tv U.S. Senate CSPAN July 30, 2015 10:00am-12:01pm EDT
c-span. the senate is about to gavel and for the day and they will wrap up work on a six-year highway bill with the passage vote at noon. later they will vote on the house passed a three-month extension of the highway funding bill, that would add 1:45. and now, live coverage of ther. senate. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god, enthroned above all other powers, thank you for the gift of this day. use our lawmakers for your glory. may they find obedience to you not a burden but a delight.
may they find the cost of loyalty to your precepts not a trial but a privilege, as they discover in your words wings to uplift our nation and world. lord, inspire our senators to make decisions that will build monuments of moral excellence and courage for generations to come. open their eyes to your wisdom, as you continue to uphold our nation with your powerful hand. we pray in your holy name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting
the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. 6 mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 236 which was submitted earlier
today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 236 designating july 30, 2015, as national whistle-blower appreciation day. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: well, mr. president, many thought we'd never get there, but we have indeed. later today the senate will pass a multiyear highway bill that doesn't raise taxes by a penny and will do it on a broad bipartisan basis. this is more than just another accomplishment for the senate. it's a win for our country. because the bill would cut red tape and streamline regulations, it would modernize infrastructure and advance
research and innovation. it would enact new transparency measures to empower americans to see how much of their tax money is actually being spent. and because it's a multiyear bill, it would give states, cities and towns the certainty they need to better plan road and bridge projects well into the future. the multiyear nature of this legislation is one of its most critical components. it's also something the house and senate are now united on. we all want the house to have the space it needs to develop its own bill because we all want to work out the best possible legislation for the american people in a conference later this year. so we'll take up a measure this afternoon to give them that space while also delivering important relief to veterans. the bill would extend a helping hand to heroes who need it by covering unfunded requirements the administration failed to budget for.
i hope we'll rally in support of veterans when that measure is considered just as we'll continue to rally in support of a multiyear bipartisan and fiscally responsible highway bill we'll pass today. some never thought this day would come, but thanks to the enduring dedication of senators on both sides of the aisle, in particular senator inhofe, senator boxer as well as senator thune, nelson and hatch, it's here. now, mr. president, on another matter, the purpose of the iran nuclear agreement review act is to ensure congress has a fully informed understanding of any comprehensive agreement reached between the administration and iran. these are principles both parties endorsed when they voted overwhelmingly to pass that measure earlier this year. these are principles president obama endorsed when he signed it into law. these are principles that need
to be upheld. that's why i recently joined speaker boehner, senator cotton and congressman pompeo in calling on the administration to comply with the terms of this law by providing the senate with the text of the two -- the two side agreements reached between iran and the iaea. that was more than a week ago, but we still have yet to receive them. without this critical information, republicans and democrats in congress may not be able to properly assess such a highly consequential deal with iran. that simply is not acceptable. the administration needs to turn over the side agreements without delay. let me say that again. the administration needs to turn over the side agreements without delay. even considering all this, the senate has already begun its necessary oversight of the deal that will soon be before us.
the armed services committee held a hearing yesterday on the strategic and military implications of the deal. the foreign relations committee also held a hearing yesterday to consider the alternatives to this agreement. today it will consider the implications of sanctions relief for iran along with congress's ability to impose additional sanctions if iran persists in its support of terrorism. and the intelligence committee has already embarked on a series of briefings and hearings that will help congress determine whether or not the deal can even be verified. can we verify it? as the review moves forward, we'll continue working to assess the relative threat posed to the greater middle east and to the united states by an iranan regime empowered with a threshold nuclear program and billions, billions of dollars of additional resources. i know this worries a lot of members in both parties.
consider what the top democrat on the house foreign affairs committee said just this week. i'm troubled, he said, that what this essentially does is after 15 years it legitimizes iran as a nuclear threshold state. after 15 years iran can produce weapons-grade highly enriched uranium without limitations and that is disturbing because what that means to me is it really doesn't prevent iran from having a nuclear weapon. it just postpones it. that's the top democrat on the house foreign affairs committee. he's not the only democrat or republican with these types of concerns. so we'll keep working for answer. we'll also continue pressing for a more fulsome revelation of the true extent of the possible military dimensions of iran's nuclear program. understanding iran's relative trustworthiness in the past will be critical to determine iran's potential for trustworthiness in the future. whether, for instance, it can
truly be trusted to live up to its commitments in today's agreement. getting a fuller picture of iran's past nuclear past and research will go towards ensuring the u.n. security council which rushed -- rushed -- to approve the comprehensive deal has a more comprehensive understanding moving forward. so we'll continue working hard to assess this agreement on behalf of the american people who absolutely deserve a say in a deal of this magnitude. and at the end congress will take a vote and answer a simple but powerful question: will this agreement actually make america and its allies safer? will this agreement actually make america and its allies safer?
mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: republicans called it the beginning of socialized medicine. a direct quote. "the wall street journal" accused democrats and the president of politicking with the nation's health. that's a quote. one republican senator called the health care law brazen socialism. further, it's not needed. socialism moves a country in a direction which is not good for anyone whether they be young or old. it charts a course in which there will be no turning back. it's not only socialism, it's brazen socialism. mr. president, you would think that based on the 50-plus times to try to overturn obamacare that that's what republican senators were talking about. no. no. that was medicare. that was medicare. they were talking about
obamacare -- they weren't talking about obamacare. medicare is what they were talking about. 50 years ago president lyndon johnson signed into law medicare and medicaid. at that time conservatives believed that access to health care through government was the worst possible decision an elected official could make. in so many republicans, the same thing. in fact, republicans still do feel that way. even after decades of medicare success, they're still clamoring for the program's elimination or massive changes. jeb bush, front-runner for the republican presidential nomination, called for -- quote -- "phasing out medicare" rallying this at a koch brothers rally in new hampshire. jeb bush said -- quote -- "let's face out medicare." how about that one? for half a century republicans
have continued to attack medicare despite all the good it's done. they've tried to privatize medicare, turn it into a voucher system, reduce benefits for seniors. republicans attacked the closing of the prescription drug doughnut hole, elimination of cost saving for prevent yich coverage simply because there were improvements made by the affordable care act. republicans have repeatedly sought to destroy medicaid and republican governors have turned back millions of federal dollars and denied their citizens the most needy of all coverage simply because of ideology. this week they've renewed their never ending assault on women's health by trying to defund planned parenthood in reaction to a radical right wing crusade. men and women provide plmed f planned -- know planned parenthood provides valued care.
women need this health care to stay healthy. why are they doing it? i guess to further their political agenda, the republicans. when will the republican attack on effective health care end? medicare and medicaid have positively affected and saved millions of americans' lives. before medicare, nearly half of all seniors aged 65 and older were uninsured. the elderly were discriminated against simply because of their ainl. if you were fortunate enough to have health insurance, you paid over 50% of the costs straight out of your pocket. mr. president, my first elected job was from clark county, that's where has vegas is located -- where has las vegas is located in nevada.
i became after a year or so chairman of the board of trustees. i was there when medicare came into being. prior to medicare, more than 40% of all senators who came into -- of all seniors who came into our hospital were required to have a brother, a daughter, a father, a son, a wife, a neighbor to sign on this dotted line saying if that bill is not paid, we'll guarantee it is paid. we had a collection department in that hospital that was very aggressive and went after these people. that's how bad it was for seniors. but today, 50 years later, about 99% of seniors are insured, can go to the hospital when they need care. the costs during their working years is a very small amount. a small amount of out-of-pocket costs. the program that we call medicare is a lifeline.
before medicare and medicaid, health care for millions of younger americans were subject to racism and discrimination. white america then was 30% more likely to be admitted to the hospitals than african-americans. in many cases -- they wanted to know where you live. and if the color of your skin wasn't just right when you were brought to the hospital, you went on your way. today the disparity rates between african-americans and other races has decreased. in the past 50 years medicaid has grown to be the nation's primary hurps program for low-income individuals and families. medicaid has grown to cover nearly 70 million americans and
more than 40 million children. today medicaid covers more than half of all bill, in the united states and ensures that children receive the health care that they desperately need in the early stages of their lives. by providing early childhood health care to millions, medicaid has improved the long-term health of children and contribute thed to the overall quality of life of the medicaid has also provided long-term services to 16 million low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities. medicaid pays for services that medicare does not cover. it ensures that low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities are access to a wide variety of services. these options, mr. president, allow them to remain in their communities rather than relocating to nursing homes. but when they do have to go to nursing homes, a vast majority of people in these convalescent centers are medicaid recipients, medicaid. 22 states, though, sadly have chosen not to expand medicaid
coverage. this has hurt people who can't afford health care any other way. why do states and republican governors in states oppose this? because it's part of obamacare. to his credit, the conservative republican governor from the state of nevada, brian sandoval, was one of the first governors to sign on to this program. he didn't care if it was a democratic program or a republican program. it helped people in nevada who needed help. the and i admire hum for doing that. i really admire him very much. the expansion of medicaid in states throughout the country would boost states' economic activity. brian sandoval knows that. it provides health care to vulnerable americans. in the state of nevada -- we're a sparsely populated state -- almost 200,000 people are receiving the health care they need and would not have but for
the obamacare and governor brian sandoval. medicaid expansion would benefit every state. the affordable care act transformed medicaid into a true safety net for vulnerable americans. we should be expanding this coverage, not restricting it for partisan gain. medicare and medicaid have protected americans for 50 years. our nation is healthier and stronger because of their existence. but despite 50 years of undeniable medicare and medicaid success, republicans remain committed to ending access to health care to those who need it the most. 50 years from now we will be celebrating the law's success -- obamacare's success. in 50 years will there be a republican presidential wasn't
in a be out there saying -- wannabe out there saying, let's get rid of obamacare, let's phase it out. i hope not. republicans have engaged in attacks designed to undermine the law that transformed our nation's health care system. the affordable care act has helped millions of americans gain access to quality health care. sings the affordable care act was signed into law, 16.4 million americans now have quality health care. h., many of them for -- many of them for the first time in their lives. in the last 18 months, the uninsured rate for non-elderly adults has fallen by 35%. patient safety initiatives are keeping americans safe. the affordable care act is working. it is the law of the land and is not going to change. after 50 years of votes to undermine or repeal the affordable care act, there have
been repeated challenges to this law and for the courts in every level we've won. the american people have won, twice with a stamp of approval by the supreme court. last month we witnessed the supreme court rule, as i have indicated, for the second time in favor of the affordable care act. it is here to stay because the american people want affordable health care. american seniors need affordable health, they need accessible health, and they need it right now. five decades ago, 50 years ago, president johnson said, "no longer will older americans be denied heat in america, water or medicine. no longer will elder americans destroy the savings they've put away so they might enjoy dignity into their later years. no longer will young families see their own incomes and hopes eaten away because they're carrying out their deep moral
obstacles to their parents, to their uncles and to their aunts." close quote. republicans have spent the last five decades fighting against president johnson's dream. republicans are determined to roll back access to health care for americans. hard to believe, but it is true. just this week the senate held a vote on whether or not to repeal this lifesaving program again. it is clear that after 50 years republicans have learned nothing. we should be building on the success of medicare, medicaid, and the affordable care act. we need to be expanding coverage to all americans. we should be encourage states to expand medicaid access. democrats have committed and we are committed, mr. president, as president johnson was a half a century ago, to give americans the health care they need and deserve. would the chair announce the schedule for 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 act to amend the internal revenue code of 19 86 and so forth. mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 12:00 p.m. will be equally divided in the usual form. mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, soon we will vote on final passage of a bill that will provide a long-term solution to the shortfalls of the highway trust fund. if enacted, this bill will provide the longest paid-for authorization of highway and transportation spending in nearly a decade. this is bill is the result of an incredible amount of work by a number of senators, including our distinguished majority leader, as well as the chairman and ranking member of the e.p.w. and the ran ranking member there swvment i want to commend them for setting aside partisan
differences to find a solution despite the neigh saying of some of our colleagues and others here in washington. i am also pleased to have been able to play a part working with leader mcconnell to identify suitable offsets to fighter reauthorization of the highway and transit programs. while the finance committee which i chair has jurisdiction over the funding stream, we had to call on other committees in order to pay for this multiyear highway bill. this required the cooperation of multiple chairman and committees, all working together toward a common goal. one of the most remarkable things about this bill is that it provides three years of full -- three full years of highway funding without raising taxes or adding to the deficit. we've heard time and again that a long-term highway bill would only be possible if we included a big tax increase.
with the upcoming final vote on this bill, the sna the i senatet to prove otherwise ran and willo so with bipartisan support. this, mr. president, is how the senate should operate, particularly when we're dealing with something as big and important as highway funding. and as i said last week, this bill represents a victory for good government and is yet another bipartisan win for the senate under the current leadership. like many of my colleagues, my hope is that eventually the house of representatives will follow suit and work toward passage of a similar long-term highway bill so that we can come together, reconcile differences, and finish the job. and while i know there are some divisions on the other side of the capitol about the senate's overall strategy and maybe even some of the particulars in our bill, i think we've shown that a long-term bill is a realistic goal and a preferable option to yet another short-term highway patch. once again i'm well-aware of the desire of some in congress and
in the administration t to marry long-term funding to some kind of tax reform. as a member of the tax committee, i think that idea has a lost merit and i commend those who are thinking in those terms. fortunately, this bill will provide just that opportunity while getting added seniority to our states as they plan -- added certainty to our states as they plan their highway projects and to our job creators looking to expand and hire more workers. put simply, the senate's highway approach is a win for everyone. the house should consider our approach, and i hope they will. long story short, mr. president, today is a good day. today the senate will accomplish something that few thought possible. while the process has been a bit more difficult and divisive than many of us would have liked, i personally am very pleased to see the senate function properly and govern responsibly. there are a lot of things that we can fight over here in
congress, but i think we can -- or at least should all agree on the need to come together to pay for our nation' nation's infras. i'm pleased to join with my colleagues, senators from both parties, in taking a major step toward that goal today. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: thank you very much, mr. president. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i be able to speak in morning business for no more than ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: thank you very much, mr. president. i rise today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of medicare. 50 years ago on july 30, 1965, president lyndon johnson signed into law the legislation to create medicare. mr. president, i say "thank god for medicare." it was a great idea 50 years
ago. twit was a great idea 50 months ago, 50 weeks ago, 50 minutes. and i stand on the senate floor to say, we must keep medicare as medicare, keep the integrity and solvency of medicare. we cannot turn medicare into a voucher. we cannot dilute it, phase it out, or eliminate it. and i will say to this, until my last vote is cast in the senate, i will defend medicare. i saw what this meant in 1965. that summer i had just graduated from the university of maryland school of social work. change was in the air. the civil rights movement was making its progress towards history and moving forward. there were beginning doubts about the vietnam war. the nation was recovering from the assassination of president
kennedy, and president johnson wanted to lead in a bold way, having had a landslide victory in which said h he said he wanto create a great soavment an soci. and he knew that a great society had to have a great heart. and when we knew then, as we know today, is that people feared financial bankruptcy because of the health care cost. they were terrified that a heart attack that would end up in hospitalization would bankrupt the family. they delayed the idea of getting cataract surgery, which then needed to be done in the hospital, because they were afraid not of the surgery; they were afraid of the cost of surgery. for people over 65, if you were a small, independent businessperson, you often had no
health insurance after 65, whether you are in agriculture or an urban small business. medicare changed all that. medicare protected people from two things. number one, it protected them so that they could have the doctor that they needed when they needed it and the health care that they needed. the second thing that it did is it protected them from financial disaster. today 55 million americans, nearly every senior, has access to medicare, including 1 million seniors. and what was so significant about that bill is it provided universal access to doctors. number two, it had no barriers because of preexisting conditions. number three, it was portable because it was national. whether you were in maryland or utah or whatever state, medicare
was your national program, and it was viewed as an earned benefit. america at that time had many things going for it. one, we had a sense of self-confidence that we could really solve problems and meet the compelling needs of our country and that the other, it had compassion. one of my guiding principles -- and i believe then that guided the nation -- was the guiding principle that honor thy father and mother. we knew that it was not only a great commandment to live by, but it was a good policy to live by. and, therefore, we ensured that all americans had access of health care, regardless of their income. as i said in the 1960's, in 1965 was the year that i actually graduated from the school of social work. you went to the program called responding for the elderly's abilities and sicknesses otherwise neglected. it was old "operation reason."
our expwrob, a social worker and a nurse, one of my longest friends from school, our job was to help elderly people know about the program and sign up for the program and help them use the program. the joy, the sheer joy of people hearing about this program where simply because they were american citizens, their needs with a modest premium could be taken care of. part-a was hospitalization. a safety net. and in those days care for significant illnesses had to be done in the hospital. the advances of medicine, medical technology, now where we do less in the hospital, maybe the idea of cataract surgery and others being done on an outpatient basis wasn't there so that they no longer had to fear
the cost of hospitalization. and then there was this program called, a part of it called part-b that meant that you had access to see a doctor, to see if you had diabetes, to see if you had high blood pressure, to see why you couldn't see those grandchildren or do your work on the family farm, the small business or the factories when we had them in those days, and what you needed was maybe better eyesight, cataract surgery. maybe you were feeling old and slow not because of that but because you had diabetes or other consequences. and then of course there was the cost of the dreaded "c" word of cancer. my colleague and i worked in the neighborhoods to make sure that we took care of how people could get to the facilities, know about those services and know about those barriers. in those days baltimore citizens
were struggling. when you retired it was often the end of health insurance. it meant nearly half the seniors were uninsured. they went to clinics standing in very long lines, often shut telled back and -- shuttled back and forth from one clinic to another. they looked at your eyes here, your ears here. their concept of primary was fragmented. before medicare millions of seniors, as i said, was one heart attack away from bankruptcy or one cancer diagnosis away from destitution. that was life before medicare. many were skeptical about medicare. once again the other party fought it. they were wondering if medicare was -- what that would mean. people were skeptical. was this a big-government move or was it a big opportunity? my job was to show them that this program was not about big
government but about government with a big heart. after four months of operation, we had enrolled hundreds of people into this much-needed program. and what has it meant? before medicare, 48% of seniors had no health insurance. today only 2% are uninsured. out-of-pocket costs have decreased. before medicare, seniors paid 56% of health care costs out of their pocket. imagine what that meant if you were hospitalized in a hospital in those days at $500 a day. life expectancy -- life expectancy is now five years longer. death from heart disease has dropped. our elderly poverty rate has declined, and seniors have access to more affordable drugs. this isn't about numbers and it isn't about statistics. it's about people. it's about people and what their
compelling human needs are. it is about a government that says i am on your side and at your side, and we're going to use our national resources, our national brainpower, our national know-how to be able to create a program that you can participate in. and at the end of the day your life will be better and our society will be improved. i'm really proud of what the congress and the president did 50 years ago. i hope we have that same attitude again. it's not about big government. it's about government with a big heart. and i will say this. there are those who continue to talk about ending medicare. this most recently, a presidential candidate who i think has incredible ability -- jeb bush -- said he wanted to phase out medicare. i don't get it. how do you phase out medicare? do you start first with age, like do we phase out 90-year
olds and then next year we phase out 80-year olds? how do you phase it out? do we phase it out by disease? this year no more diabetics. okay, this year no more cancer patients. wow, they really cost a lot of money. what is it, called phasing it out. and what do you phase it out to? medicare cannot be privatized. we must continue it as a guaranteed benefit. do we need to reform it, take a look at it, refresh it? the answer is yes. we have done that, like when we added part-b. but i will say this, no matter what, thank god for medicare. and when you go around this country, no matter how they feel about government or about congress, people love social security and they love medicare. and you know what? we have to defend it. we have to make sure it is there as we need it.
so when this 50th anniversary of medicare, let's come together to make sure we continue to be focused on not big government, but where we have with the sense of self-confidence and a belief in our country to solve big problems that we continue to act like a country with a big heart, and we can do it because we've done it in the past. so, mr. president, i'll conclude by saying thank god for medicare and thank god for the ability to be here on the floor of the senate to defend it. i now yield back the floor. i now yield back the floor. mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. i do have a unanimous consent request, but i'm waiting for the senator from iowa, senator grassley, chairman of the judiciary to do that. so i'll speak first and then do the request. so i rise today to address the growing crisis of judicial vacancies in our federal and district courts.
mr. president, there are no values more american than the speedy p application of justice and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. and, frankly, neither of those can be achieved without justices and judges on the bench. it is the job of the senate to responsibly keep up with the need to confirm judges. and yet, we have a 10% vacancy in judicial position tion throughout the -- judicial positions throughout the united states. we have 28 districts which are considered -- quote -- "judicial emergencies." in my state, home state of new york, in the western district there is not a single active district judge. zero. the western district has one of the busiest caseloads in the country. it handles more criminal cases than washington, d.c. or boston or cleveland. the delays for civil trials are by far the worst in the country. and yet, they don't have a
single active federal district judge. if not for the efforts of two judges on senior status who are volunteering to hear cases in their retirement, the western district would be at full judicial standstill. well, mr. president, how have we gotten to this point? my friends on the other side of the aisle slowed the pace of confirmations when the senate was under democratic leadership, creating these backlogs. but we still pushed as many through as we could. and now p under the new republican senate, more than half a year into this new congress, the republican leadership has scheduled votes on only five federal judges. it's july. they've scheduled votes on five federal judges. that, mr. president, is a disgrace. for context, in the seventh year of president bush's presidency, the democratic senate, we were in charge then, approved 25 compared to five here.
that's a direct one-to-one comparison. apples to apples. at this point in president bush term, democrats confirmed five times the amount of judges that this republican congress, this republican senate has confirmed, and that is unacceptable. right now there are 14 noncontroversial judges on the executive calendar, including three highly qualified judges for new york. i know these nominees. they are brilliant legal minds, experienced jurists, and above all they're moderate. larry vallardo is one who i recommended. they should all be confirmed. but we don't even know when they'll ever come up for a vote. i want to spend a minute telling you about these qualified judges. mr. vilardo is a true bu
buffaloian. he is fundamentally and classically a buffaloian, salt of the earth, grounded. buffalo is in his bones, part of who he is. like so many other people from the region, the city has made him tough, level-headed, fair and decent. as the first in his family to graduate from college, he adds an important element of socioeconomic diversity to the court. the people of the western district of new york will be incredibly lucky to have him on the bench. and as perfect as larry vilardo is for the bench in buffalo so are darcy and done -- donnelly perfect for the bench in brooklyn. judge dleep spent a quarter decade as prosecutor in a
prestigious new york county district attorneys office under d.a. morganthal. i could tick off many of her accomplishments, but she has more than a brilliant resume. she is at her core a kind, thoughtful and compassionate person. let me say a word about lashann darcy hall. i'm proud to offer her my strong support. she too has accumulated impress ive legal experience as a partner in the law firm of morrison and foster. she is a veteran of the air force, she is a member of the howard university school of law, a member of the school of visitors there. all these nominees meet and exceed my standard of judicial nominations.
my standards are three: excellence. legally excellent, no political hacks. moderation, not too far right but not too far left. and diversity. whenever we can get diversity on the bench, we should. but they are not the only outstanding nominees we have on the floor we have pending judges from missouri, california candidates, from missouri, california represented by republican senators as much as by democrats who are experiencing the same judicial emergencies and heavy backlog caseloads. yet, we have no indication if they'll ever be moved off the calendar. mr. president, this is about governing. in january the distinguished and newly minted majority leader came before this body and said it was time to govern. we would do the budget by regular order. things would return to normal in the senate. we wouldn't fill the tree. yet, here we are seven months
later and we've approved five judges. that's it. five. that's 10% of the federal and district judges, judgeships are vacant. mr. president, confirming judges is part of the business of government and right now the majority party is failing that responsibility to the american people. it has real consequences. in the western district of new york judge scretney on senior status admitted he's encouraging all cases to settle in pretrial to lower caseloads. criminal trials are prioritized while civil trials languished. the two retired judges in western new york are the only ones reading cases at the moment and spending far less time on each individual case than they would under normal circumstances. and defendants may be inclined to settle, admit guilt and take plea deals rather than wait out a lengthy trial process. the same story line is playing out throughout the country. that's not how our justice
system is supposed to work. as many of my colleagues have said so eloquently, the harsh truth of the matter is that for these petitioners, companies and communities, justice is being delayed and thus denied. in the senate, we often invoke the principles upon which our country was founded, principles of individual liberty, justice, and equality in the eyes of the law. these words have to mean something. they shouldn't be political games standing in their way. the equal and fair application of justice is necessarily tarnished by a courtroom without a judge. it's as simple as that. so in conclusion, mr. president, democrats will is not stand to watch our judicial system brought to its knees by a death of 1,000 cuts. we have one week of legislative session before a month-long recess. i submit that we should not, cannot leave town having confirmed only five months in what will be only eight months
of this congress. so today i rise to request we move to new york's pending judicial nominations. but i also hope we will move the other judges before and after new york's on the calendar. and i'd like to make this request, so i know my colleague from ia would like to answer it. l so, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations: calendars 139, 140, 141, that the senate proceed to vote without intervening action for debate on th nominations in the order list, the motions to reconsider be laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate, that no further motions be in order to the nominations, that any related statements be prescriptived in the record, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate then resume legislative session.
the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. grassley: reserving the right to object, mr. president -- the presiding officer: the senator is iowa. mr. grassley: and before i speak about reserving the right to object, i would -- i would like to have the floor immediately after he gives up the floor, if i could. is there any objection to that? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: okay. i will -- i want to reserve the right to object, and i will object. i'd like to make a few comments on the pace of judicial nominations. first of all, during president obama's presidency thus far, the senate has confirmed 317 judicial nominees. now, in contrast to that there were 283 judicial nominees that the senate had confirmed at this very same point of the previous presidency. that's 30 more judicial nominees
confirmed at this point than the year 200. concerning this year --2007. concerning this year's pace, my colleague is referring to this point. by this moints in it t-007, the committee had held hearings for a total of 20 judicial nominees. so far we've held seven hearings for a total of 21 nominees, five executive nominees, 16 judicial nominees, including hearings on both the attorney general and the deputy attorney general. and i would like to re-mandate my colleagues that the attorney general and deputy attorney general nominees were both significantly more time-consuminconsuming on staffd members being intensely involved than regular judicial nominations. so we're doing a little bit better than the pace that was set on the other side during the
last two years of the previous presidency, like i'm trying to compare to the last two years of this presidency. i would also note that the nominees from new york are below other article 3 judges on the executive calendar. and, as i understand it, our side has agreed to vote on the next judge on the calendar when we return. furthermore -- mr. schumer: will my colleague yield for a brief question? mr. grassley: i will yield. of course i'll -- mr. schumer: i very much appreciate his courtesy. i understand my colleague has talked about what has occurred in the judiciary committee, which he chairs. does my colleague deny that on the floor of the senate in the year 2007 were 25 years ago at this time and only 5 have been confirmed by this senate? does my colleague deny that fact? mr. grassley: well, i would agree to that, and i'll speak to that point right now. it's very appropriate that you
would know exactly what i was going to say to answer your question. mr. schumer: great minds think alike. mr. grassley: with respect to those judges on the executive calendar, everybody knows that at the end of last year the senate rammed through 11 judges, which under regular order -- and regular order is very important in the united states senate; should have been considered at the beginning of this congress -- and that's what happened in 2006 when 13 nominations were returned to the president instead of going through the united states senate at a time when it would have been comparable to what was done at the end of 2014. had we not confirmed those 11 judicial nominees during the lame duck last year, we'd be roughly at the same pace we were for judicial confirmations this year compared to 2007, so put that in your pipe and smoke it, the senator from new york. so we're moving at a reasonable pace. therefore, i object.
the presiding officer: the objection is heard. mr. schumer: without smoke, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: the senator from new york gave very good words that i want to follow up on. he said we were promised that it's all about governing. and when republicans took over, we said things would be different. they are different. the and i would just like to show -- and i would just like to shot senator from neshow the sek that promises made are promises kecht and i thinkept. and i think the best place to go for the promises made was a january 14 speech by the leadership of the republicans where a speech was give than if there were republican control of the united states senate that we would govern. and i think the best way to say that is that there were 370
house bills that died in the united states senate under the leadership of a democrat majority. we had 18 -- 15 amendments with roll call votes. so far this year we've had 259 roll call votes. my figures from a month ago was we had passed 40 bipartisan bills, over 120 bills have been reported out of committee, 18 bills signed into law, the first balanced budget of over a decade -- the first balanced budget amendment that we would -- well, the best way to say it is, we had a budget agreement for the first time in six years, where under the democrat majority we had one budget in six years and the law requires every year that we adopt a budget.
and we've done that. and so we made a promise that the senate was going to function as a deliberative body, unlike the way it was run under democrat majority for the six years of this presidency. and from that standpoint, we have done that with the statistics that i just gave you. so when the senator from new york says that we were promised a senate that would govern -- and he's using judges moving at the same pace that they did when they took over the united states senate -- it is no measure of the senate governing. it is the total senate, and the total senate is doing its work, as we promised before the election. we have delivered. i yield the floor.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nevada. mr. heller: mr. president, thank you. we've had some interesting back-and-forths here this morning. and we had a great message from our good senator from maryland. the colloquy that we just saw here on judicial nominees -- i want to move it in a little different direction, something that i think is important, as the previous speaker talked about the majority -- the current majority getting things done. i want to talk about for the first time in ten years what's going to happen on this floor today. and that is that for the first time in ten years we're going to pass a multiyear -- a multiyear transportation bill without raising taxes. and, keep in mind, we have done short-term transportation efforts 33 times, 33 times before we finally got to the next multiyear bill, that will be passed on the floor today.
and i believe one of the core constitutional functions of the federal government is creating the infrastructure necessary to conduct commerce, trade, and as how general transportation. i sit on three of the four senate committees tasked with developing this highway bill that we will vote on today. the financial committee, commerce, science, and transportation committee, and the banking committee. and because of this, infrastructure development is one of my top priorities while here in this congress. it's been a pleasure, mr. president, to work with chairman inhofe, to work with chairman thune, shelby, and hatch. over the past several months on this highway bill, and i'm very appreciative of our leadership team, particularly that of leader mcconnell and senator cornyn for working to advance it before the authorities expire and the congress adjourns for the august recess. moving forward with a highway bill that invests in our nation's crumbling infrastructure, reduces
congestion and increases safety without adding to the national debt will create short-term jobs and long-term economic growth. western states like nevada, which have experienced an unprecedented amount of growth over the past couple of decades, have the most to gain from this highway bill. nevada is one of the fastest-growing states in our nation, adding nearly 850,000 people to that state in the last 15 years. in fact, the silver state was the fastest-growing state in the nation in the decade of the 2000's, experiencing a 35% population increase. this growth, while exciting for the state, has posed, of course, additional constraints on our transportation infrastructure system. from 19909 to 20 -- from 190 to 2013, vehicle travel on nevada's highways have increased 130%. the silver state's economy relies heavily on tourism.
travel spending adds nearly $60 billion to nevada's economy annually, accounting for about 13% of the state's g.d.p. safe and reliable roads, bridges, in our state and throughout the country is crucial for growing our economy. our rapid expanding state has a long list of infrastructure priorities to address. a multiyear highway bill will provide the resources and tools that will benefit high-priority projects such as the boulder city biparks the i-15 widening in las vegas, which by the way is nevada's busiest freeway. under nevada's most conservative budgetary plans, our department of transportation has identified over $9 billion of capital improvement projects over the next 20 years. short-term patches will not put a dent in that work plan. additionally, it is important to cut bureaucratic red tape which
will speed up permitting, ensure that our nation gets more roads, more bridges, more rail projects, and other infrastructure developments for every dollar that we invest. over the past couple of months, i've worked diligently on my committees with the environment and public works committee in a bipartisan manner to include a variety of nevada and national safety priorities in the highway safety bill, which are included in this senate bill we'll vote on today. first and foremost, mr. president, those priorities is the expansion of interstate 11 to northern nevada. i've been working for years with my colleagues in both nevada and arizona delegations on capital hill to move forward on the i-11 -- to move i-11 inured. i-- to move i-11 forward. we were successful to move language in map-21 for a route connecting phoenix and las vegas. these are the two largest cities
not connected by an interstate highway system. phoenix and las vegas are the two largest cities in america not connected with an interstate highway system. i've been working diligently to extend the proposed highway to i-80 in northern nevada. earlier this year i introduced the bipartisan, bicameral intermountain west corridor development act to extend that route north and worked with chairman inhofe to include it in the drive act. this full north-to-south, canada-to-mexico interstate system is a project of national significance, critical for our nation's mobility, economy, and national defense. this extension will move -- open even more markets for tourism and trade, create jobs, and improve the economy for the entire western united states. i've also worked to include policies in the bill that will greatly benefit the lake tahoe
region's transportation efforts. the tahoe basin is a unique area, shared by the states of nevada and california, but also heavily controlled by the federal government. in fact, the feds are the largest land managers controlling 77% of the land. under current law, tahoe is not considered as one area from a transportation perspective. because the size of lake tahoe separates the individual communities that surround the lake. the growing tourism industry greatly benefits the local economy but also poses additional strains on the region's transportation system. the language included both the e.p.w. and banking titles ensures the population of california and nevada communities surrounding the lake are considered a singular entity. this will greatly benefit local leaders as they seek additional resources to implement the basin's innovative 21st
century highway and transit plans. as a member of the commerce committee i also work with chairman thune on the comprehensive transportation and consumer protection act which was approved earlier this month in our committees and also part of this bill. it includes reforms that will enhance the safety of our roads and our railways. i am pleased legislation introduced with my friend from massachusetts, senator markey, of safety through informed consumers act commonly referred to as the stickers act was included in the commerce bill. this policy promotes the purchase of safer cars by requiring the national highway graphic safety administration to integrate crash avoidance technology information such as active braking and lane tracking technology into the safety ratings listed on your car's stickers. consumers have a right to the most accurate and upto the date information possible when making
decisions on what cars to purchase. a separate five-star rating for crash avoidance technologies or an adjustment to the current rating system that would preclude a new car from getting five stars unless it has at least one of these new crash avoidance technologies. this will make it clear to every buyer whether or not the vehicle they are considering has the latest and the best in safety technology. senator schatz and i have also teamed up on a safe streets amendment aimed at improving pedestrian safety. threats to pedestrian safety are increasing, are increasingly becoming a problem in my state. the number of pedestrian fatalities has nearly doubled in the silver state in just the last three years. in total, pedestrian fatalities are nearly a quarter of our overall traffic fatalities. nevada is the sixth most dangerous for pedestrians over the age of 65 years. i know our state and regional
transportation organizations are working diligently to address pedestrian safety concerns and i hope our initiative will spur innovative transportation planning throughout the nation that aims to improve bike and pedestrian safety. and finally, i had a provision included in the bill that restores some sanity to the department of transportation's services regulation. under the existing rule, drivers of commercial moat motor vehicles are required to take a 30-minute break after most eight hours of consecutive work. industries such as ready-mix concrete industry whose products are perishable find it difficult to implement the h.o.s. regulation given the unique conditions of their work. concrete is needed on a just-in-time basis. once a delivery is started, it must be completed or the concrete may harden in the truck causing thousands of dollars of damage in that vehicle.
concrete delivery often takes more than two and a half hours to complete. mixer drivers are also unique in the commercial truck driving industry in that they typically spend only 40% of their time on duty actually driving. the other 60% is spent at the plant waiting to be dispatched, at the job site waiting for the contractor to receive the contract, unloading the concrete itself. this one-size-fits-all regulation just doesn't make sense, and i am pleased my provision making this existing administrative exemption for perishable goods permanent has been included in the commerce bill. i'd be remiss if i didn't mention some important rail infrastructure policies also included in the commerce bill. freight rail plays a major role in nevada's economy. the silver state has 1,192 miles of rail track and nearly 43 million tons of freight move through the state each year via
rail supporting over 700 high-paying jobs. i was proud to team up with my friends, senator blunt and senator booker on two stand-alone proposals that are in the rail title. first, the trail, rail and infrastructure network act which streamlines permitting for the repair and development of new railroad infrastructure is critical to ensure scant infrastructure dollars are spent efficiently and spent wisely. additionally, the rail infrastructure financing improvement act implements a variety of good-government reforms to the revolving loan program utilized to spur development of railroad infrastructure. the program is notoriously underutilized and i believe it's important that we ensure this invaluable tool is reworked so it can be used for new freight and passage of rail development. i strongly support the rail reform title when it was approved by the commerce committee and believe it's important that we include rail as part of the surface
transportation bill. improving rail safety, expanding both passenger and freight rail infrastructure are critical components of nevada and our nation's long-term economic development plans. a long-term surface and transportation bill is extremely important to the state of nevada and also to our nation. transportation efficiency and reebility is crit -- reliability is critical to our nation's economic competitiveness and the hoils in the bill will help address the need to maintain, repair and expand the national transportation system. but none of these important policies will get done if congress just kicks the can down the road. passing a strong multiyear bill here in the senate sends an important message to our colleagues in the house. i urge my colleagues to support the drive act. again, i thank leader mcconnell and chairman inhofe, thune, shelby and hatch for working with me on my priorities. they know how important it is that we enact policies that increase infrastructure
efficiency, increase safety and create jobs throughout the nation. by passing this bill we show the american people the senate is back to work to supporting policies, create jobs and spur economic development across our nation. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. inhofe: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, i do appreciate the comments from the senator from nevada. it's a reminder that a lot of people think that almost all of this act is from the environment and puck works committee. -- and public works committee. 75% is. we have the commerce and bampging -- banking committee. a lot of people have been working on this, not just our committee. i'm glad we got a good vote yesterday. i think it's important we have a strong vote because we want to encourage the house. i think the house will be taking up our bill. in fact, i think a lot of the staff people are working on that right now over on the other side.
anyway, the importance of this is really significant. if we don't pass the drive act out of this chamber, then what we're doing is reinforcing current law. what is current law? current law is short-term extensions. that means it's just the worst possible outcome. it means no big projects, for one thing. now, we spent yesterday, most of the day yesterday of our comments on the big projects, the big bridges and those things that need to be done. but the big projects -- normally you're talking about between $700 million and $1.4 billion, they can't be done on short-term extensions. logically everybody knows that and they're not done. our problem is the last bill that we passed was 2005, and it ran out in 2009. and since that time it's been short-term extensions. we haven't gotten into any of the projects that have to be done. it's the tendency, i guess, to do the hard things, is to wait
until something collapses and a bunch of people die such as what happened up in minnesota. that could have been done before. that was done in the 2005 act in my state of oklahoma. however, not until after a young lady was driving her car under one of our bridges, a bunch of concrete fell off and killed her. the mother of three children. wait until a disaster occurs. the current law fails to provide the long-term certainties and the states and cities are going to have to have on their big projects to get them off the ground. the current law funding has no growth, not even inflation. the drive act provides growth in highway and transit programs to each state. the current law gives states and local governments no certainty. 33 short-term extensions since the safety bill was passed. that's 33.
and when you pass those extensions, as i say, it takes 30% off the top. clearly the conservative position is to have a long-term bill. you wouldn't have the project delivery. the drive act eliminates the duplicative review. it expands categorical exclusions. we can't do that with short-term extensions. then transparency. what we don't want is people, as we are spending money, as the years go by, the months go by and the weeks go by, we have transparency built into this so people know and they can have faith that they know exactly what programs there are. the innovation, the drive act prepares our nation's transportation system for the future by promoting innovation across all aspects of the program and the transportation system will be stuck in reverse if we stick with the current law. the current law -- now this is what we've been doing since,
since 2009. i think it's also worthwhile for us to keep in mind that there are some things that i want in the bill that we couldn't get in. i wanted to change this 80-20 federal match program. first of all, we had 60-40 and that was not acceptable. and 70-30. and i have to admit that it was not the democrats. it was the republicans who objected to that. consequently, we had to go ahead and do it with -- go back to the 80-20. if this thing isn't, doesn't pass, then it's still going to be 80-20 because that's current law. that wouldn't change it. anyway, we have the freight section of this directs new funding towards freight transportation projects that provides the platform for our businesses to compete globally. a freight program sometimes
doesn't gept the attention. one of the -- get the attention. one of the good things about the transportation bill the way we do this and have done it historically, we go to the states. i can assure you the transportation department in the state of arizona knows a lot more about what their needs are than we do here in this infinite wind chill here in washington. infinite wisdom here in washington. they don't directly benefit the particular state that it goes through, but they benefit the entire country. and so we actually have a freight section in this that is very good. it hasn't been done before. we'll go into greater detail about the new program and what it means for the economy. today the national highway system carries more than 55% of the nation's highway traffic and 97% of the truck freight
traffic. of the four million miles of public roads, the national highway system represents only 5.5%. what we're saying is 5% of the roads out there transport 55% of the highway traffic and 97% of the freight traffic. america depends on the well maintained highway system that provides critical connection between the urban areas and rural areas. and the american businesses pay an estimated $27 billion a year in extra freight transportation costs due to the poor condition of the public roads which increases shipping delays and raising prices on everyday products. recognizing that this is the foundation for the nation's economy and the key to the national ability to compete in the global economy, it's essential that we focus efforts to improve freight movement on
national highways systems. the drive act includes two new programs to help the states deliver projects and promote the safety in that delivery. the bipartisan freight program leverages federal investment by encouraging public-private partnerships and other creative financing approaches. it also will create the first ever freight-specific investment program prioritizing investment in our commerce moving network. the first new program is the national freight program. this is distributed by a formula that will provide funds to all states to enhance the movement of goods that go through their states. now, this is something, as i said, has not been done before. and i haven't heard any objection to this, the fact that this isn't just state specific because this goes to the whole nation. and so it is very popular. the program will expand the flexibility for both rural and
urban areas to designate key freight corridors. and it will improve the efforts to identify projects with a higher return in investment through the state freight plans. the second program that's new is the assistance for major projects program. it creates a competitive grant program to provide funds for the major projects. and this is what we've been talking about for the past several days. the ver -- the very large project that captain be done by short-term steptions. they just go neglected. now, these new freight programs will only exist with the passage of the drive act when it is enacted by congress. it is time we become innovative and forward-thinking in how the federal government is using taxpayer dollars. in talking about this type of program, the drive act is the answer. it will directly help to relieve
the freight bottlenecks around the country. put up the one on chicago. is that -- is that it? yeah, now just look a at the -- this is the chicago i-290 and i-90 and the i-94. the intersection. this goes between those three. look at it. the it's just -- all of these -- i haven't even counted the lanes. but traffic is stopped. and this is what -- it's just one of the congestion congestio. when this happens, the average speed in this case is 29 miles an hour, and the morning and evening hour it is 20 miles an hour. and if it's that, then it's -- it talks about all the pollution that's there. people are running idly their engines while they're waiting in traffic. another similar situation in houston, texas, the i-45 -- i have been on this one quite often, quite a few times. the i-45 at the us-59.
if you look at the chart here, it is home of the -- five of the top freight bottl bottlenecks ie generation. texas is home to nine of those, and the costs in conjunction with this to individuals in texas is $671 -- the overall cost, $671 million annually and 8.8 million hours of delay. the i-45 is ranked third by the congestion index. we have an index so people know how bad it is and how it compares to other states. this is why it has been so popular. i-45 is ranked tenth. average speed is below 39 miles an hour, morning and evening traffic hours it is much lower than that.
fort lee, new jersey. anyone in washington who wants to go anyplace along the east coast, new york, connecticut, on up, they have to go all the way up on i-95. and this particular intersection which is in fort lee is the george washington bridge. it connects fort lee, new york, to new york city. it is the second-worst bottleneck by congestion in the nation. 29 miles an hour, i've been on that one b and it i one before. it is a very old bridge and it is one that when you drive over, you worry about whether or not you're going to make t the george washington bridge is the world's busiest motor vehicle bridge carrying over 106 million cars a year. the drive act with the newly formed freight program will make targeted investments in the infrastructure critical to moving commerce and alleviating these bottlenecks i just mentioned.
these new programs invest in the infrastructure needed to move across the nation. when you look at the corridors, when you look at the bridges -- we actually had one presentation where we went over the 20 most busiest of all the traffic congested areas in the country. so we have -- we're going to have this vote in 40 minutes from now. it's going to be one of the most critical votes of the year. i have no doubt that it's going to pass. but i want to send the signal across america to -- across america, to the house of representatives, and to everyone else that we really care about unrequest oone of the functions. and by the way, i have to repeat -- i fell compelled to do so. there are a lot of people that don't realize the conservative position is to vote for a long-term infrastructure bill because it costs about 30% off the top. that's a figure no one has debated, no one has talked
about. if you do it just piecemeal with short-term extensions. another thing is we have that old document that no one reads anyone, the constitution. we do a the love things in this chamber that -- we do a lot of things in this chamber that our forefathers never envision. they said what we ought to be doing is defend america and roads and bridges. well, that was foreseen by dwight ic eisenhower. there he is, dwight eisenhower. many of us who studied world war ii know what a hero this guy was when he came in as president of the united states. and recognized -- and he wanted the first national system to be for primarily defense, for defending our nation. he said, yeah, it'll help the economy. here's the quote tha that he ma.
he talks about how this will be helpful to the economy. we all know that. but he also said, this is right -- this is after the world war ii, that we've got to move our goods and services around this country for -- to defend this nation. and so i kind of have, you know, a dual role in this. the two major committees that i have -- and i've served as the ranking member on both of them -- is the defense committee, the senate armed services committee, and so i'm very stifns to the fact that -- sensitive to the fact that there is a defense component to this bill that we're going to be voting on today, as well as chairing the committee called environment and public works. well, this is what he said back then. he said that it's for defense purposes and it's something where we have to have it so if t. -- it goes in a uniformed way across our nation not just for defense goods but for our economy. i used to say it myself that when they talk about the program
called devolution. devolution is what a lot of the people have looked at and it sounds so good on the stump. confection iconfession is good . i remember when i was the father of devolution along with connie mack from florida when we were both serve serving in the house. it says you repeal the federal highway taxes and then make them local taxes, make them state taxes so the states are participating, there's two problems with that. one is, how do you get across a uniform program across this -- the country? if you take wyoming, for example, and they repeal their federal tax, in order to make up for it, since there are very few people in wyoming but there are a lot of roads, they'd have to pass a 48-cent tax increase. it is not going to happen. devolution is based on the assumption that all states will pass a tax increase. and that's something that isn't
going to happen. so that's -- the other reason that we really need to have this -- and we will; we're going to pass it, and i think in the final analysis that the house will, too. l i want to share with you -- i say to the president presiding that when we had our last bill -- not -- it wasn't all that good. it was only a 127-month bill. i can -- it was only a 27-month bill. i can remember going over that right after we passed it on the floor of the senate, and i requested an audience with the members of the t.n.i. committee in the house, because there were a lot of tea party republicans, a lot of conservatives, and i explained a lot of the things that i just went over, the constitutional aspect of this as well as the cost of it and the fact that you -- that you can't get projects done if you continue to do short-term, every one of them when this came up in the house, every one of them, all 33, voted for it.
that's what gives me confidence that when they see that there is a bill that we have passed out of this chamber, you know, i was disappointed that the house was going to be in session until thursday -- that's today -- but they left -- i guess they left last night, didn't they? they left last nievment they move-- theyleft last night. they moved it up a day. i'm no sai am not saying that td that so they wouldn't have to make a decision on this bill. but, nonetheless, that did happen. okay, i understand that there are other senators who wanted to speak before this. and i certainly want to give them the opportunity -- look, i'll just conclude by saying, this is perhaps one -- arguably one of the most important votes we'll have. we're doing what the constitution tells us to do and we're going to pass it and it's going to happen. with that, i will yield the floor.
mr. inhofe: i take that back. i won't yield the floor. i know there are two members, one from the majority and one from the minority, who want to speak, and i think that the majority leader will be coming in here just in a matter of minutes, too, so we do have several that want to be heard on this bivment i thin bill. i think it is worth state being that 75% of the bill is in the committee of environment and public works. that's the commit committee that i chair. when we developed this bill, we developed it over a period of time. it took over four months. we worked on it. we took amendments it.
we had major changes. in fact i can remember going to the republican conference and saying, if you guys have amendments before this is passed out of our committee and goes to the floor, i think it's important for you to get your amendments in so we can make them a part of the bill, part of our -- and then later on a part of the managers' package. well, the managers' package didn't work as we wanted it to, and everyone knows the problems that caused that. but we argued -- we discussed this bill, we put it together for about four months in the committee. when we passed it out -- was that the 24th, june 24th? -- yes, june 24 we passed it out of the committee unanimously. all 20 members of the environment and public works committee, all democrats, all republicans, you will voted for it. that doesn't happen very often. the other thing we have is that the ranking member, the ranking democrat on the committee is senator boxer from california.
senator boxer and i don't agree on very much but we do agree on this. she is a very proud liberal, and i'm a very proud conservative. and what do we have in comoen? this bill. that's -- and what do we have in common? this bill. that's about it. i was joking with a group this morning. then we go gabbin back to fightg again. maybe that's more fun. with all the problems we have in this country right now, a the although of people don't realize that one of the greatest problems is the overregulation by the bureaucracies, the elected bureaucracies. we've watched that coming, we've seen it, particularly in this administration. and it's something that is -- it just in my committee -- just look at what the e.p.a. is doing to harm businesses that are trying to outdo the american thing and hire people out there. you have all of these eliminations aring that coming online. you have the water regulation. this is kind of interesting because historically, the
regulation over water has always been a state function, with the exception of navigable waters. the you want to understand that. i think everyone else understands it. but there are the collectivists, the liberals that want to bring all that power into washington and away from the states. in my state of oklahoma we do a lot better job than the federal government does. so we have been in our position to be able to continue to have that regulation of water as a state function. so about five years ago senator feingold of the senate and congressman oberstar -- they're from wisconsin and minnesota -- they introduced a bill to take the word "navigable" out, which means then the federal government would have regulation of all waters. you know, we have areas in oklahoma that are very, very arid areas, and i was out the
other day in the panhandle to boyce city. you don't get anyplace drier than boyce city, oklahoma. if the federal government was doing this, they would probably find a time after rain to declare the panhandle of oklahoma a wetland because this what they do. they want power. they wnts to expand their authority. -- they want to expand their authority. not only did we defeat the legislation to take the word "navigable" out, but we also defeated both the two -- the senator and the house member that were the sponsors. i'm waiting, i say to my good friend from new york, we've been waiting for you to arrive. with that, i will yield the floor. mrs. gillibrand: thank you. the presiding officer: the senator new york. mrs. gillibrand: mr. president, i rise to strongly oppose this cynical and opportunistic ploy to fulfill a
longtime ideological goal to defund planned parenthood. let's talk facts, not rhetoric. the fact is, no federal funds can be used for an abortion. no federal funds can be used for an abortion. except in the dire circumstances of rape, incest or life of the mother. here's another fact -- only 3% of planned parenthood's work is dedicated to abortion services. the other 97% of their work is dedicated to preventive women's health services like s.t.d. testing and screenings, contraception, pathway tests, breast exams, cancer screenings and other services like adoption referrals, pediatric care and immunizations. so when you say let's fund -- let's defund planned parenthood, because you never liked the ever -- it ever existed, what you are saying to
women, particularly low-income women, women in low-income communities, many women of color, is that you won't have access to a wide range of essential services because of an ideological desire to control what choices are being made by women and their doctors. i fail to see the logic here. this exploitive movement made by special interests would tectively tell half a million women, american women, sorry, you can't have a breast exam this year. of all the issues that we are going to debate on the floor right now, why are we debating this? why are we telling 400,000 american women sorry, you won't be able to have a lifesaving screening for cervical cancer? we have kids in all 50 states
who are going hungry during summer vacation because their parents can't afford to have a that extra lunch they normally got from school. we have college graduates who can't afford to start their lives, buy a home, get married, have kids, because they are drowning in student debt. we have men and women in this country who work 40 hours a week, no vacation days, no sick days and are still stuck? poverty. that is not my vision of the american dream. we have millions of hardworking americans who have to quit their jobs and lose paychecks every time they have a family emergency. it doesn't matter if it's a new baby, it doesn't matter if your husband is dying of cancer, it doesn't matter if your mother is on her deathbed. you don't have access to paid family and medical leave. we are the only industrialized country that doesn't have paid leave. it makes no sense in a country
that believes if you work hard every day, you will be able to get into the middle class. that is not true for low-wage workers working 40 hours a week and are still below the poverty line and cannot meet those family needs because they have no paid leave. but, mr. president, the issue this body wants to debate is defund planned parenthood. this body wants to make sure that millions of women don't get basic access to health care. whether or not to maliciously hurt an organization that provides vital health services to millions of american women. this is the issue our colleagues are threatening yet another government shutdown, controlling women's choices. about their health, about their families, about their reproductive health care. it's clear that for some of my colleagues, they just want to roll back roe v. wade. that is their goal, their
mission in life and it is ideologically driven and funded by special interests. that is their mission. we should not return to the days when women had no medical independence. and they will use any excuse they can to overreact and force this tired, old, sailed-old planned parenthood debate on us. but here is the fundamental truth about planned parenthood. millions of women in this country, women in low-income communities, women of color, women in every state, they rely on planned parenthood for basic health care. mammograms, cervical screenings, access to contraception, family planning. they rely on it to prevent disease, they rely on it to detect disease. they rely on it to treat
disease. we cannot and will not defund planned plan. i yield the floor. -- planned parenthood. i yield the floor. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: over the last couple of weeks we've been discussing some pretty basic and important work that we need to do when it comes to our nation's infrastructure. specifically, the highway bill that we will vote on and pass out of the senate today. and i'm very encouraged by the
fact that the house of representatives has a now taken up the challenge of coming up with their own highway bill and we've --we going to pass a three-month temporary extension to give us a chance -- to give them the chance to do that and then give all of us a chance to get to a conference report and -- conference committee and come up with hopefully an even better bill. that's the way the senate and the house are supposed to work and why i am encouraged. i think the debate we've had over the highway bill is a good one and i'm glad to see as i say, we're on the right track. in my state, in texas, we know that good infrastructure and a working highway system are important for a number of reasons. one, it's important for public safety. second, it's important for the environment. and third, it's important for the economy because when goods can flow freely across the roads and the highways and the freight lines, in our state, it helps
improve our economy and create a more favorable condition for jobs. and when you come from a state like mine that's a fast-growing state, the growth requires the improvements, repairs and modernization of our roadways to accommodate the visitors who come to our state as well as those who move to our state, some 1,000 more each day. so that's why i'm pleased that this legislation will improve improve -- include resources that make the lives of everyday texans better. resources in this bill which i should stress involves no tax increases, invests in freight routes and border projects to promote legitimate are trade and travel flowing across our international border while supporting economic development and improved quality of life. this bill is just another
reminder of the senate's progress we've made in the 114th congress under new management. this year the senate has made a lot of progress on key pieces of legislation. the fact is we're finally back working again in a bipartisan manner that provides real solutions for the american people. and i'm proud to say that work includes things on a wide spectrum of priorities including passing a budget for the first time since 2009, legislation that fights the scourge of human trafficking, a trade bill that opens up markets for american products and, of course, earlier this year the iran nuclear review act was signed into law. freezing the administration's ability to lift sanctions on iran until representatives of the american people have had a chance to carefully examine president obama's deal. as i mentioned a number of
times, i have many concerns about this deal and will continue to remind the president of his own words when he said that no deal is better than a bad deal. i couldn't agree more. even though he and the rest of the administration are actively suggesting that the only real alternative to this deal is war war, a statement which is demonstrably false. and i think, unfortunately, it's a scare tactic. but i would hope that people of goodwill would be persuaded by the facts and not scare tactics. and i hope we'll have that debate in september after the -- all the members of the senate and the house have had a chance to thoroughly immerse themselves in the terms of this deal and be prepared to debate that on the floor of the senate and in the floor of the house. but our work is not over, mr. president. earlier this week i cosponsored legislation along with a number of my colleagues that would
provide additional money for women's primary health care services while at the same time defunding planned parenthood. i know i speak for many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle that say when -- when i say i was shocked, saddened, and disgusted at the several recent videos that depict human life being reduced to spare parts for sale. this is a heartbreaking practice and we cannot let it stand. we must stand up to protect the most vulnerable, and this bill does that by defunding planned parenthood that's made a practice of taking aborted children and then selling the body parts for compensation. the one reason why this is so important is beyond just the
immediate disgust at these videos and the way that's somehow this trafficking in human body parts has become a commercialized practice that planned parenthood engages in, is that since 1976 there's actually been a prohibition in u.s. law against the use of tax dollars to pay for abortion. except in some rare circumstances. and that's known as the hyde amendment named after congressman henry hyde, that's been part of the law of the land since 1976. what planned parenthood has done is taken tax dollars and claimed that they have separated those tax dollars from the privately raised money that they used then to finance abortion and they say, well, we use the tax dollars for women's health services and we don't use any tax dollars to pay for abortions. but we all know, mr. president, that that's a convenient fiction
because money is fungible. and the tax dollars that are paid by you and me and all of us in the united states who are taxpayers goes into a single fund that pays for the operation of planned parenthood. the largest abortion provider in america. so this legislation is very important because it does take care of the primary care, the women's health services, but it defunds planned parenthood's abortion practice consistent with the hyde amendment which has been the law of the land since 1976. i would say actually by doing it in this way we are actually improving and increasing access of women to health care services through places like our community health clinics. in my state alone there are almost eight times more
community centers that could provide these primary care services to women than there are planned parenthood outlets. so this actually will increase access to primary care for women while defunding planned parenthood's abortion practice consistent with the hyde amendment. this is i hope legislation that we can all unite behind and by implore all of our colleagues when we vote on this on monday afternoon next, to join us in getting on the bill by voting for cloture and then debating it and passing it. so while i'm glad that congress has a clear way forward to meet our nation's infrastructure needs on this bill, we have a lot more we need to do to protect and serve the american people. mr. president, i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. inhofe: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call in progress be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe: i have seven unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session. they have the approval of the majority and the minority. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. and lastly, just one real quick comment before senator boxer is making some remarks. we've talked about this. we've talked about the significance of the vote coming up. i just want to re-emphasize to my -- my conservative colleagues on the republican side that this is something that is a conservative position, because the only alternative to this are short-term extensions which cost about 30% off the top.
so what this vote what the constitution tells us to do, take care of one of the two assignments they give us, article 1, section 8 of the constitution. that is, roads and highways. and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: mr. president, i am very pleased to be here today. this has been a long and winding road to get to the point br -- where we can pass a transportation bill that is a very good bill, that is very bipartisan. each and every one of our states, according to a formula, will get more than they have in the past because, mr. president, this is what our states are facing. this is a bridge between arizona and california. i'm sure my friend knows what happened. and people commuting between our states have had to go 400 miles out of their way.
we cannot turn away from this vote today. i know and my friend from oklahoma knows that each one of us could have written a different bill, but the process means we have to come together. you know, and this person says i don't like the process, and this one says i don't like the pay-fors. well, i'm sure that senator inhofe and i feel the same way, but we know if we run into a construction worker who is unemployed and we say well, we didn't vote for this because we didn't like the process, he would say or she would say i need a paycheck. so i'm going to ask our colleagues to vote aye for three reasons. first, let's get our construction companies back, let's get our construction workers back to work. we have so many of them, hundreds of thousands who are out of work. and the general contractors told
us last week that in 25 states, mr. president, we are seeing layoffs of construction workers because of the fact that we are not doing a long-term bill. so let's help our construction workers get back to work. i would ask unanimous consent to place in the record three letters of support from the nation's leading construction unions. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: and, of course, the business community, and i would ask unanimous consent to place in the record additional letters of support that i received from the transportation construction coalition and the highways material group. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: mr. president, it is rare that you have the national association of manufacturers, the chamber of commerce in agreement with the entire structure of the construction industry workers.
all of those unions -- and i have put their names into the record. it is unique, and to have mothers against drunk driving in that coalition, and to have the national governors' association in that coalition and to have the mayors' organization in -- in that coalition. and my friend and i, my friend from oklahoma and my friend from illinois, senator durbin, whom i thank from the bottom of my heart for his help on this, we were kind of smiling the other day because we had the mayor of oklahoma city and the mayor of new york ask us for a long-term bill. no more short-term extensions. that's the kind of coalition building we're seeing out in the country and one that we, i think, are living proof of here today. so i'll close with where i started. you know, to me, this is the poster child of why we have to act today, madam president. there are more than 60,000
bridges that are obsolete or deficient. and if we don't pass this bill today and the house doesn't take it up and pass it or something else similar to it or get to conference, we're back to -- i think it's the 34th short extension, and that is doomsday. doomsday. i'm sad the house went out for five and a half-week break. it's the first time in ten years they went out for an august break before august. and i find it kind of ironic that they went out even a day earlier so that they're not there if we do, in fact, pass our legislation and send it over. why are they doing this? i was encouraged that speaker boehner has asked his committee to act. if we can do it over here, they can do it over there. so i'll close with