tv U.S. Senate CSPAN June 2, 2015 10:00am-8:01pm EDT
mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call being suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order the leadership time is reserved fnlt under the previous order the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 2048 which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 87, h.r. 2048,en act to reform the authorities of the federal government to require the production of certain business records and so forth and for other purposes.
mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant democratic leader. mr. durbin: mr. president i ask consent to speak for two minutes in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president on january 29, 2013, haidia pendelton was gunned down in a park on the south side of chicago. she was a beautiful caring young woman with a bright future ahead of her. she was 15 years old a sophomore honor student at king college prep. her family described her as a spectacular source of joy and pride for them. one week before her death hay haydiya was here with her school band. she was thrilled by that opportunity. a few days later she was gone. murdered by men who mistook her and her friends for members of a rival gang. what a senseless tragedy to lose
children to gun violence. and it happens every day in america. overall, on average 8 americans are-- 88americans are killed by gun violence every day. today, june 2 20, 15, would have been her 18th birthday. today marks the first annual national gun violence awareness day. it's an idea that was inspired by haydiya's family and friends in chicago. they decided that they would ask us to wear something orange today, a color that hurnts use when they are in the woods to make sure no one shoots them. all across america are wear orange in tribute to haydiya pen pendleton, in support of a simple goal: keep our kids safe. i'm proud to join them in wearing orange today.
i want to the commend hadiya's friends, my friends nate and cleo her brother and her friends that have turned their pain into purpose. they are working to real estate duce the scourge of gun violence to spare other families and loved ones what they've goon through. i hope lawmakers in washington and throughout the nation will pay attention and commit themselves to do something about these terrible shootings and ddges. we need to do that you will we can to keep guns out of the hands of those who would misuse them and especially keep our children safe. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator maine. ms. collins: thank you mr. president. mr. president, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on our country on 9/11/2001, terrorist
attacks that killed some 3,000 people i authored legislation along with former senator joe lieberman of connecticut to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 commission to reform and restructure the intelligence community to improve its capabilities and also to increase accountability and oversight. now, mr. president this law is different and distinct from the patriot act. our law established the office of the director of national intelligence to coordinate all of the agencies involved in intelligence-gathering so that we would reduce the possibility of the dots not being connected
to allow terrorist attacks and plots to be detected and thwarted. our legislation also created the national counterterrorism center which helps to sixth they sighs the -- sixth sighs the information across government and share it with state and local governments to help keep us safer. our bill created the privacy and civil liberties board and it installed privacy officers in the major intelligence agencies. but our law the intelligence reform and terrorism protection act, shared the common goal of the patriot act of better protecting our nation from terrorist attacks. because, mr. president, none of
us who lived through that terrible day ever wanted to see americans die again because our nation failed to use the tools and capabilities that it had to prevent terrorist attacks. we have had terrorist attacks since that time: the boston marathon is an example of a terrorist attack that occurred despite our best efforts. but we have been able to thwart and uncover and detect and stop terrorist attacks both here and abroad due to the important tools and capabilities that our government has. mr. president, like the presiding officer i serve on
the senate select committee on intelligence. i have sat through countless hours of briefings. i've asked the hard questions about our intelligence programs. i have challenged those who have come before us. i want to explain how the current program works at n.s.a. because i believe there is so much misinformation about this important program. one of the most egregious misinformation points that have been made is that the n.s.a. is listening to the content of calls made by american citizens to other american citizens.
that is simply not true. let me tell you how this program works. first of all it starts with a call a phone number from a foreign terrorist a foreign terrorist. when we get that foreign terrorist who's based overseas, telephone number, the n.s.a. is allowed to query a data base to see if that foreign-based terrorist is calling someone in our country. why is that important? well we know that isis and other terrorist groups have been recruiting americans and trying to train them to attack our
country. that's why it is important. only 34 highly trained vetted federal employees are allowed to query that data base, and even then, they are allowed to do so only if a federal judge finds that a standard has been reached to allow that query to be made. and even if that query is approved by that federal judge the analyst can only see the phone numbers called by the terrorist, the date and time and the duration of the call. if there is a match then the case is turned over to the f.b.i. for further investigation, and the f.b.i. must get a court order to
wiretap the phone of the american who is talking to that foreign terrorist. last month during a senate appropriations committee hearing, i asked the attorney general whether or not there have ever been any privacy violations regarding that telephone data. she replied "no." mr. president, i am truly perplexed that anyone would argue that he telephone data are better protected in the hands of 1,400 telecom companies and 160 wireless carriers than in a secure n.s.a. data base that only 34 carefully vetted and
trained federal employees are allowed to query under the supervision of a federal judge. under the u.s.a. freedom act the house bill, when we get the telephone number of an overseas terrorist, we potentially are going to have to go to each one of those 1,400 telecom companies, 160 wireless carriers which potentially will involve thousands of people. the privacy implications are far greater if we have the telecoms control the data. far greater. moreover we know that private-sector data is far more susceptible to hackers to criminals.
look at all the breaches of sensitive data that have occurred during the past year alone. plus i simply don't think that the system will work without a data retention requirement. now that most carriers have flat-rate telephone plans that don't require detailed call data records. and the telecom companies have made very clear that they will oppose any bill with a data retention requirement and there will be a race to the bottom to market the data in a way that says to people, sign up with us and your data will be safe from the government. that kind of demagoguery even though the commerce committee has done an excellent study that shows that the telecom companies
sell our personal data, including our names our phone numbers, our addresses to the highest bidder for telemarketing and other purposes. and some of that data ends up in the hands of con artists. so mr. president, i don't see how vesting the authority in the telecom communications companies increases the privacy of our data safeguards it? i think just the opposite is the case. it's going to be less secure because it is going to be more exposed to hackers and criminals who will attempt to do data breaches and have successfully done so. it's going to be less secure
because of instead of 34 people having access to just the phone numbers and call duration data, we're going to have potentially thousands of people who are going to be asked to query their data base. and the system is going to be less effective because there is absolutely no guarantee that this data will be retained by the telecom companies and the wireless carriers. finally, mr. president i am persuaded by the cautions given to us by the direct warnings of former director of the f.b.i., robert mueller and the former deputy director of the c.i.a., mike murell, who tell us that
had this program been in place prior to 9/11, it is likely that that terrorist plot would have been uncovered and thwarted. the fact is that the house bill substantially weakens a vital tool in our counterterrorism efforts at a time when the terrorist threat has never been higher. the current program has never been abused. the government cannot listen to your phone calls or read your e-mails unless there is a court order, because you are directly communicating with an overseas terrorist, and then it goes to the f.b.i. for investigation.
it is a false choice that we have to choose between our civil liberties and keeping our country safe. there are actions we can and should take to strengthen the privacy protections in the n.s.a. program. several were included in the bipartisan bill reported by the intelligence committee last year. unfortunately, the u.s.a. freedom act provides a false sense of privacy at the expense is of our national security. for these reasons while i will support the amendments today to try to make modest improvements in the house bill, i simply cannot support the bill on final
passage. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: i ask unanimous consent to speak for an additional 7 minutes to be divided between senator leahy and myself. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. e mr. leahy: mr. president i thank the senator from utah for his courtesy, and i -- you know, the fact of the matter is the u.s.a. freedom act was passed overwhelmingly in the house of representatives, has strong bipartisan support here, is supported by the head of intelligence for the united states and is supported by our attorney general. it is supported by our intelligence people.
it is a step forward because ultimately we protect the privacy of individuals. now, i agree with the senator from maine that we have strong restrictions in n.s.a. on the information. they were not strong enough to stop edward snowden from walking off with all the information that was there. but we had six public hearings, the senate judiciary committee in the last congress, on this. the original u.s.a. freedom act was introduced by senator lee myself congressman jim sensenbrenner in the other body. we all knew that section 215 the roving wiretap authority the lone wolf provision would expire on june 1. that's why we started working to change this.
we're also well aware of the second circuit court of appeals decision that made part of the program illegal. i think what we've done is a bill carefully crafted by both republicans and democrats in the house and senate, why it passed 338-88 in the house. and now if we start amending it, we don't know how much longer it's going to take, and we end up with no protections. i think that is not a choice we want to take. and i would yield -- i put my full statement in the record if i may. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: i yield to the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president? i first want to thank my friend and colleague the senior senator from vermont for his tireless work on this issue. senator leahy and i along with senator heinrich and so others
who have participated in this process, have worked together to develop a legislative strategy that is both bicameral and bipartisan. this legislation that we're about to vote on today was passed with an overwhelming supermajority in the house of representatives. 338 votes to 88 votes. this this is a testament to the fact that in so many instances there's more that unites us than divides us in today's political environment. this is an example of the type of win-win situation that we can develop. this bill protects american national security, and it does so in a way that is respectful of the privacy interests in both the letter and the spirit of the fowrnl amendment. the -- of the fourth amendment. the american people understand intuitively that it's none of the government's business who they're calling when they're calling them, who calls them, how long their calls last. the american people intuitively
understand what graduate researchers have confirmed which is that this type of calling data, even just the data itself -- not anything having to do with recorded conversations just the data -- real estate veals a -- reveals a lot about an individual, about his or her political preferences religious views, marital status, number of children the person may have. the way this data is collected moreover is inconsistent with the way our government is supposed to operate. rather than going out ranged demonstrate -- out and demonstrating some type under the current system the government simply issues orders saying send us all of your data, send us all your data on all calls made by all of your customers. we want awful this. if that means 300 million phone numbers, we want all of that, regardless of its connection to any suspected terrorist operation.
this is wrong. our bill would change that. and it would change it quite simply by requiring the government to request information connected to a particular phone number, a phone number that is itself suspected of being involved in some type of terrorist activity. this bill represents a good compromise. this bill represents reason. this bill would protect american national security while also protecting privacy. this bill in so doing recognizes that our privacy is not and ought not ever be deemed to be in conflict with our security. our privacy is part of our security. we are unfortunately considering this bill with too little time left. in fact, we're considering this bill after the patriot act provisions at issue have expired. this is unfortunate. it was unnecessary and it represents a long-standing bipartisan problem within the senate. a problem pursuant to by which we
establish cliffs. we've known about this particular deadline for four years, for four years mr. president, we knew that these provisions were going to expire. we should have taken these provisions up far before now. many of us tried. we did so unsuccessfully. senator leahy and i and others have been working on this legislation for years. we've been ready willing eager, and anxious to do so. we haven't been able to do so until very resignationly. -- recently. and because of the fact that these provisions have now expired, it is incumbent upon us to move these things forward in all deliberate speed. whatever the outcome of this vote mr. president and of those votes that will follow later today whatever the outcome of these votes the american people deserve better than this. vital national security programs that touch on our fundamental civil liberties deserve a full, open honest, and unrushed
debate. this should not be subject to cynical government by-cliff brinksmanship. if members of congress, particularly republican members of congress, ever want to improve their standing among the american people, then we must abandon this habit of political gamesmanship. finally, mr. president it's time for us to pass this bill, this bill that has been passed overwhelmingly in the house of representatives, this bill that carefully balances important interests that the american people care deeply about. i urge my colleagues to support this legislation. thank you mr. president. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on h.r. 2048, an act to reform the authorities of the federal government to require the production of certain business records and so forth and for other purposes, signinged by 17
senators. the presiding officer: the chair now directs the clerk to call the roll to ascertain the presence of a quorum. mr. leahy: mr. president i'd ask consent that we waive the calling of the quorum. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on h.r. 2048, an act to reform the authorities of the federal government to require the production of certain business records, conduct electronic surveillance use pen registers and trap-and-trace, and other forms used for counterterrorism and criminal purposes and other purposes shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll.
in the affirmative. the motion is agreed to. the majority whip. mr. cornyn: the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senate will be in order. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. cornyn: thank you madam president. madam president, the senate will have a series of votes this afternoon on the underlying bill, and i think it's important for all of us to understand exactly what those amendments
will do. madam president, i'd ask for order. the presiding officer: senators, the senate will be in order. mr. cornyn: so the underlying house bill makes some changes in the way that the national security agency operates and uses what the supreme court of the united states has held is not private information. in other words the time duration and number involved in a telephone call that's contained on a typical telephone bill. the supreme court of the united states has said there's no right of privacy in that information. and instead of the -- madam president, the senate is still not in order. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order.
please take your conversations out of the chamber. the majority whip. mr. cornyn: and as the senate knows, what the house bill does is it leaves these phone records in the possession of the telephone company and then over a period of six months, the national security agency is supposed to come up with the means of querying those records in the possession of the various phone companies. some like me, have wondered why it is we are trying to fix a system that is not broken, because there is absolutely no documented record of any abuse of this information as is currently retained by the n.s.a. and indeed what it -- the way it's used is to help the intelligence community discover people who have communicated with known suspected terrorists abroad in a way that will help
provide an additional piece of data that will hopefully help them prevent terrorist attacks from occurring on our home soil. the f.b.i. director has said that in the 56 field offices in the united states, every single one of these field offices has an open inquiry with regard to potential home-grown terrorist attacks, and indeed as i mentioned before, in garland texas, just a few weeks ago two men traveled from phoenix arizona, and obtained full body armor and automatic weapons and were prepared to wreak havoc and murder innocent people in garland, texas because they were exercising their first amendment rights and displaying cartoons which these two jihadists felt insulted the prophet muhammad. well thanks to the good police work of a garland police officer, both of those people were taken out of action before
they could kill anybody there at that site, but why in the world would we want to take away from our intelligence authorities the ability to detect whether individuals like these two jihadists from phoenix who traveled to garland had been communicating with known terrorists' telephone numbers in syria or anywhere else in the world, but these are foreign telephone numbers that are matched up and provide an essential link and really a trip wire for the intelligence community. what the amendments that we will vote on this afternoon would do would be to slow the transition from n.s.a. storage to the telephone company stewardship from the six-month prescribed in the underlying bill. and for those who believe that the underlying bill is the correct policy, i don't know why they would object to a little bit extra time just so we can make sure that this is going to
work as intended. and indeed, the second amendment does relate specifically to that. it would require a certification by the director of national intelligence that the software is actually in place that will allow the national security agency to query the phone records in the possession of the telephone companies another amendment would provide that the foreign intelligence surveillance court, which is a group of federal judges, experienced federal judges who review the request from the f.b.i. and other law enforcement authorities to be able to query these telephony records it would establish a panel of experts, so to speak to argue against the government's case in front of the foreign intelligence surveillance court. this is -- for somebody who used
to be a judge for some time, this is a rather strange provision because what it does, essentially, it puts a defense attorney in the grand jury room and creates an adversarial process at the early stages of an investigation which may or may not lead up to an indictment in that case. a final amendment would require the phone companies to notify congress if they're going to change their policy for retaining customer records. this is a serious concern because it could well be that some telephone companies will start marketing to potential customers that we will not retain any records thus eliminating an important tool which helps keep americans safe and has absolutely zero threat to civil liberties. there has been so much misrepresentation about what this so-called metadata program has done, i think that's one of the reasons we find ourselves
here today. many on -- many who believe the program is useful are reluctant to even talk about it in public, because as we know, so much of what is done to protect our country is classified, and so rather than have a public debate and actually correct the misstatements of fact and the demagoguery that unfortunately attends this subject many people are simply confused about what exactly is going on and what congress is doing. but i would just point out that oversight of these programs is absolutely rigorous. it's executive judicial and legislative oversight. it's not a matter of trust as to whether these programs work as the way they're supposed to. it's actually verified on a regular basis on a -- universally verified, and you have to go before these federal
judges known as the fisa court before an intelligence surveillance court, in order to make your case. and unless you can make your case to these judges that there is reason to continue the investigation, they will shut it down. one of the things i think that's so -- that we've forgotten is we want to treat intelligence gathering and prevention like ordinary law enforcement. and what i am by -- what i mean by that is this -- ordinarily in criminal law contexts government doesn't get involved in a case unless something bad has already happened, if there has been an explosion or a murder or a bank robbery or something like that. it is done after the fact to try to figure out what happened and then if you can to identify the perpetrator and bring them to justice. and that satisfies an important need in our society to enforce
our criminal law. but that's far different than what our intelligence community is supposed to be doing because they're supposed to be detecting threats and intervening in those ongoing schemes and stopping them before they ultimately occur. and that's the important lesson we learned on 9/11. unfortunately, it's been so long ago now many people have simply forgotten or they don't feel like this is an imminent threat but i believe when director comey says they have opened inquiries and all -- in all 56 f.b.i. field offices about the potential threat of home-grown terrorists, i take that very, very seriously. and i believe that it's absolutely reckless for us to take any unnecessary chances. now, there are some who say this underlying bill is important because instead of the national security agency collecting these telephone
numbers, we're going to leave these with the telephone companies. but none of the people who are going to be querying these records at the phone companies have security clearances. you can just imagine the potential for abuse at the phone companies of these phone records once they receive some sort of request from the government. we know that the current system as run at the national security agency is subject to rigorous oversight as i mentioned in addition to the executive legislative and private oversight, we have the oversight board which makes sure we strike the right balance. no one wants to see privacy rights of american citizens undermined. but we all are adult enough to know that there has to be a balance. that in order to provide for security and to avoid terrorist attacks like occurred on 9/11 we're going to have to do some things to reach the right balance.
and i believe that the current law does that. unfortunately, you have a traitor like edward snowden who leaked selectively certain portions of this program and has created an uproar and unfortunately, as a result of his leaks and the ensuing political environment after that america is at greater risk and that is a terrible shame. so i think it's reckless to take a chance. we have been fortunate that there have been no terrorist attacks on our homeland since 9/11. well i take that back. five years ago you had major nadal hassan at fort hood kill 30 people and injured more, and we know he had been in constant communication over the internet with anwar al-awlaki who subsequently was killed in a
drone strike even though he was an american citizen overseas because i was recruiting people to islamic extremism including nadal who killed 14 people at fort hood five years ago. but it's a fact the fourth amendment of the united states constitution doesn't apply to foreign terrorists. it applies to americans and under the procedures used under the current law, all requests for additional information are subject to federal court supervision and permission. so madam president, we will vote on a number of amendments this afternoon and i can tell you from talking to a number of our colleagues, many of them have said, well, we don't really have any disagreement over the content or the policy of these amendments and actually these amendments are designed to try to strengthen the underlying house bill. we all understand that the house is going to prevail in the basic
structure of the underlying piece of legislation. but since when did the united states senate outsource its decisionmaking to the other body across the capitol? we have a bicameral legislature, a senate and a house, for a reason. and we know that we make better decisions when we have consultation between the two branches of the legislature not capitulation but consultation. and the senate should not be a rubber stamp for the house or vice versa. now, i've heard some of our colleagues say that if the senate were to change a period or a comma or a dash in the underlying legislation it would be a poison pill. the house would reject it and we would have nothing to show for our efforts. but i have great faith that if the united states senate will do its job and vote to pass these
underlying amendments and strengthen this underlying bill that the house will take up the bill and vote on it and that it will pass. and so if my colleagues feel like these amendments will actually strengthen the underlying house bill and represent good policy, why in the world would they vote against these amendments because of some fantasy the house will simply reject any changes at all and they would essentially capitulate any of their prerogatives as a united states senator to represent their constituents in this body. we all know that we make better decisions in consultation with other people, and certainly i think it's true the house's bill is not holy writ. it's not something we have to accept in its entirety without any changes and i think we're -- where the policy
debate can be -- should go would be to embrace these amendments to say yeah, we understand the house want to change the current custody policy of these fob records and leave them with the phone company but we sure need to know that the new system will actually work. i mean, doesn't that just make sense? and that's why the certification from the director of national intelligence is so important. and provide a little bit more time from six months to a year in order to make sure this transition goes smoothly. madam president, i know no member of the senate and no member of the house no american wants to look back on our hasty treatment of this underlying legislation and say if we were just a little more careful, if we just had taken a little bit more time, if we had just been a little more thoughtful a little more deliberative and talked about the facts as they are and not some misrepresentation of the
facts, we could have actually prevented a terrorist attack on our home soil. unfortunately, by increasing the risk to the american people as i believe this underlying legislation will do, we may not find out about that until it's too late. i hope and pray that is not the case. but why should we take the risk to the homeland, why should we risk anyone being injured or potentially killed as a result of a home-grown terrorist attack on our own soil because we have simply blinded ourselves in a significant way to the risk? not that this is a panacea not that this is some litmus test, but it is one essential piece of information that will help law enforcement make the case, not to -- not just to prosecute crimes after they occur but to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
through the good, sound use of constitutional intelligence gathering in a way that respects the privacy of all americans but lives up through our first and foremost responsibility, and that is to keep the american people safe. madam president, i yield the floor. madam president, i do not yield the floor quite yet. i ask unanimous consent to have -- i have seven unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. these have been approved by the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that they be printed in the record. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. leahy: no objection. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: thank you madam president. i gladly yield to the distinguished ranking member. mr. leahy: madam president? the presiding officer: thunderstorm vermont. mr. leahy: madam president nobody disputes that we all want
to keep america safe. we agree on that. we also want to make sure that we keep americans free and that their constitutional freedoms are protected. none of us would think it was making us safer if we were to try to pass a law that said law enforcement can walk into our homes any time and go through any files we have, follow us anywhere they wanted, just on a whim. we would be totally opposed to that. but some would say that in the aftermath of 9/11, that some of the aspects of the patriot act we did just that. congressman armey who was the republican leader, majority
leader of the house at the time a very conservative republican he and i joined together after consultation to put into the patriot act sunset provisions which would require us to have the debate we're having right now. we talked about consultation, the fact of the matter is there have been hours and days and weeks and months of consultation between the house and the senate on the u.s.a. freedom act. we had a bill before us last year that was filibustered still got 58 votes. that was done in consultation with the house. the majority leader of the house has already said as republican leader weiss warned the senate not to move ahead with planned
changes the house bill because it could bring real challenges in getting the bill passed through the house again. the fact of the matter is we have had so much consultation, senator lee myself, republicans and democrats have met continuously for months with house republicans and house democrats to get the bill that's before us now. now, that is probably why it passed by such a lopsided margin in the house of representatives. now, my distinguished friend from texas says these are minor changes. well actually they're not. one would weaken the fisa court amicus authority. we know that for years the fisa court secretly misinterpreted section 215. as a result, after the program
leaked that's the only time the fisa court finally heard the government's argument. before -- before that they only heard the government. once the legal reason justifying this program became public, challenges were brought and the second circuit last month ruled unanimously the program was unlawful. having amicus in there is not having a defense attorney in a grand jury room at all. amicus on questions of law can be invited by the court to step in this could be a relatively rare case, completely in the discretion of the court it's hard to talk about weakening that further especially when you're talking about a secret court.
i opposed the amendment with the -- to extend the current bulk collection program in place for a full year. we have an 180-day transition period and the director of the n.s.a. said -- quote -- "we are aware of no technical or security reason why this cannot be tested and brought on line within the 180-day period." well the -- i think the n.s.a. director probably is as knowledgeable about this subject as anybody in this chamber and he says we can go forward with it. i think all these amendments that are talked about would simply delay passing an excellent piece of legislation.
one that's been worked on by republicans and democrats for months and months, some would say years. let's go with it. you know, we hear about stopping terrorism attacks. we all want to do that. but i remember some of the statements made by a former n.s.a. director, well to stop 52 or 54 terrorism attacks i don't remember the exact number, but having to actually talk about that came out that it was important after the fact in one case. i -- we also know that 9/11 could have been avoided. the evidence was there the information was there the dots have been connected. everybody frantically taking
information they already had recordings they already had after 9/11, saying we ought to get around to translathing what's in these things. we know that in minnesota the f.b.i.'s warning that people are taking flight lessons and there's no really good reason was ignored. they're basically told we know better. i remember the day or so after the attack, the f.b.i. headquarters were -- people were calling in with information from different field offices. somebody would write it down, would hand it to somebody else, to rewrite it, would hand it to somebody else to put in the file. they brought charter planes to bring photographs around to different places and say maybe -- so our offices could see it. i said well, why don't we
just -- why don't we just email the photographs to them? we don't have -- we don't have the ability to do that. i said well, my 11-year-old neighbor could do it for you if that would help. the fact of the matter is we had the information passed new laws it didn't make us safer. any more than we became safer when we voted $2 trillion or $3 trillion to go into iraq because as the vice president and others were saying they were about to attack us with nuclear weapons and implying that he were involved with 9/11. mr. wyden: would the distinguished minority member yield? i think the ranking member has made a number of very important points here. the fact of the matter is we are now here because the majority leader wasn't able to defeat surveillance reform, so instead he has chosen to introduce amendments designed to water it
down. i'm disappointed by this. i will oppose all of these amendments. i wanted to have a colloquy briefly with the ranking minority member because the ranking minority member and our colleague from connecticut senator blumenthal, have done very good reform work with respect to the fisa court. and in particular what the distinguished senator from vermont has done, with the help of the senator from connecticut is to bring some very important sunshine and transparency to the court and as my two colleagues have pointed out on the judiciary committee they pointed out that you really need on these major questions -- not all of them, as the senator from vermont has said, but you really need to make sure both sides get a chance to be heard not just the government's side. so what troubles me -- and i'm interested in my colleague from
vermont's reaction, and i want to praise him and my colleague from connecticut -- is it seems to me what the senate majority leader wants to do is basically take us back to the days of secret law and what's important as we get into this issue particularly this amendment is there is a difference between secret operations and secret law. operations always have to be kept secret. i see my friend, chairman burr here. we serve on the intelligence committee together. the two of us feel so strongly about making sure secret operations are kept secret, because otherwise americans are going to die. we can't have secret operations splayed all over hitter and i don't yon in the public square.
but the law always ought to be public. as senator leahy has pointed out for some time -- and i warned about it here on the floor what we would see is if you lived in connecticut or vermont you read the patriot act it talked about collecting information relevant to an investigation. nobody thought that meant millions and millions of records on law-abiding people. that decision was made in secret. it was made without the reforms advocated by the senator from connecticut and the senator from vermont. so i would be interested in my colleague from vermont's reaction to the majority leader's amendment to scale back your very constructive reforms on the fisa court and my sense is what the majority leader's approach would do would be to take us back to the days of secret law. i think that would be a mistake and i would be curious about the
reaction of my colleague to this. mr. leahy: well, i would say to my -- my friend from oregon, the american people want to know what the laws are that involve them. they want to know what the courts are doing. a secret operation, of course, you've had briefings on those, i have had briefings on those. i have been in places which i won't name here but in places overseas where i was there in the operation center as operations were taking place and being briefed on what they did where they got the information what they are going to do next, and of course none of that would you want to be reading in the press or seeing in real time. but i also know that when we're dealing with americans and with their lives and with their sense of privacy, we have to protect
it. we have very simple changes in the fisa court. it provides the fisa court with the authority to designate individuals who have security clearances to be able to serve as an amicus or friend of the court, and it's triggered only in relatively rare cases involving a novel or significant issue of law and the decision of appointment is left entirely up to the court. that's about as narrowly drawn as you can. but i think that we have to have this ability to what the court is doing because we know for years the fisa court secretly misinterpreted section 215 to allow for the dragnet collection of americans' phone records. and i just would be happy to yield to the senator from
connecticut who has worked so hard on this and is a former attorney general of his own state but i have -- my own experience in getting search warrants for whether phone records or anything else as a prosecutor, i realize that was not in the complexity of what we have today but i realize you had to follow the law and ultimately that protects us more than anything else. i do not want this administration or any other administration to have the ability to just go anywhere they want and i'm not encouraged by those who say this is so carefully maintained. we were given earlier just a small number of people who can
have access to this. i guess it's one less when snowden walked out the door with all of it, this 28-year-old subcontractor. so anyway i -- could i yield to the senator from connecticut if heed like to speak on this subject. i -- you know, the senator from oregon has been such a strong and passionate believer on this, and i -- i know from what i hear, from the people of my state and his state people want us to be safe but they also want their privacy protected. mr. blumenthal: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you mr. president. i am very grateful for the opportunity to follow my distinguished colleague from vermont and to emphasize some of the points that he's just made, but first let me thank senator
wyden for his leadership and his courage on this issue of foreign intelligence surveillance reform. he has helped to lead this effort long before i was in the united states senate in favor of more transparency and accountability. those are among the overarching objectives here, and my colleague from vermont who shares with me a background as a prosecutor rightly makes the point that warrants and other means of surveillance when prosecutors seek them are sought ultimately from judges. and i want to speak to some of the myths and misconceptions here that endanger this key reform. our colleague from texas whom i greatly respect has argued that the fisa court is like a grand
jury. in fact, he has said that an amicus should not be appointed in effect to intervene with a body that is like the grand jury. well the foreign intelligence surveillance court is not a grand jury. as my colleague from oregon has said very well here, the fisa court makes law. it interprets the law in ways that are binding as legal precedents. far from being like a grand jury as a purely investigative tool of the court. the foreign intelligence surveillance court is a court. in fact, it is composed of article three judges who do as they do on their own district court for appellate court judges. they interpret the law and thereby in effect make law.
to keep that law secret is a disservice to the american people and our legal system. to have only one side represented skews and in effect impedes the operations of that court because we know that judges make better decisions when they hear both sides and rights are better protected. even so, the fisa court need hear from that amicus panel only when it chooses to do so ultimately. it has the discretion under the statute as it exists now to decide to appoint an amicus in any particular matter. it is required to appoint an amicus in novel or significant cases unless -- and the word
unless is in the statute -- it issues a finding that the appointment is not appropriate. it can make that finding whenever it wishes to do so. so the discretion is for the fisa court in whether to hear from an amicus, even under the bill that the u.s.a. freedom act is now. it can permit the amicus to address privacy technology or any other area relevant to the matter before the court not just constitutional rights, and that leads to the second misinterpretation, if i may say so, in the remarks made by my colleague from texas. the bill does not direct an amicus to oppose intelligence activities or to oppose the government's views or position. in fact, it is to enlighten the
court. in some instances it may oppose the government. but it is as part of that process of constructively arriving at the correct legal interpretation not as a kind of knee-jerk reaction to oppose the government. again, i stress novel or significant issues in the discretion of the court may be addressed by the amicus. what the amendment does is to deprive the amicus or expert panel of the access it needs to facts and law, to be the best that it can be in interpreting and arguing and protecting rights. it in effect bars access to past precedence of the court to briefings from intelligence experts to facts that may be
known to the department of justice or intelligence agencies. that hampering and hobbling of the amicus in no way serves the cause of justice. it in no way serves the cause of intelligent intelligence activities. in fact, it undermines that activity. and it undermines trust and confidence in the court. this court has operated in secret. it's heard arguments in secret. it's issued opinions in secret. it's the kind of court that our founders would have found an anathema to their vision of democracy and freedom. we may need such you a court now to authorize surveillance activities that must be kept secret but we need to strike a
balance that protects very precious constitutional rights and liberties. after all what does our surveillance and intelligence system protect, if not these fundamental values and rights of privacy and liberties that have lasted and served us well because we respect them? and more than the physical structures that we seek to protect through this system, it's those values and rights that are fundamentally paramount in importance. so this fisa court reform goes to the core of the changes constructive changes that we seek to make, and i hope that my colleagues will defeat amendment 1451, along with all the other amendments, because the practical effect of adopting
amendments is to further delay implementation of the u.s.a. freedom act at a time when our country may be at risk from the expiration of the patriot act. mr. wyden: would my colleague yield for a question on that point? mr. blumenthal: i would be happy to yield. mr. wyden: my colleague from corp has spoken to what the stakes are. for the last decade intelligence officials have been relying on secret interpretations of their authorities which is different than the public law. the public has seen the consequences of that and they're angry was the american people know that we can have policies that promote both security and liberty. and i'd just like to ask a question of my colleague with respect to what the implications would be of hollowing out the good work that you and senator
leahy have done with respect to having more transparency and both sides making the case on key questions with respect to the fisa court and i would like to note that the majority leader's second amendment delays implementations of other important reforms that you all have dealt with. for example one question that i was asked about at a town meeting -- town hall meeting in tillamook oregon, was what would we do to protect our nation when there was an emergency. and you all in your good work have in effect said that you would strengthen the language to make sure that when there was an emergency, government officials already can issue an emergency authorization to get the
business records they need, then seek court approval, and you all strengthen that, all of you on the judiciary committee said we're going to provide another measure of security for the american people. in other words, we're going to protect their liberty and we're going to strengthen their security and it looks to me like the can combination of the majority leader's two amendments scaling back the reforms, the transparency reforms in the fisa court, and delaying the strengthening of emergency authorities that can protect the american people without jeopardizing their liberty, would really roll back the kind of reforms the american people want. i would be interested in my colleague's reaction to that. mr. blumenthal: and i'm happy for that very period of time inept and important question
from my colleague from oregon. enact the majority leader's amendments would not only scale back and roll back the protections for the american people in the event of exigent or emergency situations, they would undermine the confidence and trust of the american people in this system to protect the homeland. delaying these kinds of reforms undermines the goal of protecting our national security, as well as preserving our fundamental constitutional rights. delay is an enemy here. uncertainty is an adversary. and we owe it to the american people not only to restore their trust and confidence and sustain the faith of the american people in the intelligence agencies but to make it more transparent where it can be made so without compromising security, and increasing accountability.
and that's what the fisa court reform seeks to do. that's why the director of the national intelligence as well as the attorney general the privacy and civil liberties oversight board, the president's review group at least two former fisa court judges civil rights advocates and representatives of many of the most informed and able in our intelligence community all support these reforms. the director of national intelligence and attorney general said in 2014 -- quote -- "the appointment of an amicus in selected cases as appropriate need not interfere with important aspects of the fisa process, including the process of ex parte consultation between the court and the government." ex parte communications in
effect secret conversation or consultation can continue to go forward under this bill. the amendment wouldn't alter that fact. the amendment simply makes the amicus less effective by depriving that amicus of access to facts and law that are necessary to do its job. and so in my view these amendments fundamentally undermine the purpose of reforms that a vast bipartisan majority of this body have already approved today. and it is an increasingly large margin that has voted for these reforms, recognizing what i hear from connecticut what my colleagues hear in their states that people want to believe that the foreign intelligence surveillance court is, in fact, operating as a court, hearing both sides.
keeping secrets, but at the same time increasing public access to facts and law that are important to them without compromising our national security. i hope that my colleagues will vote to reject these amendments. as the senator from oregon has said adopting them will simply serve to delay reforms that are necessary. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. burr: mr. president there are always two sides of every picture, two sides of every story, and i have tremendous affection for ranking member leahy we're friends. we look at this issue differently. i have deep respect for senator
blumenthal and senator wyden. the fact is i look at history a little bit differently and i look at the future a little bit differently because i think what the american people want to believe is that america is doing everything possible to keep them safe. i think at the end of the day that's the single most important thing. are we doing everything we can to keep america safe? now, senator wyden opposes section 215. he talked about changes he's opposed to section 215. he's a member of the committee and i know exactly where he stands and i respect it. the fact is that 215 is a very effective program. and my colleagues are right, it was not a public program until eric snowden a traitor to the united states, published a lot of information about what the intelligence community does. this was one small piece.
and eric snowden put the lives of americans and foreigners at risk at what he released. you can't put the genie back in the bottle but you also can't hide from the fact that this program enabled us to thwart terrorist attacks here and abroad and i quoted to four of them yesterday. and if this program itself was what we were able to use post the boston marathon bombings to figure out if snare avenue -- tsarnaev brothers had an and yes, the fisa court operates in secret. why? it's the same reason sometimes the senate clears the galleries, shuts the doors and shuts off the tv and as an
institution only cleared people here classified in top secret information to make decisions. there describes the fisa court. they always deal with classified and top-secret documents. they are called on a minute's notice. no other court in the world responds like that. there is a fisa judge on the bench 24/7, 365 days a year. it rotates. these are the best of the best of the judicial system around the country picked by the chief justice of the supreme court. could it be open? sure but we would then expose either classified and top secret documents or we couldn't use the documents to make the case to the fisa court that we've got a suspected individual of terrorism and we need the authority to see who that person is. well, you know, we've heard a lot about the fisa court.
a lot of it's true. but the people that serve on the bench are heroes because they take the toughest cases america is presented with, and they rule on them in the most judicial way that they possibly can. demanding over 25% of the time that an application be resubmitted after changes because they didn't think it had met the threshold. and much has been focused on, on the changes to the amicus language or friend of the court. this is not a normal court. when the choice is to go to the fisa court it's because we're concerned we're concerned about an imminent threat. and let me explain once again for my colleagues and for the american people what is the section 215 program.
it is a program where at the n.s.a. we collect raw telephone numbers from telephone companies. numbers, not names. we have a number that does not have a person's name with it. they're deidentified. and we collect a number, the date the call was made and the duration of the call. and for us to trigger any search or we call it query of that database we have to have a foreign telephone number that we know is a telephone number used by a terrorist. there's all the components of the section 215 program. that's it. we can have a database but without a foreign terrorist phone number we can't search the database. if we have the telephone number and no database which is what we're moving to and i concede
this is where we're going to move and transition over to hundreds of telephone companies and now rather than have a number of people controlled and supervised within the n.s.a. that carry out these queries we're going to ask telephone company employees to carry out a queries with -- query with a known foreign terrorist phone number against all the numbers in their database. again, hopefully they won't tie a person's name to it. we don't even get a person's name at the n.s.a. and the only people who should be worried are americans who have actually had a communication with a known terrorist abroad. now, i think when the american people hear me talk about this, up to this point they're saying that's a good thing. we want to know if somebody here has talked to a terrorist because we want to be kept safe. well not only are we shifting the database out of the n.s.a. over to the telephone companies
which means our response time is going to be delayed and let me remind everybody whether we search the metadata base at the n.s.a. or at the telephone companies, we first have to go to the fisa court and get a court order that says have you the authority to do this based upon what you've presented to the court. now we have to go to the telephone companies and in a time frame that's conducive to them they're going to search their database. known terrorists cell phone number and now we are relying on hundreds of companies to search their database in a timely fashion to get back to us because we're trying to be in front of the threat versus behind a threat. in front of a threat it's called intelligence. behind a threat it's called an investigation. when we thwarted the new york city subway bombing we were in front of a threat. that was intelligence. when we reacted to the boston marathon, that was an investigation led by the f.b.i. not the n.s.a.
so when you inject this new requirement for a friend of the court -- and i would disagree with my colleagues, this is not a voluntary thing for the fisa court -- it's a thing that's available to the fisa court today. if they choose to have somebody come in to counsel them on something. this is mandatory. it says in the legislation shall, the court shall set up a panel. the court shall choose a friend of the court. a friend of the court is not there to facilitate a timely processing of information. let me remind everybody we're dealing with safety of the american people. they always stress this at the end of the conversations. we want the confidence and the trust to be rebuilt that we're protecting our homeland. you're moving a database, you're making it slower. now you're setting up a mechanism inside to slow it down even more.
what we're doing is we're shifting from intelligence gathering to investigations. nobody knows how long it's going to take from the time we present a fisa court with a foreign terrorist's telephone number before we actually have completed a search process within this new database. now, i happened to be the one behind a 12-month transition versus a six-month transition, and it was all stimulated off of exactly the same person that senator blumenthal quoted or senator wyden. they said that the director of the n.s.a. said we think we can do this in six months. well i'm telling you if i'm the general public in america and i'm concerned about my safety and the people that are supposed to be protecting me say i think i can do this in six
months, i'd like somebody to say i'm absolutely 100% sure i can do it in six months. but they think they can do it in six months. there's the reason for a year. there's the reason for a longer transition period. now, if privacy was really the concern, and everybody has come down and said i want to protect the privacy of the american people let me point out just a couple of things. one, we didn't collect anybody's name in this program. it's hard to intrude on somebody's privacy when you didn't collect their name. we collected a number, the date of the call and the duration of the call, that's it. anything else that turns into an investigation is the federal bureau of investigation going to a court and saying we have got to have more information because we know the president of the senate is a potential threat to us and then more information can be found out like his identity, anything else that might be part of the
investigation. but from a standpoint of the n.s.a. those are the only things we have, a telephone number, a date and the duration of the call. if privacy is the concern i don't think we've breached it. as a matter of fact, since this program has been in existence there has not been one case of a breach of anybody's privacy not one. but if they were truly concerned about privacy, they would be on the floor today with a bill abolishing the cfpb, which is a government agency, government entity who collects every financial transaction of the american people by name, by date by amount, by transaction. but they're not down here doing that. why? because they don't like the fact that the fisa court operates in
secret. they don't think there should be classified or top secret documents. they believe everything should be transparent. well let me say to my colleagues and my friends and to the american people we've done more over the last month to destroy the capacity of this program because of the debate we've had. there is not a terrorist in the world now that doesn't understand that using a cell phone or a land line is probably a pretty bad thing. it probably puts a target on their back. we've done a great job of chasing people to alternative methods of communication. and i would suggest to you that's not making america any safer. if anything, maybe we should have had this debate in secret, just simply so we wouldn't give them a road map as to what we do. therein lies the reason that there are some things that i think there's a determination made by the executive branch and
by the legislative branch and i think in many cases at the dining room table around america where americans say you know, you don't need to share everything with me. i'm tired of hearing things on the nightly news that i think shouldn't be discussed. this probably happens to be one of them because it doesn't make us more safe. it makes us less safe. so i'll end the same way senator blumenthal did. people want to believe question mark. i think people want to believe we're doing everything we possibly can to strengthen our national security, to eliminate the threat of terrorism here and abroad. my fear, quite frankly, is that this bill doesn't accomplish that. again, i have deep affection for those whose names are on the bill and for what they believe
is the intent. but i think at the end of the day, the only responsible thing to do right now is to accept three amendments, one a substitute and two a first degree and a second-degree amendment. and let me just say briefly the substitute incorporates two changes. one change is that the telephone companies would be required to notify six months in advance of any change in their retention program. in other words how long they hold the data. i've gotten calls from both big telecom companies today and they have said we've got no problem with that. the second one would have the director of national intelligence certify at the end of the transition period that
technologically we can make the transition. i don't find anybody that's really objected to that. then there's an amendment that extends from six months to 12 months the transition period. there -- there have been people that object to that. i would only tell you we have a difference of opinion. they're willing to trust the n.s.a. in their ability to make the transition in six months. i think that's ironic because the reason that we're here having this debate is because they made us believe we can't trust the n.s.a., yet they're willing to trust the n.s.a. relative to what the transition time is that's sufficient to accomplish the transition. let's err on the side of caution. let's do it in 12 months. if they can do it sooner, then let them petition us and congress can pass it and we'll turn to it sooner, but let's not
get to six months and be challenged with not ready to make that transition. and the last one is the change to the amicus language. clearly, that's the biggest difference we have. and i would just say to my colleagues you either vote for the amendment or you vote against it. if you vote for it, you have delayed the time it will tyke for us to connect the dots between a foreign terrorist's telephone number and a domestic telephone number they might have talked to. if that doesn't bother members and it doesn't bother the public i'm all for giving the american people what they want. but i think most americans sit at home and say you know, the faster you do this, the safer i am. i've got a responsibility first and foremost for the protection of the american people. it's in our oath. i also share something with not
only the presiding officer my colleagues that are here, to protect the rights and liberties of the american people, and as the chairman of the intelligence committee, i don't think we have in any way infringed on that. i'm now in year 21. i have come a lot closer to the line than i ever dreamed when i came here in 1995. but i also never envisioned an event as horrific as 9/11. i never envisioned an enemy as brutal as isil or al qaeda. or the houthis. i could go on. what's changed since 9/11? on 9/11 we had one terrorist organization that had america in its cross hairs. today we have got tens to 2020ies of organizations that are -- tens to 20's of
organizations that would like to do something here in the united states. the threat hasn't gotten less, it's gotten more. and we're on the floor today talking about taking some of the tools away that have been effective at helping us. wrong debate to have, but we're here. i would only ask my colleagues show some reason extend by six months the transition period, make sure that it doesn't take longer to search these databases, make sure that we're ready for the telephone companies to carry out the searches because there's one certainty that i think i will find agreement from all my colleagues here. the terrorists aren't going away. america is still their target. no matter what we say on this floor we're still in the crosshairs of their terrorist acts.
only through providing an intelligence community and a law enforcement community the tools to carry out their job can they actually fulfill their obligation of making sure that america is safe well into the future. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president i hope that our colleagues here in the senate and the american people are listening to this discussion because there isn't anything that's more important than defending our country and the debate that we're having here today is really about the tools that our intelligence community uses to prevent a terrorist attack, and as we look at and discuss the legislation in front of us, i think it's really
important that we not forget that we are living in dangerous times. this is the most dangerous time literally since 9/11 in terms of the terrorist activity that's out there. as the senator from north carolina pointed out, we have a big, big bull's eye. the united states and people in this country, the things that we believe in, the terrorists would love nothing more than to be able to take out and des troy through some terrorist act americans and american interests. and so i -- i think it's really critical. the senator from north carolina did a great job. the senator from indiana i know is going to speak here in a few minutes on this subject but i hope that everybody listens carefully because we are on the cusp of doing something that in my view does in fact weaken the very tools that have been used, the capabilities that have been used to prevent those terrorist attacks. and the ironic thing about it is if you frame that up, you look at the -- the threats that are
out there the dangerous times in which we live and the success of these programs and how effective they have been in the past at preventing a terrorist attack and what's being talked about are potential abuses, hypothetical examples of how these programs could be abused, but they haven't. the fact of the matter is they haven't. we have a lot of period, a long period of time now in which to examine the effectiveness of these -- of these tools relative to the arguments that are being made about their abuse and they just don't exist. there isn't a documented case in the time that these tools have been in existence of anybody's privacy being breached. and so it's really important that we look at these issues in light of what we're up against and what our number one responsibility is, and that is defending americans and american interests, and this discussion is critical to that.
mr. president, i want to speak on another subject this morning and that has to do with friday morning of last week's headline from the "new york times," which i thought was pretty grim, and that is that the u.s. economy contracted by .7% in the first quarter. let me repeat that, mr. president. not only did our economy fail to grow in the first quarter of 2015 it actually shrank. that's pretty discouraging news for millions of americans still struggling in the obama economy. and the obama administration didn't offer them any consolation. too often the administration had has met stories of economic he would with excuses. uncertainty in the euro zone, not enough foreign demand, the japanese tsunami. too much snow. too many congressional republicans. and, of course, the obama administration's favorite
excuse, the bush administration. this time among other things the administration is blaming the measurements themselves. the administration claims that the bureau of economic analysis is not accurately measuring economic growth quarter to quarter. of course, the department of commerce should always be looking for ways to modernize our measurements and adjust for seasonal changes but mr. president, no arithmetical sleight of hand can disguise the fact that our economy is so weak underlying events can push our economy into the red. economic growth has averaged an abysmal 2.2% census since the end of the recession. that's one of the weakest economic recoveries in the past 70 years. if the obama recovery had met the average economic growth experienced in all post-world war ii recoveries, all economy would be $1.9 trillion larger
today than it is. if you look at the president's record it's easy to see why our economy is still sputtering along. a failed trillion-dollar stimulus, $1.6 trillion in new taxes. the president's health care law which raised premiums for families and increased costs for small businesses. 2,222 new regulations costing more than $653 billion in new compliance costs. a federal debt that has doubled on the president's watch. a financial reform bill that has overreached and is stifling community banks and lending across the country. and a runaway e.p.a. that wants to increase electricity rates on families who are already struggling with stagnant wages and now now wants to regulate ditches and ponds in farm fields across the country.
mr. president, all of this has led some economists to wonder if 2% growth is new normal. if it is, that's very bad news for american families who will face a future that is less prosperous with less economic opportunity and mobility. during the entire post-ward period our nation averaged 3.3% growth. at that pace the standard of living almost doubles every 30 years. incomes rise. financial security increases and more people are able to afford homes, take vacations and save for higher education. at the pace of growth that we've seen since 2007, on the other hand it will take closer to 99 years for the standard of living to double. unfortunately, our recent weak economic growth shows every sign of continuing. the congressional budget office projects our economy will grow at an average pace of 2.5%
through 2018 and just 2.2% from 2020 to 2025. that's not good news for american families. for generations individuals have clung to the promise that america has held out that if you worked hard, you can build a better life for yourself and an even better one for your children. but after years of economic stagnation that promise is now in jeopardy. a survey released last september reported nearly half of americans over 18 believe that their children will be worse off financially than they are. a similar percentage of americans no longer believe if you work hard, you'll get ahead. their disillusionment is not surprise. the weak economic growth has left families struggling to make ends meet. americans are struggling to make health care costs and mortgage payments. they are no longer sure they can put their children through college or retire comfortably. some have even lost their homes.
good-paying jobs are few and far between. the u.s. consensus bureau -- census bureau reports more businesses are closing each year than are being opened. think about that. more businesses are closing there are more businesses deaths than businesses births in this country today. millions of americans are unemployed millions more forced to work part-time because they can't full-time work. 40% of unemployed americans have become so disillusioned the lack of opportunity they've given up entirely looking for work. 40%. that's a staggering number. if the unemployment rate were changed to reflect the number of unemployed who have given up looking for work our unemployment rate would be well over 9%. but the good news the president is things don't have to stay that way. we can enact pro-growth policies that will return our economy to a more prosperous path in the 21st century.
according to former c.b.o. director douglas eken, the difference between 2.5% and 5% growth would have a major impact on the quality of life for low- and middle-income families. it will have 2.5 million more jobs and average incomes will be $9,000 higher. $9,000 higher if we grow at just one percentage point faster than was projected. for a lot of americans that's the difference between owning your home and renting one. it's the difference between being able to send your kids to college or forcing them to go deeply into debt to pay for their education. it's the difference between a secure requirement and being forced to work well into old age. additionally the c.b.o. estimates for every additional
.1% increase it reduces oreadeses by $300 billion over ten years. that means an additional percentage point in economic growth will reduce our deficits by $3 trillion over the next ten years. and that in turn, reducing deficits would further enhance economic growth. mr. president, senate republicans have laid out a number of policies to help grow the economy and open up opportunities for low- and middle-income americans. we proposed energy policies that will expand domestic energy development and drive down energy prices. we're advancing trade policies that will help create more opportunities for american workers here at home by increasing the market for u.s. goods and services abroad. we've proposed tax reform that will simplify our outdated tax code and make our businesses more competitive which will hope he open up new jobs and
opportunities for american workers. we've laid out entitlement reforms that keep our promises to our seniors while protecting our economy by reducing our long-term deficits. and we're pushing for regulatory reforms that will rein in the out-of-control government bureaucracies that are stifling economic growth. mr. president, years and years of government overspending, burdensome taxation, massive government programs, many of which don't work, and excessive regulation have taken their toll on our economy. but we can still undo that damage. for generations americans -- america has held out the hope of opportunity and republicans are committed to ensuring that it does so again. we invite our colleagues to join us mr. president. because we can have a better,
brighter and more plus plus future for future generations of americans by changing the directions changing the policies doing away with the regulations, the overreaching government that have made it so difficult for so many americans to get ahead. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president we are fortunately moving forward on this issue of i think extreme importance to the security of the american people, the necessary procedures that we should take to doing everything we can to ensure their safety. to publicly discuss and debate
the issue of terrorist threat, and the measures that the people's government is taking to defend our country and to defend each individual american from being a victim of terrorism. as senator burr, chairman of the intelligence committee just related threat to our security and to our safety has never been stronger, never been more threatening and the proliferation of terrorist organizations and the proliferation unfortunate proliferation of the inspiration that is being provided through social media to any number of american citizens, and those who may not be citizens but are
residing in this country to take up arms or to create a bomb or to pick up a knife or take a weapon and bring harm to americans in the name of support for jihad in the name of support for isis, in the name of support for al qaeda, in the name of support for the fundamentalists, the extreme fundamentalist activities of terrorists that is prevailing not only through the middle east but affecting the world in various places. we know that through intelligence gathering and through public statements that the united states has been put in the crosshairs, that kill americans, no matter how you do it take it up, we will learn today if we haven't learned already, that's something that's just come across the wires of someone who has -- was attempting to do just that and
we see more and more references to these types of attacks. unfortunately, we are at a period of time when one of the methods that we had to try to detect these threats is no longer in operation. it's not in operation because the authorization for going forward with this program described as section 215 of the patriot act the collection of raw telephone numbers -- not anybody's name -- the raw telephone numbers that we can use as a base to determine whether or not a foreign -- from a foreign source, a known terrorist, or someone connected to a terrorist organization is talking to somebody in the united states. that is the program. that is the program that we're talking about. and. that program is dark.
it's shut down. it shut down at midnight, sunday. and it was shut down because we could not achieve support for even a minimum extension of time for which to better understand the program better debate through and discuss the program, to make adjustments if necessary to greatly ensure the privacy -- that americans' privacy was not being breached. several requests were made. unfortunately, one member, exercising their rights -- every individual senator has the right to say no to a unanimous consent request and we were in a position where we had to ask for consent, driven our procedural process which we have to go through to achieve a vote vote, and that was rejected time after time after time. so on the basis of one member's
objection, we have what i believe and many believe and those who better understand this now that we've been able to disclose what it is believe is a necessary tool that ought to be in place, ought to be in place for the very purpose of doing everything that we can to prevent another 9/11, to prevent something much worse than 9/11 which would involve a 9/11 type of action coupled and married with a weapon of mass destruction. where attack in new york would not result in 3,000 casualties, it would potentially result in three million casualties or even more. more something concocted by a small group of people who shoot up a shopping mall or refresh into an elementary school or just simply take down someone on
a subway system or an individual attack by someone with a knife or an axe or a gun or whatever, following the inspiration received over the internet or for whatever reason but done in the name of a terrorist attack for a specific cause. one of the essential programs we've had that has been successful has been under attack in terms of breaching the privacy of american citizens. i think it has been made clear in this last few days that it is clear that there has been no abuse of this program that no one's privacy has been breached. the only allegation that holds true is that it has the potential to accomplish a breach of someone's privacy. over the years it's never been documented of -- no abuse has
been raised. no one's privacy has been breached. to shut down a program with that kind of record on the basis that something could happen, that government could abuse this, i know it resonates with a number of people in the united states. and i really don't blame them. this current administration, in particular policies have created great distrust among the american people as to their leadership as to their operation, as to their policies, and when we look at what's taking place with the i.r.s. definitely breaching people's privacy for political purposes, when we look at ben gas disirks the cover-up that's taken place on benghazi, with an administration refusing to stand up and take responsibility for
not responding adequately to that understand a changing the narrative and rewriting the intelligence when we look at fast and furious and what the agency responsible there or the kind of policies that they have taken place and on and on it goes -- so i fully understand the, not just frustration but the anger that the american people have and the distrust that they have. one of the most difficult things that those of us in the intelligence committee have had to deal with is that when descriptions of policies that are implemented in terms of providing for intelligence-gathering and necessary response to prevent terrorist attacks that information is classified. and so when we see that the
program is being misrepresented and described as something that it isn't we don't have the ability it respond. we can't go to the press without breaching our oath to secrecy. we do not and cannot release unclassified -- classified material. so while we now are in the position of having to unclassify this material, we have to understand that everything we say is not only listened to by the american people as an attempt to ensure that their privacy is not being breached and that this is an essential tool to help prevent terrorist attacks, we have to also recognize that i.t. not just the american people that are listening to what we're saying. the terrorist groups know
exactly -- satellite and worldwide access now to everything that is being said and done is listened to by the terrorists groups, and they will make behavioral chaiption. they will make changes in terms of how they communicate. so the program is being compromised by the very fact that we've had to come on the floor and publicly address it and release information as to what it is, to help ensure -- assure the american people that, in fact, what has been said about the program is simply false. and i was on the floor several times raising that issue using the quotes of what has been said on this floor by members on this floor, particularly one member. that is blatantly false. it is a blatant
misrepresentation of what the program is. and i am not questioning the motive of that practice, i am not questioning the individual's decision in terms of whether he is for or against or wants to support or not support. all i want to do is clarify that so that the public has the facts and then can make their own determination. we may think we make a valid case that the privacy is not breached and if someone comes to the conclusion that they don't either trust what we say or they don't believe what we say or they don't agree with what we say, that is their decision. all i want to do is have them have the facts in front of them so that when they make that decision it's based on fact and not based on what is what is not been -- what has been misrepresented and not fact. that's why i went and took just
the actual words stated on this floor relative to the program which i believe misrepresented the program and challenged that -- and challenged it with the factual information. and i'm not going to repeat that. that is a matter of record. we now are at the point where because we were not able to achieve any support for any kind of extension to either clarify what the bill was -- does and doesn't to, to clarify with the house of representatives how we best could coordinate this process and come up with a good solution to the issue -- we are procedural at a point where we
only have two options. one option is to essentially do nothing. the program does not secure the votes to be reauthorized and that program is taken off the books and is no longer there and in my opinion and the opinion of many, that makes us more vulnerable, that gives us less access to be able to stop a terrorist attack. the second option is to support an effort that was passed by the house of representatives the u.s.a. freedom act which i wish i could say addressed the issue and didn't compromise the program, but it severely goes against what this program attempts to do and compromises the program to the point where i'm not even sure that the
program can exist under the provisions that have been enacted by the house of representatives. three very experienced and trustworthy individuals who don't have to salute the commander in chief and give their own unbiased opinions on this came before our intelligence committee and basically said the structure of the u.s.a. freedom act you might as well not have the program because it will take down the program. the biggest problem is -- there are a couple major major issues here which these amendments try to address but don't effectively address. i'm going to be supporting those amendments. i think it makes a bad piece of legislation a little bit better, but i have real question as to
whether or not it addresses the problem that really render the program inorpable. the first -- inoperable. the first is retention. there's no mandatory retention among telephone companies that they keep the information -- the phone numbers that we need in order to create the haystack of members from which we can find out whether or not one of those numbers is talking to a foreign known terrorist number. and that's not done by somebody looking at anybody's records. that's done by computer, which all of a sudden matches up a number and a number pops up -- just a number, not a name -- a number pops up and it is linked to a number of a known terrorist or terrorist organization. and that number, before it can be even processed at that time, needs to have outside approval
legal approval for it to query that. and so i don't want to go through the whole description of the program because it's been said over and over and over. but if the telephone companies don't retain those numbers we can't go out and match it up, and there's no mandatory retention of those numbers. this is simply an amendment now that would basically say they have to give us notice if they don't retain that. but there's no mandatory retention. so i can just see a lot of companies -- and i've heard from a lot of companies and they say, we don't want to be responsible for trying to build in the protections and hire the people who have the background checks and the security clearances, put a regulatory process in place to make sure our people don't abuse this or use it for the wrong purpose. so here you have a program that's accessible only by a very limited number of people at the
national security agency over seeing by layers and layers of lawyers and legal experts to make sure it's not abused in any way, and they've been successful because there's not been one case of an abuse of this process against anybody's personal liberties. six layers of oversight that goes in place before they can even take it to the court and say, we think we have a problem here. we think there is a suggestion spyings -- with we think there is a suspicion a reasonable suspicion, because this number here -- we don't know who owns this number -- has matched with this number and we know this number is the number of a known terrorist or terrorist organization. then the cord looks at it and says -- then the court looks at it and say i think you've got
something here. they turn it over to the f.b.i. so they can look into it in greater detail. as senator burr said, it works on the negative side also and made some examples of live situations here -- the boston bombing and so forth -- which proved the negative. it proved that just two people were involved in this. there were no connections. so they didn't have to waste a lot of time trying to query and try to pull up all a punch bunch of information, who have they talked to. and immediately determined -- and then the police were allowed to focus their efforts and what took place in boston and not throw the alarm out to new york city because the allegation was that they're on the way to new york city, and shut down new york city cause a panic and
cause a scare alert the police and so forth. they were are able to prove the negative of that, so it works both ways. but without that retention we're not going to be able a ccomplish that. -- be able to accomplish that. so i don't understand how the u.s.a. freedom act is a better way of protecting privacy and a better way of dealing with the fact that time is of the essence here. instead of quering one area, we now have to go to multiple telephone companies. and there are literally -- there are 1,400 in the country. so let's say there's 100 major companies, or let's say there's ten major companies. we've got to go to all ten or all 100 or more to find out whether or not in their base that telephone number exists. time is of the essence here.
because if you're detecting a terrorist attempt and you see the urgency of it you can't -- and you build in all kinds of steps you have to take in order to get to the point where you think you've really got something here the act could have already been undertaken. and so that -- those two issues, i think are major problems with the freedom act. and the third is simply to think -- to think that the layers of protection and judicial oversight, administrative oversight, court oversight congressional oversight that takes place on making sure we don't abuse the program through n.s.a. every telephone company has got to insert that same level of oversight. and they simply won't be able to do it. it'll take months. it takes months to get
background checks and security clearances. these people at n.s.a. have been -- and only the best and the brightest and the most reliable are part of this program the subpart of this -- some part of this program which oversees this. the layers of legal oversight within all the telephone companies many don't have the capacity to do that. they don't have the financial ability to do that. the irony here is that individuals' privacy is more at risk by the telephone companies holding the numbers than n.s.a. holding the numbers. but, of course, we haven't been able to convince the american people of that partly because the program has been so distortedly reported. but, this is the saving grace to
protect everybody's privacy by turning it over to the phone companies instead of turning it over to n.s.a. just doesn't add up. so it's going to be very difficult for me and i think for many of my colleagues to think while we're going many of us are going to support these very, very limited amendments which we don't even know the house will accept it doesn't solve the issue -- resolve the issue and doesn't solve the problem that we're dealing with here and in effect could render the program inoperable. so i think when members are making decisions about which option to choose, it's a devil's choice. is something better than nothing? or is something really nothing and you end up with nothing and nothing? none of us want our country to be put in that position, but that is where we are.
hopefully, if we are not able to secure passage of these amendments to improve this, and the house rejects that, or we reject it or the house rejects it then we will, the program will stay inoperable. and i think the american people will then be picking up their phones and writing us and e-mailing us and urging us to rethink this program through now that they know more about it, now that they know that much of what has been said irresponsibly by members of this body and others is not true. and once they learn more about it, i think they will be calling on us to take a new look, and they will take a new look. the arguments just simply don't
hold up because they're not factual. and now that we've been able to release some of this classified information, and now that people are ready, have the ability to understand if they so choose, to take another look at this and the proof that we have provided relative to the success of the program and relative to the need for the program and relative to a significant tool to protect terrorist attacks against americans has been taken down, they will be asking us to take another look at that. so that's what's before us, mr. president. you know, there's been a constitutional argument here regarding the fourth amendment. it's important to note that the right of the people to be secure in their persons houses, papers and effects against unreasonable
searches. unreasonable. i think we've proven that this is not an unreasonable search. it doesn't identify anybody's name. and only after a court approves and gives authority to the ability to go forward just as any warrant by any judge for any suspected criminal activity takes place in every jurisdiction across america every town, every police department and going to court we tune in to "law and order," "c.s.i." and all these programs and see exactly how all this works. you can't go barging into a house without a warrant. you can't collect information without a warrant subpoena. and here now -- excuse me, a warrant. so the case being made that there's a violation here of the fourth amendment just simply hasn't held up with legal authorities.
secondly this is interesting. this was just pointed out to me. i'm not a constitutional scholar. i took constitutional law in law school and probably forgot half of it. but i do carry it around. i do look at it, but i'm not a scholar. but i think it's pretty clear and pretty interesting here that article 1 section 5 talking about the legislature says -- and i quote -- "each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same." it's on our desk here. every day our "congressional record" -- these are our proceedings -- published the same excepting such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy. there are some things that require secrecy.
unfortunately we've had to unclassify information to try to let the public know that what they have been told by their government elected members of their government, is breaching their privacy, which is not true we have a constitutional right as a body here to make a decision and a judgment requiring secrecy. and on this program we required secrecy because once our adversaries know what we're doing, they're going to change what they're doing and it won't be worthwhile anymore. also mr. president relative to the statements made by the senator from connecticut who opposes the amendment on the amicus issue it's my
understanding that the administrative office of the united states courts, director duff sent a letter to the house asking for the letter and their concerns about the amicus issue effect on the court be placed in the bill. that was turned down by the house, unfortunately. the letter says "we respectfully request that if possible, this letter be included with your committee's report to the house on the bill. it was sent to the chairman of the permanent subcommittee on intelligence, united states house of representatives. it regards the h.r. 2048, the u.s.a. freedom act." mr. president, i would ask that the letter that i'm referencing here be incorporated in my
remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coats: thank you mr. president. there's a lot more that could be said. we will shortly be voting on the amendments here. i probably said more than i should. i'll be happy to yield. i just think this is one of the most important issues that i've had to deal with during my times of service on behalf of our state and our country. i think getting the facts out has been necessary. it is a momentous decision here that has momentous consequences. and i hope each of us will take very seriously all that has been said and weigh that in their own judgment and hopefully make the right decisions for the future of this country. i'll be happy to yield to my colleague. mr. isakson: i know we're about to adjourn for lunch but i
have to come to the floor and pay you a great compliment. you have for the last six days tried to illuminate misconceptions. you provided great information to the senate and to the people of the united states of america and i think it's ironic -- and i don't believe the senator from indiana knows this -- but today in the finance committee we had a hearing before the mr. costco anyone who -- mr. koskinen who tried to explain that social security numbers were stolen from the i.r.s. which included rents, payments, debts obligations, the entire obligation to 104,000 american citizens. nobody is talking about giving the i.r.s. to the phone companies. nobody is talking about the amount of information the i.r.s. has and whether the government uses it or abuses it. and here we are worried about 41 individuals who have the ability to know two telephone numbers the origination of the call and duration of that call, without its association to a name unless a judge says it's okay.
i think there's been a lot of misdirection this week. the american people are starting to listen. i think the senator from from indiana has done a great job of illuminating the truth behind this issue. we have a great country. you don't find anybody trying to break out of the united states of america. they are all trying to break in because we're safe and secure. i commend you for fighting for the safe, the security and the rights of the american people, and i yield back. mr. coats: i thank my colleague for those words. i think this is a fight for all of us. how i wish we had been putting our time and our passion into what the senator from georgia just mentioned. a clear breach of people's privacy, on the record. and a clear defense effort by this administration to not have us go forward and examine this. if we had been putting half of the passion into that, we would really be servicing the american people and the breaches of their privacy that are just apparent.
here we have a program that has never had a case of a breach of privacy, that has more oversight than any other program in the entire united states government, that involves all three branches of our government: the judicial, the legislative and the administrative, all with the intent of having something in place that can stop americans from being killed by terrorists. and we have to spend weeks arguing just to correct the record when so clearly in front of us is abuses by this administration that we are not putting attention to. the irony of that and the irony of the fact that every day we have more information about the scope of these potential terrorist attacks against americans here we are releasing five known terrorist leaders
from guantanamo to a country combing the world to see if somebody will take them because we don't want to retain them here. and we know they're going to go back. they're not going back to be baristas at starbucks. they're not going back to do lawn work back at home or start a microbusiness. they're going back to join the enemy attack against us. they're going back to the taliban. they're going back to al qaeda. they're going back to do what they were arrested for in the first place. how ironic and how uncertain our situation here is relative to our security. and we are argui a tool that can help protect us instead of focusing on the real threat and force. anyway i've gotten worked up during the six days on a number
of times. i appreciate the opportunity to once again try to clarify where we are. hopefully the american people listening. we have a momentous decision to make coming up here very, very, very shortly. and i hope each of us will use not polls and not what the public perception is. i hope each of us will use the judgment that we've had and the access to information that we've had to make a decision on the basis of what is best for the american people, not what is best politically not what gets us past the next election, not what is pleasing to people that want to hear things back at home not on any other basis than what is necessary to do everything we can to keep us safe from known terrorist attacks that are multiplying faster than we can keep up with
sometime tuesday afternoon that they will be able to move forward with the amendment vote and onto passage of the bill. the question that remains having cleared the filibuster threat hurdle and in fact effectively broken a filibuster by senator rand paul. the next step is to see if the amendments can be dispensed with without anything being adopted if there are no further changes to the bill it with and the bill to president obama.
>> host: now which amendments do you think we could be voted on this afternoon if they do go that way? >> guest: it looks like the amendment currently in the? are proposals offered jointly by majority leader mitch mcconnell of kentucky and richard burr of north carolina billy do things that was strength in the underlying u.s.a. freedom act. one of them we have been seen senator dan coats recently speaking on the floor about would create a method for informing the government if the telecommunications come the names would hold phone records under the u.s. -- u.s.a. freedom match. they would have to notify the government of their intention. there is a concern from some senators that there is no way for the retention of records to be required by the phone
company. >> host: if any of the amendments passed the senate, this measure goes back to the house. what are you hearing about what the house to do at that point? >> guest: the house judiciary committee leadership chaired by bob goodlatte, republican from virginia along with democrats on the committee are basically saying some of these amendments the senate is considering taking up could be poisoned pills. and in fact, mike lee, the latest republican sponsored in the senate, senator from utah come is voting against the amendment so to steve deigns to the republican from montana and those senators are supported by the underlying bill and they are afraid of the house potentially causing problems with it in that measure. so there is this coalition of senators to block the amendments from coming. >> host: you mentioned kentucky senator rand paul.
the main reason this has taken so long as he has been holding up any action on this. if he tries to delay further with strategy, what type x can he use? >> guest: what paul has left in its arsenal so to speak as he does have some debate time remaining allocated to him that he did not use so far appears so he had some time left to talk on the floor. he does and how the of bit flat. at that point in time you would be talking about motions to adjourn or motion to table rather sort of dilatory tactics. now i would note for viewers that when the senate has invoked closure without going too far into this but a filibuster has been broken there are procedural tools available to the presiding officer to curb the use of these potentially
dilatory tactics not available under most circumstances. senator paul's methods until they aren't limited in this case. but in even the so-called worst-case scenario if you are a supporter of the bill if all the debate time is exhausted this would still be able to be passed presumably by the end of the day on wednesday. >> host: will keep following you. we can watch for your report did not roll call.com. on twitter your handle is@tree into. --@tree into. thanks so much. >> the senate voted to move forward on the u.s.a. freedom act. when they return from their weekly lunches at 2:15 p.m. eastern time expect it to work on amendments to the measure. we'll take a look now at senator mitch mcconnell majority leader speaking before the cloture vote to place.
>> i wish we had been able to move the cloture and amendment votes considered today to yesterday. i made an offer to do so because it is hard to see the point in allowing yet another day to about this whenever one has already had a chance to say their piece. when the end game appeared obvious to all and when they need to move forward in a thoughtful but expeditious manner seemed perfectly clear. but this is the senate and members are entitled to different views and members have tools to assert those fears. it is the nature of the body where we work. it is important to remember that it's not just the denial of consent that has brought us to where we are. the kind of short-term extension that would've provided the senate with the time and space it needed to advance bipartisan compromise legislation through regular order was also blocked in a floor vote.
but what has happened has happened and we are where we are. now is the time to put all of that in the past and work together to diligently make some discrete and sensible improvements to the house bill. before scrapping an effective system that has helped protect us from attack in favor of an untried one we should at least work toward securing some modest degree of assurance that if the new system can in fact actually work. the obama administration also already told us they would not be able to make any firm guarantees in that regard that it would work. at least that is the way the bill currently reads. the way the bill currently reads, there is also no requirement for the retention and availability of significant data or announcements. these are not small problems. the legislation we are
considering or poses major changes to some of our nation's most fundamental and necessary counterterrorism tools. that is why the revelations from the administration shocked many senators including a lot of supporters of the legislation. it is simply astounding the very government officials charged with implementing the bill would tell us in person and in writing that if it turns out the new system doesn't work they will just come back to us and let us know. if it doesn't work they'll just let us know. this is worrying for many reasons, not the least of which we don't want to find out the system doesn't work in a far more tragic way. that is why we need to do what we can today to ensure the legislation as strong as it can be under the circumstances. here are the amendments i hope every senator will join me in supporting today.
one that would allow more time for the construction and testing of a system that does not yet exist. one amendment would allow for more time for the construction and testing of a system that doesn't yet exist. another amendment would ensure the director of national intelligence is charged with at least at least reviewing and certifying the readiness of the system. another would require simple notification of telephone providers, the entities charged with holding data under the bill he liked to change their data retention policies. let me remind you one provider has already set expressly and in writing that we did not commit to holding the data for any period of time under the house passed bill unless compelled by law. said this amendment represents the least we can do to ensure we will know especially in an emergency whether the dots we need to connect have been wiped
away. we will also consider an amendment that would address concerns we have heard from the non-partisan and an assertive office of the u.s. court. in other words the last time federal judges who actually served on the fisa court. in a recent letter they wrote the proposed amicus privation could impede the fisa court's role in protecting civil liberties of america end quote. i would ask a full text of that letter be inserted into the record. >> without objection. >> at the conclusion of my remarks. madam president the bottom line is this. the basic fixes are common sense. anyone who wants to see the vision under this bill work will want to support them and anyone who has heard the administration say we'll get back to you if there's a problem promised should support these modest safeguards as well.
we may have been delayed getting to the point of what ways -- at which we have arrived. let's work seriously and expeditiously to that the best legislation possible and prevent any more delay and uncertainty. >> mr. president, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on our country on 9/11 2001 terrorist attacks that killed some 3000 people. i offered legislation along with former senator joe lieberman of connecticut to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 commission to reform and restructure the intelligence community to improve its capabilities and also to increase accountability and
oversight. mr. president, this blog is different and distinct from the patriot act. our law and establish the office of the director of national intelligence to coordinate all of the agencies involved in intelligence gathering so that we would reduce the possibility of the dots not being connected to allow terrorist attacks and plots to be detected and thwarted. our legislation also created the national counterterrorism tear which has to synthesize the information across government and share it with state and local government to help keep us safer. our bill created the privacy and civil liberties board and it
installed privacy officers in the major intelligence agency. but our law permit the intelligence reform and terrorism protection act shares the common goal of the patriot act of better protecting our nation from terrorist attacks because mr. president, none of us who have lived through that terrible day ever wanted to see americans die again because our nations fail to use the tools and capabilities that it had to prevent terrorist attacks. we have had terrorist attacks since that time. the boston marathon is an old of a terrorist attack that occurred despite our best efforts.
but we have been able to form and uncover and detect and stop terrorist attacks both here and abroad due to the important tools and capabilities that our government has. mr. president, like the presiding officer, i serve on the senate select committee on intelligence. i have sat through countless hours of briefings. i asked the hard questions about our intelligence program. i have challenged those who have come before s. i want to explain how the current program works at nsa because i believe there is so much misinformation about the
important program. one of the most egregious misinformation that have been made is that the nsa is listening to the content of calls made by american citizens to other american citizens. that is simply not true. let me tell you how this pro-program works. first of all it starts with a call of phone numbers from a foreign terrorist, and thwarted terrorist. when we get that for you and terrorist who is based overseas telephone number the nsa is
allowed to query a database to see if that foreign-based terrorist is calling someone in our country. why is that important? well we note that i said and other terrorist groups has been recruiting americans and trying to train them to attack our country. that is why it is important. only 34 highly trained federal employees are allowed to query that database. and even then, they are allowed to do so only if a federal judge finds that the standard has been reached to allow that query to be made. and even if that query is
approved by the federal judge, the analyst can only see the phone number is called by the terrorist the day and time and duration of the call. if there is a match, the case is turned over to the fbi for further investigation and the fbi must get a court order to wiretap the phone of the american who is talking to that foreign terrorists. last month during the senate appropriations committee hearing, i asked the attorney general whether or not or had ever been in a privacy violations regarding the telephone data. she replied no. mr. president i am truly
perplexed that anyone would argue that telephone data are better protected in the hands of 1400 telecom companies and 160 wireless carriers than in a secure nsa database that only 34 carefully baghdad and trained federal employees are allowed to query under the supervision of a federal judge. under the u.s.a. freedom act the house bill when we get this telephone number of an overseas terror arrest, we potentially are going to have to go to each one of those 1400 telecom companies, 160 wireless carriers
which potentially will impact thousands of people. the privacy implications are far greater if we have the telecom control of the data. far greater. moreover, we know that privacy or data is far more susceptible to hackers to criminals. look at all the breaches on sensitive data that have occurred during the past year alone. plus i simply don't think that this is sam will work with data data retention requirement not that most carers have flat rate telephone plans that don't require detailed calls data records. the telecom companies have made area clear that they will oppose
any bill with the data retention requirement and there will be a race to the bottom to market the data in a way that says to people, sign up at five in your data will be safe from the government. that kind of demagoguery even though the commerce committee has done an excellent study that shows that the telecom companies sell our personal data, including our names phone numbers addresses to the highest bidder for telemarketing and other purpose says and some of the data ends up in the hands of con artists. so mr. president, i don't see how vesting the authority in the telecom communications company
increases the privacy of our data safeguards that. i think just the opposite is the case. it's going to be less secure because it is going to be more exposed to hackers and criminals who will attempt to do data breaches and have successfully done so. it is going to be less secure because 34 people having access to just the phone numbers and call duration data we are going to have potentially thousands of people who are going to be asked to query their database. ms vista is going to be less effect to because there is absolutely no guarantee that this data will be retained by the telecom companies and the wireless carriers.
finally mr. president, i am persuaded by the cautions given to last by the direct warnings of former director of the fbi robert mueller and the farmer deputy director of the cia mike morale, who tell us that had this program been in place prior to 9/11 and, it is likely that the terrorist plot would have been uncovered and thwarted. the fact is that the house bill substantially weakened a vital tool in our counterterrorism efforts at a time when the terrorist threat has never been higher. the current program has never
been abused. the government can not listen to your phone calls or read your e-mails unless there is a court order because you are dramatically communicating with an overseas terrorist and then it goes to the fbi for investigation. it is a false choice do we have to choose between our civil liberties and keeping our country safe. there are actions we can and should take to strengthen the privacy protection in the nsa program. several were included in the bipartisan bill reported by the intelligence committee last year. unfortunately, the u.s.a.
freedom act provides a false sense of privacy at the expense of our national security. for these reasons, while i support the amendment today to make modest improvements in the house bill, i simply cannot support the bill on final passage. mr. president, i yield the floor. >> mr. president. the next senator from utah. >> ask unanimous than men to speak for additional seven minutes divided between senator leahy and myself. >> is there objection? without objection. >> mr. president i think the senator from utah for his
courtesy. you know the fact of the matter is the u.s.a. freedom act was passed overwhelmingly in the house of representatives, has strong bipartisan support here is supported by the head of intelligence for the united states. it is supported by our attorney general. it is supported by our intelligence people. it is a step forward because ultimately we protect the privacy of individuals. i agree with the senator from maine that we have strong support or strong restrictions in the information and we are not strong of course to stop edward snowden from walking off
with the information that was there. the retail u.s.a. freedom act was introduced by senator leahy myself, senator jim sensenbrenner and the other body. we all knew that section 215 the roving wiretap authority of lone wolf provision would expire june 1st. that is why we started working for changes. where also well aware the second court of appeals to be part of the program. i think what we have done in the bill carefully crafted by both republicans and democrats in the house and senate passed 338-88 in the house. if we start amending it, we don't know how much longer it's going to take that we end up
with no protections. that is not a choice we want to take. i would put my statement in the record if i may. >> without objection. >> i yield to the senator from utah. >> mr. president i want to thank my friend and colleague, the senior senator from vermont for his tireless work on this issue. senator leahy and i allow a senator heinrich and so many others to participate in this process have worked together to develop a legislative strategy that is both bicameral and bipartisan. this legislation that we were about to vote on today was passed with an overwhelming supermajority in the the house of representatives. 330 votes to 88 does. this is a testament to the fact that in so many instances there is more that unites us than divides us. in today's political environment. this is an example of the type
of win-win situation we can develop. this bill protects american national security and it does so in a way that is respectful of the privacy interests and that the letter and spirit of the fourth amendment. the american people understand intuitively that it is none of the governments business who they are calling who called them how long the calls blast. the american people intuitively understand the graduate researchers have confirmed, this type of calling data even the data is self not anything having to do with recorded conversations. just the data which feels a lot about an individual and political preferences reviews marital status, number of children the person may have. all kinds of ventures that are none of the governments business. with the data is collected
moreover is inconsistent with the way the government is supposed to operate. rather than demonstrating between the data set requested in a particular investigation under the current system the government simply issues orders say you send us all of your data. send us all of your data on all calls made by all of your customers. we want all of it. if that is 300 million phone numbers, we want all of that regardless of the connection to any suspect a terrorist operation. this is wrong. our bill would change that don't ever change it quite simply by requiring the government to request information connected to a particular phone number that is itself suspected of being involved in some type of terrorist activity. this bill represents a good compromise. this bill represents reason. this would protect american national security while also protecting privacy. this bill in so doing recognizes privacy is not it has not ever
deemed to be in conflict with our security. our privacy is in fact part of our security. we all unfortunately considering the bill with too little time left. in fact, we consider this bill after the patriot act -- provisions that expire. it represents a long-standing bipartisan problem within the senate. a problem pursuant to which we establish cliffs. we establish artificially designed deadlines. we've known about this particular deadline for four years. we knew these were going to expire. we should have taken these provisions up far before now. many of us tried and did so unsuccessfully. senator legg he and i and others have been working on the legislation for years. we have been ready, willing eager and anxious to do so and we haven't been able to do so until very recently.
because of the fact the provisions have now expired, it is incumbent to move these things forward in all deliver speed. whatever the outcome of this vote mr. president and those those that will follow later today whatever the outcome the american people deserve better than this. vital national security programs that touch and our fundamental civil liberties deserve a full open honest and unrushed debate. you should not be subject to cynical government by brinksmanship. if members of congress, particularly republican members of congress ever want to improve their standing among the american people then we must abandon this habit of political gamesmanship. .. representatives, this bill that carefully balances important interests that the american people care deeply about. i urge my colleagues to support
this legislation. mr. cornyn: thank you madam president. madam president, the senate will have a series of votes this afternoon on the underlyg on the underlying bill. i think it's important for all of us to understand exactly what those amendments will do. and treachery i will ask for order. >> senators, the senate will be in order. >> so the underlying house bill
makes some changes in the way that the national security agency operates and uses what the supreme court of the united states has held is not private information. in other words the time duration and number involved in a telephone call that's contained are a typical telephone bill the supreme court of the united states has said there is no right of privacy in that information. and instead of drug you as soon as thomas in order. >> the senate will be in order. please take your conversations out of the chamber. the majority whip. >> and as of the senate knows what the house bill does is it leaves these phone records in the possession of the telephone company and then over a period
of six months the national security agency is supposed to come up with the means of querying those records in the possession of a various phone companies. some like me and wondered why it is we are trying to fix a system that is not broken because there's absolutely no documented record of any abuse of this information as it is currently retained by the nsa. and indeed, the way it's used is to help the intelligence community discovered people who have communicated with known or suspected terrorists abroad in a way that will help provide an additional piece of data that will hopefully help them prevent terrorist attacks from occurring on our home soil. the fbi director has said in the 56 field offices in the united states every single one of these field offices has an open
inquiry with regard to potential homegrown terrorist attacks. and, indeed as mentioned before in garland, texas, just a few weeks ago two men traveled from phoenix, arizona, and outgained full body armor and automatic weapons and were prepared to wreak havoc and murder innocent people in garland, texas, because they were exercising first amendment rights and displaying cartoons which these two jihadists felt insulted the prophet muhammed. well, thanks to the good police work of a garland police officer both of those people were taken out of action before they could kill anybody there at that site. but why in the world would we want to take away from our intelligence authorities the ability to detect whether individuals like these two jihadists from phoenix who
travel to garland had been communicating with known terrorist telephone number in syria or anywhere else in the world? but these are foreign telephone numbers are that are matched up and provide an essential link, and really a tripwire for the intelligence community. what the amendments that we will vote on this afternoon would you would be to slow the transition from nsa storage to the telephone company stewardship from the six-month prescribed in the underlying bill. and for those who believe that the underlying bill is the correct policy i don't know why they would object to a little bit of extra touches so we can make sure that this is going to work as intended. and indeed, the second amendment does relate specifically to that. it would require a certification by the director of national intelligence that the software is actually in place that will allow the national security agency to query the phone
records in the possession of the telephone companies your. another amendment would provide that the foreign intelligence surveillance court which is a group of federal judges experienced federal judges, who refuse a request from the fbi and other law enforcement authorities to be able to query these telepathy records. it would establish a panel of experts so to speak, to argue against the government's case in front of the foreign intelligence surveillance court. this is as to what he is to be a judge for some time this is a rather strange provision because what it essentially puts the defense attorney in the grand jury room and creates an adversarial process at the early stages of an investigation which may or may not lead up to an indictment in that case. final and then it would require
phone companies to notify congress if they're going to change their policy for retaining customer records. this is a serious concern because it could well be that some telephone companies will start marketing to potential customers that we will not retain any records, thus eliminating an important tool which helps keep americans safe and has absolutely zero threat to civil liberties. there has been so much misrepresentation about what this so-called metadata program has done. i think that's one of the reasons we find ourselves here today. many, many who believe the program is useful are reluctant to even talk about it in public because as we know, so much of what is done to protect our country is classified. and so rather than have a public
debate and actually correct the misstatements of fact and the demagoguery that unfortunately attendance at the subject, many people are simply confused about what exactly is going on and what congress is doing. but i would just point out that oversight of these programs is absolutely rigorous. its executive, judicial and legislative oversight. it's not a matter of trust as to whether these programs work as the way they're supposed to. it's actually verified on a regular basis, on a universally verified and you have to go before these federal judges known as the fisa court the foreign intelligence surveillance court, in order to make your choice. lsu can make your case to these judges that there is reason to continue -- and less -- continue, they will shut it
down. one of the things i think that's, that we have forgotten is we want to treat intelligence gathering and prevention like ordinary law enforcement. what i mean by that is this. ordinarily in the criminal law context government doesn't get involved in a case unless something that has already happened, if there's been an explosion or a murder or a bank robbery or something like that. it is done after the fact to try to figure out what happened, and if you can to identify the perpetrator and to bring them to justice. and that satisfies an important need in our society to enforce our criminal law. but that's far different than what our intelligence community is supposed to be doing. because they are supposed to be detecting threats and intervening in those ongoing schemes and stopping them before
they ultimately poker. and that's the important lesson we learned on 9/11 -- ultimately occur. unfortunately it's been so long ago now many people have simply forgotten or they don't feel like this is an amendment threat but i believe one director comey says they have opened inquiries in all 56 fbi field offices about the potential threat of homegrown terrorists i take that very very seriously. and i believe it is absolutely reckless for us to take any unnecessary chances. there are some who say this underlying bill is important because instead of the national security agency collecting these telephone numbers, we're going to leave these with the telephone companies. but none of the people are going to be querying these records at the phone companies have security clearances. you can just imagine the potential for abuse at the phone companies of the phone records
once they receive some sort of request from the government. we know that the current system as one of the national security agency is subject to rigorous oversight as i mentioned, in addition to executive, judicial and ask this degree of oversight boards which make sure to strike the right balance. no one wants to see privacy rights of american citizens undermined. but we all are adult enough to know that there has to be a balance that in order to provide for security and avoid terrorist attacks like occurred on nine 9/11, we are going to have to do some things to reach the right balance and i believe the current law does not. unfortunately, you have a traitor like edward snowden who leaked selectively certain portions of this program and has created an uproar. and i think unfortunately, as a result of these leaks and the
ensuing political environment after that america is at greater risk. and that is a terrible shame your so i think it's reckless to take a chance. we've been fortunate that there have been no terrorist attacks on our homeland since 9/11. well, i take that back. five years ago you would nation and all who saw him at fort hood kill 13 people, and injured 30 something more. and, of course we know now that he had been in constant mutation over the internet with anwar awlaki who subsequently was killed in a drone strike even though he was an american citizen overseas because he was recruiting people to islamic extremism, putting nidal hasan who killed 13 people at fort hood five years ago. but it's simply a fact that the fourth amendment of the united
states constitution involving searches and seizures doesn't apply to foreign terrorists. it applies to americans and under the procedures used under the current law all requests for additional information are subject to federal court supervision and permission. so madam president, we will vote on a number of amendments this afternoon, and i could have been talking to a number of our colleagues, many of them have said we don't really have any disagreement over the content or the policy of these amendments. and actually these commitments are designed to try to strengthen the underlying house bill. we all understand that the house is going to prevail and the basic structure of the underlying piece of legislation. but since when did the united states senate outsourced its decision-making to the other body across the capital? we have a bicameral legislature the senate and house for a
reason. and we know that we make better decisions when we have consultation between the two branches of the legislature. not capitulation, but consultation. and the senate should not be a rubber stamp for the house, or vice versa. now, i've heard some of our colleagues say if the senate were to change a period or a or a dash in the underlying legislation it would be a poison pill. the house would reject it and we would have nothing to show for our efforts. but i have great faith that if the united states senate will do its job and vote to pass these underlying amendments and strengthen this underlying bill that the house will take up the bill and vote on it. and that it will pass. and so for my colleagues who feel it is in them as actual strength of the underlying house bill and represent the policy why in the world with a vote
against these amendments because of some fantasy that the house will simply reject any changes at all? and it would essentially capitulate any other prerogatives as a united states senator to represent their constituents in his body. we all know that we make better decisions in consultation with other people and certainly i think it's true the house bill is not something we have to accept in its entirety without any changes. and i think the policy debate should go would be to embrace these commitments to say yes, we understand the house wants to change the current custody policy of these phone records and leave them with the phone company, but we surely do know that the new system will actually work.
i mean doesn't that just makes sense? that's why the certification from the director of national intelligence is so important. and provide a little bit more time from six months to a year in order to make sure this transition goes smoothly. madam president i know no member of the senate and no member of the house, not american wants to look back on our hasty treatment of this underlying legislation and say if we were just a little more careful, if we had just taken a little bit more time, if we had just been a little more thoughtful, a little more deliberative and talk about the facts as they are and not some misrepresentation of the facts, we could have actually prevented a terrorist attack on our home soil. unfortunately i increasing the risk to the american people, as i believe this underlying legislation will do we may not find out about that until it's
too late. i hope and pray that is not the case. but why should we take the risk to the homeland? why should we risk anyone being injured, or potentially killed as result of a homegrown terrorist attack on our home soil? because we have simply blinded ourselves in a significant way to the risk. not that this is a panacea, not that this assembly is fast but it is one essential piece of information that will help law enforcement make the case not to prosecute, not just to prosecute crimes after they occur to prevent them from occurring in the first place. through the good sound just of constitutional, intelligence gathering in a way that respects the privacy of all americans but lives up to our first and foremost responsibility, and that is to keep the american
people safe. madam president, i yield the floor. >> madam president, i do not yield the floor quite yet. i would ask unanimous consent to have to lie seven unanimous consent request for committees to meet during today's session of the center is a been approved by majority-minority leader. i would ask unanimous consent is these be a pretend to be put in the record. >> is there objection speak with there's no objection. >> without objection. >> thank you, madam president. i gladly yield to the distinguished ranking member. >> thank you. madam president speak with a snort from vermont. >> madam president, nobody disputes come and we all want to keep america safe. we agree on that. we also though want to make sure we keep americans free and get our constitutional freedoms are protected. none of us would think it would
make it safer effort to try to pass a law that said law enforcement than anybody else could walk into our homes any kind of wanted to go to any files we have, follow was anywhere they wanted just on a whim. we would be totally opposed to that. but some would say that in the aftermath of 9/11 some of the aspects of the patriot act we did just that. congressman armey who is the republican leader majority leader of the house at the time, a very conservative republican he and i join together at the consultation to put into the patriot act sunset provisions which requires us to have a
debate we are having right now. talk about consultation, and the fact of the matter is there had been hours and days and weeks and months of consultation between the house and the senate on the u.s. a freedom act. we had a bill before us last year that was filibustered -- usa freedom act, 58 votes. that was done in consultation with the house. the majority leader of the house has already said as republican leader warned the senate not move ahead with planned changes to the house bill because it could bring real challenges in getting the bill passed through the house again. the fact of the matter is we have had so much consultation senator lee, myself, republicans and democrats, have met
continuously for months without republicans and house democrats to get the bill that is before us. now that is probably why it passed by such a lopsided margin in the house of representatives. now my distinguished friend from texas needs minor changes to actually they are not. one would weaken the fisa court amicus authority. we know that for years the fisa court secretly misinterpreted section 215. as a result after the program leak the fisa court finally heard the governments argument. before that only heard the government. once it became public challenges were brought in the
second circuit last month ruled unanimously the program was unlawful. having amicus in there is not having the defense attorney and the grand jury at all. amicus can be invited by the court to step in. this could be a relatively rare case, completely in the discretion of the court. it's hard to talk about weakening that further especially when you're talking about a secret court. i opposed the amendment of the current bulk collection program in place for a full year. we have 180 day transition period and the director of the nsa said quote, we are aware of
no technical or security reason why this cannot be tested and brought online within the 180 day period. well the -- i think it is a director probably is as knowledgeable about the subject as anybody in this chamber, he said we can go forward with it. i think all these amendments we have talked about what simply delay passing an excellent piece of legislation. one that's been worked on by republicans and democrats for months and months, some would say years. let's go with it. we hear about stopping terrorism attacks. we all want to do that, but i
remember some of the statements made by former nsa director stopped 22 or 54 i forget the number now terrorist attacks, but having to actually talk about that, came out that i was important after the fact in one case. i -- we also know that 9/11 could have been avoided. the evidence wasn't there. the information wasn't there. the dots have been connected. i heard everyone frantically taking the information that we had to record is held at after 9/11 saying, we've got to get iraqi translator what's in these things. we know that in minnesota the
fbi's warning that people are taking flight lessons and there's no really good reason was ignored. basically told we know better. i remember a day or so after the attack at the fbi headquarters were people calling in with information from different -- some would write it down. handed to someone else and rewrite it. we handed it to someone else to put in the fall. charter planes to bring photographs are beautiful places and say maybe, so our offices can see. i said well why don't we just why don't we just e-mail the photographs to them? we don't have the ability to do that. i said, my 11 year-old neighbor can do it for you if that would help. the fact of the matter is we had the information.
it didn't make us safer anyone that we became a safer when we voted $233 trillion to go into effect because the vice president and others were saying they are about to attack us with nuclear weapons and they were involved with 9/11 spin with a minority member yield? i think the ranking member made a number of very important points here. the fact of the matter is we are now here because the majority leader wasn't able to defeat surveillance reform. so instead he has chosen to introduce amendments designed to water it down to i'm disappointed by the. i will oppose all of these amendments. and i want to have a colloquy briefly with the ranking minority member because the ranking minority member and our colleague from connecticut senator blumenthal have done
very good reform work with respect to the fisa court. and in particular what the distinguished senator from vermont has done with the help of the senator from connecticut is to bring some very important sunshine and transparency to the court and as my two colleagues have pointed out on the judiciary committee, they pointed out that you really need on the major questions, not all of them as the snort from are not -- the senator from vermont has said but you need a picture both sides get a chance to be heard. not just the government side. so what troubled me at i'm interested in my colleague from vermont's reaction, adam want to praise him and my colleague from connecticut is it seems to me what the senate majority leader wants to do is basically take us back to the days of secret law. and what's important as we get
into this issue, particularly this amendment is there is a difference between secret operations and secret law. operations always have to be kept secret. i see my friend chairman bert come here. we serve on accounts committee together. the two of us feel so strongly about making sure secret operations are kept secret because otherwise americans are going to die. we can't have secret operations laid all over hither and yon in the public square. but the law always ought to be public. and as senator leahy has pointed out for some time and a board about here on the floor what we would see is if you live in connecticut or vermont, you read the patriot act, talked about
collecting information relevant to an investigation. nobody thought that meant millions and millions of records on law-abiding people. that decision was made in secret. it was made without the reforms advocated by the senator from connecticut and the senator from vermont. i would be interested in my colleague from vermont's reaction to the majority leader's amendment to scale back your very constructive reforms on the fisa court. and my sense is what the majority leader's approach would do is take us back to the days of secret law. i think it would be a mistake and i would be curious about the reaction of my colleague to this. >> i would say to my friend from oregon, the american people want to know what the laws are.
they want to know what the courts are doing. secret operation of course you have had briefings on those. i've had briefings on those. i've been in places i won't name here but in places overseas where i was there in the operations center, operations were taking place and being briefed on what they did, why they got information what they're going to do next. and, of course, none of that you want to be reading in the press or seen in real time. but i also know that when we are dealing with americans and with their lives and their sense of privacy, we have to protect -- we have very simple changes in the fisa court provides the fisa court with the authority to designate individuals who have security clearances to be able
to serve annika's or friend of the court. and it -- amicus. only rare cases involving a novel or send significant issue of law and the decision was left entirely up to the court. that's about as narrowly drawn as you can. but i think we have to have this ability what the court is doing because we know for years, the fisa court secretly misinterpreted section 215 to allow for the dragnet collection of americans phone records. and i just happy to yield to the senator from connecticut who has worked so hard on this. as a former attorney general of his own state but you know, my own experience in getting search warrants for phone records or
anything else come as a prosecutor i realized the complexity of what we have today but i realize you had to follow law. and ultimately that protects us more than anything else. i do not want this administration or any other administration to have the ability to just go anywhere they want. and i'm not encouraged by those who say this is so carefully maintained. we were given earlier just a phone number of people, who can affect access to star i guess it's one less set edward snowden walked out the door with all of it this 28 year old subcontractor. so anyway could i yield to the
senator from connecticut if you'd like to speak on the subject? the senator from oregon has been such a strong and passionate believer on this, and i know from what i hear from people in my state and when i'm down in his state people want us to be safe but also want their privacy protected. >> madammr. president? >> the senator from connecticut. >> i am grateful to follow a distinct colleague from vermont and to emphasize some the points he just made, but first let me thank senator wyden for his leadership and his courage on this issue of the foreign intelligence surveillance reform. he has helped to lead this effort long before i was in the united states and in favor of more transparency and accountability.
those are among the over arching objectives here. and my colleague from vermont who shares with me about ground as a prosecutor it makes the point that ward and other means of surveillance -- warrants when prosecutors seeking are soft ultimately from judges. and i want to speak to some of the myths and misconceptions here back in danger this key reform. our colleague from texas whom i greatly respect has argued that the fisa court is like a grand jury. in fact, he has said that an amicus should not be appointed in effect to intervene with abadi that is like a grand jury.
well the fourth intelligence surveillance court is not a grand jury as my colleague from oregon has said very well here. the fisa court makes law. it interprets the law in ways that are binding as legal precedents. far from being like a grand jury as a purely investigative tool of the court. the foreign intelligence surveillance court is a court. in fact, it is composed of article iii judges who do as they do on their own district court for appellate court judges to interpret the law and thereby in effect make law. to keep the law secret is a disservice to the american people and our legal system. to have only one side represented skews and in effect heeded the operations of the court because we know that
judges make better decisions when they hear both sides, and rights are better protected. even so the fisa court needs hear from the amicus and only when it chooses to do so ultimately. it has the discretion under the statute as it exists now to decide to appoint an amicus in any particular matter. it is required to appoint an amicus a novel or significant cases, and less come and the word unless it's in the statute it issues a funny that the appointment is not appropriate. they can make that finding whenever it wishes to do so. so the discretion is for the fisa court in whether to hear from an amicus, even under the
bill that the u.s.a. freedom i is now -- usa freedom act is deputy to permit the amicus -- relevant to the matter before the court. not just constitutional rights and that leads to the second misinterpretation, if i may say so, in the remarks made by my colleague from texas. the bill does not direct an amicus to oppose intelligence activity, or to oppose the governments of you or position -- governments of you. in factyou. in fact, it is too unlike the court, in some instances it may impose a government. but it is as part of that process of constructively arriving at the correct legal interpretation, not as a kind of
knee-jerk reaction to oppose the government. again, i stress novel or significant issues in the discretion of the court may be addressed by the amicus. what the enemy does is to deprive the amicus or expert panel of the access it needs to facts and law to be the best that it can be in interpreting and arguing and protecting rights. it in effect bars access to past presidents of the court, to briefings from intelligence experts to facts that may be known to the department of justice or intelligence agencies. that hampering and hobbling of the amicus in no way serves the cause of justice. it in no way serves the cause of
intelligence, intelligence activities. in fact, it undermines that activity. and it undermines confidence in the court. this court has operated in secret. it has heard arguments in secret. it issued opinions in secret. it's the kind of course that our founders would have found against their vision of democracy and freedom. we may need such a court now to authorize surveillance activities that must be kept secret. but we need to strike a balance that protects terri precious constitutional rights and liberties. after all what does our surveillance and intelligence system protect, if not these fundamental values and rights of
privacy and liberties that have lasted and served us well because we respected them? and more than the physical structure that we seek to protect through this system it's those values and rights that are fundamentally paramount and important it. so this fisa court reform goes to the core of the changes constructive changes that we seek to make and i hope that my colleagues will defeat amendment 1451 along with all the other amendments, because the practical effect of the administrative for the delayed implementation of the usa freedom act at a time when our country may be at risk from the expiration of the patriot act. we cannot afford for this country -- >> with my colleague yield for a question on the points because i
would be happy to yield. >> because i think again my colleague from connecticut has spoken to what the stakes are here. for the last decade intelligence officials have been relying on secret interpretations of their authorities that have been very different from a plain reading of public law. the public has seen the consequences of that and they are angry because the american people know that we can have policies that promote the security and liberty. and i would just like to ask the question of my colleague with respect to what the applications would be upholding our the good work that you and senator leahy have done with respect to having more transparency and both sides making the case on key questions with request to the fisa court. and i would like to note that the majority leader's second
amendment delays implementations of other important reforms that you all have dealt with. for example one question that i was asked about at a town hall meeting just this past weekend is people were concerned, what we do to protect our nation when there was an emergency? and you all in your good work have an effect said that she would strengthen the language -- that you would strengthen the language to make sure that when there was an emergency, government officials already can issue an emergency authorization to get the business records they need and seek court approval, and you all strengthened that. college in the judiciary committee said we're going to provide another measure of security for the american people. in other words we're going to protect their liberty and we are going to strengthen their
security. and it looked to me like the combination of the majority leaders to amendments scaling back the reforms, the transformed -- transparence reforms in the fisa court and delaying the strengthening of emergency authorities that can protect the american people without jeopardizing their liberty would really rollback the kind of reforms the american people want. i would be interested in my colleagues reaction to that. >> and i'm happy for that important question from my colleague from oregon. in fact, the admin would not only scale back and rollback of protections to the american people in the event of urgent situations they would also
undermine the confidence and trust of the american people in this system to protect the homeland. delaying these kinds of reforms undermines the goal of protecting our national security as well as preserving our fundamental constitutional right. delay is an enemy here are uncertainty is an adversary, and we always do the american people not only to restore the trust and confidence and sustain the face of the american people in the intelligence agencies, but to make it more transparent where it can be made so without compromising and increasing accountability. that's what the fisa court reform seek to do. that's why the director of the national intelligence, as well as the attorney general, the privacy and civil liberties oversight board, the president's review group at least two
former fisa court judges, the civil rights advocates and representatives many the most informed and able in our intelligence community all support these reforms. the director of national intelligence and the attorney general set in 2014 quote, the appointment of an amicus in selected cases as appropriate need not interfere with important aspects of the fisa process, including the process of ex parte consultation between the court and the government. exported indication -- ex parte mitigation in effect secret consultation. and continue to go forward under this bill. the amendment would not alter that fact. the amendment simply makes -- >> earlier the senate voted to move forward with the
usa freedom act 83-14. we will take you back now expected resume debate on amendments to the measure. senator inhofe speaking a moment ago. a chaps to talk about this and the seriousness of what now is before us. we are finally to this point. i look at this seriousness of this and i listen to a lot of people standing on the floor and saying things that sound popular, to people back home and i've heard from some of the people in my state of oklahoma that says, you know, they talk about the privacy problems and all these things that might be existing. then i always think about my 20 kids and grandkids and thinking that they're the ones who are at stake. this world that we have right now is, mr. president, so much more of a dangerous world than it's ever been before. i look back wistfully at the good old days of the cold war where we had a couple of superpowers, we knew they had mutually assured destruction
really meant something at that time. now we have crazy people with capabilities, people in countries that have the ability to use weapons of mass destruction. and so we right after 9/11 formed the n.s.a., we've been talking about that here and it's not perfect but it has -- i just think it's important at this last moment to point out the fact that a lot of lives have been told down here. i think one person, two or three different ones talking about -- making the statement that since the n.s.a. procedure was set up after 9/11, that it has not stopped one attack on america. i'd like to suggest to you that a good friend of mine and of the claire's, general alexander a very knowledgeable person and ran that program for a while he said and this is way back two years ago in 19 -- 2013. he said -- quote -- "information gathered from these programs provided government with critical leads to prevent over
50 potential terrorist events in more than 20 countries around the world. and that the phone database played a role in stopping ten terrorists acts since the 9/11 attacks." i was real pleased to hear from my good friend senator sessions a brand-new poll that came out of the field shows almost two-thirds of the people in america want to go back and give back those tools we took away two days ago to the n.s.a. and so now we have a situation where we can talk about a few of these, these cases where major attacks on this country were stopped by the process that we put in place after 9/11. one was in 2009 when the planned attack, it was that glue zazi, he was going to bomb the new york city subway system, the plan was for him and high school
friends to conduct suicide bombings detonating bombs on subway trains near new york's busiest subway stations grand central station and times square. and zazi -- the deputy director said that the n.s.a. intercepted an email from the suspected terrorists in pakistan, communicating with someone in the united states about perfecting a recipe for explosives. now, on september 9 of 2009, afghan-american zazi drove his home in aurora, colorado to new york city after he emailed ahmed, that was his al qaeda facilitator in pakistan that -- quote -- "the marriage is ready" -- unquote. that's a code that means we're ready now to drop -- to perform our task. the f.b.i. followed zazi to new york and broke up the plan of
attack and they stated it was because of the email that was intercepted by the n.s.a. that allowed them to do that. now, how big of a deal is that? people don't stop and think about the fact that if you look at the new york city subway stations down there, we know that the average ridership of the new york city subway during peak hours averages just under 900,000 people. that's 900,000 people, americans who are living in new york city. now, what we do know is that when they came down from -- to new york, performed their -- formed their plan at the grand central station and times square, it was the n.s.a. using the very tools that we took away from them two days ago and you wonder now how many lives would have been lost if there are 900,000 ready to do this at two stations we're talking about 100,000 lives, 100,000
americans being buried alive and that was precluded by the tools that were used by the n.s.a. that we took away from them just two days ago. and many more have not been declassified. general michael hayden and general keith alexander are former directors of n.s.a. and others have confirmed to me personally that at least one of the three terrorist attacks on 9/11 could have been avoided and perhaps all three could have been avoided if we had had the tools that we gave the n.s.a. right after 9/11 and also the attack on the u.s.s. cole could have been prevented entirely. you got to stop and think it's a dangerous thing to stand on the floor and say we've formed this thing in this dangerous world and they haven't stopped any attacks on america and that's what we're faced with today. i voted against the program that the house passed that is going to be considered in just a few
minutes, and i felt that it is better to leave it as we had it. now that's gone and i look at it this way i do support the amendments that are come up commission i do think we'll have the last opportunity we will have to be able to -- will be the program that we'll be voting on in just a few minutes. so let's think about this, take a deep breath, go ahead and pass something so we'll have at least some capability to stop these attacks and to gather information from those who would perpetrate these attacks. and then have time to put together a program that will be very workable and make some changes if necessary. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota.
mr. franken: mr. president thank you. i rise today to urge prompt passage of the house-passed u.s.a. freedom act of 2015 and urge opposition to the amendments offered by the majority leader. those amendments are unnecessary , they would weaken the bill in unacceptable ways and they would only serve to prolong and deepen the uncertainty around the reform and continuation of important national security authorities. the house-passed u.s.a. freedom act is measured, compromise legislation that is the result of lengthy negotiations, it brings much-needed reforms to some of our surveillance authorities, ensuring that we safeguard america's -- americans' rights while increasing the government's accountability. i'm proud to have worked with senator dean heller of nevada to
craft the bill's transparency provisions which draw support from privacy advocates the business community and national security experts. the u.s.a. freedom act works to end bulk collection that those programs that our intelligence community have told us are not necessary. at the same time, the bill makes sure that our national security agencies have legal tools that are necessary to protect our nation. put simply, the u.s.a. freedom act of 2015 strikes a balance that we need, making sure that our government can keep our nation safe without trampling on our citizens' fundamental privacy rights. of course, the public can't know if we are succeeding in striking that balance if they don't have access to even the
most basic information about our major surveillance programs, and that's why my focus has been on the legislation's transparency provisions. under the provisions that i wrote with senator heller, the american people will be better able to decide for themselves whether we are getting this right. for all these reasons the act has my strong support and i'm in good company. the house has passed it, the president is ready to sign it, we have the votes here to pass it so what are we waiting for? now, senator mcconnell has introduced several amendments, and here's the problem. they deviate from the house bill without improving the legislation. at best, the result of adopting these amendments would be further delay further negotiation, and a highly
uncertain outcome. now that we've allowed the national security authorities at issue to expire, we simply don't know how the house would proceed if we sent them back a modified bill. now, maybe that kind of risk and delay would be justified if these amendments improved the bill but they don't. i'd like to talk a little bit about why these amendments are both unnecessary and problematic the majority leader's main substitute amendment makes two additions to the bill. the first is a requirement that electronic communications service providers notify the government if they plan to shorten the length of time that they retain call detail records, records that the government may seek to query under the u.s.a. freedom act. now, the fact is based on our
country's telecom infrastructure and the way it's set up, the government only goes to a handful of companies for call detail records and those companies have told us that they have business reasons for retaining records. and based on a long history of working with these companies under these authorities other authorities, attorney general and -- the attorney general and director of national intelligence has told us that the u.s.a. freedom act is fine as it is. there simply isn't a problem in need of a solution here, and look this is the kind of thing that we can revisit if in the future some change in circumstances means that data retention threatens to become a problem. it certainly doesn't need to
risk derailing the bill and its reforms now. the second change in the majority leader's substitute amendment is a certification requirement asking the director of national intelligence to certify to congress that the u.s.a. freedom act's transition from bulk collection of call detail records to a more targeted approach is operationally effective. to be clear this certification, whether issued or not in no way affects the effective date of the bill or the timeline for the transition. it has no statutory limitations. and it is wholly -- it is a wholly unnecessary deviation from the house-passed bill. you can bet that if there is a problem with the operational
effectiveness of the transition, you can bet that the director of national intelligence is going to let us know. and i would certainly hope and expect that we would all be ready to listen and work with him at that point. again, this is the kind of thing that should not risk derailing the bill now. the majority leader has offered other amendments that seek to weaken u.s.a. freedom -- the u.s.a. freedom act more directly. one amendment would lengthen the time before the bill with its various reforms goes into full effect. that would do nothing but unnecessarily extend bulk collection programs. n.s.a. has told us they can transition in six months as provided for in the bill as it stands. there's no justification for
expanding the timeline now. another amendment would render ineffective one of the safeguards for america's -- americans' privacy rights and civil liberties. it would weaken the role of outside nongovernment experts and participating in certain cases before the fisa court. that is an unacceptable change to a provision that has already been the subject of bipartisan negotiations and compromise. and that's really the thing to remember. this is a compromise bill. in writing our transparency provisions senator heller and i had to compromise a great deal. we didn't get everything we wanted when we initially negotiated these provisions last year and we had to compromise further still this year. i am disappointed that the bill
doesn't include all the requirements that were agreed to in our discussion with the intelligence community and that were included in the senate bill last congress. but that is the nature of bipartisan compromise and i recognize that right now we need to start by taking one big step in the right direction, and that is by passing the u.s.a. freddie mac act. -- freedom act. down the road we will have the opportunity to revisit these issues as needed. for my part, i am committed to pushing my colleagues to revisit the transparency provisions. we still have work to do, particularly with regard to section 702 which has to do with the collection of communications of foreigners abroad. but again right now it is clear what needs to happen in this chamber. we need to pass the house-passed u.s.a. freedom act without
further amendment. if we do that, we can get these authorities back up and running. that's exactly what we should do and i thank the president. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i want to thank the senator from minnesota for his words. you know, the press and everybody else does not see is the hundreds of hours of negotiations democrats and republicans, senators and members of the house of representatives working on this. the senator from minnesota is one of those who's worked very, very hard to get us to the point where we are. it has not been -- it has not been easy. nobody got everything they wanted.
i thinki didn't get everything i wanted. senator lee the co-sporks -- senator lee the cosponsor didn't get everything he wanted. but because of the work of people like the senator from minnesota, it is a far better piece of legislation. that's probably why this passed overwhelmingly in the other body with republicans and democrats agreeing on it. in fact, i guess why we have to reject any amendments -- could i have -- could we have order mr. president? the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. leahy: mr. president, we have to reject these amendments, and we have to really cleanly pass the house-passed u.s.a. freedom act. again, i cannot emphasize to senators how much time has gone into this by key republicans and key democrats in the house key republicans, key democrats in
the senate. we have worked behind the scenes days weeks months to get here. if we cleanly pass the house-passed u.s.a. freedom act it is the only way to avoid prolonging the uncertainty that the intelligence community now faces because of a lapse in the three authorities this past sunday. now, i think both senator lee and i would degree the lapse in authorities was -- would agree the lapse in authorities was avoidable. the intelligence community puti understand any change in this bill, as i understand it, the distinguished senior senator from california has stated and others any change in the bill will force it back to the house and there's absolutely no
guarantee the house would accept the senate's changes pansdz a new bill. in fact, the house republican majority leader said this morning that it would be a challenge to pass any bill that came back to them with changes. the republican chairman of the house judiciary committee put it more bluntly. he warned that any amendments would likely make the sunsets permanent. so keep that in mind. we pass some amendments that some of us think are major. but by passing them, all those who say they want to give the tools to the intelligence community, they're making the sunsets permanent if we pass these amendments. so i urge senators to oppose all the amendments that are being offered by the majority leader.
senator blumenthal, senator franken and others have spoken about the reasons to oppose the fisa court amicus amendment and the substitute amendment. i agree with them wholeheartedly and i thank them for their leadership on this. as i said earlier to others, senator blumenthal used his experience as former attorney general, former u.s. attorney to work on the amicus provision. and i urge senators to oppose the amendment which would leave the current bulk collection program in place for a full year. to extend the current bubble collection program for a full year it's unnecessary. but, beyond being unnecessary it creates significant legal uncertainties for the government. remember a federal appellate court has already ruled the program is unlawful and they've held provision assuming the
congress is going to change it but it's very obvious you read their opinion they mean the change within a relatively short time not a year. so the amendment to leave it in place for a full year is only going to invite further legal challenges. delaying the implementation of the tools the intelligence community has asked us to provide, including what's in this bill, a new authority to request business records under section 215. so mr. president i can't say enough about all the work we've put in for two years across the aisle and across the capitol. this is a bill that brings much-needed reform to the government surveillance authorities. but it also ensures the intelligence community has the tools to keep us safe. the u.s.a. freedom act is milestone legislation that will enact the most significant reforms to government surveillance powers since the u.s.a. patriot act.
i'm proud of the bipartisan and bicameral effort that led to this bill. today we can pass important surveillance reform legislation and then work to build on these reforms in coming years. so i'd urge senators to oppose all amendments. then vote to pass the u.s.a. freedom act just as the house passed it. we don't need to inject anymore uncertainty and delay in the process. none of these amendments are worth causing further delay. pass it. this will be signed into law tonight by the president. i see the distinguished majority leader on the floor so i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i know of no further debate on the bill. the presiding officer: is there further debate? if not the question occurs on the amendment number 1453. mr. mcconnell: i move to table amendment number 1452.
the presiding officer: question is on the motion. all those in favor say aye. opposed? the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the question occurs on amendment number 1451. mr. mcconnell: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
mr. mcconnell: could we have order in the senate? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president i ask unanimous consent that the cloture motion with respect to the motion to proceed to h.r. 1735 -- that's the defense bill -- with withdrawn. further that at 11:00 a.m. on wednesday, june 3, the senate proceed to the consideration of h.r. 1735 and it be in order for senator mccain to offer amendment number 1463, the text of which is identical to s. 1376 the armed services committee reported ndaa bill. finally, that the time until 2:30 be for debate only and equally divided between the bill managers or their designees. mr. reid: mr. president mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: reserving the right to object. mr. president, we're not the sort of minority party that
objects to virtually everything. we want to help move things forward. but i also want to be clear. we're not going to require a vote to move forward on the defense authorization bill, but everyone should be aware the president said he will veto this bill. it's got all this strange funding in it funding which my republican colleagues railed against on previous occasions and now they're using it. we have grave concerns about this bill. unless it's changed i repeat, the president will veto it, and i hope there is some significant changes in the bill while it's here on the floor so that we can help vote to get it off the floor. so based upon that, i do not object. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the question occurs on -- the question occurs on amendment 1450. the yeas and nays have been previously ordered. the clerk will call the roll.
the presiding officer: any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? on this vote, the yeas are 43. the nays are 56. the amendment is not adopted. mr. leahy: can we have order mr. president? mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senate will be in order. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president i ask unanimous consent that senator leahy be recognized for three minutes. and then i would say to my colleagues i'm going to use my leader time to make a final statement and then we'll be ready for the final vote. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i
thank the distinguished majority leader for his courtesy. i'll be very brief. we worked for two years across the aisle -- actually across the capitol. a senator: can we have order? the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: we worked for two years across the aisle and across the capitol. i don't know how many meetings senator lee and i and others have had. and now the senate is finally poised to pass the u.s.a. freedom act and send it to the president for his signature. it is much-needed reform for government surveillance authority. it will end the bulk collection of america's phone records. it will increase transparency. it will improve oversight. most importantly help restore america's privacy, all the while ensuring the intelligence community has what they need. i'm proud to have done this. i have fought to protect the privacy and constitutional rights of vermonters and all
americans. since 1975 i cast my first-ever vote as a senator to improve the establishment of the church committee. i'll continue to fight for america's privacy. i ask consent my full statement be made part of the record. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader of the senate. mr. mcconnell: i'm going to now proceed on my leader time. the presiding officer: without objection. the senate will be in order. the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president earlier this year i observed that president obama's national security policy has been noteworthy for its consistent objectives. he's been very consistent. drawing down our conventional and nuclear forces withdrawing from iraq and afghanistan ending the tools developed by the previous administration to
wage the war on terror, and placing a greater reliance upon international organizations and diplomacy. that's been the hallmark of the obama foreign policy. none of this is a surprise. the president ran in 2008 as the candidate who would end the wars in iraq and afghanistan and the war on terror. and our nation has a regrettable history of drawing down our forces and capabilities after each conflict only to find ourselves ill-prepared for the next great struggle. the book ends to the president's policies were the executive orders signed his very first week in office which included the declaration that guantanamo would be closed within a year, without any plan for what to do with its detainees and the executive orders that ended the
central intelligence agency's detention and interrogation program. now some of these detainees my colleagues, some of them are now in qatar preparing to rejoin the taliban. some are in uruguay camped out in a park across from the american embassy. and regrettably some are back on the battlefield in yemen afghanistan, and syria. other hallmarks of the obama foreign policy. and last year the president announced that all of our combat forces would be withdrawn from afghanistan by the end of his term in office whether or not -- whether or not -- the taliban were successful in capturing parts of afghanistan, whether or
not al qaeda's senior leadership had found a more permissive environment in the tribal areas in pakistan, and whether or not al qaeda has been completely driven from afghanistan. so i'll repeat the pattern is clear. the president has been a reluctant commander in chief. and between those two bookends, my colleagues, much has occurred that has undermined our national security. there was the failure to negotiate a status of forces agreement with iraq that would have allowed for a residual military force and prevented the assault by the islamic state of syria and the levant.
china is aggressively expanding its sphere of influence. there's a threat to veto funding for the troops. we just heard it from the minority leader, and their equipment without similar increases at the i.r.s. and the e.p.a. let me say that again. the president is threatening to veto a defense bill unless we increase the funding for the i.r.s. and e.p.a. this is going to diminish our military's ability to respond to the myriad threats that are facing us today. and we all know what they are. al qaeda and the arabian peninsula has doggedly pursued tactics and capabilities to circumvent all that we've done since september 11 2001, to defend our country.
so while the president has inflexibly clung to campaign promises made in 2008 the threat from al qaeda has metastasized around the world. isil which has broken from al qaeda, uses social media to communicate with americans and divert them to encrypted communications encourage travel to the would-be caliphate and encourage attacks right here at home. al qaeda and isil publish online magazines instructing individuals in terrorist tactics and in the long run the al-nusra front in syria may produce the greatest long-term threat the greatest long-term threat to our homeland. the president's efforts to dismantle our counterterrorism tools have not only been
inflexible, they are especially ill-timed. and so today the senate will vote on whether or not we should take one more tool away from those who defend this country every day. the ability of a trained analyst under exceedingly close supervision and only with the approval of the foreign intelligence surveillance court to query a data base of call data records based on reasonable arrest -- articulable suspicion. no content no names no listening to phone calls of law-abiding citizens. none of that is going on. we're talking about call data records. and these are the providers'
records, which is not what the fourth amendment speaks to. it speaks to the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects. but these records belong to the phone companies. let me remind the senate the standard for reasonable, articulable suspicion is that the terror suspect is associated with a -- quote -- "foreign terrorist organization" as determined by a court. nobody's civil liberties are being violated here. the president's campaign to destroy the tools used to prevent another terrorist attack has been aided by those seeking to prosecute officers in the intelligence community diminish
our military capabilities and despicably to leak and reveal classified information putting our nation further at risk. those who reveal the tactics sources and methods of our military and intelligence community give a play book -- a play book to isil and to al qaeda. as the associated press declared today, the end of section 215 program is a -- quote -- this is the headline in the a.p. today -- quote -- "a resounding victory for edward snowden." a resounding victory for edward snowden. it is also a resounding victory for those who currently plotted against our homeland. where was the defense of the national security agency from our president? our chairman of the intelligence committee and his committee colleagues have worked with determination to educate the senate concerning the legal
technical, and oversight safeguards currently in place. we hear concerns about public opinion. a cnn poll released today just today, a cnn poll -- not exactly part of the right-wing conspiracy -- states that 61% of americans, 61% of americans think that the expiring provisions of the patriot act including my colleagues, including data collection, should be renewed. so if there's widespread concern out across america about privacy, we're not picking it up. we're not reporting it to cnn. 61% of them said not concerned about my privacy. i'm concerned about my security. my view is that the determined effort to fulfill campaign
promises by the president back in 2008 reflects an inability to adapt to the current threat, what we have right now. an inflexible view of past political grievances, a policy that will leave the next president in a weaker position to combat isil. so mr. president, i cannot support passage of the so-called u.s.a. freedom act. it does not enhance the privacy protections of american citizens and it surely undermines american security by taking one more tool from our war fighters, in my view, at exactly the wrong time. mr. reid: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: my friend, the majority leader, he's concerned as he should be, about why the country's less secure, especially in the last couple of weeks. he should look in the mirror.
we have a situation where he's trying to divert attention from what has gone on here. it was as if there had been a big neon sign flashed saying you can't do highway reauthorization, you can't do fisa reauthorization and you can't do trade in four or five days. to do this right you should have spent some time on fisa and because of the mad rush to do trade that didn't happen. so today to try to divert attention from what i believe has been a mystical congratulation of the majority leader it's making this country less safe. every day that goes by, with the fisa bill not being reauthorized, is a bad day for our country. it makes us less safe. and to try to divert attention as he's tried to do here in the last few minutes blaming the obama administration for stopping torture the detention
centers, pulling troops out of iraq. i say my friend's looking in the wrong direction. so mr. president the issue before us is not to be -- and he is in effect criticizing the house of representatives for passing this fisa bill to reauthorize it in a way that's more meaningful to the american people and makes us more safe, more safe. it makes us so that people feel more secure about the intelligence operation that we have going on in this country. is he criticizing the speaker? for working hard to hit this bill -- to get this bill reauthorized in a fashion that the american people accept? because his criticism here today is not directed to people who voted here today. it's directed to the bipartisan efforts in the house of representatives who passed this bill overwhelmingly, 338 votes.
one of the few bipartisan things they've done over there and they did it for the security of this nation. so i don't think any of us, mr. president, need a lecture on why we are less secure today than we were a few days ago. so i would hope that everyone would vote to continue the surveillance opportunities -- surveillance possibilities that we have available if this law passed. if it doesn't pass, what are we going to do? it will go to the house of representatives. the majority leader of the house of representatives the distinguished house member from california ms. mccarthy, said they don't want anything from us they don't want this bill passed. goodlatte, the chairman of the judiciary committee that's what he said. and of course that's what the democratic leader says over there also. so mr. president let's vote, let's -- and a vote today to pass this bill will make our country safer immediately not a
week from now. that's how long it would take at the minimum if this bill was changed when it goes to the house -- i'm sorry if it doesn't go to the president directly and it should go directly from here to the president of the united states. he can sign this in a matter of hours and put us back on a more secure footing to protect ourselves from the bad guys around the world. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: as my good friend the majority leader, frequently reminded me over the last few years the majority leader always gets the last word. and look, his fundamental complaint is he doesn't get to schedule the senate anymore and he wanted to kill the president's trade bill, and so he didn't like the fact that we moved to the trade bill early enough before the opposition to it might become more severe. so i'd say to my good friend, the majority leader, you don't get to set the schedule anymore and my observations about the president's foreign policy are directly related to the vote
we're about to cast, and it remains my view -- i know there are differences of opinion and i respect everybody in here who has a different opinion -- that this bill is part of a pattern going back to the time that the president took office to pull back. i remember the speech in cairo back in 2009 to the muslim world, which sought to question the american exceptionalism. well we're all pretty much alike. if we just talk to each other more everything would be okay. and so in almost every measurable way all the places that i listed plus ukraine you name them, we have been pulling back. and so my view with regard to my position and my vote is that this is a step in the wrong
direction. but i respect the views of others and i suspect the majority leader will be happy at the end of the day it appears to me the votes are probably there to pass this bill and it will go to the president and i still think it's a step backward from where we are. it's been a great debate. i respect all of those who have engaged in it on both sides. i think it's time to vote. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for the third time. the clerk: calendar number 87, h.r. 2048, an act to reform the -- to inform the authorities of the federal government to require the production of certain business records and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: the question occurs on passage of h.r. 2048. is there a sufficient second? it appears there is. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
the presiding officer: any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? if not the ayes are 67, the nays are 32, the bill is passed. the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent
the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein up to 10 minutes each. further, at 5:00 p.m. senator rounds be recognized to deliver his maiden speech. the presiding officer: without objection.
the senator vermont. mr. leahy: it is my understanding we are now in morning business? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. leahy: i would just say about the bill we just passed, it's an historic moment. it's the first major overhaul of government surveillance laws in decades. it adds significant privacy protections for the american people. it's been a long and difficult road but i'm proud of what the u.s. congress has achieved today today. this is actually how democracy is supposed to work. congress is ending the bulk collection of americans' private phone records once and for all. and to my partners in the senate on both sides of aisle i thank you. senator lee whose name is on our bill here in the senate, believes so strongly in our constitutional system of government he's worked tirelessly to advance this bill from the day we first introduced
the u.s.a. freedom act in 2013. senator franken devoted himself to transparency measures in the bill. senator blumenthal shaped the fisa court amicus provisions. these were hard-fought. i name many other senators in here who stuck with us. i'll mention also, of course, senator feinstein who provided valuable support to get this bill across the finish line. i would ask consent -- and there are many others named here madam president but i'd ask unanimous consent that my full statement be made part of the record as though read. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: madam president seeing nobody else seeking recognition, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. whitehouse: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: madam president, is the senate in a quorum call? officer sphethe presiding officer: yes, it is. mr. whitehouse: may i ask unanimous consent that proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you madam president. today i'm here for the 101st time to urge this body to wake up to the threat of climate change. it's real, it's caused by carbon
pollution, and it's dangerous. there is a legislative answer to this problem that my republican colleagues should consider. that is a carbon fee. the unpleasant fact here in congress -- presently anyway -- is that congress is ruled by the lobbyists and the political enforcers for the fossil fuel industry. but outside this chamber where the foss fossil fuel industry's power is less fierce, there is considerable conservative support for a carbon fee. leading right-of-center economists conservative think
tanks, and former republican officials, both legislative and executive all say that putting a price on carbon pollution is the right way to deal with climate change. they know that climate denial cannot stand against the facts and, as "the washington post" reported last month prominent thinkers on the right are -- to quote "the washington post" -- "increasingly pushing for a climate policy based on conservative principles on values like property rights, market efficiency, and personal liberty." and they recommend pricing carbon. jerry taylor, a former vice president at the cato institute now leads his own libertarian think tank, which is making the case for a carbon fee.
he recognized that -- and i'll quote him -- "the scientific evidence became stronger and stronger over time." he knows climate denial is not an option. he says, and i'll quote him again, "because catastrophic climate change is a nondiversifiable risk, we should logically be willing to pay extra to avoid climate risks." taylor points out that hedging against terrible outcomes is what we expect in our financial markets. why should we not do the same for climate change? conservatives have also long agreed that government should prevent one group harming another. conservative economist milton friedman still tops the reading lists of republicans in congress
congress. republican presidential hopefuls still invoke his name to show their free market bonafides. asked about whether the government had any role to play in reducing pollution friedman said "there's always a case for the government to do something about it because there's always a case for the government, to some extent, when what two people affects a third party." friedman is describing what he called "neighbored itneighborhood effects" or what many economists call "negative externalities." what's a negative externality? when two parties engage in a transaction and the result of that transaction is damage to a third party a third party who did not consent to the arrangement, that is an
externality. and when the consequence is harmful, it is a negative externality. in a free society wrote friedman government exists in part to diminish those negative externalityies. when the costs of such negative externalities don't get factored into the price of a product even conservative economic doctrine classifies that as a subsidy. and for the polluters who traffic in and burn fossil fuels, that subsidy is huge. in a finding it describes as shocking the international monetary fund estimated the true costs of fossil fuel energy,
taking into account public health problems, climate change, and other negative externality externalities, and they added it up to a polluter world subsidy of $5.3 trillion a year. the subsidy here just in the united states for the fossil fuel industry will hit $699 billion -- billion with a "b" -- this year. no wonder the fossil fuel enforcers wield their clout in congress so energetically. at $700 billion a year just in the united states, why would the big polluters ever want not to
squeeze one more fiscal quarter one more year of public subsidy out of the rest of us? $700 billion a year. we usually talk about big numbers here in the senate over a ten-year period. that's the way our budget works. over a ten-year budget period, that's $7 trillion. no wonder they're so remorseless. from their point of view lunch is good when someone else is picking up the tab. and senate republicans have been far too willing to let the polluters dine for free. outside this chamber however conservative economists call such an enormous public subsidy a market failure. the price of fossil fuel energy does not match its true costs.
that market imbalance artificially favors polluting fuels and their producers picking winners and losers, if you will. a carbon fee can make the markets more efficient and level the playing field for different types of energy. anyone who really believes in a free market should favor a carbon fee. that's what makes it work. harvard professor n. gregory men minute could you has been an executive advisor to george w. bush and to presidential candidate mitt romney t he has pointed out that a carbon fee can help repair such a market failure. "the idea of using taxes to fix problems rather than merely raise government revenue has a
long history." in a 2013 "new york times" op-ed, former republican e.p.a. administrators bill ruckelshaus christine todd whitman lee thomas and william reilly wrote "a market-based approach like a carbon tax, would be the best path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions." a carbon fee can also generate significant revenue and this could help achieve conservative priorities like lowering taxes. art laffer, one of the architects of president reagan's economic plan, the popularizer of the famous laffer curve has looked at using a carbon tax to fund a payroll tax cut. he said, quote "i think that
would be very good for the economy." did you get that? arthur laffer, president reagan's economic advisor said that a carbon tax funding a payroll tax cut quote, "would be very good for the economy." and as an adjuncted he continues, why it would also reduce carbon emissions into the environment. it's a pretty simple idea. you can lessen the tax burden on things that you do want: employment jobs, profits and make up for the lost revenue by ending the subsidy of something you don't want: pollution. what's not to love unless you're a big polluter -- what's.
dr. erwin settle diser director of economic policy studies at the conservative hudson institute, said that "for a tax-swachg carbon fee conservative support would depend solely on a desire to get the economy growing faster by shifting the tax burden from good stuff like work to bad stuff like pollutants." madam president, the fundamental conservative faith in the free market points to a carbon fee a carbon fee priced at the true social cost of carbon would allow the market -- not the polluters, not the government -- to sort out which energy mix is best for society. on this question, republicans have a choice to make: are they real conservatives who will
support a free-market solution? or are they the play things of the fossil fuel industry who won't pick up this question at all? well, if you don't like picking winners and losers then quit favoring fossil fuels to the tune of $700 billion a year just in america and level the playing field with a good, conservative deficit-neutral carbon fee. level the playing field that's how george schultz sees it. george schultz was president nixon's treasury secretary and president reagan's secretary of secretary of state. he and nobel laureate economy gary s. becker made the case for a carbon fee in the "wall street journal".
quote -- "americans like to compete on a level playing field." they wrote. all the players should have an equal opportunity to win based on their competitive merits, not on some artificial imbalance that gives someone or some group a special advantage. that's why secretary schultz supports a price on carbon. as an addition, there is also a huge economic win that will result, according to knowledgeable conservatives. last year george w. bush's treasury secretary hank paulson said -- quote -- "a tax on carbon emissions will unleash a wave of innovation to develop technologies lower the costs of clean energy, and create jobs as we and other nations develop new energy products and
infrastructure." end quote. former republican congressman bob english has become a leading conservative voice in the fight against climate change, and he specifically supports using a carbon fee even introduced legislation when he was in congress to price carbon and cut payroll taxes. the laffer combination. last year he told the "dallas morning news" that this would create economic opportunity. he said -- and i quote him -- "we are discovering in climate science that there is a risk that we can avoid from the creative innovation that comes from free enterprise. we have a danger and an opportunity. as a conservative, i say what a great opportunity to create wealth innovate and sell innovation around the world."
end quote. by the way representative engliss's dedication to this issue earned him the john f. kennedy profile in courage award, and i offer him my sincere congratulations. it does indeed take courage to come out from behind the veil of skepticism and denial to face the plain truth and to propose real concrete solutions. that is especially true when the fossil fuel industry wields such relentless remorseless power over the republican party today. president obama's clean power plant is at last putting an end to the free lunch for the fossil fuel industry. this ought to motivate the industry to rethink its inequitable subsidy-ridden business model.
which is more efficient anyway? government regulation or proper market pricing? as american enterprise institute scholars kevin hasset, steven hayward and kevin green put it -- quote -- "because a carbon tax would cause carbon emissions to be reduced efficiently across the entire market, other measures that are less efficient and sometimes even perverse in their impacts could be eliminated as regulations impose significant costs and distort markets the potential to displace a fairly broad swath of environmental regulations with a carbon tax offers benefits beyond greenhouse gas reductions i.e. economic benefits. republicans in congress have a real chance to help remake the u.s. energy market under conservative free-market
principles. as far back as 1992, madam president, former chairman of president reagan's council of economic advisors martin feldstein wrote this in the "wall street journal," "although a general carbon fuel tax is moot for the moment, the idea will not go away. if carbon dioxide are to be reduced further in the u.s., such a tax will achieve the goal with less economic waste than new bureaucratic hurdles. " why don't today's republicans abide by this conservative principle? as douglas holtz-eakin c.b.o. director under the prior republican congress and economic advisor to our friend senator mccain's presidential bid wrote in "the national review," -- quote -- "in the bad old days democrats bad mouthed trading systems and price
mechanisms. republicans opposed rifle-shot subsidies and mandates. weirdly, conservatives have a need to relearn these lessons." well the carbon fee is right in line with douglas holtz-eakin's lesson to be learned. madam president, on june 10, i will introduce my carbon fee proposal at an event hosted by the american enterprise institute. i hope that once my colleagues see the details, they will take seriously the promise of a free-market solution to climate change. for any senator who wants to engage on this issue i'm interested. i'll gladly work with any republican colleague. what we can't do is stay in denial. for both our environment and our
economy and indeed our honor we can't afford to keep sleepwalking. madam president, it's time to wake up. the presiding officer: you have used over ten minutes. mr. whitehouse: i yield the floor. the presiding officer: thank you. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. a senator: madam president i rise today to speak on h.r. 2048 the u.s.a. freedom act. mr. toomey: and i want to put it in some context and discuss why i voted the way i did today. but first a little background. it's been now more than a decade since al qaeda launched deadly attacks on u.s. soil that we all remember so well, killing 2,977 people in new york city; in
washington d.c.; and just outside of shanksville pennsylvania. injured about 2,700 more and took away far too many parents children wives husbands, families and friends. and as we gather here today we face other grave threats as well. and one of the most grave threats is the threat of islamic state or isis. secretary of defense hagel described it this way. he said isis is -- quote -- "beyond anything we've seen and constitutes, quote an imminent threat to every interest we have." end quote. we know this is a brutal group. they behead people. they crucify people. they p burn people alive. they systematically sell young girls into slavery. they control large regions in the middle east now. and they've got their sights set on attacking the united states.
and we know that there are radicalizeed isis sympathizerrers -- sympathizers and adher'nt here in the united states and many are eager to carry out this group's destructive ambitions right here in our own country. and we know that isis has the resources to carry out attacks on our homeland. al qaeda spent about $500,000 -- that's what it cost them to plan and execute the entire attack on the world trade center and the pentagon. isis has amassed a $2 billion fortune, 4,000 times as much money as al qaeda spent on september 11. and isis collects something on the order of an additional $1 million to $2 million every day through the variety of means it has because of the land that it
controls. this is a very, very serious threat madam president. and like any other threat, we have an obligation to protect the american people from this to the extent that we can. and in the process we've got an obligation to strike an appropriate balance between the national security that we owe our constituents -- the american people -- and the robust civil liberties that we ought to protect because they are enshrined in our constitution and important to our country. in my view, madam president section 215 the controversial part of the u.s.a. patriot act appropriately struck that balance. and the best policy we could have pursued this week would have been to reauthorize section 215 in pretty much the form that it's been in. if we had done so, we would have been repeating what we had done many many times before, by overwhelming bipartisan majorities, i think seven
previous times: in 2005, 2006, 2009 2010, and 2011, congress reauthorized the u.s.a. patriot act, including section 215. and congress did that because there's nothing radical about section 215 or the patriot act. this what became a very controversial section recently simply gave our national security officials the same kind of ability to access documents reports and other tangible items when investigating a potential international terrorist attack that a grand jury has and has long had when investigating ordinary criminal events like a car theft r. and it's important to note what section 215 did not authorize. it did not authorize the n.s.a. to conduct wiretaps or listen in on any phone conversations. and that has never happened.
despite that, there's been rampant misinformation about the telephone meta information that was under section 215. so i want to discuss that, madam president. i think one of the most important things to stress here is that this metadata program contained only information that a third party had. it wasn't private information that an individual possessed. it was third party information held by a telephone company. and what was that information? that the phone companies have always had? it's a phone number. it's a date and time of a call. it's the duration of a call. and it's the number being called. that's it. that's the sum total of all of the information in this so-called metadata program. and because that's all the information, it was completely anonymous. not only did it not include any
contents of any conversation that wasn't possible. conversations have never been recorded so the contents have never been captured. but it also did not contain any identifying information with the phone numbers. there's no names no addresses no financial information. there is no information that would in any way identify anybody with any particular number. so what did the government do with the metadata that it had received? well it stored it all in a big data base. i had a big spread sheet with all these numbers. and that's all it was, is a lot of numbers. then when the government discovered a phone number from a known terrorist when a group of special ops american forces took down a terrorist group somewhere and grabbed a cell phone then the government could conduct a search of the metadata. but first a federal judge would have to give permission.
and after running the search to determine whether in that metadata there had been phone calls between the known terrorist and numbers in that data base, even after doing the search the government still had no information identifying the phone number because that's not in the data base. and of course as i said before certainly there was no con the president because content had never been recorded. but a link might be established and if it were to be established, if federal investigators discovered that the known terrorist was in regular phone communication, for instance, with someone in the united states, then that fact could be turned over to the f.b.i. and the f.b.i. could conduct an investigation. which might be a very useful investigation to have. well we have had a number of officials who told us how important this program has been, the intelligence value.
we have got president obama himself. he explained that had section 215 metadata program been in place prior to 9/11, the government might have been able to prevent the attack. remember we learned afterwards about our inability to connect the dots. this was a program that was designed to enable us to connect those dots. and even the critics of this program, of which as we know, there are many, the critics have never suggested that this program was in any way abused, that any individual person had their rights violated, that there was any breach. that case has never been made, not that i've heard. and given the value of the program that we've heard from multiple sources and the complete absence of any record of any abuse of the program in my view, congress should have reauthorized this program including section 215. but instead we have passed an
alternative, and that's the u.s.a. freedom act. madam president, i voted against this measure today because i'm concerned that the u.s.a. freedom act does not provide us with the tools that we need at a time when the risks have been as great as ever. and let me just mention some of these. first of all under the u.s.a. freedom act it's entirely possible that the government may not be able to continue any metadata program at all. and i say that ball the bill explicitly forbids the government from maintaining the database that we have been maintaining, and instead the bill assumes that private phone companies will retain the data and then the government will be able to access that data as needed, but there's a problem with this assumption, madam president. the problem is the bill doesn't require the phone companies to preserve any of this data. under the u.s.a. freedom act the phone company could destroy the metadata instantaneously
after a phone call occurs. they have a regulatory obligation to keep billing information, but a lot of bills are unlimited calls with a single monthly charge. they have no statutory or regulatory requirement to retain the records of these calls. and as currently practiced i'm not aware of any phone companies that retain this data for the five years that our intelligence officials believe is the necessary time frame to provide the security that they would like to provide. there was another problem, it seems to me, with the u.s.a. freedom act and that is it's entirely possible that the time period contemplated for establishing the software that will enable the government to query the many different private phone company databases that that time frame won't be long enough. we don't know whether it's going to be long enough. we'll just find out i suppose when the time comes but this is
a complex exercise that has to be carried out in real time and the u.s.a. freedom act simply creates a deadline, doesn't ensure that we'll have this in place. a second concern that i have is that the u.s.a. freedom act weakens other intelligence-gathering tools that are just unrelated to any of the metadata programs which have gotten most of the attention, so the u.s.a. freedom act gives intelligence officials officials -- the presiding officer: there is an order to recognize the senator from south dakota. mr. toomey: well, i would ask for unanimous consent for 30 seconds to wrap up, madam president. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. toomey: madam president, i will just conclude by saying that we have -- we are at at least as great a risk as we have ever been, and the first priority of the federal government of the united states is to protect the people of the united states. i am deeply concerned that the
u.s.a. freedom act diminishes an important tool for providing for this security, and i hope that in the coming months, we can address this bill and try to correct the many flaws that it has. and with that, i yield the floor. mr. rounds: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. rounds: thank you madam president. i rise today for the first time speaking in this chamber to discuss the future of our great nation how truly fortunate we are to live in the greatest country in the world. we are protected by the best military that has ever existed and that in turn allows us to live freely here at home, to focus on our god-given rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. in my home state of south dakota, we cherish these rights. we have the opportunity to make our dreams come true because we have these rights and because we
have a commonsense value system to guide us. when i was elected i promised to bring south dakota common sense to washington and to work to solve problems for the good of every south dakotan and every american but unfortunately madam president, when i travel back home, i continue to hear from my fellow south dakotans about the federal government infringing on these rights and values. you see our great nation has been bogged down in recent years with what i believe is one of the greatest hindrances to job growth and economic productivity, and that is the overregulation of our citizens. madam president, overregulation is not a democrat or a republican issue. it's an issue that affects every single one of us. but i believe it's a challenge that we can solve through cooperation and perseverance. it doesn't matter if you're talking about a doctor, a small business owner a farmer or a
rancher. overregulation has affected every single sector of our society. the regulatory burden on this country is nearly $2 trillion annually. $2 trillion. and this is in addition -- this is in addition to the tax burden already placed on our american citizens. that regulatory burden is larger than canada's entire economy. in fact, the cost to comply with federal regulations is larger than the entire g.d.p. of all but only eight other countries in the entire world. even more staggering, just a few years ago we surpassed one million federal regulations in america. one million federal regulations. regulations are stifling economic growth and innovation and hurting the future of this country by crushing the can-do
american spirit that founded our nation settled the west, won two world wars and put a man on the moon. and every year, more than 3,500 new federal regulations are added. this just does not make sense and it certainly is not south dakota common sense. what alarms me is not only the volume of regulations being thrust upon our citizens but also the process for creating them. the purpose of congress is to be the voice of the people when making laws. unfortunately, the voice of the people in the rule-making process has been cut out and replaced by unelected government bureaucrats who think they know better than the farmer or the scientist or the entrepreneur. our founders recognized the need for making laws, granting the power to create laws to congress
and only congress. they meant that process to be difficult so that our government would not overburden its citizens and restrict their freedom, freedom that those founding fathers had just fought so hard to obtain. through congress, every citizen should have a voice. but unfortunately madam president, that is not what is happening today. our founding fathers created three branches of government with checks and balances for each one. they could never have imagined that we would have a regulatory process in place today where unelected bureaucrats would both write and have the final approval of the rules and regulations under which our people must live. this regulatory regime which is responsible for the 3,500 new rules each year has essentially
become a fourth branch of government and a de facto legislative body. the problem is exacerbated because these bureaucrats in washington have this misperception that they know how to run our lives better than we do. while working as a business owner, a state legislator, as a governor and now a united states senator, i've seen just how detrimental this washington-knows-best mentality is on the daily lives of south dakotans and americans. many of my friends on both sides of the aisle have come to the senate floor in recent weeks and months with some great ideas and legislation to limit or stop or repeal or remove some of the worst regulations currently on the books. i applaud them for these efforts, many of which i also support, and i look forward to working with the senior senator from south dakota, my friend,
john thune as well as anyone who is willing to work with me to remove these burdens that are stunting american greatness and well bring a little south dakota common sense back to our regulatory environment. the regulatory system in america has run amok. too often madam president burdensome costly and intrusive regulations are crafted by bureaucrats at the highest level of government, behind closed doors, with little input from everyday americans who disproportionately feel the effects of these one-size-fits-all policies. it is regulation without representation and it is wrong. the american people are being squeezed out their voice falling on deaf ears in washington. small businesses which drive our economy and create the majority of jobs in america are especially hurt by overregulation because they, too, have to hire lawyers and
employees to comply with these rules. this takes away capital that could be used to hire new production employees and expand their businesses. people in my home state of south dakota feel victimized by their own federal government. it is keeping crops from getting to market and it's keeping businesses from growing. the idea that unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats should be allowed to make sweeping rules and regulations with no recourse should be a concern to every american, regardless of political affiliation because it impacts everyone. no party has a lock on the american dream and american innovation doesn't have a party affiliation. from the stack of paperwork required to process a bank loan to the regulatory price of putting food on the table, the cost of federal regulations are ultimately passed down to each
and every american. without excessive regulation, imagine how much more money american families could have in their pockets to spend on what they want instead of what the government wants. if we cut our red tape, families can stop having to cut their budgets. the regulatory regime is a dark cloud over our entire economy. madam president, i'm not saying that there isn't a place for rules in our society. there are. rules are meant to keep us safe and to promote the greater good, and i do believe that there are some good rules and regulations which are on the books today. the problem i have is with the bad rules that good -- that keep good people from going about their daily lives. unfortunately, there are too many of these bad rules that are hindering our freedoms and stifling our growth. these are the regulations which
we should have a process in place to reexamine. so -- to re-examine. so today madam president i come to the floor to discuss bipartisan legislation which we have already introduced to permanently end regulation without representation. it takes a giant leap forward in restoring the people's role in the rule-making process. after all, if the american people don't like the laws that we make, they can vote us out. but they have no such power with unelected bureaucrats. they are stuck. you see madam president the bipartisan legislation that we have introduced, senate concurrent resolution 17, would create a joint select committee on regulatory reform whose purpose includes reviewing regulations currently on the books and proposing a new rules review process that includes the elected representatives of the
american people. it's rooted in south dakota common sense and the principles that have made this country great, making government work for americans rather than against them. madam president, this committee would make several recommendations to congress to rebalance this broken regulatory scheme. first, the committee would be tasked with exploring options for congress to review regulations written by agencies before they are enacted providing much-needed oversight through the possibility of a permanent joint rules review committee. this would be tasked with reviewing rules with a cost of $50 million or more. this permanent joint rules review committee would have the ability to delay the imposition of these rules for not more than a year from the time the agency submits the rule for review to enable congress to act on the rule if they don't care for the
rule. second the committee would examine an option for agencies to submit each regulation with a $50 million impact or more to the appropriate committees of congress for review before the rule is enacted. and finally the joint select committee could recommend ways to reduce the financial burden regulations place on the economy as well as sunsetting onerous and outdated ones. this committee would not be a permanent one but it would be bipartisan bicameral and hold meaningful hearings so a permanent solution to our overregulation problem can be properly addressed. this legislation also offers a starting point for the committee by requiring certain possible solutions to our regulatory problem to be considered. i firmly believe that regulations should be reviewed by elected officials those who
are accountable to the american people through the democratic process. this is not a new concept. it is not rocket science. it is a common practice at the state level. in fact, 41 of the 50 states, including my home state of south dakota have a rules review process to make sure that the executive branch is faithfully executing the laws that they seek to implement. it is worth repeating that regulations are estimated to cost $1.88 trillion annually in the united states. and that is above and beyond the tax burden which our citizens already share. madam president, just under $5 billion every single day and it just doesn't make sense. it's unfair to those who still believe in our working to achieve the american dream.
whether americans are seeking to buy a car take out a mortgage on a house start a business, or see the doctor, regulations obstruct them. when i think of those who sacrificed everything so that our children and grandchildren could create their own version of the american dream, i think about the freedoms and liberties they fought so bravely to defend they fought so that we could pursue life, liberty, and happiness, and trust that our government would not hinder these lifelong endeavors. it is not washington that will continue to make this country great, but rather, the collective spirit of individual americans who want to work hard to be successful for their families and their communities.
but they need the heavy hand of government to be lifted. here in washington it is not our job to dictate how americans run their lives but to allow them to achieve their dreams, not make them into nightmares. the term "washington is broken" is far too common. it seems as though whenever we go home there is someone who suggests that washington is broken. we hear it regularly. they use it to describe the current state of our federal government. washington is now used in a derogatory manner. this city, the capital of our nation, named after our very
first commander in chief the man who led us to victory in the revolutionary war and birthed this great nation, has become over time the same as a four-letter word. remember, george washington left the presidency voluntarily after two terms in office. he wanted to get away from the monarch style of government in which rulers held their positions for life. and now this city that bears his name is full of lifelong bureaucrats and even worse they are unaccountable to the people. it is a far cry from the republic our founders envisioned. madam president, in the year 2026 our country will celebrate its 250th birthday.
that is just over a decade away. when we get to that point i hope to join my fellow americans in looking back with great pride in all that we have accomplished and all that we have to pass on to future generations. president kennedy challenged our nation to put a man on the moon before the decade of the 1960's had passed. less than ten years. i'm not asking us to do anything as tough as putting a man back on the moon. but i think we should commit ourselves to removing the barrier of government regulations that is weighing on the american spirit and again set free the american economy before the decade preceding our 250th birthday. i have not just introduced legislation to start a new committee that exists in name and does no deed.
americans want us and expect us to be up to this challenge. and i believe that we can. we can lift the heavy hand of government. the founding fathers did not anticipate thousands of regulators and a million regulations when they created this country. it's time to end this regulation without representation and restore lawmaking process to the people. i thank my friends on both sides of the aisle who have cosponsored restore and encourage the rest of my colleagues to sign on to this commonsense approach to addressing the issue of overregulation so we can work to make this country even greater and safer than we found it. then during our 250th birthday celebration, we can be proud that we restored a little
south dakota and american common sense for our children and their children. thank you madam president. i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: madam president, let me say to our new colleague from south dakota how much all of us enjoyed his first major speech and also congratulate him on focusing on what i think is the single biggest problem confronting our country creating the slow growth rate that we've had throughout the obama presidency. so the senator from south dakota has focused on the biggest drag on our economy the single biggest thing holding this country back from reaching its potential. so i would say to my friend from south dakota you picked the perfect subject and you've laid out a good solution to it,
and i hope lots of colleagues on both sides of the aisle will rally around this excellent proposal as a good way forward to deal with the single biggest domestic problem we have retarding the future growth of our country. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: madam president i too, want to congratulate my colleague from south dakota, senator rounds, because he has already been a great leader on this subject as a successful two-term governor, a leader in our state legislature, he was a practical commonsense down-to-earth governor who just liked to get things done. and i think coming here to washington, d.c. and finding the massive bureaucracy and in some cases dysfunction that surrounds this city, it's very disillusioning i think at times for people across the country and i think the new senator from south dakota is going to be a
new voice a clear voice on solutions how to break through that. and he will, he'll be a great partner and someone that i look forward to continuing to work with we work together a lot during his time as governor and in the state legislature but delighted that he's here in the united states senate where he can take the skills and the experience and just the passion he has to bring about positive change for our country and put it to work on behalf of the people of south dakota and the people of our country. and i look forward to working with him on the very issue he talked about today because there's probably nothing right now that has a greater economic impact, creates more economic harm for the people that we represent in south dakota than regulatory overreach evidenced on almost daily basis as new regulations emanate from various agencies across this town that make it more difficult for people to create jobs, for difficult for farmers and
ranchers and small business people to do the things that they do best, and creates a higher burden, higher level of harm for people across the state because everything that comes out of washington, d.c. that drives up the cost of doing business in this country gets passed on to the consumers in our state and all across the country. so i congratulate the senator from south dakota on his remarks and am grateful for his great service to our state in so many ways already and now adding to that here as a member of the united states senate where we have big problems, big challenges but he meets that with not only big enthusiasm, but big experience when it comes to knocking down these barriers and making it more possible for people in this country to live more prosperous lives safer lives, and hopefully more fulfilled lives when they can get government out of the way and allow their greatest
aspirations to surface and so i hope we have the opportunity to do -- to deal with a lot of those issues and do it in a way that creates greater prosperity for the people across south dakota and across this country. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: let me just observe here with all he said and what his goals are, the senator from south dakota sure chose the right committee. the committee that i chair the environment and public works committee. that's what we talk about. that's what we do. i had the honor of being in south dakota before the election as i walked around in south dakota, looked around and i thought i could just as well be in oklahoma. up there i talked to the farm bureau people you up there they said it's -- it's a farm state, oklahoma is a farm state. we understand that. the problems they have, they say the e.p.a. overregulations are the greatest problem. single one out endangered
species, another one, the waters of the united states, the waters of the united states currently we're doing legislation and it's legislation that's going to get that burden off of the people from south dakota and oklahoma and right now, right now we're considering the most expensive of all the regulations that's the ozone regulations. it would constitute the greatest single increase in spendures or taxes of anything in the history of this country. so it's nice to know that we have someone who is so committed to the goals of this committee to be singling this out in a maiden speech as the greatest concern. and so i appreciate that as the chairman of that committee and we're going to do wonderful things together for south dakota oklahoma, and america. thank you madam president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
vacate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: i would ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for up to 15 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: mr. president this afternoon i would like to call attention to the severe drought and wildfires that are already burning in my home state of oregon and across the west. earlier today the energy and natural resources committee on which i serve held a hearing on drought. there's no question that communities in many of our western states are experiencing very uncertain times. our farmers are concerned about water for their crops. outdoorsmen and business owners fear low reservoir and river levels are going to ruin the summer season. conservationists worry about a lack of cold water for fish habitats.
drought and fire are a dangerous combination and create a trend continuing this year. fire seasons have gotten drier the fires have gotten hotter, and they have become far more expensive to fight. and severe drought is now compounding the crisis. we ought to make no mistake about what's going on in the west. the west is now bone dry and the tragic fact is, that's the new normal for oregon farmers and ranchers. water is an increasingly scarce and precious resource. right now every last square mile of oregon is experiencing abnormally dry conditions. almost 70% of my state is under
severe drought. 15 of oregon's 36 counties have declared drought emergencies or have been declared a drought emergency by the governor. the unusually warm winter in my home state meant record-low snowpack which devastates summertime runoff that is so important to oregon's water supply. drought raises enormous issues for communities and state and federal agencies. they've got to find ways to cope while using less water. authorities feel that they're in a position -- or forced into a position to have to make seemingly impossible choices about where to dedicate increasingly scarce resources. and all -- all of these rural communities have to face
challenges that are heightened by drought and particularly the threat of wildfires. drought conditions mean that western forests and grasslands are especially likely to go up in flames. it means that more acres will burn more people and more structures will be at risk, and more funds are going to be needed to put the fires out. fire season this year has started earlier than normal. in fact, mr. president i received a fire briefing at home this march. that's the earliest i've had a fire briefing in all my time in the congress, and it certainly bodes badly for the extra costs that we are likely to see. i recently got a letter from the
forest service of the estimate of anticipated wildfire suppression costs for fiscal year 2015. the middle-of-the-road estimate for how much it will cost to fight wildfires is nearly $1.25 billion. on the high end -- on the high end, it could cost $1.6 billion. the funding however that's been dedicated to fighting fires does not come close -- not close -- to covering those costs. the appropriated amount is $2 million less than even the most conservative median forecast. wishful thinking in the budget is not going to be very useful in putting the fires out. fighting fires costs money and it can't be punted into the future like some minor budget
line-item. once again then, we're looking at the prospect of the forest service having to raid other accounts in order to put out the blazes. according to forest service in 2013 $40 million was essentially stolen from the national forest fund which would pay for the stewardship and management of the 193 million acres of national forest and grasslands. and $30 million was stolen from the account that funds the disposal of brush and other debris from timber operations. this brush and debris is essentially fuel for future fires. now, those figures represent the stark reality that the broken funding system in place is shortchanging the resources needed for sensibly fighting
wildfires. the cycle of stealing money from prevention accounts to pay for suppression of forest fires just repeats itself again and again and again without end and it will continue, mr. president until this funding problem is finally fixed. now, senator crapo our colleague from idaho and i have been working on a bipartisan basis to fix this flawed policy for quite some time now. he and i introduced the wildfire disaster funding act to end this damaging cycle which i have described and which in the west we call fire buroughing. our bill would raise the federal disaster cap to allow the agencies to treat wildfire fighting efforts like other
natural disasters because wildfires are natural disasters destructive and costly, no different than hurricanes and floods and tornadoes. when our governmental agencies are forced to borrow from other accounts to fight fires that have been bankrupted these accounts for fire suppression they rob from the funds that are needed to reduce hazardous feels in the forest which leads to even more choked and overstocked forests ripe for future fires. what happens mr. president, is the prevention funds the funds for thinning and cleaning out all that debris, they get shorted. so then you might have a lightning strike or something in our part of the world. you've got an inferno on your hands, and the government in effect borrows from the prevention fund to put the fire
out, and the problem just gets worse and worse and worse. and it is that problem that senator crapo and i are trying to fix. on a bipartisan basis we seek to give the agencies the tools they need to support the courageous firefighters on the ground, men and women who put their lives at risk to ensure that americans their homes and communities are protected from destructive wildfires. i know there are other members of the senate who are very interested in solving the fire borrowing problem. i encourage all those members to work with me and senator crapo and our staff to find a solution that is acceptable to the congress and can be passed soon. this is an urgent matter, mr. president. this is not something that you can sort of let go and offer the
amendment to the amendment to the amendment the kind of thing that happens here and it kind of gets shunted off for years on end. this is urgent business because the west has got to be in a position to clear these hazardous fuels and get out and front of these increasingly dangerous and ominous fires. we've got to end -- we've got to end this cycle of catastrophic wildfires in the west. it is long past time for action here. and i urge colleagues to join senator crapo and i to work with us and our staff so that this body moves and moves quickly to fix this problem. there's an awful lot of uncertainty, mr. president when it comes to calculating the federal budget. but what we know for sure -- for sure -- is that this problem of wildfires in the west is getting
increasingly serious. the fires are bigger, the fires are hotter, they last longer. and it's time to budget for reducing this problem in a sensible way. with that, mr. president i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:1 quorum call:
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that during today's session of the senate, the junior senator from montana be
authorized to sign duly enrolled bills or joint resolutions. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations: calendar number 79, that the senate proceed to vote without intervening action or debate, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate, that no further motions be in order to the nomination, that any statements related to the nomination be printed in the record, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, department of of education michael keith yudin of the district of columbia to be special education and rehabilitative services. the presiding officer: is
there further debate? if not those in favor aye. those opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nomination is confirmed. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 9:30 a.m. wednesday, june 3 following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour deemed expired the journal of proceedings be approved to date and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. following are leader remarks the senate be in a period of morning business until 11:00 a.m. with senators permitted to speak therein and the time be equally divided with the majority controlling the first half and the minority controlling the final half. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask it stand adjourned under the previous order following the remarks of senator menendez and senator merkley. the presiding officer: without objection.