tv U.S. Senate CSPAN June 12, 2012 5:00pm-8:00pm EDT
mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid reid: is the senate ine process of calling the quorum? the presiding officer: that is correct. mr. dreed: i would ask -- mr. reid: i would ask consent that that quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection.
mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that a stabenow-roberts perfecting amendment which is at the desk be agreed to, the bill as amended be considered original text for the purpose of further amendment, that the following lee motion to recommit with -- and four amendments to be first amendments and the motion to recommit in order to the bill with no other first-degree amendments or motions to recommit in order until these amendments are disposed of. these amendments and motion are disposed of. and that would be paul 2182, shaheen 2160, coburn 2353, cantwell, 2370, and lee motion to recommit. that there be 60 minutes of debate divided equally between the two leaders or their designees on each of these amendments and the lee motion, that upon the use or yielding back of that time, all four amendments and the lee motion, the senate proceed to votes in relation to the amendments and motion in the order listed, that there be no amendments or motions in order to the amendments or the lee motion
which is a motion to recommit prior to the votes other than a motion to waive, points of order and motions to table that. upon disposition of these amendments and the lee motion, i be recognized. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. paul: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: reserving the right to object, i'm concerned about dr. shakil afridi, a doctor in pakistan who helped us and led to the capture of bin laden. he's been held in prison. he's been put in prison in pakistan for 33 years. i don't think we should continue to send taxpayer money in the form of foreign aid to pakistan when they're holding in prison a detector dr. who simply helped us to get bin laden. this issue is of the utmost urgency. his case will be heard for an appeal but it's a political case and can be influenced by u.s. action. i think the u.s. taxpayers should not send money to
pakistan when pakistan is holding this innocent man who helped us get one of the world's most dangerous men, a mass murderer who killed 3,000 americans, we captured him with help with help of dr. shakil afridi and dr. afridi deserves our help now. i have an amendment that's very important. it's not germane but that doesn't mean it's not important. it's very important that we send pakistan a signal we will not continue to send them a welfare check when they're holding in prison a political prisoner who helped us get bin laden. this amendment is of the utmost urgency. would only require 15 minutes of the senate's time. i'm not asking for all day. i'm asking for 15 minutes to vote on ending aid to pakistan until they release dr. afridi. i don't think this is too much to ask. the senate has historically been a body that allowed debate, that allowed amendments per intent or not pertinent. this one is very important. time is of the essence for dr.
afridi. it's the least we can do for someone who helped us to get bin laden and i ask that we allow time for this amendment to occur and so i object to the unanimous consent. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. reid: madam president? i appreciate the good intentions of my friend from kentucky because they are good intentions. but we are on a bill now that just simply does not allow something like that to come forward. i would like to work with him in the future and i'm sure a number of other senators would to focus on our relations with pakistan. it's not only a problem that he outlined but there are other things. the ability of our vehicles to drive to afghanistan, and lots of other things. and it's an issue that the foreign relations committee has held hearings on, it's something that we really need to focus on. and i would also indicate to my friend that senator leahy, who
has been really a protector of human rights for his entire career, who is chairman of the foreign operations committee is also concerned about this. i would say to my friend that he doesn't stand alone in his concern, but there has to be a time and place for everything and hopefully we can have a full debate on our relations with pakistan in the near future. madam president, on behalf of the managers i call to if clerk and ask to be reported 2389, amendment numbered 2389. that is at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reed reid, for ms. stabenow and mr. roberts proposes amendment numbered 2389. mr. reid: i ask for the yeas and nays on that amendment, madam president. the presiding officer: is there is a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. reid: i have a second-degree amendment at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk
will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, proposes amendment numbered 2390 to amendment number 2389. mr. reid: i have a motion to recommit the bill with instructions that also is at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, moves to recommit s. 3240 to the senate committee on agriculture, nutrition and forestry with instructions to report back forthwith an amendment numbered 2391. mr. reid: i ask for the yeas and nays on this motion. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. reid: i now call amendment number 23 -- looks like an 8 to me -- 82 -- 92. looked like an 8 but it's a 9. number 2392. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, proposes
amendment numbered 2392 to the motion instructions to recommit 1-6789s 3240. mr. reid: i ask for the yeas and nays on that amendment. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. reid: i call now amendment numbered 2393 which is a second-degree amendment. the presiding officer: the clerk: the clerk will report the clerk: tax reform nevada proposes amendment 23932. mr. reid: i move to. the clerk: s. 1940, a bill to amend the national flood insurance act of 1948 to restore the financial solvency of the flood insurance fund and for other purposes. mr. reid: madam president, on the farm bill i've managed a few bills during my time here,
quite a few bills. and it's always so gratifying after the work that goes into the work that you've done on a committee or subcommittee to have that matter come to the floor and it's a terrible disappointment to not be able to move forward as you anticipated. so i say that for senators stabenow and roberts. no one has worked harder than they have bringing the bill to the floor. it's bipartisan, it's important not for the state of michigan, the state of kansas, it's important for the country. and i wish we could proceed in another way to have amendments heard and voted on, but we, even though this is somewhat awkward, we're going to move forward with this bill. we're going to bring up some amendments, they're big amendments, they're crucial to senators being able to issue their opinion on this legislation. one deals with sugar, one with food stamps, very both controversial and very important and we're going to have those
and hopefully have a good debate on those matters. we can move forward on this bill in other ways. i have not given up hope and i know that senator stabenow and senator roberts have not given up hope to have a universal agreement so we can really legislate on this bill. as i've indicated, we don't do this very often in this manner, but it's important because we have an issue here that needs to move forward. a lot of times when the tree is filled we walk away from it. we're not going to walk away from this. this bill is far too important, it affects the lives of millions of people, about 16 million in america. and there are reforms made in this bill, i remember when i came from the house of representatives 26 years ago, we wanted to make these -- the reforms that are in this bill.
so they've done remarkably good work. we hear, everyone, democrats and republicans, talking about let's do something about the debt and the deficit. here, madam president, we've done it. what they have done is bring to this body a bill that reduces our debt by $23 billion. we have a long ways that we need to go beyond that, but gee whiz, this is a big deal, $23 billion. so i commend and applaud the two managers of this bill. they are fine senators, and they've done service to our country by getting us to the point where we are now. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you, madam president. first i want to thank our leader for his strong support in helping us bring this to the floor. we would not be here without the senator from nevada, our leader, and frankly there are many demands, many things on his plate and our plate in the senate.
he understands 16 million jobs are affected by what what happens in agriculture in this country, so thank you, senator reid, for your willingness to support us and continue to support us as we move forward to get this bill done. i also want to thank my partner and my ranking member, the senator from kansas, for his continued leadership as we move the bill forward. we would have liked to have begun the unanimous consent agreement to move forward on six different amendments, not the universal amendments, certainly anyone could come down and say why isn't my amendment as part of the first six, but this we wanted to get started as we worked with colleagues to bring up other amendments and so we have put forward something that involved first of all a technical amendment that we need to do for the bill, a perfecting amendment, and then two democratic colleagues' amendments and three democratic colleagues' amendments including the senator from kentucky, who
just entered the objection, an important debate that involves an amendment that he is involved with. so we -- our first step was to try to do this around unanimous consent, but understanding that we do have an objection, senator reid has offered us another path to do this by creating a way for us to at least have the debate on two of the issues that we had put forward in the six amendments before us. and one involves the sugar program for our country, and we have a number of members who have different amendments, we have one that will be in front of us but is an oppornity for everyone to say their piece, and i can tell you as somebody who represents a lot of sugar beets that i care very deeply about this issue and certainly support the sugar program, it's an important debate to have and members deserve to be heard on all sides. and the other relates to the
supplemental nutrition assistance program, many members who have feelings on all sides about this, and so we think it's an important debate to have to give people an opportunity to give their opinions. i certainly as this goes forward, tomorrow will be doing that myself and certainly feel very strongly that we've done in the bill on accountability and transparency to make sure every dollar goes for families who need it is very important. but we want members to have an opportunity to be able to debate what is important policy for our country. as we are moving forward on both of these amendments tomorrow, we will also be working, our staffs and ourselves, to come together on a larger package, a universe of amendments to offer to the body of the senate to be able to move forward so we can come up with a fine night --
finite number of amendments that will allow us to complete the bill. there are many amendments that have been offered and we are going to spend our time going through those just as we did in committee where we worked across the aisle. we had a hundred amendments and whittled that down to a point where we could come forward with agreed-upon amendments. we'll do the same thing, put together a universe of amendments to move forward on the bill. but while we are doing that, we will have an opportunity, we invite members who care particularly about either of the issues that will be voted on tomorrow when the leader will move forward with a motion to table on those, but we want everyone to have an opportunity to come to the floor and be able to be heard on both of those issues. so we are moving forward. we would have liked to have done it with a larger group of amendments that we could have started with while we continue through, our goal is to allow as much opportunity for discussion and debate as possible, but frankly,
madam president, i have to say before yielding to my friend from kansas, our goal ultimately is to pass this bill. we have 16 million people who are counting on moving forward, wanting certainty, our farmers and ranchers want to know what's coming for them as they're in the planting season and going into harvest season in the fall and they need economic certainty. we need to make sure that we have a policy going forward that makes sense and is put in place before september 30 of this year when these policies run out and very serious ramifications to the budget take place. and frankly, i think all of us have said at one time or another we want to see deficit reduction. and i don't know another bill that's come before this body with $23 billion in deficit reduction, bipartisan, a number that was agreed to in the fall with the house and the senate. we have an opportunity to tell the people that we represent in
the country we meant it when we said deficit reduction, we meant it when we said reform and we meant it when we said we were going to work together to get things done. we've been doing that with a wonderful bipartisan vote in committee, with a very strong vote to proceed to this bill last week, and we know the hard part is getting through and coming up with the list of amendments that we intend to do, and we're asking for our colleagues to work with us on behalf of the people of this country who have the safest, most affordable food supply in the world because of a group of folks called farmers and ranchers who have the biggest risks in the country and go out every day working hard to make sure we have the national security and the food security we need for our country. they are looking to us to get this done, along with children and families across this country, and we will do that, we will begin that process between now and tomorrow with a
debate on two important issues. madam president, thank you and i see my distinguished colleague and friend who is here as ranking member and i also want to thank another distinguished colleague from iowa, who has made very significant contributions in this legislation on reform. reforms i know he has been fighting for for years. i don't know how many years, but a long time. an -- and we have stepped up to back him up and support him. we need to get this done. we need to get these reforms done. we need to get this bill done. we're going to work hard to make sure we do that. thank you, madam president. mr. roberts: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: well, this isn't exactly the trail that i had hoped that we would take to get to conclusion, a successful conclusion to a farm bill that we need so vitally in farm
country, and for all the reasons that the distinguished chairwoman has outlined. i need not go over all of those reasons. i would mention that we have a september 30 deadline in which the current farm bill expires. the alternative to that is to go back to the current farm bill, which we know is outdated and that has a payment system that is also outdated. the other alternative, of course, if you do not extend the farm bill, you go to the 1949 act which is just not sustainable. it's not an alternative. so i had hoped that we could start considering. we had three republican amendments, two democrat, and also the perfecting amendment. but that's not the trail we're going to go down. basically i think about the only
thing i could add is that we're not giving up. we can't. we will keep working as hard as we can to accommodate all members. i know there's a lot of talk on both sides of the aisle about a global agreement. that seems to be a little bit of an exaggeration, more especially for this body. but at any rate, an agreement that would encompass every member's concern, at least, and we will go back to what the senate used to be and have everybody offer an amendment and debate those amendments and then have a vote and have a conclusion and work through it. that's exactly what we did when we marked up the bill with over 100 amendments and did it in four and a half hours which was a record. that's not what we're going to do as of today -- or as of tomorrow. at least there's some degree of movement. i know the senator from iowa has several amendments that are extremely important to the future of agriculture program policy, and i commend him for
his leadership in the past and for being such a successful partner in working things out not only for his state but for the country. so we will persevere, madam president, and we will get this done. i guess we're john paul jones. we have just begun to fight. i yield back. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask permission to speak for just a few minutes, and i ask that my remarks be placed in the record after the senate has taken action already, as they have today, on judge hurwitz's confirmation. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: i was shocked and disappointed to learn earlier this afternoon that the majority leader came to the floor to yield back all time and to move immediately to a voice vote on the nomination of andrew
david hurwitz to be u.s. circuit judge, ninth circuit. i find this to be quite irregular and outside the recent precedents of this senate. typically members are informed of such actions in advance. i was not so informed, and i'm ranking member of the judiciary committee. i certainly did not intend to yield my time, and in fact i intended on speaking further on the nominee, particularly to make clear some corrections that i think needed to be made after i debated this yesterday. regardless of yielding time or further debate, i expected a roll call on this nominee. this has been senate precedent recently. before today, a cloture vote was invoked on 22 different judicial nominees. only one of those 22 was confirmed without a roll call vote: levinsky smith to the
eighth circuit. cloture was invoked 94-3 on july 15, 2002, and he was confirmed by unanimous consent later that day. even barbara keenan fourth circuit had a confirmation roll call after cloture was invoked 99-0. furthermore, it has been our general understanding around here for some time that circuit votes would be by roll call vote, so i'm extremely disappointed that there has been a breach of comity around here. yesterday i outlined my primary concern regarding the nomination of andrew david hurwitz to be united states circuit judge for the ninth circuit. i continue to oppose the nomination and will vote "no" on his confirmation. i want to supplement the record and correct the record on a few issues that arose during yesterday's debate. at this point i'm going to put
the rest of my statement in the record, madam president. i have something else to say. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: it seems to me that all the business of the senate is based upon trust between one senator and another. when the ranking member of the judiciary committee isn't notified of this action or any other senator notified of this action, it seems to me that that trust has been violated. and i won't be satisfied that that trust has been restored unless there's some action taken to have a roll call vote on this nomination. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the
vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. stabenow: i know my colleague from new hampshire wishes to speak. i want for the purposes of members understanding what is happening now, we do have two amendments that will be voted on tomorrow morning. the majority leader has at his disposal the ability to have a motion to table, which he will exercise in the morning. but we want anyone interested in either of these two topics or amendments to come forward, have the opportunity to debate tonight. senator shaheen has an amendment that is i know very important to herks and many members, and we want torch have the opportunity -- and we want everyone to have the opportunity to have the opportunity this morning and to i don't know the time of the vote exactly but i would think at this point it would be in the morning with the leader. so we want those that are interested in debating the sugar program or debating the question of whether or not to block grant
the nutrition program, the supplemental nutrition assistance program, snap, to come forward and have the opportunity to discuss and to debate that this evening. and there may be some time in the morning, but we will be moving forward on both of these amendments. so we want to put folks on notice to let them know if these are topics they are interested in, we would certain will yoly welcome them combing coming to the floor. thank you. mrs. shaheen: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator new hampshire. hurricane katrina hoon thank you. i want to thank -- mrs. shaheen: thank you, mr. president. i want to thank senator stabenow. she and aing rierchging member roberts have done amazing work to bring it bill to the floor. it is bipartisan and it is legislation that makes some significant reforms in the sugar -- in the farm programs that we've had.
in new hampshire, many of the programs that are authorized in the farm bill are critical for our farmers and our rural communities as well as for the protection of our natural resources. and i hope that we do have some agreement so that we're going to be ail to actually is a full debate on this bill in the remainder of this week and in the upcoming week. as i said, this legislation really makes very needed reforms to our farm programs, and it thoaps reduce the deficit. and i think for all of that terrific reform and the wocialg that's been done, senator stab niewndz rank member roberts deserve real appreciation and thanks from this body. however, this is one glaring exception to the reforms that have been made in the bill. and that is that the bill
contains no reform to the sugar program. the sugar subsidies that we provide to farmers in america are really unique. because what the federal government does is to artificially restrict supply and provide a subsidy that keeps prices for sugar in the united states at nearly twice the world average. these are high prices that hurt consumers, they hurt businesses. in fact, a recent study found that the program costs americans $3.5 billion a year. now, let me tell you how the subsidy works. first the federal government sets a floor on sugar prices through guarantees, so they guarantee how much is going to be paid for the price of sugar. these price floors ensure that sugar growers and processors will always receive a minimum price for sugar, regardless of what happens on the world
market. but sugar prices have been far higher than this minimum price for years now and that's thanks to some additional, very egregious government controls on sugar. under the sugar subsidy program, the federal government tells sugar growers how much they can grow. these restrictions are called marketing allotments and they limit how much sugar is available on the market and restrict the ability of buyers and sellers to trade sugar freely. so this is not a market enterprise when it comes to sugar in the united states. and no other u.s. crop is subject to these same kinds of government controls. so as a result in the united states, we have severe supply shortages which keep sugar prices artificially high. now, the last component of the subsidy program for sugar is trade restrictions.
the federal government severely restricts the amount of sugar that companies can import into the united states. so only about 15% of sugar in the united states is imported at those lower world average prices. again, no other crop is subject to the kind of restrictions and price controls that i have just described. the result is a subsidy that hurts hundreds of thousands of businesses and consumers and only benefits about 4,700 sugar growers. but, unfortunately, the farm bill before the senate, while it contains a lot of reforms, contains no reforms to this subsidy program. i've introduced several amendments but the one we're going to be voting on tomorrow is one that would repeal the subsidy so that prices are determined by the market instead
of government controls. for the past year and a half, i've been working with our colleague, senator mark kirk of illinois, on bipartisan legislation, the sugar act, which would phase out the sugar program over several years and eliminate government control of sugar prices. unfortunately, senator kirk can't be here tomorrow for this vote because he's continuing his recovery, but i'm pleased that there is a bipartisan group of our colleagues who have joined in support of this sugar reform. in particular, senators lugar, mccain, durbin, toomey, lautenberg, coats, portman, feinstein, and my colleague from new hampshire, senator ayotte, have all joined me in calling for elimination or significant reform for the sugar program. now, this is a big concern for us in new hampshire and in other states around the country who
actually make candy or other products that rely on sugar. in new hampshire, we're the home of lindt chocolates. we're the american home of lindt chocolates. we also have a number of other small candy companies. and as this manufacturing char chart -- as this chart shows, american manufacturing companies like lindt pay almost twice the world average price for their sugar. in fact, prices have gone up considerably since congress passed the last farm bill in 2008. so we can see this blue line here at the bottom is the world price of raw sugar. this red line is the u.s. price of raw sugar. and this green line that's at the top is the u.s. wholesale refined sugar price. so while we can see how much
higher that raw sugar price is, we can also see what it does to the refined sugar price. and we can see how significantly it's increased since the last farm bill. again, the sugar subsidy program is able to keep these prices so high because it distorts the market. in addition to the minimum prices guaranteed by the government, the federal government drastically restricts the supply of shiewger in the unite -- of sugar in theunited t 15% or so of sugar sold coming from abroad, thanks to those import restrictions. the government controls how much each individual sugar processor can sell and that further restricts the supply on the market. and again, the result of these government controls are to keep the artificially high prices for sugar that are reflected on this graph. these high sugar prices hurt job creation.
according to the department of commerce, for everyone job protected in the sugar industry through this program, we're sacrificing three jobs in american manufacturing. a recent study by an agricultural research firm called promar suggests that the program, the sugar subsidy, that is, costs 20,000 american jobs each year. in addition, a recent analysis that i referred to earlier found that the program also costs consumers $3.5 billion every year in the form of artificially high sugar prices. now, these really are pretty startling numbers, but i want to talk about how this program, this subsidy program, affects just one of the small businesses in new hampshire. we have a company called granite state candy shop. it's a small, family-owned candy manufacturing company in
concord, new hampshire, the capital of new hampshire. sugar is that company's most important ingredient. jeff bart, who's the owner, tells me that the artificially high cost of sugar has forced the company to raise prices on their goods. but, more importantly, the subsidy has also prevented the company from hiring new workers as quickly as it would like to. so while granite state candy shop would like to grow and expand, the sugar subsidy is really slowing down that expansion because of the high price of sugar. and granite state candy shop is just one of many companies who want to grow but who are forced to slow down their expansion due to an outdated, unnecessary government program that benefits relatively few sugar cane and sugar beet growers nationwide. now, high sugar prices also put
american companies at a competitive disadvantage with foreign manufacturers. since foreign companies can get sugar so much cheaper, it is tempting for american companies to look elsewhere to manufacture their candy. and, in fact, low sugar prices are a major selling point for foreign governments encouraging candy companies to relocate. and we just copied this cover of a brochure from canada. and you can see that it says, "canada, north america's location of choice for confectioconfectionery manufact" and then it goes on to say, "consider these hard facts. sugar refiners import the vast majority of their raw materials at world prices. canadian sugar users enjoy a significant advantage -- the average price of refined sugar is usually 30% to 40% lower in canada than in the u.s. most manufactured products
containing sugar are freely frey traded in the nafta region." so we're losing these jobs to canada and to other places. 20,000 jobs a year we're losing in businesses that need sugar as a major ingredient. this outdated program puts american companies at a competitive disadvantage and it should go. that's why i hope that our colleagues, as they're considering this amendment tomorrow morning to repeal the sugar program, will decide to support it. i hope we will not have opposition to voting on the amendment from any of our colleagues in the senate. we have consumer and business groups who have been calling for the repeal of the sugar program for years now. the consumer federation of america, the national consumers league, they've joined business
groups such as the u.s. chamber of commerce and the national association of manufacturers in support of this amendment. these groups support reforming this program because they recognize that these special interests are hurting consumers and they're hurting american businesses. so i would hope that all of my colleagues tomorrow support this amendment, help us grow small businesses, grow those american jobs. let's reform the sugar program. it is long overdue. thank you very much, mr. president. i yield the floor. mrs. shaheen: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: i'd like to take a few moments to speak about the two amendments we will be voting on with motions to table tomorrow and urge that my colleagues in fact do above to table these amendments. i appreciate we have colleagues on both sides of the aisle that care about both of them, but would ask in the interests of a strong agricultural policy and nutrition policy that we not support the amendments that are in front of us. but i do appreciate the fact that we are beginning to talking about issues and amendments, mr. president. this is very important. we have many amendments and ideas that members want to bring up. we are going to do our level best within the framework that we have to deal with in terms of procedure to be able to bring up as many different topics and have the opportunity for people to debate as possible, because we want to move forward on this very important bill that we all know would reduce the deficit by over $23 billion, a major,
major reforms and yet strengthen agriculture policy, nutrition policy, conservation policy, and maintain and support 16 million jobs. so that's why we're here, and i want to take a moment to talk about our american sugar policy. we grow a lot of sugar beets, mr. president, in michigan and our first sugar policy goes back to 1789. i don't think either one of us here, nobody was here but in 1789 we began our first sugar policy. our modern policy can be traced back to the sugar acts of 1934, 1937, and 1948. sugar's not like other commodities, both sugar cane and sugar beets must be processed soon after harvest which is a key factor for them. using costly processing machinery. farmers need to scale back
production because of a sudden drop in price, the processing plant shuts down, and may never reopen. because this processing is so capital-intensive, it's imperative we give producers a stable marketplace so they don't experience a constant boom and bust, which is what we would see without the stability of the program that we have today. the current u.s. sugar policy has been run at zero cost to taxpayers for the last ten years. let me just say that again. zero. zero, zero, zero cost to the american taxpayer for the last ten years. this policy helps defend 142,000 american jobs, and $20 billion in economic activity every year. zero cost, 142,000 jobs, $20 billion in economic activity
every year. two things come to mind. even with our sugar policy, the united states, interestingly, is the second largest net importer of sugar behind only russia. this is important because our policy has been viewed as a protectionist policy, and yet we are still an importer. we import sugar, the second highest only to russia. what we are talking about is allowing a stable marketplace for american producers. the price -- and the price of sugar for consumers is among the lowest in the developed world. despite many debates to the contrary, in the european union, prices are 30% higher than in the u.s. and when you look 29 the retail prois pryces for countries like france, finland, japan, norway and so on, u.s. sugar prices are actually very, very low. zero price to the taxpayer, zero cost to the taxpayer, and
we are maintaining a stable price for our -- and protection for our sugar beet growers and sugar cane growers. we are creating jobs and at the same time this is where we fall with the blue line being the u.s.a. i know that there are colleagues that care about this on both sides of the aisle, but i would argue that our sugar policy is one that makes sense. it's made sense for the last ten years, at zero cost, and i hope that we would vote to continue to support this policy which is a very important part to many regions of the country and an important part of the bill that's in front of us. this policy is supported by a host of corporations, including the american sugar alliance, the international sugar trade coalition, we have the support of our country's two largest
agricultural trade organizations, the american farm are bureau federation and national farmers union. it has made sense, it has zero cost and i'm hopeful colleagues tomorrow will support continuing this program. mr. president, let me talk about another amendment now that goes to a lot of discussion on this floor, and that goes to the nutrition parts, which are the majority of the bill that's in front of us. all across the country the recession has devastated families and certainly i can speak from michigan where we have people who have paid taxes all their lives, they have worked very, very hard, they continue to work very, very hard, never thought in their wildest dreams that they would need help putting food on the table for their children.
and they have had to do that during this recession in a temporary way to help them be able to get through what has been an incredibly difficult time. and we know the number-one way to address that's jobs and we want to make sure that, in fact, we are creating jobs, supporting the private sector, entrepreneurial spirit, bring back manufacturing -- manufacturing, making things, growing things, creating jobs. but we also know as this has been slow to turn around for many, many families that we have americans who have needed some temporary help. and that's what the snap program, the supplemental nutritional assistance program, is all about. the amendment tomorrow that we will be voting on would turn this program into an entire block grant making it much less effective and responding to needs, frankly block granting and then cutting over half of
the current levels of support in funding needed to maintain help for those who are currently receiving snap benefits. reductions at that level could exceed the total amount of help of supplemental nutrition help projected to go to families in 29 of our smallest states and territories over the next ten years. it's extremely dramatic and makes absolutely no sense, and i hope that we will join together in rejecting this approach. one of the strongest features of the supplemental nutrition assistance program is that in fact it can respond quickly when we have a recession or economic conditions that warrant it, when we have a nationwide recession, when we have a plant closure in a community, and we've seen way too many of those, although, mr. president, we're now
celebrating the fact that we have plants opening and retooling and expanding, but we've gone through some very, very tough times with plant closures where families have needed some temporary help. the important thing about the supplemental nutrition program is that it's timely, it's targeted, around it's temporary. and approximately half of all those now, the new folks who -- families who have needed help are there, getting help for ten months or less. so this is actually a temporary program. we have seen over the years that families who are receiving supplemental nutritional assistance are much more likely to be working families. this is important. over the years now we see -- talking about working families, families that are working one job or one, two, three part-time jobs trying to hold it together, working on minimum wage, trying to hold it
together for their families, but they can't, you know, -- about the second week, the third week of the month, there's no food on the table for the children. and so being able to help families who are working hard every day to be able to have that temporary help has been life and death i would suggest for many, many families and something that actually is a great american value that we would have something like this to be there for families who need it. we, according to the c.b.o., congressional budget office, we know that the snap -- a number of families receiving supplemental nutrition assistance is actually going to go down over the next ten years, it's going to go down because we're seeing the unemployment rate go down, and it tracks the same. in fact, in this bill, we build in savings over the life of the
farm bill because it's projected that the costs are going to go down -- not by some arbitrary cuts but by actually having it go down because the costs go down, because people are going back to work, people don't need the temporary help anymore, so there are savings in this bill as a result of the fact that the costs are going down because of the unemployment rate going down. and that's the most significant thing. you know, turning supplemental nutrition assistance into a block grant won't make the program more efficient or more effective. instead, we're likely to see states shifting dollars out of snap to look at other budget priorities in very tough times. if it is a block grant, they're not required to use it for food help for families. we all know states are under tremendous pressure on all sides, so it is not even clear, it wouldn't be accountable as to where those dollars are going
intinterms of food assistance. and it's also harder to fight fraud and abuse across state lines with this kind of approach. the department of agriculture has been working hard to accomplish this. we've already reduced trafficking by three-quarters, 75%, over the last 15 years. and we want to be able to continue to do that as well. and so we know that nutrition assistance is a lifeline for the families that need it. but let me conclude by saying, i also want to make sure every single dollar goes to the families that need it, and that's why in this bill, this reform bill, this bill that cuts $23 billion on the deficit, also focuses on waste, fraud, and abuse in the nutrition title, because we want to make sure that every dollar goes to those
families. every family -- every child that needs help receives that help. and we want to make sure that not one dollar is abused in that process. and so what do we have in the underlying bill? well, we've at least two cases in michigan where we've had lottery winners, amazingly, continue to get food assistance, which is outrageous. we stopped that, period. lottery winners would immediately lose assistance and, i mean, hope hopefully wouldn't even have to say that but the process the way that's been set un, we have to make that very, very clear. end misuse by college students who are actually able to afford food, are living at home with their pawrntses, going to school -- parents going to school, aren't those who would be the focus of getting food assistance help. we would end the misuse by college students. we'd crack down on traffic. we don't want folks taking in
their food assistance card and getting cash and doing something else with it that is illegal. we prevent liquor and tobacco stores from becoming retailers, because we want people going into the grocery store, a farmers' market being able to get healthy foods with their dollars. and we also deal with a gap in standards that has resulted in overpayment of benefits as it relates to states. and so we deal with what has been an effort by some states to go beyond legislative intent, and we address that in a very strategic way, but the bottom line is we are making sure we increase the integrity in the food assistance program. we increase the integrity, we increase the accountability because we want every single dollar to go for that help for that family who worked all their
lives, paid taxes, now finds themselves in the place where the plant closed or something else happened, they lost their job, and they need some help on a temporary basis to put food on the table for their families. let me just share one more time about where the dollars go in terms of children and adults. because nearly half of those right now who are getting help are children -- 47% of those who get food help are children. and then we have those who live with children who are another 24%. senior citizens, 8%. disabled people, another 9%. so the vast majority we're talking about are children, are families, are parents caring for children, the disabled, or seniors. the amendment that we will be voting on tomorrow is an extreme amendment that would take away help -- temporary help for families, for children who need
it. rather than taking that approach, we take the approach of accountability. and so as we look one more time at accountability, we can see that we are tightening up all of the areas where there has been abuse. we want every dollar to go where it should go, but at the same time we don't want to forget the children or the families of this country. -- of this country who are counting on us. you know, we have several different kinds of programs that relate to disasters in the farm bill, mr. president. we have one called crop insurance where if you have a weather disaster or a price disaster, we want to be there, we don't want any farmer to lose their farm because there are a few days of bad weather or some other kind of disaster beyond their control. that's called crop insurance, and we strengthen risk management tools in this bill. there's another kind of disaster assistance in this bill, and that's for families across this
country. it's for children, it's for seniors, it's for the disabled, and it's called the nutrition title, and that's why it's there in case of a family disaster. and we've had too many middle-class families, again, who are asking for help now, a grateful, didn't want to ask, mortgage iified the iified they- mortified that they had to ask. but the good news is that when the unemployment rate going down, the assistance is going down, the budget will be going down through the life of this farm bill, the cost will be going down because people are going back to work. that's the way it should be. i would urge tomorrow that we vote against what i consider to be a vection extreme amendment and that -- consider to be a very extreme amendment and that we vote to support what we have done to increase the
it was mr. bennet: thank you for suspending the quorum call. but it is a great privilege to be here tonight with you, my senior senator from colorado because the topic i come to the floor to talk about tonight is the west. and like you, i've been thinking a lot about our home state of colorado because we currently have a terrible wildfire burning just west of fort collins. susan and i and the girls went up to jamestown this weekend. i think i told the presiding officer earlier. to drop them off to camp. and that's far away from where this fire is. it's on the other side of estes park from there. but even from there, you could see an incredible plume of smoke. and in the 45 minutes or so that we were there, i would say the volume of that smoke, of that plume -- of that plume increased
by three- or fourfold, and we could tell that something was -- terrible was going on. and as the presiding officer knows better than anybody in this chamber, this devastating fire has destroyed over a hundred structures, tragically claimed one life and endangered many others. in fact, tonight as we stand here, as we sit in this chamber tonight, there are many endangered by this fire. at over 43,000 acres and growing, it is the third-largest fire in colorado's history. so today i think i can say that both of us, our thoughts go out to the family that lost a loved one and to the hundreds of firefighters who are bravely working on the ground, as we are here tonight. we wish them well mr. bennet: -h them well and we wish them success in battling this braise. as yoblaze.
as you know, wildfires are simply a part of life in the west. and managing our land to improve resiliency needs to be a focus of ours in this congress. that's why i'm pleased, as a member of the agriculture committee, to say that the farm bill reauthorizes stewardship contracting which allows our federal land management agencies to implement high-priority forest management and restoration projects. mr. bennet: much of the presiding officer's career has had to do with these programs and i thank him for his support and have been pleased to be able to carry on his work as a member of the agriculture committee. this is a critical tool for initiatives that restore and maintain healthy forest ecosystems, provide local employment. the presiding officer i think was on the floor maybe yesterday just talking about the importance of this to our timber industry in colorado and acros across -- across this country. another truly western aspect of this bill i'd like to focus on
tonight is conservation. specifically, the stewardship of our western landscape. in my travels around colorado, i've been heartened to see over and over again farmers and ranchers arm in arm with conservation groups and with sportsmen, all in the name of proper stewardship of the land, of protecting our open spaces. we all share the recognition that keeping these landscapes in their historical undeveloped state is an economic driver, as family farms, as working cattle ranches, for tourism, for wildlife habitat, and to preserve our rural way of life and our rural economies. mr. president, every citizen knows that the american west is a destination for those seeking wide-open spaces, a home on the range, as once was a way of life that's focused on working the land, and the wise stewardship of our natural resources. we also know that we've grown as a country, that there have been
increasing development pressure on this way of life and on the landscape that pressure is exactly why the farm bill's conservation title is so vital to people in the west. i serve as chairman of the conservation subcommittee of the senate agriculture committee, and through the dozens, literally dozens of farm bill listening sessions i've held over the last 18 months, farmers and ranchers were always talking about the importance of conservation. conservation of their way of life and conservation of their land. particularly the use of conservation easements, which help landowners voluntarily conserve the farming and ranching heritage of their land, a heritage that is so important to our state and to the entire west. so i wanted to spend a few minutes sharing some of the stories that colorado's -- coloradans have shared with me, and maybe more important than that, showing our colleagues
what this looks like. of course, we live in the most beautiful state of all 50 states in colorado. this photo is from the music meadows ranch outside of west cliff, colorado, elevation 9,000 feet. on these beautiful 4,000 acres, ellen gancho raises some of the finest grass-fed beef in the country. and thanks to the grassland reserve program, ellen's ranch now has a permanent conservation easement so this beautiful land will likely always have someone running calings over it. this photo is from the san luis valley, mr. president, where my predecessor, ken salazar, is from. 15 different conservation easements finalized by the colorado kettlemen's agricultural land -- cattlemen's agricultural land protect over
20 miles stretch of the valley. the great work aided by the programs in the conservation farm bill title before us, are protecting our western way of life in colorado. this beautiful picture is also in the valley. this is not a movie set, by the way. this is how we live our lives in the great state of colorado and why these programs have been so important. finally, i wanted to share one more colorado story about preserving our state's fruit orchards. most people don't know this as i have traveled the country, and i imagine senators isakson and chambliss from georgia might even be surprised to hear that colorado is a national leader in the production of peaches. this is a peach orchard in pal said. my friends -- palisade. my friends from california might also be interested to know colorado has a burgeoning wine industry as well.
in colorado's grand valley, pictured here, conservation programs have been efficiently employed to protect 14 family farms growing peaches and wine grapes, among other things. the federal investments made available to protect these lands have not only ensured that they will stay in agricultural production, but the resources provided from the natural resource conservation service, nrcs, help these family farms acquire new land to planned and new equipment to planned it. mr. president, as you can see and as you already know, conservation is an integral part of what we're all about in the west. it helps define who we are. sometimes people only focus on conserving public land in its undeveloped state, and that's an important endeavor in colorado and across the west, but private lands conservation, the type aided by the farm bill, is critical for so many reasons. to protect the agricultural
heritage of the land and for wildlife habitat, elk, bighorn sheet, pheasant, colorado cutthroat trout, the list goes on and on. so many of the prized species that are important to our nation's sportsmen and nature lovers. finding open landscapes and the species that inhabit them are a fundamental part of what it is to be in the west. we need to preserve these open spaces, and that's what this title does. i strongly support this new conservation title as reported out of the committee in a bipartisan vote. i know some would look to amend this bipartisan consensus, to cut conservation resources in the name of deficit reduction or to apply it to some other purpose, and i'm the first to say that we need to cut our deficit, we need to put the entire budget under a microscope , including agriculture to cut waste and eliminate redundancies. and by the way, we have. this committee, the senate agriculture committee, under the
leadership of the chairman and the ranking member, is the only committee that i'm aware of in this entire congress, the house or the senate, that's actually come up with a bipartisan consensus on deficit reduction, and i want to thank the ranking member and the chairwoman for their leadership on this, for setting a model and example for the other committees that are working or should be working to get our deficit under control. and i might say that $6.4 billion of those cuts do come from conservation. not all of which i like. we made difficult compromises at the committee level. we have a more efficient conservation title that won support from both sides of the aisle, and we ought to move this bill forward. now, i know there has been a little bit of the usual back and forth here about amendments that aren't necessarily related to the topic at hand, and we have a
habit of doing that in the senate. i hope that there can be an agreement reached by the leadership so that we can move this critically important bill forward. again, at a time when so much partisan bickering is going on around this place, to have seen the fine work that was done by this committee, republicans and democrats working together to strengthen this commodity, create real deficit reduction and actually end direct payments to producers, one of the most significant reforms in agriculture policy that we have had around this place in decades. it would be a shame, worse than a shame, it would be terrible to let that work go to waste. with that, mr. president, the hour is late. i'm going to stop so that we can close, but i want to thank you very much and say again what a privilege it was to be able to talk about our home with you in the chair. so with that, mr. president, i will yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk
will call the roll. quorum call: mr. bennet: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president. i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bennet: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate
proceed to the immediate consideration of s. res. 491 submitted earlier today by senators coons and boosman. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. res. 491, commending the participants in the 44th international chemistry olympiad and recognizing the importance of education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to the future of the united states. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. bennet: i further ask that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate and that any statements relating to the measure be printed in the record at the appropriate place. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to s. res. 492 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. res. 492, designating june 15, 2012, as
world elder abusive awareness day. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate, and any related statements be printed in the record as if read. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bennet: thank you. i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, the senate adjourn until 9:30 a.m. on wednesday, june 13, that following the prayer and pledge, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the morning business be deemed expired and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, that the majority leader be recognized and that following any leader remarks, the first hour be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, with the republicans controlling the first half and the majority controlling the final half. the presiding officer: without
objection. mr. bennet: senators should expect two votes in relation to the sugar and snap amendments to the farm bill tomorrow. senators will be notified when the votes are scheduled. if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it adjourn under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until
years ago this month, the soviet union invaded afghanistan. to no one's surprise the occupation of afghanistan has turned into a bloody war with no victors a group of human rights lawyers from the united states, britain, sweden. the documents countless acts of terror perpetrated against the afghan people.
the earlier today texas senator john cornyn came to the floor to criticize attorney general eric holder. this comes after senator cornyn questioned mr. holder at a senate judiciary committee hearing on justice department oversight. front of the senate judiciary committee, the attorney general appeared, and in the exchange i had with him, it culminated with my call upon him to resign his position as attorney general. that's a very serious matter. and i want to take a few minutes to explain why after long deliberation i have come to this conclusion. i do believe it's the right decision and it's long overdue. i served as an attorney general of my state, an elected attorney general, not an appointed
attorney general, but i believe strongly that the american people deserve a chief law enforcement officer who will be independent of political influence, who will be accountable to the law and who will be transparent, particularly in his dealings with the congress. unfortunately, attorney general holder has failed on all of these counts. at his confirmation hearing in 2009, in front of the judiciary committee, eric holder said that his department of justice would serve justice and not the fleeting interests of any political party, and that's a quotation. he also said he would seek to achieve a full partnership with this committee and with congress as a whole. that's also a quotation. i wish he had kept his word. regrettably, he has not.
in the past few weeks, i have joined my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in our shock at news articles that have disclosed some of the most sensitive classified programs of our national security apparatus. these were reportedly covert operations aimed at thwarting terrorist attacks, as well as defeating iran's nuclear aspirations. the leaks, according to the chair of the senate intelligence committee, senator feinstein, i believe i'm paraphrasing here, but i believe she says these are some of the worst that she has seen in her tenure on the intelligence committee. others have suggested that these are some of the most damaging potential leaks in our history, certainly recent history. according to the very stories that reported these programs,
the sources some from the highest reaches of the executive branch of office -- executive branch of our government, namely the white house. as democrats and republicans have both made clear, the unauthorized release of classified information is a crime. it's a crime because it threatens our national security and puts the lives of those who are sworn to defend our nation in jeopardy. as many have hastened to point out, it also jeopardizes the cooperation of our allies, and who would be motivated to be a source of classified highly sensitive information that would be provided to our intelligence community if they knew that they were likely to be outed on the front page of the "washington post" or "the new york times"? the news articles containing the leaked information paint the president in a flattering light.
and the concern is that they appear just as his re-election campaign is getting into full swing. let me be clear. these facts raise legitimate concerns about the motives behind what everyone agrees is criminal conduct, and that's why it's so important to have an investigation of these leaks that is independent, nonpartisan and thorough. unfortunately, attorney general holder has demonstrated at least to me that he is incapable of delivering that kind of investigation. just hours before senators mccain and senators chambliss called for a special prosecutor -- or in the parlance of the statute now, a special counsel -- holder's deputy attorney general jim cole told me he didn't think an independent investigation was warranted because the leaks
didn't come from the white house or this administration. amazingly, he hadn't apparently done an investigation before he reached that con collusion. -- conclusion. attorney general holder apparently takes the same view. he has already decided who is -- who is not to blame, and he's excluded the administration and the white house and the reported sources of the information, although not named, they were named by category. he's already written them off and suggested that they could not possibly be the source of any of these leaks. well, i looked into the special counsel law which says that a special prosecutor is called for when an investigation would present a conflict of interest for the justice department. now, i can see the attorney general has a very tough job. he's a member of the president's cabinet but he has a special and independent responsibility as the chief law enforcement officer of the country, and he
can't let -- he can't be confused about those roles. there have been some reports that some of these leaks may have even emanated from the justice department itself. in fact, this morning the attorney general acknowledged that some of the department of justice's national security division had recused itself from an ongoing leak investigation. we don't know the details of that, but he did concede that his own national security division at the department of justice, some members of that division had already recused themselves. these leaks in "the new york times" -- i'm talking specifically about the drone program and about the cyber -- cyber attacks on iran's nuclear capability -- quoted senior administration officials and -- quote -- "members of the president's national security team." now, that's not a large number of people to question or to
identify. and, in fact, that is the very source given in these stories that reported the leaks. quote senior administration officials, quote, the president's national security team. this is the same story that said on the president's so-called kill list that he personally goes over with his national security team identifying targets of drone attacks, that also david axlerod his chief political advisor sat on at least one, maybe more meetings. instead of an independent process, attorney general holder has appointed two attorneys in his chain of command and who will report to him and who are directly under his personal supervision. one of those is united states attorney of -- for the district of columbia, ronald matschen
who volunteered on the obama campaign in 2008 and has given thousands of dollars to at the present time's political campaigns over the years. i don't have an issue with that. it's his right as an american citizen but it raises questions about his ability to be independent and to conduct the kind of investigation that i'm talking about. by the way, mr. hechen got a start -- matschen got a start when he went to work for u.s. attorney eric holder. that is not an independent investigation. that's the point. and it helps to demonstrate why it is that attorney general holder has a conflict of interest himself that requires the appointment of a special counsel. not the appointment of two u.s. attorneys who are directly responsible to him and through whom he can control the flow of information to congress and others. reasonable people will wonder where does the attorney general's loyalty lie.
to the president of the united states to try to help him get elected? or his duty to enforce the laws of the united states government. you know, this would be troubling enough to me if this were an isolated event, but what's brought me to this serious conclusion that attorney general holder should in fact resign goes back much further. because this is only a symptom of the department of justice's complete lack of accountability, independence, and transparency. take the tragedy known as operation fast and furious. as we know, under attorney general holder's watch the department of justice ordered the transfer of more than 2,000 high-caliber firearms to some of the most dangerous drug cartels operating in memorial. -- mexico. the attorney general
disingenuously tried to confuse this with operation wide receiver done in consultation with the mexican government and where the point was not to let the guns walk without surveillance but to track them. it was ended when it became very difficult to track them, thus gave rise to the operation known as fast and furious which had an altogether different mode of operation. instead of tracking these firearms and arresting cartel agents trafficking them, under operation fast and furious department of justice officials ordered law enforcement agents to break off direct surveillance and allow these guns to walk. apparently under the mistaken belief that they could somehow find them at a later time and through alternative means of surveillance discover the nature of the organization and the distribution of these guns and help them bring down some of these cartels. but, unfortunately, and quite
predictably, the weapons from this flawed operation have been used to commit numerous violent crimes on both sides of the southern border, including the murder of border patrol agent brian terry, in december, 2010. far from being apologetic, attorney general holder's conduct during the congressional investigation of this flawed program has been nothing short of misleading and obstructionist. having complete disregard for congress' independent constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight and investigations of the department of justice and other federal agencies. for example, attorney general holder has stonewalled the investigation turning over less than 10% of the documents. >> by a congressional -- documents s&ped -- they claimed
that operation fast and furious did not even exist. there was no program to allow guns to walk into the hands of the cartels and to lose direct surveillance of them. now, we now know that's false but only because lanny breuer nine months later in november, 2011, came before the senate judiciary committee and said, you know, that letter we wrote in february, 2011 saying there wasn't any gun walking program known as fast and furious? that was false. that wasn't true. so for all that period of time attorney general holder and his department misled congress by claiming falsely that fast and furious did not exist. and then in addition, attorney general holder has misled representative issa who has led the investigation in the house of representatives by testifying that he only learned of operation fast and furious -- quote -- "over the last few weeks." that was in may, 2011. he said he only learned about it
in the last few weeks. brian terry was murdered in december, 2010, yet eric holder said he only learned in the last few weeks about operation fast and furious, and that was in may, 2011. we now know that's false. attorney general holder also misled the public at a september, 2011 press conference by claiming operation fast and furious did not reach into the upper levels of the justice department, and we now know that is false. i personally reviewed some of the wiretaps that were produced as a result of a whistle-blower through the house investigating committee and it makes clear that the rationale for securing a wiretap was because they did not expect to be able to keep track of the weapons directly, by direct surveillance. describing in essence the tactics of operation fast and furious.
those required the authorization of high-level department of justice employees, including those in lanny breuer's office, and again attorney general holder and his staff misled the public, claiming operation fast and furious was unknown at the upper reaches of the justice department. attorney general holder misled the senate judiciary committee last november by testifying that he did not believe that these wiretap applications approved by senior deputies included detailed discussion of gun walking. as i said, we know that to be false. i read them with my own eyes yesterday. although they remain under seal and attorney general holder has refused to take any step to ask the court to modify that seal so we can then review those and compare his story with what's revealed in the affidavits. so instead, as long as these documents remain under seal we're left with a he said/she
said that he could resolve if we agree to go to the court and ask that they be unsealed for purposes of the congressional investigation. and then when i asked attorney general holder when there were reports of gun walking operations in texas, in houston, texas, at a sports dealer known as carter's country, i asked him whether there were gun walking operations in my state when you had a legitimate seller of firearms say hey, i think there's something suspicious going on, you have people make bulk purchases of firearms and i'm worried they may be going to the cartels or other sources, they were told don't do anything about it. let him go. but when i asked attorney general holder confirm or deny that there was an operation fast and furious look-alike or that fast and furious itself operating in my state, again, i got no reply.
i have no idea what else the attorney general and his department are concealing from the american people or more importantly, the brian terry family who deserve to know what happened and how this operation went terribly awry. perhaps worst of all has been the lack of accountability starting at the top. in the last 16 months since operation fast and furious was uncovered, eric holder has not fired a single person in his department for supplying 2,000 high-caliber firearms to drug cartels in mexico. that's really astonishing. i have to ask if no one has been held accountable, what does it take to get fired at the holder justice department? attorney general holder's litany of failure does not end there.
again, putting politics ahead of his job as the chief law enforcement officer of the country. and indeed putting what appears to be a political agenda ahead of the law. for example, another example, attorney general holder has targeted commonsense voter i.d. legislation passed by the texas legislature and the south carolina legislature which the supreme court of the united states has overwhelmingly upheld the constitutionality of since 2008. so here's the texas leggetd, the south carolina legislature, and others perhaps sitting in the wings trying to take steps to protect the integrity of the vote, of qualified voters in their state and who is the chief obstructionist to that goal? it's the attorney general and the department of justice. so now we find ourselves, my
state, south carolina and others find themselves in litigation asking the courts to do what the attorney general will not, and acknowledge that the supreme court decision in 2008 is the law of the land. these voter identification laws are designed to require citizens to produce a valid photo identification. if you don't have a valid photo identification, you can get one for free. in my state you can show up without any i.d., vote pro visionally as long as you come back within a period of time and produce one. so it's no impediment to participation in votes. and you know what? the american people are accustomed to presenting photo i.d. because every time you get on an airplane, every time you want to buy a pack of cigarettes or a beer, you got to -- if you're of a certain age, produce a photo i.d. to prove you are of a certain age.
but in mr. holder has been so outrageous as to compare these voter i.d. laws to jim crow poll taxes. it's outrageous. a charge that's defamiliar tri and an insult to the people of my state and to anyone with common sense. you know what? you got to show a photo i.d. to get into eric holder's office building in washington, d.c. yet it's discriminatory somehow somehow, it's discouraged qualified voters from casting their ballot? it's ridiculous. while attorney general holder is blocking state efforts to prevent voter fraud, he neglects the voting rights of the men and women in uniform who serve in our country's armed forces. in 2010, actually before that, on a bipartisan basis we introduced legislation and passed it overwhelmingly, something called the move act.
it's a military voting act. but after its passage, which was designed to make it easier for troops that are deployed abroad or civilians deployed abroad to cast a ballot in the u.s. elections, the attorney general failed to adequately enforce this legislation which was designed to give -- to guarantee our active duty military and their families the right to vote. if mr. holder spent as much time and effort enforcing this law as he recently spent attempting to get convicted felons and ill yell aliens off the voter rolls in florida, thousands of military voters might have gotten their ballots on time rather than be disenfranchised in 2010. and these aren't the only duly enacted laws that the attorney general has failed to enforce in order to carry out the political agenda that apairnltd -- apparently he believes is more important. the attorney general has announced he will refuse to
defend the bipartisan defense of marriage act that was signed by president bill clinton despite the fact it's been the law of the land for more than 15 years. it is, in fact the duty of the department of justice to defend laws passed by congress that are lawful and constitutional, and yet he refuses to even do so. and the litany goes on. in addition to using the justice department as a political arm of the obama campaign, he's also moved the department in a dangerously ideological direction in the war on terror. attorney general holder has failed to grasp the most important lesson of 9/11 and the 9/11 commission, that there is a difference between criminal law enforcement for violating crimes and the laws of war that are designed to get actionable intelligence and prevent attacks against the american people, not just punish them once they have
occurred, which is the function of the criminal law. his actions have demonstrated that he believes that terrorism is a traditional law enforcement problem warranting the same old traditional law enforcement solutions. but they, by definition, occur after the fact, after innocent people have been murdered rather than designed to prevent those attacks. for example, attorney general holder attempted to hold trials for master minds of the 9/11 attack, like khalid sheik muhammad in civilian court in manhattan. he wanted to do so in spite of the outcry of local communities and the fact that civilian trials would give terrorists legal protections that they are not entitled to under our constitution and laws and which they do not deserve. attorney general holder attempted to transfer terrorists from guantanamo bay, cuba, to prisons in the united states over the repeated objection of
local communities and the congress. what's more, when federal agents detained, thankfully, the christmas day bomber in chicago that was trying to blow up an airplane with a bomb that he had smuggled and that was undetectable to law enforcement agents, he insisted that instead of being treated as a terrorist and enemy combatant that he be read his miranda rights. that's right, attorney general holder insisted that this terrorist be told, "you have the right to remain silent. you have the right to a lawyer." those are the sorts of muddled thinking that i think have created such potential for harm, treating a war and terrorist as if they were conventional criminals who ought to be handled through our civilian
courts. while attorney general holder was worrying about the rights of people like the christmas day bomber, he was targeting some of the very americans who risk their lives to keep america safe. in fact, he appointed a special prosecutor -- he thought this was sufficient to appoint a special prosecutor not to investigate these classified leaks, but to investigate united states intelligence officials in conducting their duties. he appoint add special prosecutor to investigate c.i.a. interrogators during the prior administration. men and perhaps women who did what they did based on legal advice from the department of justice and based on the belief that what they were doing was important to the safety and security of united states citizens. and i think they were right. attorney general holder has also seen fit to release top secret memos detailing interrogation methods, information which of course quickly found its way
into the hands of america's enemies and which they could use to train or resist or intelligence-gathering efforts. attorney general holder's failure to grasp the most important lesson of the last decade, that we are at war against al qaeda, demonstrates more than just a willingness to carry a political agenda for this administration. it is a sad result of an ideological blindness for the law, and it has moved the department of justice and, unfortunately, this country in a dangerous direction. mr. president, i will continue on with examples of eric holder's litany of failure, but i believe the case is clear-cut. the american people deserve an attorney general that is independent of politics, that is accountable to oversight of congress and that is
senior congressional reporter with politico where did the judiciary committee learn from the attorney general's testimony? >> if read difficult hearing. he got beat up by the republicans. he told the committee that she had been interviewed, he and the directors had been interviewed as part of investigation the u.s. cyberattack saunier iran and about a hit list or quote on quote hit list after the attacks, he said he had been. there's a free series interview they are conducting very seriously. more republicans want a special counsel on this and in fact senator john mccain introduced
them calling a non-binding resolution for the u.s. attorneys and whether they can investigate the justice department to be part of justice burton b. and the republicans are very tough on them. >> what is the attorney general continue to get questions about the so-called fast and furious program. >> it is a controversial issue with the program will enforcement needs to go to a mexican drug cartels. the justice department has faced well over a year now questions about the handling or response sent a letter and extraordinary
movement to withdraw the letter so a month later acknowledging hasn't been in congress and older faces the content in the house overseeing them june 20th for failing to cooperate. today, senator cornyn, john cornyn of texas, republican of texas called on holder to resign over the fast and furious. now, he and dozens of republicans, house republicans come several senators and mitt romney have called on him to resign. he's not given any ground, he is offering to speaker john boehner to work out some kind of compromise and offer it the deputy attorney general to meet with speaker boehner or the german darrell issa. so far, no deal is happening. i think that probably there will
be some kind of concession made by the justice department but right now holder can continually talk about constitutional crisis over this content which is a way of the white house pushing back on republicans. i think that civil dramatic the crisis we have had these issues before. but it's very high. >> your story in politico suggests perhaps republican leaders do not want to kick the contempt issue in the news. what are they concerned about? >> well, i think that if they cooperate that is basically the decision. they like the justice position to cooperate. they wanted and feel they have a legitimate right. it's a criminal investigation to get access to the justice department of the said before it is an extraordinary move drawing the official congress that took
place last year, so they feel they have the right to ask for it and others questioning for turning over a lot of disinformation through the white house indeed sick of privilege on the sort of material that the attorneys general holder response is look a lot of these materials are being used on when colonel investigations, so they can to give it to republicans on the hill to lead the house leadership would rather not go to a content. they insist the have to go to cooperation. this is for them. for this that they want to take the dewitt of the kafta and feel they have to the good to federal court over this, so i think they
know the options are limited they feel they are being driven by their own members and their own base feel very strongly about this issue for some of the weapons driven to the cartel's in debt in the law enforcement agencies. very, very serious matter. so they feel very strongly. the justice hasn't done everything it can, but they don't -- i don't think they want a showdown with justice over this in the middle of an election year. they feel that that will become clear which is what the white house is saying about the content, so can it be a little bit misconstrued but it seems a legitimate issue for republicans. they have a serious investigation, a