tv U.S. Senate CSPAN July 27, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm EDT
highway and mass transit bill with the possible final vote on an amendment that would reauthorize the export-import bank. live now to u.s. senate here on c-span2. the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, incline your ear and hear our prayer, for without your presence and power, our striving is in vain. preserve us with your loving providence, guiding us through each season of life's sojourn. lord, teach our lawmakers your
way, illuminating their path with the lamp and light of your truth. remind them that true greatness comes through service, as they remember to esteem others as better than themselves. you, o lord, are a god full of compassion. you are gracious, lorve suffering and -- long-suffering and abundant in mercy and truth. mercy and truth. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands,
mr. mcconnell: mr. president there's no such thing as a republican road or a democratic road. that's what chairman inhofe said just a few days ago and he's absolutely right. no wonder republicans and democrats continue to rally around a bipartisan multiyear highway measure that's fiscally responsible and won't raise taxes. the bill before us would streamline regulations advance research and innovation and transportation modernize infrastructure and transportation systems and inject new accountability measures so americans can get a better handle on how their tax money is actually being spent. this multiyear bill also reverses the trend of short-term temporary patches giving state and local governments the certainty and the stability they need to better plan road and bridge projects. on top of that, the bill would also provide state and local
governments with more flexible options for stretching those transportation dollars. so this is a good bill for our country. substantial numbers of republicans and democrats continue to support it, but time is running out to get this bill through congress. we're up against a deadline at the end of the week. jobs are on the line. important infrastructure projects are too. so we have to get the job done, and we are. we've had to navigate some especially difficult political terrain to get this far already. it hasn't always been easy but we're now nearing completion of the senate's work on this bill. if the bipartisan coalition supporting this fiscally responsible multiyear bill continues to cooperate and work hard i know we can get there. so i want to thank every colleague who's worked so hard already on this bill.
particularly chairman inhofe and senator boxer, who have really done magnificent work to get us to this point. so let's hope we can all get it across the finish line. mr. reid: mr. president i choose not to speak today so i would ask the chair to announce the business of the day. the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 22, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 19, h.r. 22, an amendment to -- an act to amend the internal revenue code of 1986, and so forth. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: there are no ideas more central to america's democracy and identity than liberty and equality. the declaration of independence lists liberty among mankind's most inalienable rights and states all men are created equal. but it wasn't until 1870 when
the 15th amendment to the constitution was ratified extending the vote to african-american men and women were not given the right to vote in america until 1920, when the 19th amendment was ratified. america's democracy has been imperfect. the story of america is not the story of a perfect nation. it's the story of a nation in pursuit of a more perfect nation. it's sobering but not surprising that it took us to nearly the end of the 20th is en industry to acknowledge the rights of another group of americans who suffered discrimination through history. people with disabilities. this sunday we mark the 25th anniversary of one of the most important civil rights victories in america's history the enactment of americans with disabilities act. the americans with disabilities act set forth four great goals for people with disabilities: equal opportunity full participation, independent
living, economic self-sufficiency. but the fundamental goal of the a.d.a. is simple. in the words of one activist, the a.d.a. is about securing for people with disabilities the most fundamental of rights, the right to live in the world. it's worth remembering that it was a bipartisan victory. senator bob dole, a republican, a veteran wounded by german machine gunfire in world war ii and tom harkin, a democrat from iowa teamed up to get this done. when president bush signed this into law he said today's legislation brings us closer to the day when no american will be deprived in their basic rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. tom harkin called the day the proudest day of his legislative career. i remember the story he told the senate a few years ago when he was first elected to the senate his family came for the swearing-in. they sat in the gallery behind
me. he arranged for a sign language interpreter for his older brother frank who is deaf but was told by the guard outside the gallery door that the interpreter was not allowed to stand in the gallery and interpret. tom harkin couldn't believe it so he came to the floor and told majority leader bob dole the situation. senator dole said i'll take care of it, and he did. it was the first thing they did together. it sure wasn't the last. five years later they watched president bush sign the a.d.a. into law. i want to give credit to some tireless advocates who helped make that a reality. justin dart, the fare of the a.d.a. -- the father of the a.d.a. who passed on. my great friend from chicago marka brings tow president and c.e.o. of excess living. in 1977 marka had a serious accident and broke her neck leaving her paralyzed from the neck down. she lost her house her job and her health insurance. a lot of people would have given up but not marka.
she lefd an army of people to pass the most exree -- exree hen hen -- exree comprehensive civil rights law. the law helps people like michael bryce he uses a powered wheelchair and been involved in civil rights activism for many years. he has a bright personality that draws many people to him. he speaks with passion and compassion. he calls himself a very active person. he was living on his own in an amendment in hyde park on the south side of chicago until health complications led him into a group home where he lived for more than a year. his health continued to deteriorate and he moved into a nursing home. marka and the group home staff planned for him to stay at the nursing home for six to eight weeks and then move back on his own. those six to eight weeks became nearly three years.
michael grew more frustrated and that's when marka came to the rescue and helped michael find a new place so he could live on his own. last year michael was able to move from the nursing home into his own apartment. i'm proud of activists like michael and marka and the folks at access living. we owe them a debt of gratitude for helping america realize their full potential. it's hard to imagine but before the americans with disability act people with disabilities were denied the opportunity to fully participate in society. back then very few transit systems had buses or trains equipped for wheelchairs. if you needed a haircut or to see a doctor, or just wanted to meet a friend for a cup of coffee you probably had to rely on family and friends or social service agencies. the americans with disability act has changed that. the americans with disabilities act has changed america. every day you can see how far we've come as you walk down the street with curb cuts, ramps braille signs assistive living
devices. because of the a.d.a., thousands of americans with disabilities get to go to school, a good education, enter the workforce. but we've still got a long way to go. the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is still too high. most people with disabilities want to work, have to work. and when they do work, that could impact our communities in ways that are hard to imagine. let me tell you about the late bob greenberg. legendary sportscaster at wbez radio in chicago. for his loyal chicago radio audience bob described sporting everchts they couldn't -- events they couldn't see but bob's story is unique because bob couldn't see them either. bob was blind but that didn't stop him from achieving his dream. in the 1980's cream abdul gentleman bar was taking questions -- kareem abdul jabar was taking questions from a reporter and saw bob and said how did you get there. he said it wasn't hard. he explained how he knew the
exact number of steps from his home to the turnstile and how he knew the exact number of states to take from west madison to chicago stadium. kareem abdul jabar paused to take that in and said ask your question. it was clear bob greenberg worked hard to get where he was. there is no doubt laws like the a.d.a. helped bob. i wish we would have passed it sooner. maybe bob's road to achieving his dream would have been smoother. i wonder if the americans with disabilities act were called before the united states senate if it would pass. we know how great it is. we know what it's done for america. but there were always voices then and there are voices now that question whether government ought to have that big a say that big a role, that big a voice in our private lives and our public lives. thank goodness bob dole, a republican and tom harkin, a democrat put together a coalition that realized that at some moments in history we have
to move together as an american family to solve a problem. and we use our government to achieve that goal. the day the a.d.a. passed, senator harkin stood at this podium in the chamber and gave his entire speech in sign language. afterward he said it was the first time anyone ever gave a long-winded speech on the senate floor and no one ever heard him. he was wrong. his brother frank heard him. marka bristow heard him. bob greenberg heard him and millions of others with disabilities heard that speech. before leaving the senate, senator harkin taught me a wonderful sign for the word "america." it's this, all ten fingers joined together rotating in a circle around your chest. the sign language for "america." that is the america that we all are striving to become, a place where no one is left out where we're all included within the circle of equal opportunity. and that's how we honor our
constitution and our great nation: with liberty and justice for all. mr. president, i ask that at a separate place in the record the following remarks be given. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i don't see p anyone on the floor now seeking recognition so i'll summarize these quickly. i spoke on the floor about the terrible humanitarian crisis in syria. if you had to pick out one place in the world today where more innocent people are dying, it is hard to think of anyplace that matches syria. over 200,000 people have died during the course of the syrian war and up to 12 million syrians have been displaced. i have a friend of mine in chicago, he's an iranian -- a syrian american doctor, dr. salul, who comes to see me regularly and brings photos back from syria. they're heartbreaking photos. dr. salul and his friends literally sneak across the border into syria to treat the casualties of this war.
he shows me pictures of surgeries performed on the floors of schools and on card tables. and ep shows me those -- he shows me those who have been maimed and killed by the barrel bombs of bashar al-assad and by the ravages of war. we'll be jud -- we'll be judged as a generation as to whether we have responded properly to this humanitarian challenge. i was heartened today -- in fact exhilarated -- to read in the morning paper that the united states is now working with turkey and other countries to establish a humanitarian safe zone in the northern part of syria, to try to find one patch of real estate in that war-ravaged country where these country, their mothers families elderly people and those who have been hurt can go and safely, safely be treated and live. we've got to do this. the turks are going to lead the way. we're going to support them. but it's a challenge not just to
those two countries -- to us and to turkey -- but to the world to step up and be put into this blood didbloody ruthless war. there have been so many casualties. the united states, our good people to help those around the world try to bring some peace to some part of the population living in war-torn syria. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. wicker: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator mississippi. mr. wicker: mr. president i once again come to the floor to talk about a feinstein-wicker amendment to this transportation bill which i hope we can have a vote on and dispose of and let the senate work their will on either tonight late or perhaps tomorrow after the pending
business is taken care of. and i would -- i would begin mr. president, by quoting from an editorial yesterday in the post gazette the daily newspaper in pittsburgh where it says "the tractor-trailer roaring by you on the highway could be 9 feet longer next year. it could be this long, and it could be mandated by this congress on 39 states that don't want it. the editorial goes on to point out that there is legislation pending that would force these longer trucks on these 39 states -- on all 50 states -- 11 of them already allow it but 39 don't. and unless we act and adopt the feinstein-wicker amendment on this bill, a provision in the transportation appropriations
bill will go forward and is likely to be signed into law requiring this. this will have been done, i might add mr. president without a full debate, without a hearing being held in any committee of the united states senate on this issue. so what are we talking about? i have here a poster which says "would you feel safe driving next to a double 33?" this is the size size of a proposed new 9-foot truck that we would mandate on trucks. here the size of a typical passenger car. here is the comparative size of a motorcycle, a bicycle and of course there's a defenseless pedestrian. compared to the pedestrian down to the passenger car this federal mandate that i'm trying to at least give a timeout to
would mandate on states that they allow these twin 33 trailers and they would be driving along next to this car that my kids are going to be driving in, my grandchildren are going to be riding in. i don't think it's a good idea, but i would point out that if a state does think it is a good idea, i'm not going 0 stand in their way. it seems that some is 11 states have decided that they're willing to take this risk, many of them out in the wide, open spaces of the west. but it's worth saying that these 39 states don't allow longer tandem trucks, and we should ask ourselves whether congress knows better than these states. these states don't allow them -- alabama, arkansas, california, colorado connecticut delaware, scrorgeorgia, hawaii, illinois --
as a matter of fact, we have a unanimous resolution from the illinois state senate, a bipartisan unanimous resolution from the illinois state senate saying don't mandate these double 33's on us. i go on, kansas, kentucky, louisiana, maine michigan, minnesota, my home state of mississippi, missouri, nebraska, new hampshire, new jersey, new mexico, new york, north carolina, north dakota, ohio, oklahoma pennsylvania, rhode island, south carolina, south dakota tennessee texas vermont, virginia, washington, west virginia, and wisconsin mr. president. none of those states allow twin 33's now but there is a proposal that i'm trying to stop that would mandate that these states must allow for the longer -- and i believe ---- forthe longer,
and i believe more dangerous trucks. the editorial goes on to quote the former head of the national highway safety administration who likened trucks to trains on highways that would damage roads and endanger motorists. i think it makes a lot of sense. i think it would damage roads. i think it would endanger motorists. now, if my state of mississippi with the considered judgment of the mississippi department of transportation and their commission the mississippi sheriff's association the mississippi association of chiefs of police -- if all of those people are advising us against this, why should we, as a congress, tell these states that we know better than they do? and i'll just quote one other -- one final statement from the editorial before i ask that it
be admitted into the record. the editorial concludes "with its bridges already in the worst shipshape in the nation, pennsylvania doesn't need longer trucks on its roads." now, i ask at this point that this editorial be entered into the record, mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wicker: thank you mr. president. and once again i stress the point, this is pennsylvania specific. pennsylvania has made a considered decision not to allow these. i think it ill-behooves us a as congress to say we know better about the roads and the condition of the bridges in the state of pennsylvania than the local authorities dovment authority -- authorities do. so in the interest of deferring to the states, i think we should pass the feinstein-wicker amendment not to mandate these
longer trucks on states that don't want them. also i want -- i do want to stress a few things. if this goes forward, it will have been done with no hearings in this congress, in any committee. the appropriations committee which voted this on this, didn't have a hearing. the transportation committee which i serve on, didn't have a hearing. the commerce committee another committee of gurgesddiction ever of jurisdiction on this matter, didn't have a hearing. wouldn't it be a good idea before we tell states that they've got to do this, wouldn't it be a good idea to get proponents of this federal mandate before us to answer questions about it, perhaps opponents of this federal mandate to come and give us their considered opinion experts about the safety issues,
experts about this will do to bridges, about what it will do tear up our highways? wouldn't that be a good idea before we decide, in our which wisdom here inside the beltway here in washington, d.c. that we know better than 39 states? i think it would be a good idea. we might want to hear from aaa. we might want to hear from officials of the state of missouri who have memorialized this congress not to mandate this on the very people that they are trying to represent on a state-by-state basis. i'd like to get the mississippi trucking association here. they've come out against this federal mandate. they're in favor of the feinstein-wicker amendment to continue to leave this up to the states. i'd like to get them before a hearing and hear them out and perhaps members of the congress and members of the various committees could be convinced
as i have become convinced that they're correct. why would any trucker be opposed to this, mr. president? and i would simply tell you a lot of truckers are small business people. we honor small business people. we know that they're the engine of job creation in the united states of america. many of the small truckers have told me -- and they make up organizations like the mississippi trucking association -- they've told me, they can't compete in an environment in which this becomes the norm. the big guys can easily move to the tandem 33 trailers, but the small people can't. it's much harder for them to get a loan. it's much harder for them to come up with the capital expenditure of moving to this. and many of them feel like they will be put out of business. so i think we should be very careful, mr. president about
saying we're going to run over the considered opinion of people in 39 states. we're going to disregard the mississippi chiefs of police association and a host of other state chiefs of police associations. we're going to disregard the mississippi sheriff's association and a laundry list of other sheriffs associations from all around the united states of america. i think the better approach is the feinstein approach, which lost on a tie vote in the appropriations committee. the feinstein approach says, let's make sure we have a full and comprehensive study about this and get back to us, and if we implement it, let's do it in the normal course of events with the rule-making process and comments on all sides. so all this does, all this
feinstein-wicker amendment does is say you can't mandate this this year. instead, we're going to ask the leading experts in this city to come back to us and tell us if, in their opinion, this is safe. tell us, in their opinion what this will do to bridges and infrastructure. and i think that is the better approach. you know, there are -- there were 30 members of the appropriations committee mr. president, that voted on this issue. the feinstein -- well, fewer than 30. the feinstein -- exactly 30. let me make sure i'm precise here. the feinstein amendment lost on a vote of 15-15. now, should that go forward as the policy of this united states senate? i really don't think so. i think we owe it to the american people on an issue that
is involves safety, on an issue that involves infrastructure, and on an issue that involves deferring to the states to make the best decisions for their people. i think we owe it to them to have a full vote and not let something go forward on a virtual tie vote. the provision that is now in the appropriations bill was adopted 16-14 -- in the appropriations committee with no hearings. and i'd simply ask my colleagues, is that the way to make a major safety decision and infrastructure decision for the american people? so we're -- we're nearing the time when supporters of the feinstein-wicker amendment are hoping for a vote. and i was heartened to hear the conversation of the majority leader yesterday that he
certainly hoped we would be able to have a have votes on germane amendments like this. i appreciate the efforts of the ranking member of the committee a friend of mine from california in saying that she is going to do whatever she can to get us a vote on this. so i do appreciate this. i would say to members listening today, mr. president it's time to get informed on this issue. it's time to find out what the facts are to realize that this appropriations decision that i'm trying to reverse and put the brakes on to a certain extent is not permissive in nature. it's -- it is a requirement. if it goes through, we will be telling 39 states that they're wrong; somehow we're right here
in washington, d.c. and so i would hope we, first of all, can get an amendment have it brought to the floor and then i would hope members would search their consciences and decide that, indeed, this is something that at least ought to be studied thoroughly. we ought to have all the facts and, further than that, that this is something where we don't need to run over 39 states who happen to feel otherwise. thank you mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: i so appreciate the presentation of my friend and want him to know i think he's absolutely right and my colleague, senator feinstein is absolutely right on this point. and, you know, i think the american truckers are saying, i say to my friend from mississippi that this is a modest extension five fiat extension but it's five times two as my staff pointed out. you're talking about a ten-foot
extension and many of our states are already in trouble our bridges, many of them are structurally obsolete, so the american truckers are pushing hard for this but i think my friend is right. i think that states ought to be able to decide the condition of their roads the condition of their bridges and if they feel that this type of increase is going to jeopardize safety, i think uncle sam ought to be telling them what to do. i want to tell my friend. mr. wicker: if my friend would yield briefly. i know she wants to talk about the larger issue. if it is in fact a modest and relatively harmless extension of the size, then i think perhaps states might want to make that decision themselves. they might very well conclude, 39 have not made that conclusion but 11 have. but even modest though some team consider it, i think modesty
and lengths of trucks and the safety thereof is in the eye of the beholder and the state of mississippi might feel very differently from one of the wide owe-open western states. i thank my friend for her comments. mrs. boxer: i thank my friend and i just want to tell him i agree with him. we have a bill before us that if each of us had written it, wouldn't look the way it looks. clearly if my friend had written it this wouldn't be in there. if i had written it, this wouldn't be in there and a lot of other things would. and i think and i'm so happy my chairman has arrived chairman inhofe and his -- i'm his ranking member on environment and public works because what we did in our title and our title is responsible for 70% of the spending in this legislation -- knew -- we knew that we have of husband a wish list and if one got everything he wanted, we wouldn't have a bill. and if i get everything i
wanted we wouldn't have a bill. we have to meet in the middle, we had to withhold on some of our wish lists and frankly i think that's the story of legislating. a huge and important bill like this -- and it is an important bill. you know, before i came over here i said to my friend, senator inhofe, i read that the whip over in the the house who comes from california, said the senate should not send the bill over to the house. and my response to that is, if we have a bill, we're sending it. if we have a bill, we're sending it. and he says we're leaving and that's it. if the house chooses to go out on vacation or work period or whatever they do, that's their business. but it's our job to fix the problems we're facing. so with the help of my friend, chairman inhofe, i have a
couple of pictures to show you. the first one is my photograph, it's the bridge collapse on the interstate 10 at the arizona-california border. and, mr. president this bridge years ago they said it was structurally obsolete. is that right andrew? functionally obsolete. functionally obsolete. in other words when it was built nobody thought so much traffic would be going on it. and later they gave it an a but it was determined to be obsolete. now, the reason bridges like this aren't getting fixed is we just haven't had enough funds to do it. and in this bill, it is true, we stayed away from gas tax increase, we found a way to get enough for what i considered to be a very solid funding bill. let me show you some other bridges that have collapsed
and there are so many. here's washington state. the skagit river bridge collapse. look at this. unbelievable. cars down below crashed. this is pathetic. this isn't a third-world nation. this is america. washington state bridge collapse. how do you think we're going to get the money for it. we need to pass a long-term bill. if we pass a five-month bill like some of our opponents are calling for here and in the house, we don't have time to fix any bridge. all we're doing is the bare minimum, extending the program. no one is going to undertake any type of fix, long-term fix on these bridges. this is the arlington memorial bridge. it was built in 1932 about we know about it, it's right here. it collapsed.
this is a problem. it's deteriorated. it's in trouble. we're trying to avoid a collapse. we need this bill to do that. so when i talk about this bill, these bridges are in trouble. here's another one actually did collapse. this is the one from minnesota. this is minnesota. this started the whole thing and it was in 2007. it was unbelievable what happened there and you can see the devastation. this is why senator inhofe is doing this, it's the reason that i am doing this, it's the reason that senator mcconnell is doing it, it's the reason that dick durbin is doing it, it's the reason that so many of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle are willing to admit that while this isn't a perfect bill we cannot sustain this. either bridges are crumbling or
they're collapsing. now, there's other examples and why don't we keep up the california bridge collapse. it's the one i know the best because it's in my state. and as i have said, and i ask rhetorically, how much business are we losing when we have cars and cargo having to go 400 miles out of the way 400 miles out of the way to get from california to arizona or arizona to california? this is a nightmare. and we found some emergency funds, as i understand it, we're going to try to figure this out, close part of it down keep part of it open, but it's not that safe to do. and there's no reason why. and i'm going to read to you -- and this may surprise you to hear, how many bridges are deficient and in need of repair. in kentucky, the brent spence
bridge in louisiana, i don't say these names right calca sue river in maine in maryland the chesapeake bay bridge in massachusetts the i-95 bridge, in middlesex in michigan the i-75 refuge river bridge in minnesota bridge, the bridge over pennsylvania avenue. in mississippi the vicksburg bridge. in nevada, the virginia street bridge. in new hampshire the i-293. and i'm just reading some of these and when i'm done i'll put the whole list in. in new jersey, the garden state parkway and in union county. in new mexico, the main street bridge. in new york, brooklyn bridge. these are iconic structures. they need to be fixed. they're efficient.
-- they're deficient. in ohio, the john robling suspension bridge. in oregon, the columbia river crossing. in pennsylvania, the benjamin frank -- franklin bridge. rhode island, the i-95 viaduct in providence. in south carolina, the i-85 bridge in greenville. in texas the i-45 bridge. in utah, the i-15 bridge. in washington, the evergreen point floating bridge. in wisconsin the u.s. 41 bridge. alabama, arizona arkansas, california the golden gate bridge. that is the hallmark the hallmark of my state. one of the landmarks. and it is deficient. in need of repair. colorado connecticut
district of columbia, i showed you the memorial bridge. florida, georgia hawaii. the halona street bridge in honolulu county. indiana, the i-65 bridge over the csx railroad. in iowa, the centennial bridge. i ask unanimous consent to place this list of deficient bridges in need of repair into the record mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: thank you. mr. president, if ever there is a bipartisan issue, it is this one. it was a republican president dwight eisenhower, when he was running, he was shocked at the condition of our roads and the fact that we didn't have roads really that were in good shape connecting one state to the next. this is the united states of america. we are a large and sprawling nation. he said a network of modern roads is as necessary to defense
as it is to our national economy and personal safety. this is dwight eisenhower. a network of modern roads is as necessary to defense as it is to our national economy and our personal safety. he was referring to the fact that we really couldn't move easily between the states if there was some type of national emergency. and i want to say, you know, i was a little girl when eisenhower ran and my father was a lifelong democrat but he was for ike, and one of the reasons he was for ike is, he knew that we needed this kind of network. it appealed to him. he knew how important it was. now, mr. president if we look at the groups that are supporting us in this effort, i would just say they represent america.
they're everyone. from the u.s. conference of mayors to the brotherhood of carpenters. the international union of operating engineers. the triple a -- and we all most of us belong to triple a because we're worried something is going to happen in one of owes bridges or roadways that's filled with obstacles, and we could get in a crash. we belong to the triple amp. they support us. the laborers international. mothers against drunk driving. the american council of engineering companies. let's put up some more. again, these are unusual allies. usually we're fighting each other. the national association of counties the -- the national association of counties agrees with the national association of manufacturers who agree with the truck stop operators and the governors association and the national league of cities, who
agrees with the ready fix concrete association the national stone sand, and gravel association ther- operator independent drivers association the portland cement association the retail industry leaders. why do they come together for this? if you're in the retail business if people can't get to your store you're not in there for very long. if they say it's not worth it, i'm going to buy online. the fact of the matter is we need to fix our roads. the american highway users alliance agrees with the american society of civil engineers. the associated general contractors. and, mr. president i want to make a point. on tuesday the associated general contractors the a.g.c. put out a very important and alarming study. here's what it is. construction employment declined in 25 states between may and
june and as they went on to explain this to the press they noted -- they noted the monthly construction employment declines come as congress continues to search for ways to pay for new highway and transit investments. the monthly construction employment figures are troubling. investing in transportation infrastructure will make it easier for many firms involved in highway and transit construction to add new jobs. now, there are certain states that are worse than others. illinois lost 2.2% of its construction jobs. shed so many. followed by new jersey. new jersey, second most shedding of jobs, 4,600. ohio shed 3,700 jobs. florida, 3,100 jobs. rhode island, 700 jobs. now, i've heard my colleagues say, well, vermont, 500 jobs
down. so here's the thing -- i've heard my colleagues say we don't like the way this is paid for. we have better ideas and i agree with them, i have better ideas too. i've got 10 or 11 or 12. but i'm not the only one putting this together. we have to find that magic sweet spot where we can get 60 votes here. so i'm just thinking if they vote no on this but it passes, when they go to meet one of these workers and the worker says thank you so much, we got this job because we got a three-year funding bill, what are they going to say? i didn't vote for it because i didn't think the funding was right, i wanted it to be done a different way. i'm sure the worker would say you know what, i appreciate that but i'm working i'm working, i'm feeding my family. so i understand why people want a better source of funding and we have tried and as my chairman knows we've tried so
hard and i know he wants to speak now so i'll close down my time with this. yes, i will. politburo inhofe: i'm not attempting to get the floor. mr. inhofe: i think what you have said is very significant. people realize and i've said several times that you and i are about as far apart philosophically as any two people can be. you are a very proud liberal. i'm a very proud conservative. and we disagree on a lot of things in the committee the committee that you used to chair when democrats were in the majority and that i chair now. but all during that time and up to the present time, we agree on this. and when i see people saying that they don't want the -- i am very disturbed about what the house is doing right now. if you don't have a long-term bill we're going to go right back to what we have done since 2009. you and i can remember when we
passed the 2005 transportation authorization bill, that was huge. we have things that have happened in oklahoma now as a result of that that are saving lives. remember i used to talk about the bridge that a chunk of concrete fell off and killed a mother of three. that happened right before the 2005 bill. now, that's progress. that's where we have been. i can't imagine that we're going to be in a position where we go back to increase the number of short-term -- we've had 33 short-term extensions since 2009 and i can't imagine that we'll go back. when we do that, we don't get the reforms. a lot of the reforms, i say to my friend from california, were reforms that she had a hard sell. she had a hard time doing it. there are a lot of things. i wanted to thank the 80-20. first of all we had some areas that were 60-40 then 70-30 but
we couldn't do it. i remember that there was quite a bit said on the floor and in our committee by one of our own committee members on that. so that was one of my losses that wasn't necessarily one of your gains. but the bottom line is we now have a bill. we have a bill that is going to be before the people who have the chance to vote on it, and this is the last chance we have got to get off of this thing of part-time extensions. i would ask if my good friend from california is observing the same thing that i am on that? mrs. boxer: well, i am observing it exactly the same way. and i said before that we have a very honest relationship in terms of where we can find that common ground, and it is in this arena. as you have pointed out, you are -- you read this constitution and i read this constitution and you have said many times and you have addressed people who have heard
you say this, that this is a constitutional responsibility to make sure we have roads bridges, highways and we can move interstate commerce. and from my perspective not only do i agree with that, but i also think it's a very important way while we're taking care of the people to see that people have good, decent jobs, and that businesses prosper. so i think we've never had a problem working together on this and i would hope that our being able to work together would bring liberals, conservatives, moderates and everybody in between to tonight's vote. i don't know what the vote's going to be, i say to my dear friend but i do know this -- the house is, you know, saying through their whip they're leaving. well you know, that's up to them. we all know from the association of general contractors -- it's stated right here, and i ask
unanimous consent to place this statement in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: that in 25 states, we're seeing layoffs right now in the construction arena because we have not acted. that is tragic. and what happens when people are laid off? we know what happens. we're getting out of this tough tough, tough recession and none of us wants to walk down the path of this short-term solution. so i say to my friend i'm going to finish my remarks in about two minutes and yield the floor to him. i look forward to hearing his remarks. but we have work to do tonight. we've got to get 60 votes. i yield. mr. inhofe: one statement then later i will be coming back to talk about some of these amendments that are coming up. but in terms of one thing that we need to clarify with our people on our side, that the conservative position is to support this. our good friend, our mutual friend gary ridley, said that
the extensions cost about 30% off the top 30%. so clearly -- in fact, i would say this -- after our 27-month bill we went over to the house and they -- i had requested an audience with the entire -- all 33 republicans on the appropriate committee. all 33 agreed that it was a conservative position. all 33 voted for the bill. i think we have the opportunity to make that happen again. mrs. boxer: reclaiming my time, my friend is right. this is an area where conservatives, progressives, liberals moderates, what you call yourself doesn't matter. we need to have a good, strong highway system. we need to fix the bridges. we need transportation. and that's what we do here. in closing i want to make this point. mr. president, each of our states relies, relies on the highway trust fund since eisenhower was president.
and i have a list here and i would -- i think i put it in the record yesterday so i don't have to put it in the record again, but it -- it shows how much each state relies on the highway trust fund, and i want to just pull out a few states because it's interesting because i know my own state is 49%. we raise the rest of the money but that 49% is huge, and if it were to disappear we simply could not do what we need to do. so my state's about 50%. but here are some of the states. rhode island, 100% of its program is funded by the highway trust fund, the federal highway trust fund. alaska 93% is funded by the federal highway trust fund. vermont, 86% is funded by the federal highway trust fund. south carolina, 79%.
hawaii 79%. north dakota, 78%. south dakota, 71%. connecticut, 71%. new mexico, 70%. now, just from that list, that's everybody who is 70% and over. those are red states, those are blue states, those are purple states. my point is exactly what senator inhofe said yesterday -- the fact is there's no such thing as a democratic road or a republican road or an independent road or a progressive road or a liberal road or a conservative road. we all use the roads. and unfortunately increasingly at our peril. at our peril. idaho, 68%. alabama, 68%. new hampshire 68%. missouri 65%. minnesota, 64%. oklahoma 63%. georgia, 62%.
iowa 59%. ohio 58%. virginia 57%. wisconsin, 55%. oregon 54%. and it goes on. and every single one of our states is waiting. the lowest, as i understand it, looks like to be new jersey at 35%, but the fact is whether it's 35% 45% or 90% or 100%, they all rely on the federal highway trust fund, they all -- all of our people pay into it through the gas tax and we have a responsibility. we are moving forward if we get the votes tonight. and again we don't know that we'll get them. we are working hard to get them. we will move forward with a good transportation bill. and for the first time in ten years, we'll have a long-term bill. now, "the washington post" did
an interesting editorial. they don't adore this bill. they found problems with it, as we all do, but they said it's a sensible plan by senator boxer and inhofe. we worked out that it provides three years of guaranteed funding, that it would be a significant improvement from what we've done in the congress for the past decade, and that lawmakers fumbled from short-term funding patch to short-term funding patch a nonstrategy that often relied on budget gimmicks and made it possible for transportation officials to conduct long-term planning. "the new york times" said on tuesday what i said before, construction employment, madam president, fell in 25 states this summer as state agencies awaited word from congress on the future of the highway and transit spending. we also know there are well over a half a million unemployed
construction workers. a half million. and now they are starting to get laid off again. no, i want to see the chart. thanks. and i don't know what else to say to members the biggest reasons they are voting no that i heard is they would like to find a better funding source. well, all of us would and if we had our way madam president you would come up with your funding source. i love mine, which is a refundable gas tax increase, but i can't get a lot of votes for that people won't give me the votes for that. so what do i do? throw up my hands and say oh, we'll have another short-term extension? no. i sat down with senator inhofe. i sat down with senator durbin. i talked to senator reid and schumer, of course, and my leadership over here, did my best and i think everyone has to understand it's either this way or we just will have to do a
short-term patch and if we -- i will predict right now seven states have shut down their program completely. if we don't find this solution, we're going to be looking at each other in a month two months and we're going to see programs shut down, and i often use this analogy so if you've heard it before, i apologize in advance, but if you go to the bank you want to buy a house they say great news, you qualify, and they only give you a five-month mortgage. are you going to buy the house? of course you're not. are our states going to build a highway if all they have is five months funding? no. that's why the private sector that gets this money from the states that's why they are laying people off. now, i want to say working with senator inhofe, we were able to create a new national freight program and a new program called assistance for major projects. this means that every one of our
states will be eligible, and it's exciting to have those kind of programs. the freight program will provide funds for all states. it's all states. they're all going to get part of this formula to improve their goods movement, to reduce the course -- the costs and improving performance for business. it expands flexibility for rural and urban areas to designate key freight corridors. this is exciting. the program is supported by the coalition for america's gateways and trade corridors business groups such as the national association for manufacturers. now, under the assistance for major programs, this was something senator whitehouse of rhode island worked very hard on the bill provides support for major projects of high importance to a community the region the nation through a competitive grant program. it includes a setaside for rural areas and ensures he equitable geographic distribution of funds, along with strong
transparency provisions. now, these things are exciting news whether you're from iowa or california. we're all going to get these funds, and locally we'll decide how to spend them. our bill, madam president passed the committee 20-0. what a great moment that was. and the reason is we knew we had to compromise. so -- so the part of this bill from e.p.w. is a compromise. the part of the bill from the commerce committee was a little bit trickier because it did come out on a partisan vote, but we have been working senator nelson and senator thune senator blumenthal and others, working on that to make it a better title and i think it's moving in that direction. the banking bill, senator brown's staff worked very hard on this with senator shelby's staff, and i believe it's clearly been improved since it was first released.
and the finance committee was tough. senator wyden tried hard on putting some ideas out there. it was tough to get them done, but somehow we have managed to put together the funding. it does clear the c.b.o. we are in surplus for three years on the highway trust fund. we haven't done that -- is it ten years? ten years since we've had more than a two-year extension. this is real. and i just say to my friends from the house i know you want to get out of town. everybody does. it's august, and we have plans. we have -- a lot of us are going to go around the world and do our job that way have community meetings take a week of vacation with our family, like every family wants to do. but you know what? we're staying an extra week in august. you can stay an extra week in august. that's not such a terrible thing. and you know, i get an announcement from the whip over there, representative mccarthy is from my state he says don't
send us -- don't send us a bill because we're going home. well that's their choice. you know, madam president that's their choice. there are so many groups, so i'm going to put this list up again and share it with the president because i think it's so important. it is really tough to put together a bill that the u.s. chamber of commerce supports along with the international union of op rating engineers and the u.s. conference of mayors and the triple-a not to mention mothers against drunk driving. and i'll show you some others that you know, it really is exciting to see the national association of counties, i started off as a county supervisor. i was in local government. and to have us agree with the national association of manufacturers and the truck stop operators and the national governors association and the league of cities and the concrete people and the gravel
people, if you look at this list -- and there's one more here. what you see here is everybody supports this, madam president. the american public transportation association the american trucking association the associated general contractors and the association of general contractors has warned us if we don't get this done it's a real problem. so for the sake of every single person in america madam president, i hope we have the 60 votes we need tonight. and i hope we get this moving. there are a lot of people that have been slowing this bill down. i understand they're upset about every -- look, we each could be upset. every day we could be upset. but we have to try and find common ground. you know, sometimes it's very hard to find it. and certainly you know, senator wicker was here. he and senator feinstein have an amendment. i really support it.
it's unfortunate that senator wicker's opinion didn't hold sway in the commerce committee. it's hard. it's difficult. i personally think he's right. he didn't win in the committee so now we're trying to fix the problem. we may not have the votes. but what we do have before us -- and i'll conclude with this -- is a solid solid bill with increases so that we can fix these bridges. and i want you to see the last image of my talk here is this collapse of this bridge in california. it just happened a few -- you know, i think it was two weeks ago or less. and what we had here is a bridge that was called -- tell me what it was called exactly. this bridge. this one. struck -- functionally obsolete.
i'm sorry it took me a minute. because what they said was when it was built, there was very, very little commerce on it. but now it's a very important bridge because we have to take the goods from arizona to california california to arizona. and it has collapsed. and senator inhofe and i we talk a lot about why we do what we do. he had a devastating bridge collapse. a did he devastating bridge collapse. a mother of three was killed just walking by a bridge. and that's when he and i said enough is enough. we simply cannot handle it. so it's our job. you know, once i was told when i was a county supervisor that if you know -- you know there's a problem and people are in danger, this is what they told us way back in the day because we had an earthquake problem with the building we were in. and the county council came and
said to the five supervisors you know this is a problem. if you don't fix it, there is an argument to be made that you are personally liable. now, i am not suggesting that u.s. senators be held personally liable for a bridge collapse at all. but i'm talking about the moral issue here. we do know we've got problems. we were fortunate no one was killed here. it was kind of a miracle. but we do know there's a problem. so while i know we don't have a legal obligation to step up to the plate, i believe -- and i know senator inhofe agrees with me -- we believe there is a moral obligation. all of this list of bridges. did we put them in the record? there are all these three pages of bridges that we know are in trouble. we know 50% of our roads are deficient. so isn't that enough for us to come together tonight, it will
be probably late in the evening i expect. and vote to move forward with this bill. get it done, send it to the house and hopefully they will decide to stay in session, take it up, pass it. and there will be a celebration across this nation, and it will be a celebration by workers who want to fix these problems, by businesses who want to fix these problems, by people who drive who want too see these problems fixed. frankly, it is a win-win a win-win for our nation. i thank you so much, madam president. i yield the floor and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hoeven: also ask to speak as if in morning business for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. h.o.v. thank you, madam president. i come to the floor this afternoon to talk about a program called product of canada. mr. hoeven: now, product of canada -- you might ask well,
what is that? well the product of canada program is the voluntary food labelinglabeling program that they have in canada. so nobody has to participate in this program in canada, but if they want to, they can. it is just that. a voluntary food-labeling program that they call "product of canada." and what does that mean? well just taking from one of the web sites where we looked it up the product of canada label can only be applied to animals that are born, raised, and slaughtered in canada. -- with some exceptions. now, they also have labeling as far as prepackaged products. that's actually mandatory labeling. under their mandatory labeling it says "all prepackaged food products in canada must have the address and company and if manufactured outside canada, the
label must reflect that it is imported. and it is mandatory to state the country of origin on some specific pre- prepackaged products such as honey fish, seafood products, fresh fruit and vegetables eggs shelled egg products processed processed fruits and. they have some mandatory aspects to their prepackaged products and their prepackaged products program, as i moangsed. but the product of canada program and the product of canada labeling -- that's a voluntary program. and it is animals that are born, raised and slaughtered in canada. well why do i come to the floor of the united states senate today to point out that canada has a voluntary meat labeling program, product of canada program? for the simple reason that we
are and have been engaged in what do we do about "cool," the country of origin labeling program in the united states? and i've offered bipartisan legislation, legislation with senator debbie stabenow of michigan, who is the lead democrat on the legislation bipartisan legislation that includes a majority of the agricultural committee in the senate. and so er what we're trying to do is solve the country-of-origin labeling dispute or disagreement by creating bipartisanship and passing a bill that addresses the underlying problem. so what's the problem. the problem is that the w.t.o. court, world trade organization court, has determined that a mandatory food-labeling program -- "cool" -- does not meet the w.t.o. requirements. so the house of representatives led by the ag chairman, representative mike conaway has an outstanding ag chairman in
the house, passed a bill that requiresrepealsmandatory "cool." and you know what? we took that bill and we've included it in our bill we took the very same legislation and we're traig to pass it here. we're trying to pass the same -- we didn't take anything out of representative conaway's bill, passed in the house. we're trying to pass it here to address the issue of mandatory food labeling, mandatory "cool." but we also added a voluntary program, just as canada has a product of canada voluntary program. so there's just a few basic logical questions i would ask. first, we are repealing the mandatory program. so when somebody says, well, you have to repeal mandatory "cool "requests and you can't have anything else, we have to repeal
mandatory "cool," that is exactly what we do. we pass the conaway bill. facts are stubborn things. let's be clear on that. we do -- we pass the house bill. and we add to it a voluntary program similar to the product of canada program because there are people in this country that want voluntary labeling. they want a voluntary country-of-origin labeling program. they want a program which as canada has -- product of canada is a voluntary program. and at the end of the day to get this done, to avoid any countervailing duty or tariffs under the w.t.o. ruling, we need to repeal mandatory "cool" and we put in place the voluntary "cool" to get bipartisan support in the senate and house and pass the legislation we need to pass. and we need to do it in that way
in order get it done timely, certainly before we go on the august recess. so this is a clear opportunity to come together on a bipartisan way and solve a problem and solve it in a way that just makes sense. we reach out to our house counters we reach out to our qurnts parts incounterparts in the house. we say you did good work, you passed mandatory requirements. we pass a voluntary requirements so we can get into consultation with the house and get the work done now rather than waiting. and the voluntary program is the same thing that canada does. so how can our very good friends in canada say to us, well, it's okay for canada 10 have a voluntary program and yeah, we get that you're fully repealing mandatory "cool," but we don't
think you ought to have one in the united states. that doesn't make sense. let's get together. let's find a way to get together in a bapt way move this legislation, get together with the house and ghet done. that's all we're asking. we have a good start on this bill. we have a majority on the -- on youourag committee. sponsoring legislation with senator stabenow and myself, or senator john thune juror chuck grassley, senator klobuchar senator heitkamp, senator enzi senator sherrod brown. it's bipartisan. it's common sense. it is a simple solution. we're saying, okay, we get it. canada won in the w.t.o. court. we cannot have a mandatory program. we follow the house's lead, we're working with the house. we pass their legislation. and at the same time we put in place a voluntary program similar to canada. we're reaching out to our friends and neighbors in canada and saying, hey, we want to work
with you. please work with us. and that's what we do in this legislation. and so i hope that senators will join together with us in a -- i emphasize that again bipartisan way. that's what it takes here in the senate. it takes 60 votes to pass legislation. you can't do it with just one party or the other. it takes 60 vote. you got to have bipartisan legislation. and i call on my colleagues to get together with us, let's move this legislation let's get together with the house and our friendsfriend from canada and get this done. we can do it. we can do it now in a timely way. and we can make sure -- we can make sure that we not only don't have any countervailing duty or tariffs on our exports but we can also have a voluntary labeling program which many in this country will -- consumers producers farmers our ranchers retailers some
processors. but, you know what, if somebody doesn't want to participate that's fine. hence the word "voluntary." that's the american way. and i have the good fortune to work with both representative conaway and i certain a appreciative hum and his hard work and i have a he also -- and i've also have a good opportunity to work with our friends north of the border. weerkd bewe should be able to get together with our canadian friends and say look, we are absolutely doing what the w.t.o. court requires. we're passing the house bill but at the same time there's a lot of people in this country that want a voluntary program and thrtion a no reason in -- and there's no reason in the world to hold up solving this problem by not allowing them to have a voluntary program similar to the voluntary program that canada has product of canada. with that, madam president i
yield the floor and i also would note that my cosponsor of the legislation is here, and i just want to thank her -- greet her and thank her for her hard bipartisan work to solve this challenge in a very commonsense way. ms. stabenow: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: first of all let me say it is always a pleasure to work with the senior senator from north dakota. we've partnered on a number of different things, including efforts on the farm bill, and so it's with great pleasure that i'm partnering with him again to solve this problem and to make sure that we eliminate any possibility of retaliation on our businesses and solve a problem in a way that meets our trade obligations and also makes sure that we are standing up for our farmers and our consumers in america. that's really the goal, and i
appreciate senator hoeven's leadership and commonsense approach to actually involving problems. so it's always great to be with you. and senator hoeven did say we have put together a thoughtful, bipartisan bill the voluntary cool, trade enforcement act we're very cool here, the country of origin labeling act. i want to thank our cosponsors, we have senators grassley heitkamp klobuchar thune senator brown senator enzi, senator casey senator rounds, senator murray, baldwin and wyden, and we are adding more people every day. so very pleased to have a majority of the agricultural committee standing with us on this bipartisan effort. let me start out by saying as well that while i disagree with the w.t.o.'s conclusion, i'm
disappointed at the final outcome of the case, i respect the decision and acknowledge that we have to act. we have to act in a responsible way to address this and live up to our trade obligations. the potential impact on the economy and other industries demand that we give this issue our full attention and that's a what we're doing. our legislation offers, again something that is common sense it's trade compliant and it's a path forward. first, the bill repeals mandatory country of origin labeling. this is what we have to do to meet our trade obligations to canada and mexico, there's no way around it, certainly on beef and pork, in order to come together to be able to address this quickly in fact we have in our bill the same language as
the house so we have the same language as the house and the same language as the amendment put forward by our chairman, senator roberts and others. so we all agree on what it takes to address the trade case and get that off the table. that's number one. number two now it becomes what do we want to do as americans? what do we want to do? this is not a realm where canada or mexico really have a voice once we meet the trade obligation we have met the test what do we want to do? you know, i remember back during the farm bill when we were talking about changes we needed to make to address the brazil case on cotton where they won a case against us and i asked folks what do the brazilians think? i was told by members of the committee, many of whom are now
saying we have to give canada veto power or mexico veto power over the u.s.a., they said brazil can't have veto power over the united states on cotton that's up to the united states. and we proceeded with a path that we believed met w.t.o. rules and met the needs of american producers. and now we have some of the same folks saying, oh no, we can't do anything unless this is something that mexico likes or canada likes. and so i would argue we deal with that with the trade decision in w.t.o. in all three bills. now the question is, what do we want to do for our consumers and to support american farmers? so second, we establish a voluntary product of u.s. label label, defined as born, raised and slaughtered in the united states. you can have whatever labels,
you know, are appropriate to have but if you want to have a label that says product of the u.s., you have to meet the integrity of that label. if the consumer seeking to purchase a product of the united states a packer is willing decides don't do that, farmers want to do that, they want to provide that, then it should be an accurate label and they can look at all the pros and cons of doing that and they should be able to do that on a voluntary basis. that's all we're saying. anyone who has watched this issue over the years knows that both sides have become very very entrenched and we understand that. but our approach is to now say we will agree with the house agree with those who have always opposed a mandatory country of origin labeling, we will agree on repeal however we need to
make sure on behalf of american consumers and american farmers and processors that we give them a tool, a voluntary tool that they can use if they wish to do that. now, what's really interesting is the fact that back when the mandatory country of origin labeling bill was on the floor and being passed by the house and the senate, the people who opposed that at the time introduced s. 1333 the meat promotion act which would establish a voluntary program of country of origin labeling for meat and it was introduced by the same people who are now saying we can't do that. senators cornyn, senators roberts, and others, all of whom at the time -- senator hatch, senator -- who else is here -- senator alexander and
others all of whom were arguing we should have a voluntary program not a mandatory program. so now here we are. you would think that this would be easy. you would think this would be a slam dunk. what we are suggesting, in fact is something that was in a bill, a voluntary product of the u.s. label meat derived from animals born, slaughtered in the united states. and at the time it was broadly supported by the meat packing industry as well as the largest cattlemen organization in the united states. and at the time, they argued they thought this proposal was a smart way to promote u.s. meat products while also supporting international trade. the same people who are now
working against this. it turns out they were in the spot that we're now understanding we need to land. but instead of agreeing and saying to us, well, it's about time you got here, and embracing it and saying let's do this really quickly so we can put other businesses who may face retaliation in the position of confidence that that's not going to happen, we thought this would be a no-brainer. take the bill that was already introduced take the language passed by the house, and now we are seeing that, in fact, the same people who wanted s. 1333 are now saying it's the end of the world it will start a trade war and all kinds of other things. but let's talk about that for a moment. even as recently as last august canadian officials openly discussed a voluntary
cool program as a way to address their trade concerns. and they said if you do a voluntary label which we do in canada under product of canada, you don't have that trade sanctioned problem. mr. president, that was in august of 2014, gerald ritz, agricultural minister of canada. and then next in 2012, the w.t.o. appellate body report quoted both canada and mexico suggesting that the united states switch from a mandatory to a voluntary labeling program to move -- quote -- "beyond the kiss dispute." so again from canada, expanded as required to meet consumer interest, voluntary
labeling can provide as much consumer information on origin to interested consumers as the cool measure." 2012 suggesting that that was the tool that the united states should use. and then our mexican friends submitted -- mexico submits that there are at least four alternative measures. the first altern is a voluntary country of origin labeling scheme which in mexico's view could maintain the same labeling criteria on origin as the cool measure. and that is, born, raised and slaughtered in the united states. 2012 mexico. so we clearly know that both canada and mexico have considered voluntary labeling as
a responsible approach, in fact they suggested we do it. so while both countries have been vocal it still doesn't change the fact that canada and mexico are not entitled to veto what the congress of the united states of america chooses to do with our laws as long as we are compliant with our trade obligations. clearly -- and i understand politics lord knows we do. we understand politics, we understand elections we understand negotiations, we understand boy if you can get -- if you can put the united states in a position to voluntarily stand down and not let consumers know on a voluntary basis what's a product of the u.s., that's great for competition if you're canada or mexico. if they can bully us into doing that well, shame on us. if they can bully us into doing that. because the fact of the matter is our legislation which i
believe clearly has the majority of votes here in the united states senate, certainly on the agricultural committee not only meets the trade requirements of the dispute which we lost, we know it, we have to address it, but it stands up for american consumers and american farmers and processors who choose to use the tool of a voluntary label. w.t.o. rules are very clear that a country should not proceed with retaliation if the underlying law has been made w.t.o.-consistent. so folks can stomp around threaten we understand negotiations we all negotiate with people that stomp around a lot. but the reality is that if we take that away and we are now trade compliant, they no longer can legally proceed. the office of the united states
trade representative has also stated that our approach would be just as w.t.o.-consistent as the repeal bills alone. we believe both options peeling the mandatory labeling scheme or repealing the mandatory labeling regime and replacing it with a voluntary labeling system, have the potential to constitute compliance with u.s. w.t.o. obligations. no difference. no difference. and this is a few days ago july 23, 2015. madam president, it really comes down to the fact if canada has its own voluntary label for meat produced in canada, how in the world can they argue that the united states of america farmers and consumers should not have the same label? now, i think what it boils down to is competition. i do.
because it starts as a trade case we meet our trade obligations, we address what we have to do legally. now the question is, can they bully us into a position to actually stand down so we can't brag about the right meat that we have in this country that consumers know about it. i understand if the canadians are afraid to compete with products 100% born and raised and harvested in the united states. we do a pretty good job. our farmers our ranchers do a very good job actually. after all there is no safer had more abundant food supply produced anywhere than here in the united states. and the american public deserves to know if they choose to look for that label and purchase that label, they should have the opportunity to do that. and certainly when our friends in canada -- and they are our
friends, we work on many many issues together in a wonderful way. but on this one i've got to say say, you know, i think this is very much about competition. and we need to be able to compete economically with them in the same way that they compete with us. if they have a made in canada label, we need to be able to have a product of the u.s. label. so i would ask that we stop with all the rhetoric, rhetoric object -- on the floor by folks who sponsored a voluntary label with the same definition a few years ago stop the rhetoric by our friends from canada and mexico about how the world will come to an end if the united states has a voluntary program as it meets our trade
obligations. that's -- we need to just take a deep breath and make sure that we solve the trade case, that we do what we need to do, and then allow the usda in america u.s. department of agriculture allow all of us to decide what we want to do about voluntary labeling of our meat or anything else, for that matter. we're not interested in starting a trade war and it's pretty silly when i hear the hot rhetoric that tries to claim that. what we are wanting to do is solve a problem that relates to international trade that we all agree needs to be resolved. we must resolve it, make sure that those not involved in the dispute don't somehow pay a penalty through retaliation and then respect our own consumers
enough our own families our own farmers our own processors enough to give them a tool if they decide that they wish to use it to have the integrity of a product of the u.s. label. it would be a sad day and i believe irresponsible on our part if we went back to the days prior to cool where we were labeling meat that was born in a foreign country spent most of its life in the foreign country but then could somehow come in, be processed here and be called product of the united states. we want to talk about something that's a problem that's a problem. that is a problem. and american consumers deserve better than that. our own processors and farmers
that are competeing with those and other countries deserve better than that, and we have the opportunity to embrace a proposal that frankly in my judgment should be a no-brainer for us, given all of the information and the case for why this works. so madam president i'm looking forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to actually get this done, and we should be getting it done quickly so that we can move on to a whole series of issues that need to be addressed. thank you very much. i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: the senate is not in a quorum call. mr. mccain: madam president i request unanimous consent to address the senate as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: madam president all americans but especially arizonans, should be concerned about the crushing wall of federal environmental regulations that president obama has been announcing is coming our way. as "politico" recently noted two years after the president originally announced his intent to take executive action on climate change, scarcely a week goes by without the administration unveiling a new climate change initiative. common among all these regulations is their complete disregard for how businesses really operate and how they will adversely affect those businesses and their consumers. according to a report recently released by the american action
forum, just the 18 -- quote -- economically significant regulations that the white house announced before memorial day will saddle a nation -- the nation's slowly recovering economy with more than $110 billion in potential costs with billions more in unknown burdens. if left uncorrected these regulations will unfairly impact arizona consumers and businesses and in the view of the arizona chamber of commerce cause significant economic harm to our state. one of the most alarming of these new regulations is the environmental protection agency's so-called clean water rule or waters of the united states rule. a federal regulation of almost unprecedented scope. the e.p.a.'s claim that this rule would just let it stop construction activities that disturb small environmentally sensitive streams and weapons but when you dive into the
rule's 299 pages you'll find that it actually expands the e.p.a.'s authority to roughly 60% of all waters of the united states including irrigation ditches, stock ponds and even dry desert washes. this is bad news for arizona agriculture and home-building sectors which combined account for most of all economic activity in my state. if a farmer wants to build or repair a canal the e.p.a. could block it. a community that wants to build a school or a church near a dry wash will have to beg e.p.a.'s permission. the e.p.a. can even go after property owners if the agency thinks water historically flowed across their land, even when there's no visible evidence. ultimately, water is the last thing the e.p.a. will be worried about once their clean water
rule becomes effective. they will be drowning in lawsuits. another proposed rule by the e.p.a. -- quote -- the clean power plan rule, would place new limits on greenhouse gas emissions that would prevent the use of coal and result in the elimination of 36% of arizona's electric power generation. of course, the billions of dollars that would be needed to comply with the plan would be passed on to consumers. estimates are that utility rates could increase up to 13% in arizona. if you're a small business owner and you don't have the luxury to pass on these costs this dramatic increase in your utility bill could prevent replacing old equipment or hiring new employees or otherwise expanding your business. in addition to being a job killer this rule will impact arizona's water supply, which in many cases is moved through the state by energy derived from
coal-fired plants negatively affecting consumers and commerce throughout the state. this rule also threatens default on hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-backed usda rural utility service loans around the country which are critical to providing rural residents with affordable energy and reliable, good-paying jobs. another rule which would revise ozone regulations may also disproportionately impact arizona, especially her rural communities. failing to acknowledge qualities unique to arizona regarding ozone concentrations in the state -- for example altitude, topography lightning and wildfires -- this rule would undermine the state's continuing attractiveness to business by creating construction restrictions permitting delays and reduced federal transportation funding. so what can be done about all
this? well that depends. for those rules that have been finalized, we can start looking at legislatively repealing them as a bill that senator flake and i recently sponsored which would deal with the clean water rule or we can pass resolutions of disapproval under the congressional review act to help bring public attention to them. for those rules that haven't been finalized yet we can consider including riders in appropriations bills to disrupt their implementation. madam president, we need to be very clear on what's going on here. these regulations don't represent a good-faith effort by president obama to work with congress to legislate transparently with care and acuity to help the states ensure the health, welfare and safety of our citizens. rather like the president's executive order on immigration they're an example of his
insistence in using his -- quote -- pen and phone to unconstitutionally and unilaterally forge a legacy, a legacy that will in fact have a chilling impact on economic growth and prosperity. the fact is that after years of economic recession the arizona economy is showing signs of recovery but with arizona's growing slower than the rest of the country with only a 1.1% increase in real gross state product, compared to 2.2% nationwide and 65,500 fewer people working in arizona compared to eight years ago washington has to be focused on doing everything it can to unburden small business owners and promote entrepreneurialism. these regulations would do just the opposite. for these reasons, it will be important for all arizonans and all affected americans to make
their concern and outrage heard. for arizona senator flake and i join our colleagues representing other affected states and will continue to exercise our constitutional oversight prerogative to keep the executive in check and help educate the american people about what's coming and how it will affect all of us. madam president, i ask that the arizona republic's editorial on this issue that appeared yesterday and on june 30 2015, the op-ed from me and senator flake in "the arizona republic" entitled we're standing up against regulations-happy obama three, the two oversight letters we recently sent relevant agency heads on the clean power plan rule and the clean water rule and the op-ed from the arizona chamber of commerce president glenn hammer in" the yuma sun"