tv U.S. Senate CSPAN April 19, 2012 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT
i rise today to urge the reauthorization of the violence against women act. in 1994, this very important law became law. it was groundsbreaking for women, for law enforcement, for local advocacy organizations who received the resources they needed to better protect victims of abuse. it empowered us to combat domestic and dating violence and to prevent sexual assault and stalking. the violence against women act has improved the criminal justice system's ability to keep victims safe and to hold perpetrators accountable. it's been a valuable tool for so many women, so many children, so many families and law enforcement to make sure that we can keep people safe. it's vital that we -- that we ensure that these services remain intact. last year the law expired. critical efforts that help women and their children protect themselves from domestic violence and stalking and now
cyber threats continue only on a short-term basis. as a husband, as a father of three daughters and a daughter-in-law and as a united states senator, i find any further delay of reauthorization of the violence against women act to be simply unacceptable. our mothers, our sisters, our daughters deserve more protection and security and less of the political bickering. in 2011, there were 38,000 -- 38,000 reported cases of domestic violence in ohio. of course, many, many more than that, thousands more we think that went unreported. women live, as do children, with fear and pain. these women live with the fear and pain of their partner's physical and emotional abuse. it's because of the violence against women act that they have somewhere to turn. it's because of that law that when they do, they have the help to escape violent relationships and the support to seek legal
representation when they need to. it's why authorizing the violence against women act is so important. women's shelters, domestic violence centers clearly would have trouble existing without this law. these are the very organizations that connect women with legal help, emergency housing, transportation and lock services. they help with primary prevention programs so children grow up learning the importance of healthy and safe relation. and the violence against women act is about assisting law enforcement officials who place themselves in danger when they investigate and prosecute cases of abuse and violence. reauthorizing the violence against women act would invest in state grant programs like the grants to encourage arrest policies and enforcement protection order programs that help law enforcement respond to assault crimes. and the bill provides tools for law enforcement, victims' service providers and court personnel to identify better and manage high-risk offenders and
prevent domestic violence homicides. reauthorizing the violence against women act is long overdue. it's time to stand up for women in this country so they're no longer subject to neglect and abuse in the law's inaction. i urge my senate colleagues to reauthorize finally, after the opposition -- opposition i don't even understand from a number of my most conservative colleagues, how important it is to reauthorize one of the most important pieces of legislation affecting women in our country. madam president, i -- i recognize -- i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: madam president, my friend and colleague, senator conrad, had said earlier this morning protesting a bit that he never said we would have a markup in the budget committee, mark up a budget, as required by law, but that was what i understood. i'm not here to argue the details of it. he said publicly, as i understood it, that he was going to have a markup. our people were working on as many as 80 amendments. i was working on amendments, key health care amendments at the time i heard the senator was having a press conference, and he turned it on and he basically said we're not going to have a markup. he said well, it was a markup. we started a markup. we had opening statements, and i offered a bill but we just didn't have votes. no amendments, no final vote to
package. didn't ask a single member of the democratic team on the budget committee to vote for or against anything. and that's how it happened. i'm not accusing him of deliberately misleague me. what i would just say is i thought he told me we were going to have a markup, and a markup means the chairman lays down the chairman's mark, it's marked up with amendments, others can offer substitutes, and you vote, and members of the united states of america citizens can hold us accountable for what we do. and if they don't like what we do, they vote us out of office, and they have been pretty good at this in recent years. a couple of times, they whacked the republicans. last time they whacked the big-spending democrats in 2010. so, i mean, that's what america is all about. we're accountable. but there is no ability, need or
right to avoid responsibility for the critical issues of america, so i just want to say that. let me tell you what happened. and this is no mystery here. this is no mystery here. this started three years ago when the senate budget committee, senator conrad, was chairman, moved out a budget, but the majority leader, senator reed, decided it was going to be uncomfortable to vote on that budget. now, the united states code requires that by april 1 the budget committee produce a budget, and by april 15 it is voted on the floor. the congressmen and senators who passed the budget act in 1974 that did that because we weren't
having budgets moved promptly and on time, they laid out how it should be conducted, they didn't put down that you lose your pay if you don't produce a budget. they didn't put down you go to jail if you violate the statute. they just said that you should do it. so there is no penalty in the code. senator reed blocked the budget from coming to the floor three years ago. then last year, despite the code requiring that we have a budget, senator reed decided in his -- and his democratic colleagues decided they didn't want to have a budget even in committee. they blocked it in committee. there was no budget in committee, as the law required, no budget brought to the floor except senator mcconnell forced a few votes but without the normal debate that you have on a budget process as it moves through the senate. so i wondered what was going to happen this year.
well, what happened this year? senator conrad is not going to be running again, proud of his service on the budget committee, served on theer skin-bowles-simpson fiscal commission, the gang of six he was involved in. he had some ideas. he wanted to do what the law said, i think. i think he was wanting to bring forth a budget. the last thing he did, he was going to comply with the law. at least that's what i thought. so he got started, we were prepared and on the eve of the hearing to mark up a budget, we were told, well, we were going to have not a normal markup but a markup in which we wouldn't vote. and you get to have opening statements, everybody could, and then you could -- he would lay down the mark but nobody would vote for it or any other amendment or any other substitute mark.
so i think that's a pretty sad thing. the reason the congress in 1974 passed the budget act is because congress recognized they were not fulfilling a fundamental responsibility of good government, and that is the largest entity in the world, the entity that spends more money than any other government agency or so forth in the world, the united states of america, ought to lay out in advance its plan for spending its money. don't you think? that is so basic. and so it required it, and usually pretty much that's happened. at least with regard to committee work. i would just say this. it said we haven't produced budgets many, many times. we don't produce budgets in election years, they say. well, there have been times in election years that budgets
haven't passed and been reconciled with the house, but there has been other years it hasn't happened also, but i have never known in the 15 years i have been in the senate of and these three years that the budget committee didn't move a budget. the budget committee has always managed to at least move forward, and usually in every year we have had votes on the floor, virtually every year. and so i think this is all miscommunication. it's a concern to me. so the question is what we need to ask, what do the american people need to ask, why don't you bring up a budget. why don't you have a budget. well, there have been several excuses in the last three years why not to have a budget. senator durbin, speaker pelosi,
jack liu recently, chief of staff at the white house, former director of o.m.b. who ought to know better said on television well, you can filibuster a budget. we can't have a budget cut you can filibuster. wrong. you can't filibuster a budget. the budget act passed in 1974 was designed to make sure we pass a budget was passed with a simple majority. you're guaranteed 50 hours of debate and then you have a vote. but in that 50 hours of debate, you can offer amendments. so it can't be filibustered. that's a bogus excuse. so that's not the real reason, is it? well, they said we had the budget control act last summer, and that takes care of it. we don't need a budget. wrong. if it's a budget control act is
the excuse, why didn't we have a budget last year before the budget control act passed? why didn't we have one before that? that wasn't an election -- last year wasn't an election year. why? the budget control act is not the reason they didn't bring up a budget. it wasn't the reason they didn't bring up a budget last year and the year before, because we didn't have a budget act -- a budget control act last year or the year before and our budget wasn't brought up. it wasn't brought up for other reasons. this is the code book, the united states code annotateed where the butt control act is and requires us to pass a budget out of committee by april 1. so if the budget control act
said we didn't have a -- need to have a budget, why did the president submit a budget this year? he submitted a budget. the budget control act that was passed last summer obviated the need for a budget, why didn't congressman ryan and the republican house lay out a historic budget that would change the debt course of america, put us on a path to prosperity and not decline? why did they do it? and there were six other budgets offered in the house, some by democrats, some by a bipartisan group and some by conservative republicans. but the ryan budget passed and the others were voted on, too. why did they go through that process if the budget control act eliminated the need for a budget. so it's not the reason.
they said we can't have a budget during an election year. now, that's getting close to being of value. what does that mean? well, we don't want to vote on tough financial issues with an election upcoming, do we? somebody might know how we voted. they might not be happy with it. they might vote us out of office. and the last thing we want to do is be voted out of office. we don't want to be held accountable. we don't want the american people to know what we are doing. we won't allow the debt to continue year after year without taking any leadership or action to change it. now, that's getting close to the matter. senator conrad said well, we may reconvene the committee after the election, but for sure we don't want to bring it up before the election. now, i have got to tell you, in
this town, the media, old hands around washington, lobbyists, political gurus, they probably think that's clever. and they say it's clever sometimes on tv. oh, senator reed didn't want to bring up a budget because his people would have to vote. that's good politics, they would say. senator reid said we're not going to bring up a budget last year because it would be foolish to bring up a budget, foolish for the united states of america to have a budget at a time when the debt is the greatest threat to our future of any other thing that's out there. it dwarfs any other danger our nation faces is our surging debt, and it's foolish to have a budget? no, he wasn't saying it's foolish to have a budget. he was foolish -- he was
basically saying for we democrats to lay out a plan of how we're going to spend the nation's money because we're going to propose big tax increases in our plan if we put one out there, and they are not going to like it. the great unwashed out here, this tea party people, they might get angry with us if they found out how much taxes we're going to increase, how little spending is going to be cut in our budget. that's what he meant it's foolish. it was politically foolish. not substantively foolish. and we were at this committee so-called faux markup i call it yesterday, and the democratic members speaking, and you would have thought they were serving the nation's interest by not having a vote. oh, you know, this isn't -- we're going to talk about this. we should sit and talk about so we can begin to make plans for next year, next year, next year. we have gone three years without
a budget. they were serving the national interest. all that was really was rhetoric. the interest they were serving was a political interest, and the political interest was not to have to vote and be held accountable, because the president's budget is so irresponsible. it's so irresponsible. i offered this last year. senator mcconnell called it up and got a vote on it. we didn't get to debate it, but we were able to force a vote -- the 7-97-0 against the presidens budget. just earlier this year, the president's budget for this year was brought up in the house. it won't down 414-0. then they brought up congressman ryan's budget here in the senate, and all our democrat colleagues voted against that
because, you know, it cut spending and doesn't raise enough taxes. they voted against it but they wouldn't say what they would do. they brought up senator toomey's budget, balanced the budget in ten years last year. he's got one that would balance maybe even sooner this year. a tough thing to do, but he's got a budget that would do that. it was brought up on the floor of the senate, and every democrat voted against that. so with regard to budgets last year, what happened? our democratic colleagues voted against the president's budget, they voted against the toomey budget, they voted against the ryan budget, they voted against the rand paul budget, and they didn't vote for anything. they didn't go or record for anything because they don't have the courage, the coherence or the willingness to agree on a vision for america. that's why it's that simple. you can spin all this any way you want to but the democratic
majority in this senate is incapable of uniting behind a plan that the american people would see as credible, that would change our dangerous debt path. alan simpson, senator -- former senator, and erskine bowles, former chief of staff to president clinton, chaired the obama commission, he appointed them to the commission, the debt commission. they told us this nation has never faced a more predictable financial crisis, and they were talking about the surge in debt. and i think that's true. i think the needle is in the danger zone. our debt to g.d.p. is now over
100%. our total gross debt is greater than our gross domestic product. our debt per capita is greater than europe. our debt per da per capita is gr than greece. greater than europe which is in financial crisis today. we have some unique advantages now, but we could lose those. we're heading to a crisis unless we change path. and i'm so disappointed in the president. this is the leader of the nation. what does he do? not only does he not lay forth a credible plan for the future, he attacks congressman ryan. invitevites him to come to a meg and then attacks him right there when he says he wants to have a bipartisan plan to change america. so we need to have a lot of tough decisions. they are not going to be easy.
when your debt is about 37%, that we borrow 37 cents to 40 cents of every dollar we spend -- last year we were taking in $e , $2,200,000,000,000 and spending $3,700,000,000,000. i know people think this is not true. this is why republicans and democrats, liberals and sceiviveconservatives acknowledt we're on the wrong path. so the budget that senator reid -- senator conrad laid down, but none of his colleagues votes for -- he didn't vote for it either. the budget he laid down yesterday would not cut any spending of the agreement on the
budget control act next year. after the budget control act passed, we are projected to spend $44 trillion on senator conrad's budget over ten years. he claimed he was going to reduce deficits. how? $2.6 trillion in new taxes. no cuts, $2.6 trillion in new taxes. no wonder they don't want to have it out here on the floor where we can be talked about and amendments can be offered. and the american people could know what's in it. that's no way to solve our nation tio's problem. the president goes around saying we need the buffett tax. you know the buffett tax and how horrible it is. people don't see that as a solution to our problem when in fact it was raise $4 billion a year.
in this year our deficit is projected to be again $1,300,000,000,000. and this buffett tax is going to raise $4 trillion? is this all we're getting from the other side? tax oil companies, raise the buffett tax, all of it's no -- there's no reality here. what i believe is this: a budget lays out a comprehensive plan, it lays out a plan for ten years. and we got some smart people around here, and they can add up the numbers, and they'll know what that budget raises taxes and how little it may be cutting spending and how much debt willw much debt we'll be accumulating each and every year in the years to come. how much the interest -- that's one of the things that the congressional budget office
tells us -- how much interest on our debt we'll pay each year. and you can ask congressman ryan how much interest are you going to have to be paying on your debt over the next ten years? you could ask senator conrad, senator reid how much interest will your budget cause us to p pay? for example, president obama's budget -- last year we paid $240 billion in interest on the debt of the united states. according to the congressional budget office, they've analyzed the numbers and calculated that at the end of the tenth year we would pay $940 billion in interest -- in one year. the federal highway program, we came up short, i thought, $2 trillion, to meet the budget this year to meet the budget for the highways. that's $40 billion. federal aid to education $100
billion. the defense department, base budget, $540 billion. interest that would be the fastest-growing item in the federal government budget, based on the fact that we're running up virtually trillion-dollar deficits for the rest of the decade. and also the president's budget fails to alter the debt course in the future. congressman ryan's does it. it deals with the surging entitlements, at least the ones that can be. you can't deal with social security in a budget -- by law. but you can deal with medicare and medicaid and other cornellinsurgingentitlement proe to be brought under some sort of stable control so they don't go bankrupt. and dealt with that. but the president doesn't deal with that in a realistic way. and he's failed to lay out a plan, and i guess what i'm saying, i was just frustrated
this morning to hear that somehow our colleagues agree that they did not get -- that we felt that we should have had a markup on the budget. we didn't get one, and the reason we didn't get one is because a decision has been made in the highest counsels of the majority party of the united states national that they doon t the want to be held accountable for the votes necessary to put our country on a sound path. i'm very disappointed about it and that's the bottom line. hopefully, as time goes by, we can come together and work together to pass a plan for america, including tax reform that would put us on the right path. that certainly is what is needed, and i would just say,
though, that a budget can be passed on a party-line basis. it hasn't been done many peoplet hasn't been done many times in the past because the majority party has the responsibility to lay out a vision for the country and that includes where they intend to spend the taxpayers' money. i can't imagine they would go to the american people and ask for higher taxes when they refuse to comply with the plain statutory law that says they should have a budget, tell where that money is going to be spent. if you won't tell the american people where you're going to spend the money, how much debt you're going to run up, how much spending you're going to cut or not cut, then i don't think the american people ought to send another dime to this place, not another dime. and that's why the polling numbers shot we're i show we'red
personal level that we are always only as good as our staff and staff work that we're privileged to have from them. i think every senator is enormously grateful for the hours that all of our staffs invest to help us do our work. and obvious time oftentimes thas missing weekends or canceling or delaying vacations. working when other people are out ranout and b about. i'm sure they'd admit they would like tock spending their time other than the hustle senate office -- than the russell senate office building. tomorrow is kathy kerrigan's last day on my staff.
she is leaving the united states senate to serve as a judge on the tax court, the united states tax court, and that is the capstone of an already distinguished life spent in public service. as proud as i am to have her go and serve on the tax court, madam president, it is really difficult to imagine my office without her. she's had the title of tax counsel but she really was a lot more than that. the chairman of the finance committee, max baucus, or my colleague from massachusetts in the house, kathy's old boss richey kneel, all know better than anyone just how much on every single issue in the congress it always somehow comes to be a tax issue. and a finance committee issue. so for six years kathy has been nigh indispensable utility player. it didn't matter if it was on
health reform, climate change, energy, infrastructure, supercommittee, if it was anything that i was working on with a fairly high level of focus, you ca you can bet that y was there. she wasn't just there, she was invariably the indispensable plaimpleplayer. i don't know if they'll like it, but i will say that she was a wonk's wonk. i had to struggle to follow kathy because kathy talked tax and tax is a different language. she was almost a charter member of the very unique clique of the finance committee staffers and max baucus knows what i'm talking about from his staff director russ sullivan. they actually had their own annual tax prom.
that's how exclusive a bunch they are, and there are a lot of us who are a little scared to think of what a tax prom looks like. i once said it was probably a prom for people who didn't go to their own proms once upon a tievmentime. but in fact it is a party four -- it is a party for the smartest, most detail-oriented staffers we have because they are always in the middle of everything around here. and boy did they deliver. that's really where kathy was in her element, diving into the minutminutia of issues, crystal balling legislation better than just about anybody i've ever worked with. if if she would have chosen the navy instead of the finance committee, we would be here today salute being admiral kerrigan. she comes to an issue arms always with facts. she has always thought through every question that a senator or
anybody else might ask about a particular issue. and she is driven to get the job done, and she always did. on health care, she was a phenomenal thinker, as we worked through the finance committee issues and the funding mechanisms. last summer, when she was nominated for the court but then, nevertheless, i asked her to serve on the deficit committee and she promised to stay until the work was done. and i cannot emphasize how valuable she was there also, madam president. on the joint select committee, there were many times when committee members from both parties would ask if kathy could join a meeting. that's a sign of respect and of ability. she was someone who quietly, head down, did the work and let work try to find a way towards a solution. everything that i admire about her as a public servant is really written into her d.n.a.
i think it's the result of growing up in springfield, massachusetts, where her father, bill sullivan, served as mayor. she had a front-row view of what it is like in public life, of what the demands are and of what a difference earnest people like her father can make in government. people who do the work without worrying about the limelight or who gets the credit. she never lost sight of that through boston college and notre dame law school and 14 years on capitol hill working on tax policy. as much as i admire the special energy that kathy brought to her job, what i admire most about her is her able to distinguish between right and wrong, her moral compass that always guided her in her public service. i'd just share one quick story before i wrap up, madam president. last summer, deadly tornadoes clipped through her hometown of
springfield, massachusetts, and the first thing that kathy did was obviously make sure that her parents were safe. but the second thing she did was just get in her car and drive to work immediately. instead of going home to massachusetts, she came to work in the senate on a bright sunday morning and immediately got busy working on tax disaster legislation to help the people of springfield, the small businesses, the people who had been impacted. she -- she didn't see arcane tax legislation. what she saw were bricks and mortar, lumber and nails and -- and lives that had been disrupted. that's the kathy kerrigan that i know. that's the kathy kerrigan who's who i've been privileged to have working with me through some of the most interesting, most grueling, most productive legislative years that i've had the privilege of being part of in the 27 years in the senate.
i will miss her energy, her creativity, the dedication that she brought to my office, but it's good to know and we will all be reassured by the fact that she will bring those same qualities, heart and head to the federal bench. she will be a phenomenal tax judge and she will continue to make her family and her friends and her home state of massachusetts very proud. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. leahy: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: madam president, what is the parliamentary situation? the presiding officer: the senate is -- we're in a quorum call. the presiding officer: mr. leahy: madam president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: madam president, what is the parliamentary situation? the presiding officer: the senate is considering the motion to proceed to the violence against women's act. mr. leahy: i thank you, madam president. i wanted to -- i'm glad we're doing that. i want to thank the majority leader for moving to proceed to the reauthorization of the violence against women act. he made that motion tuesday afternoon. now, my hope is it's not going to be necessary to have extended debate or a filibuster or the filing of a cloture petition or
a delay of several days and then a delay two more days even after more than 60 votes to bring the debate to a close and proceed toward the bill and another vote on the motion to proceed before the senate's permitted to consider this important measure. and i expect, madam president, anybody listening got lost through that whole -- whole train, and that's something we senators should think about. the american public expects us to vote "yes" or "no" and not "maybe." and the longer the delaying motions go on, you're voting "maybe." let's vote "yes" or "no." for almost 18 years, the violence against women act has been the centerpiece of the federal government's commitment to combat domestic violence and dating violence and sexual assault and stalking. the impact of this landmark law has been remarkable.
it's provided lifesaving assistance to hundreds of thousands of women and children and men, and i appreciate the fact this has had bipartisan support from the beginning. senator crapo and i introduced the reauthorization of the violence against women act last year after months of discussion. we wanted it to be a bipartisan bill and it is. now, too often in recent times the senate goes through all kinds of delaying moves before they proceed to legislation. again, as i said, the american people who elect us, they expect us to vote "yes" and "no" and not "maybe." the delays are a big, fat "maybe." but the violence against women act is a measure that's cosponsored by 61 measures -- 61
senators. sponsored by democrats and republicans and independents. passed out of the senate judiciary committee in february. so i hope now that democrats and republicans and independents will come together to proceed to consider the bill without delay, and i would hope they step forward, do the right thing, send the message to america we want the violence against women act reauthorized. it's an opportunity for the senate to come together and renew what i believe is a shared commitment among senators to end violence against women. for generations, the violence against women in this country was condoned. too often these insidious crimes were dismissed with a joke or a shrug or that involves somebody else. rape was too excused. domestic violence was tolerated
as a family matter. victims were blamed and humiliated and ignored. they had nowhere to turn. there were no crisis centers, there were no shelters. far too many women and families were left to fend just for themselves with no help. but the violence against women act 18 years ago helped to change that. it sent a powerful message that violence against women is a crime. and it's not going to be tolerated no matter where it happens. it transformed the law enforcement response. it provided services to victims all across the country. now, madam president, is the time to renew our commitment to these victims by passing this legislation. we need to move forward. we have to reaffirm that ending violence against women is a priority for all americans. we need to be a beacon to others around the world in this regard. with this effort, we set the standard, we show that america understands equality, recognizes
human dignity. we're going to fight injustice against the most vulnerable among us. the legislation i introduced with senator crapo is drawn for the needs of survivors of domestic and sexual violence. it's based on the recommendations we got from professionals who've worked so hard on this. it includes improvements suggested by law enforcement officers across the country. as we build on the progress we made in reducing domestic and sexual violence, we make vital improvements responding to remaining unmet needs to better serve the victims of violence. we incorporate the important work that chairman akaka and senator murkowski and the senate indian affairs committee have been doing to try to respond to the epidemic of domestic and sexual violence in the tribal communities. we increase the focus of
effective response to sexual assault. now, the incidence of domestic violence has fallen since vawa was introduced by more than 50%. the progress has not yet translated to reducing sexual assault. the incidence of sexual assault remains high. while reporting rates and prosecution rates and conviction rates remain apaulingly low -- apalgly low. so we face that problem head-on. we ensure that funds are allocated to law enforcement and victims' service responses to sexual assault. it authorizes support for law enforcement sexual assault training and the reduction of the backlogs of untested rape kits. you know, in a lot of places, they say, oh, we can't test this rape kit for several months. so oftentimes we find the person who did this may come back. so during those several months, they say to the victim, be sure
and keep your door locked. boy, that's a great consolation, isn't it? we should be able to say, we can test this immediately and we can go get the person involved. you know, my -- my early experience with questions of sexual assault was not as a senator but as a local prosecutor. and senator crapo's been visiting women's shelters and working on these issues for decades as well. his principled bipartisanship should be respected, it should be celebrated as being in the best tradition of the senate, the senate i came to 37 years ago. at the outset, we consulted to make this bill the best we can. more than a month ago, senators from both parties came forward to urge the senate to take up and pass the reauthorization. -- reauthorization of the violence against women act. the senate heard that day from senator klobuchar, senator murkowski, senator murkowski, senator murray, distinguished
presiding officer, senator hagan, senator shaheen, senator feinstein, senator boxer, who's the author of the house bill in 1990. eight senators came to the floor to remind us why this bill's important, why it should pass. there's nothing radical or new by saying that all victims -- all victims -- are entitled to services. now, i've been to some of the most horrendous crime scenes you can imagine in my earlier career. i never asked and certainly none of the police officers there ever asked whether the victim was a democrat or a republican or rich or poor or from a minority. a victim is a victim is a victim and we should be helping all victims, not discriminating among them. now, we know even though the economy's improving, we have to spend our taxpayer money responsibly and that's why in
this bill, i want senators to know we consolidate 13 programs into four to reduce duplication and bureaucratic barriers, cut the authorization level by more than $135 million a year, a decrease of 20% from the last reauthorization. we have significant accountability provisions, audit requirements, enforcement mechanism. i sought to consult with senator grassley and others on this, knowing how important these aspects are to them. and our senate judiciary committee, those who opposed the bill were given an opportunity to offer a substitute and other amendments. those were voted on. now, the minority view, senator kyl noted a disagreement with the bill responding to the crisis of violence against native women. by incorporation of the save native women violence act for
perpetrators with significant ties to the prosecuting tribes. opponents have noted discrimination in the new visa provision requested by law enforcement. some oppose provisions intended to ensure against discrimination in services based on sexual orientation or gender identity. again, i'll say what i said over and over again. a victim is a victim is a victim. we shouldn't ask what category they fall in. if someone is a victim of violence against women or sexual abuse, we shouldn't ask what category they fall in. i continue to reach out to those on the other side if they have amendments, let's bring them up, let's vote on them. let's vote this up or down. don't vote maybe. so i hope we can reach to the leadership on both sides, get a time to get this done.
don't keep holding up legislation that has been endorsed by more than 700 state and national organizations, numerous religious and faith-based organizations, law enforcement. let's show the senate, don't duck this issue. we'll vote for it or we'll vote against it. because domestic and sexual violence knows no political party. its victims are republican and democrat, rich and poor, young and old, male and female, gay and straight. let's pass this without delay. it's a law that will save countless lives. it's an example of what can be done when we work together. madam president, i see my distinguished colleague from connecticut on the floor. i would yield the floor and ask consent that my full statement be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection.
the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, madam president. i want to begin by saluting and thanking the senator from vermont for his extraordinary leadership on this issue of the violence against women act. he has been truly and deservedly a hero in championing a measure that has saved countless lives and prevented the kind of suffering and brutality that we have seen all too often, and i join in his remarks and i will be speaking at greater length about the need for this bill in the future, and i rise today on a different subject, to introduce a resolution condemning the government of syria for crimes against humanitarian. i'm pleased to be joined by senators graham, klobuchar, kirk, cardin, coats, collins and
mccain in introducing this legislation. i'm very proud that we have strong bipartisan support and thank in particular senator graham for his leadership, along with senator mccain, who repeatedly and consistently on this area of human rights and liberties have stood for basic american principles of democracy and freedom, and i had the great opportunity to visit a number of the middle eastern countries with them and my strong support for this kind of resolution really rises from the firsthand views that we were able to have of the results of freedom fighters in tunisia and libya and egypt, having an impact on the future of their countries, being on the right side of history as the nays was there
and the gratitude of those peoples when they welcomed us to their countries, and i am grateful to senators mccain and graham for giving me that opportunity along with senators sessions and hoeven who accompanied us for their leadership. crimes against humanitarian include acts such as murder, torture and unlawful punishment and imprisonment when committed as part of a widespread or systemic -- a systematic attack on peaceful populations. since protests began earlier this year, the syrian regime has brutalized and savaged its own people, leaving thousands dead as it commits horrific crimes against humanitarian, including the abduction and torture of children. this resolution tells the syrian people you are not alone. the american people are with you as you fight for freedom and
basic democratic rights, the people of the world are watching. on november 23, 2011, the united nations appointed independent international commission of inquiry on the searian arab republic, expressed grave concern that -- quote -- "crimes against humanitarian of murder, torture, rape or other forms of sexual violence, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty in forced disappearance of persons and other inhumane acts have occurred in different locations in syria since march, 2011. the commission also found -- and quoting again -- the syrian arab public bears responsibility for these crimes and violations. assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs jeffrey feltman testified before the committee on foreign affairs of the united states senate that -- quote -- "large numbers of
syrians are living every day under siege, deprived of basic necessities including food, clean water and medical supplies and women and children are wounded and dying for lack of treatment." general mattis, commander of the united states central command for whom i have the strongest and deepest respect, explained before the senate armed services committee the syrian military continues to ruthlessly use lethal force with impunity against the syrian people. in this body, we have not remained silent in the face of this humanitarian disaster. approving on february 17, 2012, senate resolution 379 condemning violence by the government of syria against the syrian people. we have also passed senate resolution 391 which i cosponsored condemning violence
by the government of syria against journalists and expressing the sense of the senate on freedom of the press in syria. now the world should be inspired by the continuing courage and determination of syrian protesters standing up and speaking up, despite the syrian military gunning down and bombing down their homes, their businesses, their neighborhoods. i know our nation is at war and rightly weary of intervention abroad, but military intervention is not our only option, not the only means to summon support or step forward in solidarity with freedom fighters in syria. nor is military intervention alone sufficient to call for the world's conscience. even without military action, we need not abdicate democratic
rights and principles that underlie and underpin our own nation's constitutional ethos. one powerful and profound step that this body can take is to bear witness to the atrocities occurring in syria. more than 9,000 people have died in syria since these protesters began. as eli wiezel said, "for the dead and the living, we must bear witness." the syrian thugs that detain and torture children must know that the united states bears witness to their crime. president asaid, we should say to him, the world is watching and witnessing as you use snipers to target civilians,
indiscriminately shell homes and businesses, torture protesters who dare to speak of change. this resolution calls on president obama to bear witness by using his existing authority. america can and must bear witness by taking and preserving evidence of actions and incidents in syria that substitute crimes against humanitarian. america must bear witness by asking the president's newly created atrocities prevention board to consider crimes against humanitarian occurring in syria. these atrocities epitomize the crimes that this prevention board must address. i commend president obama and secretary of state clinton for their work at the united nations and with our allies to assist the syrian people, but we should make our own findings about what's occurred in syria concerning crimes against humanitarian. we cannot avoid this obligation simply because the results may present difficult choices.
as martin luther king would often remind us, the arc of the moral universe is wrong, but it bends toward justice. if we bear witness today, justice will come closer for the syrian people, president assad and the government of syria, its leaders and senior officials who are responsible for crimes against humanitarian will be brought to account and justice for their crimes. i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this resolution. thank you, madam president, and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: thank you, madam president. i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. cantwell: thank you, madam president. this saturday marks the 51st verse of seattle's world's fair. the fair is a presentation of what the world would be like in the 21st century. the space needle was built and it gave us an iconic symbol that defines our skyline today. more than nine million people visited the world's fair in 1962. elvis presley stopped by during the film of a movie because the
movie was called "it all happened at the world's fair." and all the visitors saw a very futuristic rendition of what boundless energy and innovative spirit in america would be all about. president kennedy opened the fair, highlighting the innovation and science in technology, and said is that these accomplishments are a bridge which will carry us confidently towards the 21st century. indeed, the world's fair was a bridge towards the 21st century especially for our washington state economy. the fair foreshadowed puget sound and the entire state as a region would look to innovation and entrepreneurship. the seattle fair gave the public a glimpse of what life would be like in the 21st century, and in the following years washington state was home to many of the innovations and technologies that revolutionized the way we live and work. in 1962, seattle was home to the first satellite transmission of telephone calls and television broadcasts. that same year the "seattle
times" declared boeing is a space-age company to stay. and the rest of the changes that we've continued to see have led to many things, including boeing 787 dream liner, that is a 21st century plane. also, it helped in set ago tone. bill gates took his company from his parents' house to a global headquarters in redmond, washington. it was a company that was founded in 1975, and after opening its first door in 1963 costco became one of the first companies to ever go from zero to $3 billion in sales in just under six years. amazon revolutionized the way people shop online, and it is a company that has continued to make innovations. and today many other companies in washington state, everything from composites for airlines to mobile apps to software to clean
energy technology, companies are continuing to innovate and to make sure that we have a talented workforce to carry out those. so 50 years ago the world's fair and what was announced there made sure that the united states was poised for big things to come. some of the predictions that we saw about life in the 21st century may not have come true yet, things like flying cars, although i recently saw an article about flying cars. so maybe they weren't too far off. but other things were right on as they predicted that one day you'll be able to have a telephone in your pocket. 50 years later we look back and see a glimpse of the 21st century in the exhibitions and the booths that were at the world's fair. but we also see how fast the future can really come and what we need to do to keep moving forward not just in washington state, but here in the country, in an innovation economy. i thank the president. i yield the floor.
mr. durbin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call successes spended. officer without objection. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, today i'm announcing the fairness in federal disaster declaration act. i'm introducing it on behalf of myself and senator mark kirk. what we're trying to achieve here is fairness in fema's
consideration of whether or not a community will be granted federal assistance after disaster. i think this legislation is essential. because of what just happened in my state. from 2007 to 2011, illinois was denied federal assistance three times. texas was denied nine times. -- for damage caused for everything from wildfires to tropical storms. california was denied five times during that five-year period. florida, four times, including for damage from hurricane ike. unfortunately, as i mentioned in my home state of illinois, the communities of harrisburg and ridgeway were denied. madam president, this is the damage which i saw when i went down to harrisburg, illinois, after a recent tornado. but it was virtually collapsed
by winds of 175-mile-an-hour intensity. that's the second highest intensity of recorded winds in a tornado. this property damage, of course, is just a minor part of what actually happened. the major part was the loss of life, seven people killed as a result of the tornado damage. i've grown up in the midwest. i've seen tornadoes all my life, lived waiting to hear the air raid sirens and head for the basement. but i've never seen anything quite as devastating as what i say in harrisburg. and then when i went over to ridgeway, illinois, about 25 miles away, i saw the local catholic church, which had been standing for i think a century, collapsed when the winds hit it. it was clear to me and to the governor, many others, as we toured the site this was going to be a federal disaster area. that 175-mile-an-hour wind literally lifted homes off of
their slab foundations and tossed them on top of other homes. in one neighborhood in harrisburg, i happened to see some people leaving in a truck and i stopped them and they said that the lady in the front seat actually lived in one of the houses that had been destroyed. she pointed it out to me. she got up early enough that she heard the air raid siren and had the good sense to hit the floor of the bathroom right before the tornado hit her home. and, of course, after it hit and another home collapsed on top of it, the ceiling of her bathroom collapsed on her. but there was enough room for her to survive. and they started hearing shortly thereafter the rescuers coming in. she made it with a few scratches and bruises. just across the street, one of the homes that was tossed, in that home was a 22-year-old local nurse who died as a result of it. there were great efforts by first responders, terrific
humanitarian gestures. the local coal miners just a few miles away when they heard about the disaster in full gear came out of the coal pliens and rushed into -- coal mines and rushed into harrisburg to pull people out of their homes after they had collapsed. we went ahead and made our application for federal disaster aid in harrisburg, illinois, and we were denied. in the president's home state, we were denied. well, we thought, something's wrong here. with all this damage and a tornado of this intensity, it must be wrong. so governor quinn sat down with local and state officials, they redrafted our application for federal assistance, it was sent to washington and it was denied a second time. i was stunned by it. i couldn't believe it, after having seen it, that this happened. when we went to fema and said, what did we miss here? people died, over a hundred homes were destroyed and it just ripped its way through harrisburg and into ridgeway, illinois.
what was missing here? well, they said, we have to do a calculation under the law. and one of the elements in the calculation is the population of your state. well, this is how it turned out. the damage that happened in southern illinois, if it had happened across the river in indiana or in kentucky or in missouri would have been a federal disaster. but because we have about 12 million people, we weren't declared a federal disaster. what's the thinking behind that? oh, if you're from a big state, you must have a lot of resources to take care of your own problems. not so. unfortunately, the state of illinois's state budget is virtually bankrupt. so we decided that it was time to put a bill in that took into consideration a lot of things and really did not allow this disqualification for a large state. the bill that senator mark kirk and i are introducing today assigns a value to each of the
six factors that are to be considered in a disaster declaration analysis. when it comes to individual assistance, help for people to rebuild their homes and pay for temporary housing, it will use the same consistent factors no matter where the disaster strikes. the population of the state, that's worth 5% of the consideration. the consideration of the concentration of damages, 20%. the amount of trauma to the disaster area, 20%. the number of special populations, such as the elderly or unemployed, 20% of the analysis. the amount of voluntary assistance in the area, 10%. and the amount of insurance coverage for the type of damage incurred, 20%. our bill also adds a seventh consideration to fema's metrics, the economics of the area. turns out that southern illinois
is hard-pressed, a lot of unemployed people, struggling economy. so we take a look at the local tax base, the median income as it compares to the state, and the poverty rate in the area that's been hard-hit. it's reasonable that fema should take into consideration the size of your state. i don't argue with it. but it shouldn't loom large and disqualify situations which clearly deserve to be considered federal disasters. assigning values to the factors will ensure that damage to any specific community weighs more than just the state's population after the tornadoes hit harrisburg and ridgeway, the head of the illinois emergency management agency, jonathan munken, worked with locals and people from fema in the region to determine if the state could apply for public assistance, money to help local mayor gregg in harrisburg and others pay for overtime that they accrued by all the people working around the clock to help dig out of the destruction.
but director monkun and others discovered that it would be a waste of the state's time and resources to even consider applying for it. we didn't meet fema's threshold. currently fema multiplies the number of people in your state by $1.35 to determine the threshold of the amount of damage a state would have to be incurred to qualify for public assistance. in illinois, that figure is $17 million. well, harrisburg, ridgeway and the surrounding communities had about $5.5 million in public assistance damage. that's a lot of loss for rural areas and small towns but not enough to qualify for federal assistance. so we put together in this bill a standard for public assistance , money that would go to local units of government. per-capita consideration, 10%; localized impact of the disaster, 40%; the estimated cost of assistance needed, 10%; the insurance coverage, 10%; the
number of recent multiple disasters, 10%; an analysis of other federal assistance to the area, 10%. the bill would also add a seventh consideration, just as it did under individual assistance, and that is the economic circumstances of the affected area. i mentioned earlier that the elements that we brought into consideration there. i think this is a more honest and realistic approach. today introducing this bill, i'm talking about a disaster which visited our state just a few weeks ago. tomorrow, i say to my colleagues, it could be your state. you could find out that a devastating natural disaster does not qualify for federal disaster assistance simply because of the population of your state. i don't think that is a fair metric to be used. i think our approach is fairer. i commend this bill to my colleagues, and as i say in closing, this last few months, it was illinois. tomorrow it may be your state.
please take the time and look at this approach. i think it is fair to taxpayers. it is certainly fair to families across america. and those of us who've been in the senate and congress for awhile have stepped up time and again when our colleagues were affected by a natural disaster. i hope my colleagues will take the time to consider this legislation from senator kirk and myself. mr. durbin: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. reid: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i now ask unanimous consent that the cloture votes with respect to the lieberman-collins substitute amendment 2000 as modified and s. 1789 be postponed to a time to be determined by me after consultation with senator mcconnell. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, as i indicated this morning, we are real close to an agreement. the main issue now is whether there will be a 50-vote hurdle or a 60-vote hurdle. we have been through that before. we obviously know where we're going to wind up, in my opinion, if we're going to have a bill. we'll work on that for the next hour or so and see what we come up with. we're really very, very close to getting something done. as i have said here before the last few days, senator lieberman, senator collins have done an outstanding job getting us to the point we're at. we have made progress.
we are here, we're trying to legislate. we have a rule of relevance. it's really broad. that's indicated by the amendments that people have suggested. so i hope that we can work this out very, very soon. if we can't, then we'll have to come back and i guess walk away from postal reform, which is a shame. everyone that is holding things up here should understand if there is no bill, you're not going to get what you want. if there is no bill, the post office will be drastically hit. if the postmaster gave us until may 15 to come up with something. we have come up with nothing to this point. so if people are concerned about some rural post offices, well they should, or about processing centers. as of may 15, the postmaster
general, unless we do something, will have carte blanche to do anything he wants to do, and that is not what the senate wants. so those of you who are holding up the bill because you don't like it, you may not like what the result of having no bill is. ms. collins: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: and consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i've come to the floor a number of times to talk about a new business in america that has become a major source of income and a major source of
federal subsidy. and most people are not aware of that. the business i'm talking about are the for-profit colleges. these are schools which are popping up everywhere across my state and across the nation. you can hardly go to the internet and put in the word college or university when you will not be bombarded by all of these for-profit schools that try to entice young people to sign up. and some of them, i'm sure, offer valuable courses, but too often these schools offer worthless diplomas. they entice young people into a curriculum that is vastly overpriced and it turns out the skills they learn, the education that they achieve doesn't lead to a job. and here's this young person all full of hope and idealism signing up to go in one direction or the other, and they find themselves lured into a school which is, frankly, not
much of a school at all. i've seen these cases over and over again. i was just in southern illinois last week and a young girl came up, she was a high school senior, standing there with her mom. i said what's next for you? and she said, well, i'm not going to use the name of the school, i've just been accepted at the x, y, z cooking school in st. louis. and i said, well, that's interesting. how much does it cost? well, she said, after i give them my pell grant -- $5,500 -- my mother will cosign a note for $17,000 for me to go to this cooking school. that's tuition. it's a two-year course. well, it turns out she's getting off easy. in the chicago land area, i ran into a student who was actually picketing outside of a hearing i had on for-profit schools. he was dressed up like a chef.
and i asked him, i said you're going to culinary school? he said i love these food shows. i'm on the food channel all the time. i think this is tkpraeut. i said so -- great. so i said you're studying to be a chef. he said yes. i said how much do you have to borrow to finish a two-year course at a culinary school in the chicago land area? he said $57,000. $57,000. the point i'm trying to get to, mr. president, is student loan debt in america has surpassed credit card debt in america, and it is growing by leaps and bounds. decisions are being made by young people and their supportive parents and grandparents -- i'll talk about that in a minute -- to get deep in debt to go to a school. these young people think they're doing the right thing. they have been told all their lives don't quit high school. you need to pick up additional
education, additional skills. grab a bachelors degree or professional degree. so they instinctively feel they're doing the right thing for th*efpls and they in -- themselves. and they feel if the federal government is loaning money to go to the school, that must be a good school, right? the federal government wouldn't loan money if it were a bad school. the honest answer is some of these are very bad schools. there are three numbers to remember when you talk about for-profit schools. 10: the percentage of high school graduates going to for-profit schools. 10%. 25, the percentage of aid going to education for for-profit schools. # 25%. 50: the percentage of students defaulting on their loans. 50%. the rate of students defaulting on their loans is substantially
higher than any other schools and you can open the box and say i think i understand why. they're being charged too much in tuition and they end up with training for an education that doesn't lead to a job or doesn't lead to a job that pays money, enough money to pay back their student loans. the other thing is we passed a law here, and we said the for-profit schools in america can receive no more -- get ready -- than 90% of their revenue directly from the federal government. how close is this to a federal agency? 10%, that's all they need to be a completely federal agency. we send subsidies to these for-profit schools by way of pell grants and student loans to the tune of 90%. and if they train veterans, we waive that and let them go to 95% and higher. in the academic year 2009-2010, for-profit colleges took in $31
billion in title 4 federal student aid, pell grants and student loans. for-profit colleges received one out of every four pell grants given to institutions of higher education. only 10% of the students going to these schools, 25% of the pell grants. as i mentioned, current law allows them to receive up to 90%. 90%. the for-profit college industry is just 10% away from being an actual federal agency. let's put that aside for a moment and think about what $31 billion means to the private for-profit school industry. this chart is interesting because it compares the amount of money that we spend in a given fiscal year for a variety of things. how much does it cost us to run the federal bureau of investigation for a year? less than $10 billion.
the environmental protection agency, less than $10 billion. customs and border patrol, about $10 billion. the coast guard, $10 billion. the federal aviation administration, responsible for the safe landing of airplanes all across the united states, that comes out to about $16 billion or $17 billion. the space program that,'s about $18 billion. then how about national institutes of health? this is where we do all the medical research to find the new drugs and cures for diseases all across america. the annual expense there right at $30 billion. take a look at the last bar. this is the federal subsidy to for-profit colleges, over $31 billion a year. $31 billion a year. 15% of the students who take out loans at for-profit colleges default within two years. that is double the rate of
public colleges and three times the rate of private non-profit colleges which are historically more expensive. we spend more for for-profit schools than we do keeping planes in the sky or protecting our borders or tracking down criminals through the f.b.i. or responding to disasters through fema or researching cures for cancer at the national institutes of health or protecting the nation's food supply or making sure that our air and water are safe for the people of america, or exploring the outer reaches of our universe. that is how much we're investing in this relatively new and horrendously expensive industry. i think the question that we face with the deficit is where we're going to make our choices. i have been a reflexive vote for student aid all the time that i've been in the house and senate. why? that's why i'm standing here. i got national defense education
loans to pay for my college and law school. that's why i'm here. i know it, and i think the next generation deserves the same opportunity. so i've reflexively voted for these things. then someone said have you looked at where this money is going? do you realize 25% of it is headed to an industry where so many students are being sucked in to signing up, dropping out, and carrying loans for the rest of their lives? mr. president, you know this. everybody should know there's something different about a student loan than another loan you take out. the loan you take out for kwror home, the loan you take out for your car, maybe a loan to buy some appliances. it's a lot different than a student loan. you know what the difference is? not dischargeable in bankruptcy. no badly things go for you at any stage in your life, you're going to carry that student loan debt to the grave. it's there forever. it can't be wiped out.
now there are federal college loans like the ones i took out -- they're different today -- but they're much more reasonable. you know what the difference is between the private loans that these schools are pushing on families and students and the federal student loans? start with the interest rate. the interest rate on federal student loans, 3.4%. the interest rate on private loans, about 18%. like a credit card debt. you have any idea what it means when you borrow $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 and you're facing 18% interest rate? do the math and i'll tell you what happens when you start falling behind in the payments. brandy grew up in a small town in indiana. she wanted more for life and left for college after high school. she enrolled in the international academy of design and technology in chicago, a for-profit school owned by the career education corporation. she switched later to harlig ton
college in chicago, also owned by the same for-profit corporation. brandy took out a total of $99,844 in private and federal student loans to cover the cost of her attending these two for-profit schools. then she ran out of money, and she hadn't finished her degree. she took out the maximum amount of federal student loans. she took out the private student loans. and without any cosigners, she couldn't get any more loans. she was all in. without any advance notice from her school or her lender, one day her student i.d. card just stopped working. she dropped out and returned back home to indiana with no options. she can't get a job in her field. she doesn't have a degree. she didn't finish. $99,000 into it, and she didn't finish. she's 24 years old. think about being 24 years old and owing $99,000 in student loans.
unemployed. private student loans have interest rates between 9% and 11.5%%, not the highest but much higher than federal loans. the monthly loan payment of this young woman for her private loan is around $900. her total loan balance has ballooned because she couldn't find a job from $99,000 to $139,000. she's been unable to save any money to go back to school or to even have a place to live on her own. she doesn't know what to do with her life at this early stage because of bad decisions to go to worthless schools. she says, if i could erase that student debt, i could move on with my life. maybe even return to school to finish my degree. $139,000. let me give you a taste of what kind of business the career education corporation runs. the career education corporation
that owns the two schools that she went to owns 83 schools and enrolls almost 100,000 students across america. many of them in illinois. i've spoken on this floor about several of their schools but unfortunately my office continues to be contacted regularly from students who attended a career education corporation school and left with a worthless degree.in 2011, car. career education schools received about 83% of their total revenue from the u.s. department of education student aid program, and that doesn't include the money they got from the g.i. program. 81% of the school's students take out student loans. nearly 14% default on their loans within two years. on november 1 of last year, career education corporation's c.e.o. resigned after their
reports that their school, their company, had falsified the employment rate of graduating students. there are creditors -- people who say they're a real school -- require a job raivment rat placf at least 65% to remain eligible for assistance. career education graduates were below 65%. the departing c.e.o. who falsified the information to the department of education, they ran him out of town on a rail with a $5 million bonus pavemens pavemenpayment, as he left. like every for-profit school that has come in to see me, they say, we're changing everything. i'll believe it when i see it. and i'll believe it when brandy and students like her are given a chance. it's hard to believe we live in a time when student loan
borrowers and their families risk lys losing their home buse of student debt. i have introduced legislation that would allow student loans to be discharged from bops like every other -- in bankruptcy like every other private loan. "senior citizens continue to bear the burden of student debt." senior citizens. the story highlights one of my constituents, 58-year-old sandy barnett. as an adult, sandy found herself in a familiar situation. her husband was laid off and she wanted to go back to school. when she was younger, college wasn't an option, so she enrolled in a batch lores degree -- in a bachelor's degree program in psychology. she didn't take out any student loans, worked full-time while 234 school and patted her tuition as the bills came due. sandy graduated in 1987 with a batch lores degree in psychology
and no student loan debt. school advisor told her it would be a good idea to keep going to school, get a master's degree because the degree program required a number of internships, she decided she wanted to focus on her studies and not work. she was going to be a full-time graduate student. so then for the first time she took out a student loan. sandy graduated in 1989 with a master's degree in psychology and $21,000 in debt. she taught part-time for the next ten years in lincoln, illinois. it was hard for her to make payments on her student loan. it took a few years for her to find a good job. as soon as possible she did, she started paying back her loans. by 2005, she was too far behind and filed for bankruptcy. but her student loan debt was not forgiven. fortunately, many of her other debts were relieved and she thought she might be able to get
back on track. in 2008 she got a job with at&t as a customer service representative. currently 15% of her wages are garn ieshed by the federal government to pay her student loans. that's $200 to $300 a month depending on her income. her total loan balance is now up to $54,000, more than double the amount she started with. the loan servicer will not work with her on payment plan, and we her that complaint all the time. what's worse is that her balance keeps going up because her payment doesn't cover the interest on the loan. you may wonder what sandy's life is like as a 58-year-old with student loan debt. how did she get there? does she live an extravagant lifestyle? the answer is a resounding "no." sandy's coworkers drive her to work because the cost of gasoline is too much for her to pay. she has no money do anything is what she telings us. she sonse a mobile home and needs a lot of repairs she can't afford. when asked if looking back would
she have taken the same path, sandy say, she would have absolutely not gone to school if she'd known this was going to happen. her degree is the worst thing that ever happened to her, she said. she doesn't think she'll ever be able to retirement she said, i just don't have any moafnlt i have nothing because of student loans. her advice: 58-year-old sandy's advice to others: don't do it. do not go to college. there's no guarantee your college degree will help you get a job that will pay for your student loans. what a sad statement. all of us tell our children, keep going, go to school. and we should. it is the right thing to do. but she has a right to be disappointed, even sin icle about what has happened to her. sandy isn't alone. other older americans out there are bearing the burden of student loan debt because of different situations. you know why? they were generous to their children and grandchildren and said, let me sign the loan with you. you want to go to school? let me cosign.
tim daniel's grandparent are two of them. when he signinged you for $80,000 in student loans, he had no idea that his grandparents would be at risk loser their home because of his student loans. tim enrolled in the illinois institute of art, a for-profit school owned by the same career education corporation i talked about before. tim's grandparents were so proud and happy, they cosigned his notes. like many students that contact my office, tim says he would have never taken out the loans if it was clearly stated how much his monthly payments would be. he put his trust in his school and thought the conlores had there his best interest in mind. tim makes $25,000 a year. it is a modest income. he can't afford to get a car loan, and he says he'll probably have to rent for the rest of his life. his federal loans, which have a balance around $23,000, federal government loans, +sr a manageable pontsly payment.
but his private student loans are completely unmanageable. the lenders won't work with him to come up with a reasonable payment plan, leaving the burden of debt on his grandparents who cosigned his loans. his grandparents don't have any money. they filed for bankruptcy, too. because the private student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, they risk losing their home to pay off their grandson's student loans. mr. president, this isn't the american dream. this is a nightmare. and we are complicit. we are complicit because this federal government continues to offer pell grants and student loans to worthless schools. and student whose sign there think, well, if the federal government is going to loan some money, this must be a good school. so we are complicit in not policing the ranks of these fo for-profit scoonls behalf of these students. and secondly, the outrage i hear expressed on this floor about overspending in the federal government should be directed as well at these for-profit
schools. the annual subsidy, these for-profit schools, $31 billion is greater than the amount that we spend as a nation for medical research in a given year. as a nation. so people who are intensely aware of our deficit -- as the presiding officer is -- who want to cut spending in wasteful areas join me in taking a look at these for-profit schools. congress can start by passing legislation to keep interest rates on the federal government student loans at a manageable level of 3.4%. they're going to double in july if we don't take action, so we better do that. and senator harkin of iowa and i recently introduced legislation that will help educate borrowers about private student loans. actually, there are situations where students are at these for-profit schools who are still eligible to borrow money from the federal government at 3.4% and the show of called counselors at this school steer
them into private loans at 5%, 11%, 18% interest rates and the students don't know it. they sign up, not realizing they could still borrow the money under manageable terms from the federal government, if they wish. there ought to be clear disclosure to the students, their families, and their grandparents. our legislation, the know before you owe private student loan act, will require private student loan lenders to certify a.tension borrower's enroment status and cost of attendance at the school. it will require counseling of the students about all their student aid options before the private student loan is actually dispersed. schools would have to inform the students about the differences twig private student loans and federal student loans. federal student loans have consumer protections built in but not the private loans. i encourage my colleagues, go home and listen to these families. ask on their web site for the victims of student loan abuse to
write in as they have to my office, and you will come to realize that this is a growing problem in this country. student loan debt is greater than credit card debt, and it's coming due. less than 40% of student loan borrowers today are current on their payments. this is a problem that's going to haunt our nation for a long time. i hope my colleagues will join me in bringing some real changes here. if the for-profit school industry has anything to offer by way of real education and training, they better shape up, and they better be honest with their students and they shouldn't drag them deeply in debt for worthless diplomas which could literally ruin a life. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: