this provision "the dog ate my homework act" say it's really a special fix for one drug manufacturer, the medicines company, and its powerful law firm. the company and its law firm with hundreds of millions of dollars in drug sales at stake lobbied congress heavily for years to get the patent laws changed. that's the way they said it. the "wall street journal," in their editorial -- you know, the "wall street journal" is -- understands business reality, litigation reality. they are a critic of the legal system at times and supporters
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at times. i think they take a principled position in this instance. the "wall street journal" editorial stated -- quote -- "we take no pleasure in seeing the medicines company and wilmer hale suffer for their mistake. but they are run by highly paid professionals who know the rules and know that consistency of enforcement is critical to their businesses, asking congress to break the rules as a special favor corrupts the law." close quote. so i think that's exactly right. it's exactly right. businesses, when they're sued by somebody, they use a statute of limitations every day. this law firm makes hundreds of millions of dollars in income a year. their partners average over $1
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million a year according to "the new york times." pretty good. they ought to be able to pay a decent insurance premium. "the new york times" today said that ... wilmerhale reported revenue of $962 million in 2010 with a profit of $1.33 million per partner one year. per partner, profit. so, you know, i mean average guys have to suffer when they miss a statute of limitations. poor people suffer when they miss the statute of limitations. we're undertaking a great
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expense to the taxpayers to move a special interest piece of legislation that i don't believe can be justified as a matter of principle. and i agree with the "wall street journal" that the adoption of it corrupts the system, and we ought not to be a part of that. i love the american legal system. it is the greatest system i know. i've seen judges time and time and time again issue rulings based on law and fact, even if they didn't like it. but if that's what the law said, they ruled on it. that's the genius, the reliability, the integrity of the american legal system. and i just do not believe that we can justify, while this matter is still in litigation, passing a special act to give a wealthy law firm, an insurance
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company and a health care company special relief. i just don't believe we should do that, and i oppose it. and i hope my colleagues will join us. i think we have a realistic chance to turn this back. and our congress, our senate will be better for it. we really will. the citizens against government waste who have taken an interest in this matter for some time said -- quote -- "congress has no right to rescue a company from its own mistakes. see, i -- companies have a right to assert the law. corporations have a right to assert the law against individuals. but when the time comes for the hammer to fall on them for their mistake, they want congress to pass out a special relief bill.
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and i don't think it's the right thing. so, mr. president, let's boil it down to several things. first, if the company is right and the law firm is right that they did not miss the statute of limitations, i am confident the court of appeals will rule in their favor and it will not be necessary for this senate to act. if they did not, if they do not prevail in the court of appeals and they don't win their argument, then there is a provision for private relief in the united states congress, and they ought to pursue that in special procedures. litigation will be over, and they can bring that action at that time. that's the you basic position -- that's the basic position we ought to be in. and a bill that comes out of the
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judiciary committee ought to be sensitive to the legal system, to the importance of ensuring that the poor are treated as well as the rich. you know the oath that judges take to do equal justice to the poor and the rich. equal justice. how many other people in this country are getting special attention today on the floor of the united states senate? how many are? i truly believe that this is not good. it's not good policy. i have had to spend far more hours than i've ever wanted to when i decided ten years ago that this was not a good way to go forward. many battle this issue, and i
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hope and trust that the members of the senate who will be voting on this, i urge you to follow the legitimate processes. let the litigation work its way. and if they do not prevail in the litigation, let a private relief bill be sought and debated openly and publicly, and to see if it's justified. that would be the right way to do it, not slipping through this amendment on the basis that we shouldn't be amending a bill that's before us. we have every right to amend the bill, and we should amend the bill. i know senator grassley years ago was on my side. i think it was just two of us that took this position. so i -- that's the way i feel about it. i guess i more than expressed my
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opinion. mr. chairman, thank you for your leadership. thank you for your and senator grassley's great work on an important patent bill. i support that bill, and i believe you moved it forward in a fair way. did you not put this language in to the bill. it was put in in the house. i know you'd like to see the bill go forward without amendments, but i urge you to think it through and see if you can't be willing to support this amendment. i'm confident it will not block the final passage of the legislation. mr. president, i thank the chair and would yield the floor. mr. leahy: mr. president -- the presiding officer: the senior senator from vermont is recognized. mr. leahy: i have seven unanimous consent requests for committees tpo meet during today's session of the senate. i ask unanimous consent these requests be agreed to, these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president stph-p. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized.
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mr. leahy: i will speak later about the comments made by the distinguished senator from alabama, and he has been very helpful in getting this patent bill through, and he is correct that this, the amendment he speaks to is one added in the other body, not by us. i purposely did not have it in our bill. but i know senator grassley is going to follow my remarks which i'm going to make about vermont. but there is no question in my mind -- and i'll let senator grassley speak to this -- if the amendment of the senator from alabama was accepted, it in effect kills the bill. it kills the bill. irrespective of the merits to come up with another piece of legislation, come up with a free standing piece of legislation, that's fine. but in this bill, after six years of effort to get this far, this bill would die because the other body will not take it up
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again with that. now, mr. president, in using my time, i would note some of the things that are happening in my own very, very special state of vermont. the state in which i was born. we have been horribly impacted by irene, with disaster and damage greater than anything i have seen in my whole lifetime. and as vermont has come together and continued to grapple with the aftermath of storm damage from irene, i want to focus today on the agricultural disasters that have hit us in vermont. in a report to the senate and our fellow citizens across the nation about how the raging floodwaters wreaked havoc on our farming lands and infrastructure in vermont. it was 12 days ago now that this enormous, slow-moving storm hit vermont, that turned our calm,
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scenic brooks and creeks into raging gushers. in addition to our roads and historic covered bridges that were destroyed or carried away, we had barns and farmhouses and crops, parts of fields, live stock washed away in the rising floodwaters. the comments of one farmer who watched his herd of cows get washed down the river, knowing they were going to die in the floodwaters. now, the cameras have begun to turn away, the cleanup and urgent repairs are under way, for major parts of vermont's economy, the worst of the storm are yet to come. for our dairy farmers who are the bedrock of our economy, keystones of our communities. the toll of this disaster has been heavy and the crisis have lasted longer as they struggle to take care of their animals as the floodwaters recede. this is a photograph of east
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pittsford, vermont. the water you see is never there. it's there now. look at this farm's fields destroyed. look at homes damaged and think what that has done. i will ask you to put that up on the easel behind me. as i went around the state, as all of us in the congressional delegation have, i went around with our governor and our general, the first couple of days as we went to these places by helicopter, i can't tell you how much it tore at my heart to see the state, the birthplace to me, my parents, grandparents and
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to see roads torn up. bridges that were there when my parents were children, washed away. historic covered bridges, mills, barns, businesses just gone. and what it's done to our farmers, it's hard -- i can't overstate it. our farmers have barns that are completely gone, leaving no shelter for animals. they are left struggling to get water for their animals, to rebuild fencing, clean up debris from flooded fields and barns, and then to get milk trucks to dairy farms. remember, these cows have to be milked every single day. we also have farmers who don't have any feed or hay for their animals. why? it was all washed away. well, as one farmer told me, my
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cows need to be milked two or three times every day come hell or high water. this watermelon thought he had been hit with both hell and high water. reports are still coming in of the farms, the list for damages, the need for critical supplies such as fields, temporary fencing is on the rise. we survey the farm fields and communities, we know it will be difficult to calculate the economic impacts of this violent storm on our agriculture industry in vermont. many of our farmers were caught by surprise as rapidly rising, unprecedented rapidly rising floodwaters inundated their crops, and many had to deal with the deeply ee moshe experience of losing animals to fast-moving floodwaters. we have farms where whole fields were washed away and the fertile topsoil send rushing downriver.
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the timing could not have been worse. corn, which is a crucial winter feed for dairy cows, was just ready for harvest. now our best corn is in river bottoms, it's ruined. other farmers have just prepared their ground to sow winter cover crops, winter greens, and they lost significant amounts of topsoil. the distinguished ranking member of the judiciary committee, my friend from iowa, knows what floods can do to a farmer, what it can do to the topsoil, what it can do to the crops that are just about ready to be harvested. river banks gave way. we saw wide field buffers disappear overnight, leaving the crops literally hanging on ledges above rivers. at the kingsbury farm in warren, verpt. vegetable farming is vermont's fastest growing agriculture sector. of course, this is harvest
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season. well, the farmers weren't able to pick these crops. the storm picked many fields clean. so many vermonters have highly productive guides preparing for the winter by canning and freezing. or what's there is not fit for human consumption because of contaminated floodwaters. vermonters have a challenging and precarious future ahead of them as they look to rebuild and plan for next year's crops and knowing that in our state it can be snowing in a month and a half to two months. now, i have been heartened by the many stories i have heard from communities where people are coming together to help one another. for instance, at the intervale farm, volunteers came out to harvest the remaining dry fields before the produce was hit by
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still-rising floodwaters. when the rumors spread that beth and bob kenneth at liberty hill, rochester, had no power and they needed help milking, well, people just started showing up, by foot and bike, all-terrain vehicle. they just showed up and said we're here to help you milk. fortunately for them and for the poor cows, the vermont department of agriculture had helped to get them fuel and the kenneths were milking again. so they asked these volunteers who came to help them, go down the road, help somebody else. and they did. coping with the damage and des trucks is beyond the capabilities of a small state such as ours, and federal help with the rebuilding effort will
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be essential to vermont as it will be to other states coping with the same disaster. and i worry that the support they need to rebuild may not be there, as it has been in past disasters. when we have rebuilt after hurricanes and floods, fires and earthquakes to get americans back in their homes, something vermonters have supported even though in these past disasters, vermont was not touched. so i look forward to working with the appropriations committee and with all senators to ensure that fema and usda and all of our federal agencies have the resources they need to help all of our citizens at this time of disaster, in vermont and in all the other states hit. fortunately, programs like the emergency conservation program, the emergency watershed protect program have been oversubscribed this year and usda has only limited funds remaining.
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we also face the grim fact that few of our farms had bought crop insurance. and so it may not be covered by usda's current sure disaster program. but those are things i'm working on to help find ways to help our farmers as we move forward with the commitment to help our fellow americans. you know, for a decade, mr. president, we have spent billions every single week on wars and projects in far away lands. well, this is a time to start paying more attention to our needs here at home, to the needs of americans in america, the urgent needs of our fellow citizens. we can do it, i believe we will. we can't sit here and just talk. we have to do it now. mr. president, i see my friend
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from iowa on the floor and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator senior from iowa is recognized. mr. grassley: i would ask that the remarks that i make follow senator sessions' remarks. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. grassley: i rise to rebut points that senator sessions has made, and i do acknowledge, as he said on the floor, that two or more years ago i was on the same page he was on this issue. so what has intervened in the meantime that causes me to differ from the position that senator sessions has taken. well, it is a district court case giving justice to a company
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that -- as one client, justice to a company that was denied that sort of justice because bureaucrats were acting in an arbitrary and capricious way. so senator sessions makes the point that you get equal justice under the law from the judicial branch of government, and that congress should not try to override that sort of situation. well, congress isn't overriding with the language in the house bill that he wants to strike because that interest was satisfied by a judge's decision saying that a particular entity
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was denied equal justice under the law because a bureaucrat making a decision on just exactly what counts as 60 days was acting in an arbitrary and capricious way. so this language in the house bill has nothing to do with helping a special interest because that special interest was satisfied by a judge that said an entity was denied equal justice under the law because a bureaucrat was acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner. so this amendment is not about a special interest. this amendment is about uniformity of law throughout the
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country. because it's wrong for -- as the judge says, for a bureaucracy to have one sort of definition of when 60 days begins if it's after business hours, if something goes out or something coming in, it includes the day that it comes in. so we're talking about what -- how do you count 60 days? and it's about making sure that there is a uniform standard for that based upon law passed by congress and not upon one judge's decision that applies to one specific case. and i would say since this case has been decided, there are at least three other entities that have made application to the
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patent office to make sure that they would get equal justice under the law the same way as the entity that got help through the initial decision of the judge. so this is not about special relief for one company. this is about what is a business day, and having a uniform definition in the law of the united states of what a business day is, not based upon one district court decision that may not be applied uniformly, uniformity around our nation. so it's about uniformity. and not about some bailout, as senator sessions says. it's not about some ferocious lobbying effort, as senator sessions has said. it's not just because one person
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was one hour later or one day late, because how do you know whether they are one hour late or one day late. if there is a different definition under one circumstance of when 60 days starts and another definition under other circumstances when a 60-day period tolls. and also i would suggest that senator sessions that this is not congress interfering in a court case that's under appeal because the government lost this case, and the government is not appealing. now, there might be some other entity appealing for their own selfish interests to take advantage of something that's very unique to them, but just in case we have short memories, i would remind my colleagues
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that congress does sometimes interject itself in appeal process, and i would suggest that one time that we did that very recently, maybe six years ago, and that may not be very recent, but it's not like we never do you it, and that was the protection of lawful commerce act of 2005, when congress interjected itself into an issue to protect gun manufacturers from pending lawsuits, and it happens that 81 senators supported that particular effort to interject ourselves into a lawsuit. so, mr. president, in a more formal way i want to repeat some of the things that i said last summer when i came to the senate floor and suggested to the house of representatives that i would appreciate very much if they
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would put into the statutes of the united states a uniform definition of a business day and not leave it up to a court to maybe set that standard so that it wouldn't -- might not be applied uniformly, and secondly, to make sure that it was done in a way that was treating everybody the same, so everybody gets equal justice under the law, and they know what the law is, and they don't have to rely upon maybe some court decision in one part of the country that maybe they can argue in another part of the country, and also to tell bureaucrats as the judge said, that you can't act in an arbitrary and capricious way. but democrat -- but bureaucrats might act in an arbitrary and capricious way, in a way
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unknown to them, if we don't have a uniform definition of what a business day is. so i oppose the effort to strike section 37 from the patent reform bill for the reasons i've just given, but also for the reasons that are already expounded by the chairman of this committee that at this late date, after six years of trying to get a patent reform bill -- and we haven't had a patent reform bill for decades, and it's badly needed -- that we shouldn't jeopardize the possible passage of this bill to the president of the united states for his signature by sending it to the other body and perhaps putting it in jeopardy. but most importantly, i think we ought to have a clear signal of what is a business day. a definition of it. and this legislation in section
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37 makes that very clear. during this past june, i addressed this issue in a floor statement and i want to quote from that, because i wanted my colleagues to understand why i hope the house-passed bill would contain section 37 that was not in our senate bill, but was passed out of the house judiciary committee unanimously. and speaking as ranking member of the senate judiciary committee, now and back in june when i spoke, i wanted the house judiciary committee to know that several republicans and democratic senators had asked me to support this provision as well. section 37 resulted from a recent federal court case that had its genesis, the difficulty that the f.d.a., the food and
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drug administration, and the patent office face when deciding how to calculate hatch-waxman deadlines. the hatch-waxman law of the 1980's was a compromise between drug patentholders and the generic manufacturers. under the waxman-hatch law, once a patentholder obtains market approval, the patentholder has 60 days to request the patent office to restore the patent terms. time lost because the f.d.a.'s long deliberating process eating up valuable patent rights. the citation to the case that i'm referring to is in 731 federal supplement second 470. the court found -- and i want
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to quote more extensively than i did back in june. this is what the judge said about bureaucrats acting in an arbitrary and capricious way and when does the 60 days start. quote, "the food and drug administration treats submissions to the f.d.a. received after its normal business hours differently than it treats communications from the agency after normal business hours. the -- i'm continuing to quote from the decision. the government does not deny that when notice of f.d.a. approval is sent after normal business hours, the combination of the patent and trademark office calendar day interpretation and its new
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counting method effectively deprives applicants of a portion of 60-day filing period that congress ex presley granted them. -- ex presley granted them. under the p.t.o. date interpretation, the date stamped on the letter starts the 60-day period for filing an application, even if the food and drug administration never sends the letter, an applicant could lose a substantial portion if not all of its time for filing the patent trademark extension application as a result of mistakes beyond its control, an interpretation that imposes such drastic consequences when the government errs could not be what congress intended. so the judge is kind of telling us in the congress of the united
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states we could not have intended ever, but because we weren't precise, it gives question marks behind it, of when 60 days starts to toll. and the question then is if it's treated one way for one person and another way for another person, or one agency treats it one way and another agency treats it another way, is that equal justice under the law? and i think it's very clear that the judge said it was not. so i say the judge was correct. congress certainly should not expect nor allow mistakes by the bureaucracy to upend the rights and provisions included in the hatch-waxman act or any other piece of legislation that we might pass. the court ruled that when the
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food and drug administration sent a notice of approval after business hours, the 60-day period requesting patent restoration begins the next business day. it's as simple as that. the house, by including section 37, takes the court case where common sense dictates, to protect all patentholders against losing patent extensions as a result of confused counting calculations. regret mr.ably, misunderstandings about this provision have persisted and i think you hear some of those misunderstandings in the statement by senator sessions. this provision does not apply to just one company. the truth is, it applies to all
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patentholders seeking to restore the patent term time lost during f.d.a. deliberations. in other words, allowing what hatch-waxman tries to accomplish , justice for everybody. in recent weeks it has been revealed that already three companies covering four drug patents will benefit by correcting the government's mistake. it does not cost the taxpayers money. the congressional budget office determined that it is budget neutral. and this piece of legislation legislation -- or section 37 as has been pointed out as maybe being anticonsumer, but it is anything but anticonsumer. i would quote jim martin, chairman of the 60 plus
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association. he said, and i quote, "we simply can't allow bureaucratic inconsistencies to stand in the way of cutting-edge medical research that is so important to the increasing number of americans over the age 60. this provision is a commonsense response to a problem that unnecessarily has ensnarled -- or ensnared far too many pharmaceutical companies and ciewzed inciewzable delays in drug innovations." and we have also heard from prominent doctors from throughout the united states. they wrote to us stating that section 37 -- and i want to quote there -- is, begin quote, "is critically important to medicine and patients. in one case alone, the health and lives of millions of americans who suffer from vascular disease are at stake.
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lives are literally at stake. a vote against this provision will delay our patients' access to cutting-edge discoveries and treatments. we urge -- urgently request your help in preserving section 37." end of quote. so mr. president, section 37 improves our patent system fairness through certainty and clarity and i urge my colleagues to join me in voting to preserve this important provision as an end in itself, but also to make sure that we do not send this bill back to the house of representatives but get it to the president, particularly on a day like today when the president's going to be speaking to us tonight about jobs, and i think having an updated patent
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law will help invention, innovation, research, and everything that adds value to what we do in america and preserve america's greatness in invention and -- and through the advancement of science. maybe in conclusion i would say that it's very clear to me that the court concluded that the patent trademark office and not some company or its lawyers had erred as is the implication here a consistent interpretation ought to apply to all patentholders in all cases, and
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we need to resolve any uncertainty that persists despite the court's decision. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senior senator from vermont is recognized. mr. leahy: i thank the distinguishes senator from iowa for his -- his words. you know, this -- and i join with the senator from iowa in opposing the amendment for two reasons. first, just simply a practical matter, the amendment would have the effect if it passed of killing the bill because it is not going to be accepted in the other body, and after six years or more of work


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