tv U.S. Senate CSPAN September 9, 2011 9:00am-12:00pm EDT
or a complaint, and what would happen was that crcl after it was finished would send this very cookie-cutter, boilerplate kind of unresponsive letter that says thank you very much, we appreciate you sending the complaint, we've dealt with it, good luck, good-bye. and people were very frustrated, and many of them, frankly, presumed either nothing was done, not enough was done or that their rights were not being vindicated which caused them to question kind of the role of your office. ..
>> quick follow-up question to which you mentioned about our review of the 300,000 plus cases. what is, what's the discretion? how are they determining which cases move forward? is it prosecution of? guidelines? how do they determine which cases move forward and which, have that policy been put in writing? >> it's a general prosecutorial discretion issue. there's 300,000 cases so there's not an if but or it then scenario. but there's hundreds of mitigating factors. you are more than welcome to, the i.c.e. website has the
prosecutorial memo from director morten that lives some examples of issues that may encourage a judge or somebody investigating. for instance, the length of stay of the individual in the united states, whether they have kids, whether they're attending college. you know, whether they were witness to cry. whether they serve in a military. so there's a number of facts that can apply to the discretion. >> i think we'll open it up to some questions from the audience. >> greetings to the panel. and the panel before you as well. i want to touch, i'm an egyptian american, arab american that i'm very proud of the. i served in the united states military. my younger days. where do we draw the line of
ethics with armenia? we wouldn't be talking about this. the day before when rudy giuliani came up with a figure during his talk about 9/11 and his experience, and he said the next phase was under attack about 40 some odd times a year. where did he get this figure? and why is it always just the arabs or the middle easterners? or of ethnic, you know, southeast asians, or they surface to the media. how come we don't talk about timothy mcveigh and the like in the united states? have they been active? do we know anything about them? why are there concentrate about us? why do we not say to the media be responsible, not just focusing on the middle easterners, or arabs or any other ethnic groups. we are not that bad of people. we are american citizens and we do need protection as well. by announcing that we are.
i applied for a government job. not hearing anything. picked up the phone, i talk to women, and she said oh, my gosh, you speak english. i worked for agencies in united states government. she didn't even read it. where do we draw the line? >> i think you bring up a very good point. i think this is a great point that i've raised often, which i think the prejudices and stereotypes is that is a terrorist act defined by the identity of the perpetrator, the race of the perpetrator, the religion of the perpetrator or is it defined by the act? we all think it's the act. but in practice what is happening. and i think it's two things. one is yeah, they stereotype that needs to be addressed that
we have whole conversations about how to do that. there's multiple strategies from litigation to advocacy, et cetera. but they are there. where through knowledge and and deal with them. we, not just the community, americans. just like americans had to deal when they had racism problems, these are the blacks. the second issue you have is i think the government is to blame. the rhetoric of the government. why? for example, somebody just had a shooting spree, remind what was, like a week ago, in colorado and the star. at an ihop. i think there were military personnel there. okay, national guard. i don't know what the rates of the shooter was. i don't think he was an arab or muslim or south asian as you would've heard about it. that's a terrorist act, because if it was, if it was, the person from fort hood, he shot a bunch
of military people, and that's, i mean come we did go into whether its terrorist are just criminal or non-terrorist, but let's its terrorist because it had a political agenda. is not to intimidate a population. so let's say we will accept what is already a very broad and problematic definition of terrorism which is not consistent throughout the statutory code, but putting that aside is not applied equally. joe sestak, flew an airplane, he's a white male who was very angry with the iran's, very angry. he had written much on the internet about it, wrote a suicide note, take my blood or take this need, big brother, and he flew a plane into the ir in building big only reason it didn't create a huge death toll was because he did it at noon when there was only one irs person there who is african-american and he was a veteran, a military veteran, and he died.
had he done it one hour later, one hour earlier he would've had a lot of irs employees debt. and you saw the building. it was in private i don't know if you guys remember, oh, no, another air terrorist. so my point is, and the government is not going out there with the same zeal, sing we are going to fight terrorism when these things happen. sending a message to the public, that's not the stuff we need to worry about. when it aired or a muslim doesn't, the government is on guard, showing your billions of dollars to the fbi and local and state law enforcement is being used properly, don't worry, we are keeping you safe. so i agree with you but i don't even know, i think and he is more of a symptom because the media panders to the public and it exacerbates the problem. but the root of the from is more the stereotypes and, of course, a vicious cycle, and it do think the government has a role to play but i think it has a responsibility. it's either going to be consistent or not. if it's not, then it has a lot
of explaining to do. [inaudible] >> no, i just happened to be there. i'm partisan. [inaudible] i can certainly assure that if you haven't received that demand, you will. it's imperative that there be an investigation. but what it wanted to say, and again, thanks for talking about the turbine and the way the state got involved. [inaudible] it's very similar i think -- [inaudible] why that conversation shifted to the states. but i wanted to ask about something i don't usually think
about, which is the list. not just no-fly list, but the other list, they ask, they put general and all that. it affects a lot of people in our community. is there any progress on that at all? i'm confused. anybody? >> i'll talk about it, just with the caveat that for sure the department of homeland security doesn't create those lists, or just a customer. those lists are managed by the fbi. that being said, there are ways to ensure that those lists are accurate, that you're not unduly harassed or pulled over into
screening. we have a program that we started about a year and half ago, which i mentioned briefly, where you go online, you submit information, if you're having issues with domestic travel. and we have, would have weakened in our agency, we tried to do. unfortunately, if day becomes an internationally, that puts certain names back on that list. we don't have any control over that as an agency. i mean, i don't know if mazen wants to contribute to that but that's what i can say. >> i think that's a great point because, well, you should read the department of justice inspector general's, former inspector general's report. he did maybe two on this issue. antiqua take it from the more practical perspective of it. these lists are to be inaccurate that it doesn't make us any safer because it wastes a lot of time. so he didn't address it from the civil rights, civil liberties
perspective. but it's still problematic. and i think the problem is not just, it's not come you can't put the burden completely on the fbi because there's a bunch of agencies that feed information into these lives. this process is very at least based on his report, sloppy, not monitored. they are not doing what they're supposed to be doing, and this is probably the fbi's fault but also the agency's help in making sure that whatever data they put in has been filtered, that is something that is based on some kind of reasonable suspicion, some individualized suspicion, something that is indicative of criminal activity as opposed based on profiling or some other noncriminal related criteria. so i think the burden is on all these agencies. it's also on the fbi. and i think to some extent he just doesn't put. are technically more of an implementer, although i don't think that let's them off the hook. and, frankly, they get a lot of
the brunt. i think you have an interest in the watchlist being accurate because you get going because you got to implement it. >> absolutely. and the reason for starting dhs trip which is that dhs.gov/trip was because we deal with the american public more than one as any other agency in the country, every time you travel you're dealing with a deep -- tsa. because just way government works, we are 99% of the time and implementer of that list. we start to do something about it. so the reason, the idea was to have this redress process, into the best that we could as an agency on kind of the front end of the operation to ensure that our customers, which is the american public, were having, they were safe while they're traveling but also not having a hard time traveling. so i encourage you to approach me afterwards to talk about this if you are having any issues traveling.
>> the trip issue, which has been around for a while, at least the communities have known about it. the problem with strip, and i don't know if it's been fixed, is it didn't have enough people. they were deluged with complaints, understandably. they didn't have enough deputy was no transparency, and some people it took two years just to get recognition that the complaint was even received. people have complained to your office about not the watchlist but the trip program itself. and so i think what the communities want to know is what assurances, other than verbal assurances, what evidence you can show that trip is actually a functional redress program as opposed to just one paper. >> i encourage you to read our report which will be out on her website, dhs.gov, and it lists kind of a metrics statistical metrics behind a trip. it will be out in about three weeks so it will be updated. and just the initial process, we
would deluge, a lot of complaints that they were having issues, and it didn't start out a full-fledged department. and overtime it's gotten better. i was just in houston a few weeks back and people were telling me their complaints were getting result in a month or two. that's from the point of inception to the end. but also the redress process. so this doesn't keep happening over and over again. they will get a redress number the first time you have an issue with travel, with trip if we can do something about it on our intent is an agency we will give you a number. and the next time you fly you put that number right when you're booking your flight so we noted that this person, we have a record to you're not lost in, you know, the deluge of millions of people traveling. anyway. >> i just had a follow-up question to something you said, maybe, you mentioned the fact that you our customers to the list and the fbi. collective lives. when we hear something, you wonder, you know, who all are
the customer? rds listed shared with local law enforcement? are these lists staying within federal agencies, or could i be a customer of these lists? how do you dash but what assurances do we have again that these lists are within, the federal government also common who contributes to these lists is often questioned within the community. >> just from my perspective, i don't think the fbi would feel comfortable with me talking on their behalf. and they would probably, be the agency don't know more about who the list is shared with. the reason i used the customer analogy, we are not buying the list, it's just that we are in that role. we are being given a product. we're not creating a product. i don't know if -- arriving into ad sense that really is a question for the fbi and i have to plead ignorance. i have no information as to the creation of the lists.
>> i think we're time for one or two more quick questions. >> not being able to have a job because of his name, okay, i use all my money to send my kids to college. [inaudible] what should we do? >> you know, i'm glad you brought that back because there was something i wanted to respond to the gentleman who asked that question, which was, you know, i hope that he filed a complaint with the equal employment opportunity commission, because, you know, an indication, any treatment,
improper treatment on the basis of race, religion, national origin is a violation of federal law, of title vii. and you know, that's a law which would enforce when it comes to public entities. and it's a lot which the eeoc enforces. i think you've heard about that earlier today. so, you know, it's a question of demanding that your rights are respected once you are aware of a violation. and the first step towards that is finding a complaint with the eeoc. secondly, you know, i'd like to take a moment just to talk a little bit about the bright side of this, which we do face a headwind of intolerance in many cases, but we also face, you know, the universe where diversity is valued in
government. it's valued in the private sector. it's valued in academia, and it's something which i think is an asset to our country, and and it's something that is a real blessing for us here in america. and it's not true in many other parts of the world that have similar demographics to the united states. and i think it's something we ought to be proud of. yes, there's absolutely work that needs to be done, and you know, as reverend king said, you know, and in justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, but let's not lose sight of, you know, the blessings of living in the united states and in the diverse society in which we live, where we can say a man by the name of barack hussein obama is the president of the united states. [applause]
>> are there other quick questions? >> post-9/11, the employment of arab speaking individuals, moslems, sikhs, south asians, has increased post-9/11 by government and agencies? this is just a vision i need? i didn't do a search on that. so what is your observation? >> mazen and i are here. but i don't have any successes or anything on hand to be able to answer that question but i don't know if anybody else does here. >> i'd like to answer that question, sort of rhetorically. sikhs are not presumptively permitted to serve in the u.s. armed forces. sikhs are not presumptively permitted to serve and u.s. coast guard, which i believe is a subsidiary of the department of homeland security. we had to sue the department of homeland security several years ago as an organization to win
the right of a seat to serve as a federal security officer while wearing his turban. so at least we sikh perspective i can play that there's either underrepresentation because there aren't as many applicants as they should be, or there are still barriers in place that prohibit us from serving in those capacities. >> i think based on what i've read in publicly available information, and there have been some reports by advocacy groups, it seems that the primary concern is with the fbi, and to some extent the local and state law enforcement that is working with federal agencies on either immigration or counterterrorism. the problem is it's very hard to get the statistics because it's very not transparent. there's usually classified information or over classified information. and it's unfortunate we have to rely on investigative reports to find out about programs that i think the public has a right to know about because they were problematic. i think peter king needs to have a hearing about the nypd
program, it would be a better time spent of our taxpayer and that the money spent than to have a hearing about muslims and anyone with an orthodox religious views or political dissent, whether or not they qualify as homegrown terrorists. so it's hard to find an answer because there just isn't enough transparency and accountability, but i think it's safe to say that unfortunately is still at least at a volume that still causes cancer. and i just want to make one comment to the woman. you are free to do what you want with your children, but i would be very distraught if, after 10 years of being a civil rights advocate for the community, that you felt the only way that you can protect your children from discrimination was to have to change their name. it's a shame. and i, i mean, if that is how it is, then it's obviously still a really big problem. i mean, i think open with the alternative, you know your
rights. they are the best they are in committee groups, including non-muslim groups come will step in and defend your right. but this is not a country where you have to come and change your name to a name that has nothing to do with your identity. religiously or racially. that's not america. that's not america. >> thank you. [applause] >> if there are no more questions, maybe we can do a quick one minute closing four, you know, each of the panelists, if you wish. >> you know, i just want to reiterate that, you know, we are here to serve the needs of the community. and mylanta always open. my colleague, eric, has a special counsel for religious discrimination, you know, this is practically a full-time job
for us. and so we are at your service. and if there are issues you'd like to bring to our attention, you know, our doors are wide open. [inaudible] >> i just want to make it very clear, i'm very proud to be an american. we are lucky to be in this nation. i just wanted to clear the fact that maybe i wasn't clear, we, last year, 43 times it was an attempt on united states. but we'll hear of the air. so i just want to make sure, the former panelists that were there also mentioned they were so much under attack. but what we hear is only about groups pics i just want to clarify that was my point, is that when i'm going to stop this, and go to the grassroots until people that there are americans who come from different parts of the world, just as the mayflower came and landed on the shores, there was no tsa then, you know.
>> what you're saying, our office at dhs conducts now 16 roundtables in 16 cities, about eight times a year. and we don't just meet with south asians but we also understand -- we talk to lgbt groups. we talk to women rights groups. we talk to african-americans. i mean, we talk to white people. we talk to anybody that is left, and we do eight to nine times a year in 16 cities. there's no department in the federal government that holds this kind of face-to-face engagement with the community. and guess what? we are a national security agency on top of that. [inaudible] >> well, from my knowledge no department that 16 roundtables on a regular basis with the same guys showing up and talking to communities. and large roundtables. we have about 100 people show up
to most of these. including we had mazen who attend our roundtables. weekend the roundtables. we have fbi, eyes, tsa, fema, officials, local's that talk of. and like mazen was discussing, it's very important to engage with your federal government, including people like mazen and myself. we can only do what we do if you file a complaint, if you give us a call, if you talk to us. and we are here to serve you like sahar was saying. so the more you can do to make our jobs easier, the better. thank you very much. it was an honor being here. now over to rajdeep. >> well, thanks so much to adc for organizing this. again, it's an honor to be. i don't have much to at the i would just encourage any of you who are impacted community members, and even if you're not, to remain optimistic. i think fundamentally, i don't mean to be too philosophical, i
think your choice which is my area. be the you can be an optimist and look at things with a sense of hope, or you can live your life in despair and sort of drop dead and rollover, in reverse order of course. i don't think that's really an option. it's sort of a false choice. so never let your spirits be broken. don't feel like you're un-american. be proud of who you are. hold your heads up and everything else will follow. thank you. [applause] >> well, i would just invite emphasizing that the gentleman in the back did not have to caveat his comments when i am proud to be an american. because that proves my point. we can criticize the government. we can hold them accountable. without having to caveat anything, anymore than anyone has to. the way i look at him, if you want to talk legalese, might have for is free and is a beneficiary case that i am a lot
of patriotic american. you have the burden of proving whether i am not. i am just going to sit here and assume that it am an act as if i am. so i would just end by saying that if the tea partiers can do it, we can do it. whether -- [inaudible] you do not, you can be just as critical and just, you know, tenacious and just as questioning, and be a muslim, be an era, the as outpatient and the very, very american. at the same time. [applause] >> thank you. thank you for the panel. i just want to close off by recapping. i think there's a lot we learned today. there's a lot of issues we definitely discussed. 10 years after 9/11 we could've spent three, four, five days, maybe even a weak conference talking about all the issues affecting the committee. but one of the underlying themes of the afternoon was the
importance of coalition building, the importance of working together with other minority groups and working within the arab american community, moving forward within the next 10 years. i know we definitely still have our issues. we still have concerns over the informants in the mosques. was a concerned with a fly list issues. we will keep pushing forward in trying to alleviate these concerns. and i think moving forward, at least on the adc perspective, over engagement is good, engagement is always good but we'll need to start seeing some results. and i think we'll need to start sinking quicker than what we have seen. because results are going to be needed to the community is much more mature now, and we need to see progress on issues and we need to not conflate communist, policy discussion with public outrage. so we need to separate these, we need to hit the books hard, hit these meetings hard and work with the agencies and resolving
these issues. because the community i don't think in the next 10 years is going to tolerate any of these issues. i think actually been, getting much more organized, moving forward in a very good fashion. i think as the air the american committee, touched on your comment, we have to define what being american is. i mean, i grew up in detroit. i grew up in dearborn. .ini is just as american as a hamburger or a hot dog to someone else. so we are here. we're not going anywhere. we're going to stay here. we will define what america is and keep pushing our issues. and i think that's what adc will continue to do in the next 10 years. i think you'll start seeing a lot more discussion on issues like the jobs matter, the economy, health care. so we are not going anywhere. i think tea partiers and those things want to start politicizing us and using us as political favors, putting us up there as a bad guy to get some
votes, i think they have another thing coming their way if they think they can do that in 2012. again, i just want to thank you guys. i want you to keep motivated, keeping tabs with what adc is doing. log onto the website. please take this book home, this report. there's great articles in there. distribute it, share the information, share what you know. and stay active and keep pushing and fight the good fight. hopefully in 10 years we'll be talking about something else. again, i want to thank you for coming. we have food in the back, and you know, let's just enjoy the evening and end feel free to ask us any questions you may have. thank you. we do have an event coming up, actually a few events coming up. we have an event coming up in november, a cultural that would be held in d.c. we also have a lecture series coming at this office will be held at our office once a month
discussing topics anything important to the committee such as civil rights, things that are upcoming in the media. so we are trying to discuss our policy issues, bring forth the culture of issues, keep pushing forward in the right direction the club want to thank you again. hope you enjoyed it. there will be food in the back. enjoy. take care. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] >> now, treasury secretary david cohen talks about trying to slow the cash flow for groups like al qaeda in order to deter terrorist activity. his remarks at the treasury department were part of a forum on u.s. antiterrorism efforts since 9/11. >> so good morning again. first, please join me in thanking our first panel for a very informative discussion.
[applause] when al qaeda struck the united states on september 11, 2001, killing thousands, our nation was stunned. the american people demanded a swift and powerful response, to punish those behind the attacks, to leverage all elements of national power to protect the united states and its citizens >> a and to ensure that nothing like the attacks carried out that tuesday morning ever happened again. our military, with the help of our intelligence community, quickly swung into action, driving al qaeda from its safe haven in afghanistan, destroying its training camps, and disrupting its ability to plan, coordinate and launch another attack. but it was also understood that more could be done, and needed to be done, to fight al qaeda.
in the decade since 9/11, the united states government has undertaken an unprecedented effort to unmask and choke off al qaeda's financial support networks. the strategies developed by treasury's office of terrorism and financial intelligence have placed the department squarely within our country's national security community and at the forefront of the battle to deprive al qaeda, and terrorists the world over, of the financial wherewithal to operate. treasury is not alone in this fight, not by any stretch. this is truly a whole-of-government effort, involving our colleagues in the state, justice and defense departments, the intelligence community, and the law enforcement community. nor is the united states alone in this fight. we work closely with the u.n., which has established an extensive legal framework for combating terrorist financing on a global level. we work closely with dozens of countries, many of whom are represented here this morning,
to stem the flow of funds to terrorists. and we work closely with the international banking community and others in the private sector to prevent terrorists from using the formal financial sector to receive, store, move and use funds. sketch out where we will take treasuries counterterrorism financing efforts in the months and years to come. in the last few years it became clear that al qaeda was encountering financial difficulty. by 2010 we believe the organization was in its worst financial position in years your we assess that al qaeda's increasingly precarious financial situation would not only and pair its ability to operate, it would also likely send al qaeda and its affiliates
and search of new sources of money. recent intelligence confirms that al qaeda devotes a great deal of attention and effort to raising money and managing its budget. for example, we have learned that al qaeda kept meticulous accounting statements on operating costs such as weapons, fuels and salaries, tracking expenditures that amounted to little more than 1 dollar. we have also learned that al qaeda's shaky bottom line attracted the attention al qaeda's senior leaders, who, in early 2010, lamented that al qaeda was experiencing great financial hardship. these difficulties were not simply a theoretical concern for al qaeda's leaders. indeed, the shortfall had begun to affect al-qaida's operational capabilities. new information reveals that early last year, al qaeda not only was stressed financially, it was struggling to allocate funds to plan and execute terrorist attacks against the u.s. homeland and western interests. this financial squeeze led al
qaeda to explore new avenues for funding. and by early last year, the terrorist group was seeking to fundraise through another method, kidnapping-for-ransom. the picture we have been able to piece together from recent intelligence includes both good and bad news. while it was heartening to get confirmation that global efforts to disrupt al qaeda's financing had begun to pay off, we are reminded that al qaeda remains an innovative, resourceful and adaptive adversary. the and we will need to continue to innovate and adapt, as well, to maintain the impact we began to see in recent years. with that in mind, let me turn now to the key areas where we will be focusing our energy and efforts. first and foremost, we will keep the pressure on. the recent deaths of usama bin laden, ilyas kashmiri and atiyah abd al-rahman, capping off a decade's worth of comprehensive efforts to attack al qaeda, has
left it weakened. but now is no time to let up. for us at treasury, that means continuing to concentrate on disrupting al qaeda's financial and material support networks. just yesterday, we designated three senior pakistan-based al qaeda leaders, including al qaeda commander abu yahya al-libi, atiyah's deputy until atiyah's death last month, and younis al-mauritani, a long-time al qaeda fighter in charge of al qaeda's external operations as recently as last year, who was arrested by pakistani authorities just a few days ago. these actions follow a set of designations we announced in july targeting a key financial pipeline for al qaeda, which runs from kuwait and qatar, through iran and into pakistan, and which depends on an agreement between al qaeda and the iranian government to allow this network to operate within iran's borders. so job one is to continue our
intensive focus on shutting down al qaeda's pipelines of money, men and materiel. second, we will step up our efforts with our allies and partners around the world, particularly in the gulf, to encourage more consistent and comprehensive counter-terrorist financing efforts. although the power and reach of the united states treasury is substantial, we need other countries to work with us to combat al qaeda, its affiliates and other terrorist organizations. this is especially true for kuwait and qatar, which unfortunately have become permissive environments for extremist fundraising. there is no question that kuwait and qatar are strong allies of the united states, and that we share many important goals and work closely together on many important initiatives. but the fact remains that kuwait is the only country in the gulf that has not criminalized terrorist financing. in a recent mutual evaluation of kuwait, the international monetary fund emphasized that this deficiency substantially
hampers kuwait's ability to combat terrorist financing. and although qatar enacted a good terrorist financing law a year ago, implementation has lagged. the approach taken by kuwait and qatar poses a danger to them, and to all of us. so we will continue to work with kuwait and qatar, and urge them to take the necessary steps, as others in the region have done over the past decade. third, as al qaeda evolves, and the nature of the threat posed by al qaeda and its affiliates changes, we will continually adapt and expand our counter-terrorist financing efforts to meet the shifting challenge. most importantly, we are increasing efforts to combat the financial support networks for al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, al qaeda in the islamic maghreb, al shabaab, and others inspired by, or possibly affiliated with, al qaeda, such as boko haram.
attacking these groups' finances presents new and different challenges, because their means and methods of funding and facilitation differ from al qaeda's traditional donor-based fundraising model. they also differ among one other. working with our colleagues in the intelligence community and our partners around the world, we will devise disruption strategies tailored to the ways in which each group raises, stores, and moves money. fourth, we are focusing on emerging trends in how terrorists raise money, most importantly, the increased use of kidnapping-for-ransom, which is quickly becoming a critical funding source for al qaeda and its affiliates. for example, we have information that aqim has raised tens of millions of dollars since 2008 through kidnapping-for-ransom operations in africa. combating kidnapping-for-ransom
is notoriously difficult. at the policy level, it is easy enough to say that no one should pay ransoms. but at the personal level, when one's citizen, colleague or child is being held hostage, it is awfully hard to adhere to the no-ransoms policy. few do, which is one reason that al qaeda and its affiliates are turning increasingly to kidnapping-for-ransom. the u.s. government has a policy against paying ransoms, and we believe this has dissuaded terrorists from targeting americans. our information reveals that earlier this year, aqim was planning to target mainly europeans, not americans, for kidnapping-for-ransom operations because they believed european governments would pay ransoms while the u.s. government would not. in addition to bolstering the no-ransoms approach, the international community must also make kidnapping harder in the first place through improved
security measures. and if ransoms are paid, we must make it more difficult for who terrorist groups to move, store and use that cash. finally as we sharpen our efforts to combat the source of terrorist financing, we will also continued efforts to stay ahead of new ways terrorists store and move money. our growing success in driving terrorists out of the formal financial sector has led terrorist facilitators to rely increasingly on informal methods of moving money, notably, hawalas and cash couriers. but it has also sparked an interest in exploiting new technologies and new payment methods, such as stored value cards to transactions by cell phones. these technologies hold great promise to bring people around the world into the formal financial sector, unquestionably a critically important policy goal. but these new methods of storing and moving value also create new
vulnerabilities if not adequately covered by anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulations. so as we continue to disrupt specific actors and networks, we will also work to build a more transparent financial system with robust safeguards that is inhospitable to terrorist financing. in closing, as we remember the victims of the 9/11 attacks, this important milestone also provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made in fighting al qaeda and the broader threat of terrorism. counter-terrorist financing has contributed importantly to that progress, more so than anyone would have predicted 10 years ago. and that is thanks to many of the people in this room, throughout treasury, across the u.s. government, and around the world who have dedicated their careers to this cause.
as we survey the challenges ahead, from terrorism to other threats to our national security, the effective deployment of financial measures will continue to be central to our strategy and our success. i know i speak for all of my colleagues in the treasury department when i say we relish the opportunity to use these tools to help make our country safer. thank you. [applause] >> following the president a joint session speech on jobs last night, the senate voted 4
45-52 on the resolution of disapproval regarding the debt ceiling, meaning they failed to deny the president the authority to raise the debt ceiling by another 500 billion. the senate comes in with a limited legislative day ahead, mostly general speeches. no "roll call" votes are scheduled. next week "cq" reports majority leader harry reid plans to bring a stand-alone spending bill to the floor that would provide $6 billion in disaster relief fund things. he reportedly plans to pull the funding out of the $47.8 billion homeland security spending bill. lie to the senate floor on c-span2. -- live now to the senate floor on c-span2. in the air, give strength to your people and bless us with peace. remind us that though we cannot always prevent tragedies
we can choose to respond to them with faith and trust in you. lord, bless our senators in their labors today. empower them with your presence, sustain them with your spirit encourage them with your word, and renew them with your grace. you, oh god, are our strength and our sure defense. we pray in your holy 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 9, 2011. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rus of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable mark warner, a senator from the commonwealth of virginia, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore.
the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: following leader remarks, the senate will be in morning business. during that period of time senators will be allowed to speak for up to ten minutes each. there will be no votes today. i'm working with the house to find out what they can work with us on. we know we have the f.a.a. bill which expires next friday. the highway bill expires at the end of this month. those are the two primary things we're working on in addition to the fema bill we have in virginia as well as the around of the country. we're going to make a decision on what we're going to work on
but i need to hear from the house first. i applaud the bipartisan approach taken by the president last night in his jobs act. he described it and described it well. it's really a commonsense plan. this plan will cut the middle class -- it will be a tax cut for middle-class families and small businesses. it will put teachers and first responders back to work. it will put construction workers on job sites around the country to renovate schools, roads and bridges. it will ensure iraq and afghan veterans who are serving their country come home to a job. it will help americans who have been unemployed for far too long keep their family afloat while they look for jobs. reagan republicans would have embraced this reasonable, commonsense approach, the so-called american jobs act. all the ideas in this
legislation have been supported by democrats and republicans in years past. some of the ideas came originally from republicans. this jobs plan won't add a single penny to the deficit. in fact, -- so i urge reasonable republicans to resist the voices of the tea party and others who would oppose this legislation and root for our economy. it is sad that they do and they do it for political reasons. they should see this proposal is made of bipartisan ideas, supported in the past by members of both parties. we must not continue to bow to the tea party republicans willing to do anything to hurt the president. but instead of hurting the president by causing a tea party recession. wewe cannot allow their radical agenda crowd out america's jobs agenda. and certainly this summer with a
shocking credit downgrade has rocked an economy already shaken, this fall this legislation offers us an opportunity to set the american economy back on the right track. we need to do that. i look forward to studying the president's bill. the senate will be in debate on this proposal as soon as possible. i know not every republican will support this legislation, and i know that not every democrat will support all of this legislation. but it's a good piece of legislation. we need to work together. i look forward to open, honest and respectful debate. so i hope my republican colleagues will contribute constructively to this process in the coming weeks rather than resorting to these obstructionist tactics which have so dominated things here in washington for the last eight months. i hope a new day of cooperation and compromise is dawning. mr. president, on the eve of september 11, i would ask that we all remember this: remember
the challenges we face as a nation, whether threats to our security or to our economic security. they are both the same. our nation's security and economic security are tied together. this sunday my fellow nevadans and i and the rest of the nation will join in remembrance of the tragic events of that fateful day ten years ago. we'll mourn the thousands of innocent lives lost in new york, pennsylvania and virginia. and we'll never forget the events of that tuesday morning which dawn so clear. it was a bright blue sky but it ended gloomy and dark. we should also remember the spirit of unity and determination that blossomed during the course that have day. in the weeks and months that followed there were not democrats or republicans, liberals or conservatives, red states or blue states. we were americans. we need the bipartisanship of
washington. the facts that allow us to disagree is the root of our democracy, but it does mean we must work together in the best interest of this great nation and in the interest of every man or woman who calls america home, no matter how difficult. today the greatest challenges facing this nation is putting 14 million americans back to work and returning to our economy -- returning to our economy some prosperity. i look forward to tackling that challenge as one nation. we need to join together in that cause. mr. president, would you announce the business of the day. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved and the senate now will be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. mr. reid: mr. president, i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
mr. hatch: mr. president, i would yield to the distinguished senator -- the presiding officer: a quorum call is in progress. mr. hatch: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: mr. president, i would yield to the distinguished senator from tennessee, and without losing my right to the floor, i ask unanimous consent that i be allowed to make my remarks immediately thereafter. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. corker: thank you, mr. president. i certainly appreciate the courtesy of the senator from utah. i'll be very brief. it's actually propitious in many ways i'm here at a time when the senator from virginia is the presiding officer. i want to say there was a focus last night on a short-term stimulus. i want to thank the senator from virginia and the senator from
georgia who have led efforts over many months in trying to deal with our longer-term issues. i think there are many of us in this body and i think in the house of representatives that really believe the best way for us to deal with our short-term economic situation is to deal with the long-term structural issues that are affecting our country so much. i'm here today just to hope that i feel a tremendous consensus building. the presiding officer and myself were in a meeting earlier this week where i think there's a lot of consensus by republicans and democrats in the senate towards really using this supercommittee, encouraging this super committee, tremendous optimism about what this super committee is getting ready to do, but to even look at a number of deficit reductions, maybe twice or even more what their original charge is, to secondarily encourage to use this opportunity for tax reform, much of like was laid out in the
bowles-simpson concept and to have entitlements, medicare reform as a part of that. thirdly -- and this is me speaking individually although i think there is consensus building around this too -- do something longer term as it relates to infrastructure like having a six-year highway bill. i feel that momentum building in the house. i think it exists in the senate. the reason i'm here today on the floor is to say one thing, we have a tremendous opportunity to deal with our long-term issues which will immediately affect our economy now and stimulate it if we'll do that, and i hope that what we will not do is become sidetracked on things that are more working around the edges, more around the fringe, things that are short term in nature, because i think like the presiding officer who has created jobs in his lifetime, i've done the same thing in my lifetime, i think both of us understand that creating that long-term environment where people have confidence that
we've actually dealt with this country's problems, there's nothing, nothing that can be more stimulative in the short term than for people to see that this body and the body across the way on the other side of the capitol dealt with those in an appropriate way. i'm just encouraging us to stay focused, to stay focused on the supercommittee, to continue to encourage them to do even more than what is their charge, and i think there is a lot of consensus around that, and i'm thankful to be a part of that encouragement. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and thank again the senior senator from utah for his tremendous courtesy and certainly his leadership on so many of these issues. thank you very much. mr. hatch: i thank the senator. mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i thank my colleague. he is one of the more prescient people in this body, and we all care a great deal for him. i really appreciate his leadership in this great body. mr. president, i remember september 11, 2001, as if it
were yesterday. i was here in my office at my desk when the unthinkable happened. i remember driving to the senate that morning thinking it would be a -- it was such a beautiful day. it was a crisp fall morning with a remarkable blue sky. over the years, i have often wondered how such splendor could occur in such evil and suffering. i take solace in knowing nearly 3,000 innocent victims including 3 youthians touched the face of god that day. since that horrible day, americans have once again risen to the challenge. as president george w. bush said three months after the attacks -- quote -- "our enemies have made the mistake that america's enemies always make. they saw liberty and thought they saw weakness." unquote. but ten years on, americans have shown once again our resolve can never be broken. when confronted by evil, we will not yield. i remember that day because i remember i came over here to the
senate and we were told to evacuate the capitol, and as we walked out, some running as fast as they could, and walked down the steps of the senate side of the capitol, i turned around and saw that senator helms was back up on the veranda. and he was having difficulties, as he did in his later years, with ambulation. i walked back up the steps and went up and he leaned on my arm as we came down the steps. we were among the last to leave the capitol at that time. we were warned that there might be a plane flying into the capitol or into the white house, and it was a matter of great concern to everybody. ten years later, as i have said, americans have once again shown the resolve that really is necessary. we have confronted evil and we
will continue to do so and we will never yield. we as a nation continue to stand up to this threat and we have done much to overcome it, but we should never become complacent. as the 9/11 commission's recent report card on the implementation of its recommendations clearly shows, we have made important advances in securing the homeland but a lot of work needs to be accomplished. some of the most profound changes and also some of the least understood have occurred in our intelligence community. for example, the 16 different agencies which constitute our intelligence community are collaborating like never before. part of that is because of the patriot act which requires that type of collaboration. the patriot act has worked very, very well, and even though there are some on the far right and the far left who -- who do not accept the patriot act, i have got to tell you it has worked amazingly well in helping us to protect our homeland. as the commission pointed out,
collaboration in the intelligence community was essential to the success of the raid which killed osama bin laden. yeah, it was ten years later, but it sent a message to the world that we're not going to quit until we find these people, root them out and get rid of them. in addition, i also believe our nation is much safer due to the terrorist surveil abc program. the -- surveillance program. the terrorist surveillance program allows our intelligence communication toss monitor communications from al qaeda. this has been the subject of much debate in congress, however, the legislative compromise which was reached, i believe, strikes a proper balance by permitting our intelligence agencies to operate in an efficient manner while strengthening the oversight rule of the foreign surveillance overnight court. the need for improvement still remains.
the commission notes that over the past six years, we have had four directors of national intelligence, as many managers would agree, such leadership changes will disrupt the implementation of any organization's modernization strategy. yet, in the realm of counterterrorism, the shortest -- the slightest misstep could be exploited by our foes to launch another attack. other areas which require immediate attention include securing our borders, an important tool in helping us verify the identity of visitors to the united states as our biometric entry system called u.s. visit. unfortunately, the security offered by this system is incomplete. as the commission pointed out, u.s. visit does not have a fully operational system to record when visitors leave our nation. such a capability is not only useful in tracking terrorists but is also an important capability in stemming illegal immigration. that is why i have introduced s. 332, the strengthening our commitment to legal immigration
and america's security act. now, this bill requires the secretary of homeland security to create a mandatory exit procedure for foreign visitors to our country, the united states of america. unfortunately, mr. president, my optimism regarding afghanistan, the planning ground of safe haven for those who plotted the attacks of september 11, has somewhat receded. the surge of forces have led to great gains in the southern afghan provinces of helmand and kandahar. this is the heartland of the taliban. according to general david rodriguez, who until recently was our deputy commander in afghanistan, the taliban -- quote -- "enjoyed near total control" undote of these areas as recently as 2009. moreover, our additional forces enabled the implementation of a robust counterinsurgency
strategy. this means we had sufficient forces not only to clear an area of the taliban but to hold it. as a result, we were able to provide security to the local population, assist in the development of the primarily agrarian economy and train afghani security forces. unfortunately, the president's arbitrary decision to reduce the number of our forces deployed to afghanistan by approximately a third and instructing the reduction to be completed by next summer only adds to the burden of our forces which remain. in fact, this summer, i was fortunate to host former director of the central intelligence agency, general michael hayden, at a speaking event in utah. i found his insight on this matter most i will leukemia naturing. general hayden did not quarrel with reducing the number of troops in afghanistan. however, he was troubled by the timing of the drawdown. specifically, the general stated he would have kept the troops in place until the conclusion of the 2012 summer fighting season.
that being said, i have absolute confidence in our new commander, general john allen. he succeeds general petraeus with whom i met over there in afghanistan and have met on other occasions and who has done a tremendous singular service for our country. i have great respect for him and i expect general allen to be -- to be just as good. general allen was one of the vital catalysts in the city awakening in iraq. the city awakening and our counterinsurgency strategy are considered by many to be the driving forces for our success during the iraqi surge, and of course we all remember what general petraeus did there as well. i am confident that general allen will maintain the hard-won momentum our forces achieved in afghanistan, despite the reduction in resources. in addition, our troops will be assisted by an even greater number of afghan troops. in this month's edition of "foreign affairs," general
rodriguez wrote that the afghan army by the end of 2010 had increased in size to 143,000, which surpassed that year's goal by 9,000 troops. in addition, the afghan army -- quote -- "has quickly become one of the country's most respected institutions." unquote. the general also writes -- quote -- "in 2011, 95% of all afghan army units have been partnered with coalition forces, and they are showing steady improvement in providing security and in their ability to independently thwart insurgent attacks." unquote. mr. president, in conclusion, much has been accomplished but more remains to be done. the memory of that day and those we lost will be forever with us. we must never forget the hard lessons that we learned on september 11. we must not become complacent or believe the threat is over or has gone. we have done much to mitigate
the threats posed against us, but we always must be on guard for anything in the future. the hallmark of our democracy consists of the principles of liberty and equality cherished by our citizens. the terrorists who attacked us on september 11 saw the civic virtues of our peaceful republic and wrongfully concluded that we were weak. as others have been reminded in the past, it is a mistake to underestimate the courage and resolve of americans when our constitutional ideals come under attack or when our lives and liberties are threatened. even on that first day, the example of police and firemen charging into burning buildings at the world trade center and the pentagon and civilians fighting back above the skies of schnecksville, pennsylvania, showed to the world that america had not lost its resolve. to this day, we remain vigilant
in our commitment to protect the natural rights to life, liberty liberty -- life and liberty announced in our declaration of independence and guaranteed in our beloved constitution. 10 years have followed since that day, but i remain proud of the example that america has set for the world as it continues its relentless pursuit of those who would still innocence and plot mass terrorist attacks on civilian populations. president roosevelt called the attack on pearl harbor -- quote -- "a date which will live in infamy." unquote. similarly, september 11, 2001, remains a day of remembrance and resolve. we will always remember those who were killed that day and the loved ones they left hyped, and we resolve to secure justice for those victims by bringing justice to those responsible for the attacks and who continue to plot against us. mr. president, thank you, and i
address the senate as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: last night we gathered in the house chamber for a joint session to listen to president obama speak about our nation's dire need to get our economy growing more strongly, to create jobs and to get millions of americans back to work. all americans share this goal, even as we may have some disagreements over the best way to do it. one way to create jobs that most of us i think would agree on is
opening new markets overseas to american workers, products, and trade. u.s. products are the finest in the world, and we must lower barriers that impede free trade. to that end, we heard the president repeat again as he has previously on numerous occasions speaking to congress and the american people that we must lower barriers that impede free trade. to that end, and we heard the president that he wants -- last night he wants congress to pass three free trade agreements with korea, colombia and panama a that were concluded many years ago. i could not agree more. indeed, the international trade commission estimates that passing these three trade agreements could increase u.s. exports by $13 billion, creating approximately 250,000
new jobs. so republicans in congress and many democrats are ready to pass these trade agreements, and i believe that if we had a vote on the merits of those agreements, they would pass with strong bipartisan support, just as previous trade agreements have. the problem is, they continue to sit on the president's desk where they have been since the day he took office. until he sends those agreements to congress, there's nothing we can do to pass them. so why does the president continue to urge congress to pass agreements that we cannot pass until they are submitted to congress? so considering that the president wants meez agreements passed and considering that congress has the votes to pass them, and considering the overwhelming benefits that each of these free trade agreements would bring to our workers and our economy, the obvious question, then, why hasn't the
president chosen to send these agreements to congress for final approval? the answer, i'm afraid, has much to do with electoral politics. my friends on the other side of the aisle have long insisted the price of getting trade agreements through congress is passage of domestic spending bills geared the to assist u.s. workers who have been adversely affected by foreign trade. for this reason in 2002 congress passed the trade adjustment assistance legislation that provided short-term support for worker retraining and other assistance. many republicans were skeptical about whether this program and others like it achieved their goals, but we went along for the sake of our national interest in expanding free trade. however, in 2009, without any action taken on our three
pending trade agreements, my friends on the other side of the aisle dramatically increased the trade adjustment assistance program as part of the stimulus bill. raising spending on this program annually by more than a half a billion dollars. now, i might add, the stimulus bill was supposed to be a temporary stimulus. now my friends and colleagues on the other side of the aisle want to make that increase permanent. in essence, a program that was designed to assist workers that have been adversely affected by free trade was transformed into a domestic slush fund for reasons that had nothing at all to do with expanding free trade. what's worse, after repeatedly claiming it supports the free trade agreements with colombia, panama and korea, the white house earlier this year
announced that the cost of its support was reauthorization of the new trade adjustment assistance with funding not set at the original 2002 level but the 2009 stimulus level. so here you had a program that had been expanded from its original cost under the dubious guys -- giez of guise of a temporary stimulus, and then we were told this temporary increase which was set to expire should be turned into a permanent domestic spending program. my friends, this is why americans are so angry with washington and with congress. it's this mentality that has led to the explosion of government spending and national debt in this country, and it is unsustainable. i acknowledge an expanding trade
does temporarily put some of our workers at a disadvantage. i remember being roundly criticized during the 2008 presidential campaign when i had the audacity to tell michigan workers the truth, that many of the jobs that had left their state for cheaper labor markets overseas were never coming back. so i understand that trade can create difficulties for some american workers. i'm not opposed in principle to supporting those workers temporarily so they can develop new skills and find new jobs. and i don't oppose nor do i seek to kill trade adjustment assistance, just to restore it to its original 2002 levels. that said, now for a minute let's look closer at how the federal government has been going about employment and worker training programs like this.
earlier this year, the government accountability office released a study entitled "multiple training and employment programs, providing information on colocating services and consolidating administrative structures could promote efficiency." translation from the bureaucratese mean how is the trade adjustment assistance program working out? here's what the g.a.o. reported on federal employment and retraining programs, including trade adjustment assistance. and i quote from the government accountability office report. "the number of employment and training programs and their funding have increased since our 2003 report when we last reported on them. for this year -- for fiscal year 2009, we identified 47 employment and training programs administered across nine
agencies. together, these programs spent approximately $18 billion on employment and training services in fiscal 2009. according to our survey data. this is an increase of three programs and about $5 billion from our 2003 report. adjusting for inflation, the amount of the increase is about $2 billion. they went on to say, "we estimate based on --" we estimate based on survey responses that this increase is likely due to temporary funding from the recovery act for 14 of the 47 programs we identified. in addition to increasing funding for existing programs, the recovery act -- that's the stimulus package -- recovery act also created three new programs and modified several existing programs, target
population groups and eligibility requirements according to agency officials. for example, the recovery act modified the trade adjustment assistance program by expanding group eligibility to include certain dislocated service workers who were impacted by foreign trade. so according to the g.a.o., many of our multiplying employment and training programs are duplicative of other such programs funded by the federal government. but that's not all. the government accountability office continues, and i quote, "based on our survey of agency officials, we determined that only five of the 47 programs have had impact studies that assess whether the program is responsible for improved employment outcomes. the five impact studies generally found that the effects of participation were not consistent across programs with
only some demonstrating positive impacts that tended to be small, inconclusive or restricted to short-term impacts." let me repeat that last sentence. "the five impact studies generally found that the effects of participation were not consistent across programs, with only some demonstrating positive impacts that tended to be small, inconclusive or restricted to short-term impacts." so not only are many of these employment and training programs duplicative, the g.a.o. has found very little empirical evidence to support whether these programs are even accomplishing their intended goals. and what empirical evidence they have found is, i repeat, small, inclusive, or -- inconclusive or restricted to short-term impacts. trade adjustment assistance is
among these programs. so my question is simple: at this time of crushing federal debt and increasing fiscal austerity, why should we increase spending on a program that is likely duplicated by other federal efforts and of which we cannot even say for sure whether it's working? the real tragedy is because our trade agenda has ground to a halt over this disagreement, the people are suffering most are our workers and america's international economic leadership. the united states may not be doing much to advance free trade, but that's definitely not the case with other countries. which are vigorously competing to get their workers and businesses into new overseas markets, often to the detriment of the united states of america. while we stand still, the world is moving past us. in the five years that we have
failed to ratify the colombia free trade agreement, the u.s. companies have paid more than $3.2 billion in colombian import tariffs. that would disappear under the free trade agreement. since 2008, the united states has lost more than $800 million in agricultural exports to countries that trade freeley with colombia. though less stark, the same story is true with panama. the people most disadvantaged by our failure to ratify these frames are united states -- trade agreements are united states workers. what's more, colombia, panama, and korea are not waiting on us. our allies are not dependent on us. they are confidently pursuing their own interests with us if possible, but without us if necessary. colombia and panama and many
other latin american countries are concluding their own trade agreements, often at our expense. since 2006, u.s. exporters have lost 10% of their market share in panama, and from 2008 to 2009, our main agricultural exports to colombia declined by more than 60%. these jobs are going to europe, canada, and china. not because their workers are outcompeting ours, but because washington is forcing our exporters to compete with one hand tied behind their back. indeed, colombia recently began implementing its trade agreement with canada, further disadvantaging our workers in what should be a natural market for us. and just this summer, south korea's free trade agreement with the european union took effect. we are losing ground and we need
to get moving on trade immediately. i recognize that the cost of doing so again will be republicans action questionsens to a vote to reauthorize the trade adjustment assistance. the senate minority leader has repeatedly said he will support holding such a vote, so there is virtually no reason why the white house should not send our trade agreements with colombia, panama, and korea to congress for an immediate vote. but as the republican leader, senator mcconnell, has correctly insisted these trade agreements should not be linked to an authorization of trade adjustment assistance at their artificially inflated stimulus funding level. i would remind my colleagues that the first speech that the president of the united states gave to congress in early 2009, he advocated the passage of free
trade agreements. again last night he mentioned the importance of the passage of free trade agreements and called on congress to pass these agreements. our message back is, mr. president, mr. president of the united states, send us those agreements. let us have open and honest debate. let's have amendments. let's have votes. let's move forward. i am confident that we can pass these free trade agreements, but they've got to be submitted to congress. it seems fairly simple. and please then, mr. president, don't call on congress again, don't again call on congress to pass these agreements unless you send them over to the congress so that we can ratify these agreements. it's terrible what's happened in colombia, losing billions of dollars that we've had to pay in
import tariffs for goods going into colombia. by the way, columbian goods come into the united states free of tariff because of the andean trade preference agreements. so we are now at a disadvantage where we pay tariffs on american goods going into colombia but no tariff on columbian goods coming in the united states. it makes no sense. south korea. i believe it was last july, ratified a free trade agreement with europe. we are losing market share, and we are losing billions of dollars and thousands and thousands of jobs because we have not ratified these agreements. and so, the only way we can ratify them is for the president to send them over. send them over, mr. president. send them over. last night he said pass these bills now. i'm saying send the free trade
agreements over now. i'll be glad to debate, amend with time limits and pass these free trade agreements. and i am confident there will be an overwhelming majority of bipartisan support for these agreements. and we can work out the trade adjustment assistance issue. we can debate and vote on it. but we've got to have the agreements before us so we can move forward on it. mr. president, people in my state are hurting. people all over america are hurting, as the president of the united states acknowledged at the beginning of his remarks last night. we cannot -- this is one area where i'm confident we can move forward. so let's have those agreements sent over and let's take them up as our first and most important priority in the coming weeks ahead. mr. president, i yield the floor.