tv U.S. Senate CSPAN October 7, 2015 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT
federal government. rhode island is 100% reliant on the federal government. vermont, 80%. hawaii, 79%, alaska, 93%. this is something that's a partnership. this is a partnership. we work together with the states. but we are so disadvantaging our states. in my state it's about 50-50. we raise our resources about 50%. you know what the other 50% means to california? because we have almost 40 million people. $4 billion a year. we can't do our program just on our own. and this is something that, as my friend says, it's a need that he feels as a conservative he can support. when you read the constitution, we are one nation. we're connected. and we need to build these
roads. there are over 61,000 bridges, mr. president, that are structurally deficient. 61,000 bridges. we know this. we've worked together to fix this problem. because we know in a way it's a moral issue. once you know something's dangerous, you've got to fix it. we did with the senate bill. we called on the house to do the same. 50% of our roads are in less than good condition. this is not news to most of our people. they understand it. they drive on these roads. they take a toll on their cars. there's -- i forget the exact amount, but i think it's about a thousand dollars a year cost sometimes for people who use their cars a lot from roads that are not in good condition. every day there were over 215 million crossings by motorists on structurally deficient bridges in every single state in our great union.
now, we'll show you some of these bridges -- a list of some of these bridges that are in need of repair. in alabama, arizona, california. our golden gate bridge, our famous, incredible -- i crossed that when i lived in marin county every day for work. bottom line, seriously, we need to act. connecticut, district of columbia, colorado, florida, georgia, hawaii, illinois, indiana, iowa. these are bridges in great need of repair. kentucky, louisiana, maine, maryland, massachusetts, michigan, minnesota, mississippi, missouri, nevada, new hampshire, new jersey, new mexico, new york -- the brooklyn bridge, that iconic bridge, dangerous in need of repair -- north carolina, the greensboro bridge -- ohio, oklahoma, oregon, pennsylvania -- the bring minimum franklin bridge.
that's the home -- pennsylvania, the home of the chairman over there. oregon -- ranking member, the columbia river crossing. so columbia river crossing bridge, benjamin franklin bridge in the home of the chairman and ranking member of the committee over there that has the obligation to get this done. south carolina, texas, utah, washington, wisconsin. i mean, i've rushed this but i don't want to spend the time naming every bridge. but this is where we are. a multiyear surface transportation bill is going to solve these problems. and we're going to start the work that needs to be done. and we know there there are stil 1.3 million fewer construction workers today than in 2006, when -- when the recession started. according to the associated general contractors, 24 states and the district of columbia lost construction jobs -- lost construction jobs -- between
july and august. no wonder people look at congress and they don't think we're doing a good job. we know all this and the senate has passed a good bill, bipartisan. and all we're asking -- all we're asking -- is what construction industry officials want us to do and that is to stop the uncertainty about future federal funding levels for highway and transit repairs. we know that the bill we passed in the senate is a good bill. it's not as big as a lot of us wanted and it's not as small as other people wanted. we found a sweet spot. and i -- i'm just going to conclude by saying this. the reports i've heard indicate that the house transportation infrastructure committee may well take action at the end of this month, but that is so late. let's go back to the 22 days chart. we're 22 days away from a
transportation shutdown, madam president. and they're going to mark up on the very day that we -- that we lose the authorization to spend funds. so you know the writing's on the wall. they're going to send us some short-term legislation. and i just want to say, i'm not going to allow because i will oppose any short-term extension that pulls pieces out of our bill and takes the pressure off passing a bill, such as positive train control. we've taken care of positive train control in our bill. i'm not going to pull it out and put it on a short-term extension. no. they'll get nothing. they have to do their job. that's why they're here. we -- we know we can do it. we proved it over here. we had real serious problems over here but we did it. we did it. when you have 65 votes for something over here and you pulley queal from both parties,
you've got a good -- pull equally from both parties, you've got a good bill. we have serious issues. and we're not going to pull out special favorite pieces out of the highway bill and stick it on a short-term extension or have some stand-alone bill that solves positive train control or any other of the special issues that we have addressed in the bill. everyone knows -- everyone knows -- we have to act. so, madam president, i know my friend is waiting patiently to make a few remarks but i simply want to conclude with this. we passed a good bill. over $55 billion for six years. two new programs, a formula freight program which will provide funds for all states to improve goods movement. we have included the mccaskill-schumer rental car bill so rental cars will be safe we have the first-ever commuter
rail fund for positive train control. and these are just some of the good things we have done. let's not throw it all away and get it all glommed up into the other problems we're facing, which is the date on the debt ceiling, the december 11 date on funding the budget. we don't have to do it. this is a special fund. it's the highway trust fund. it should not get enmeshed in the end-of-budget-year issues. we should take that crisis off the plate. we did it in the senate. they should do it in the house. and that's our message today to the house. please, republicans, democrats, liberals, conservatives, moderates, everyone inbetween -- come together for the good of this country and pass a highway bill. let's get to conference. let's get the best bill we can get and be done with it. and at least then send a signal
to the people of this country we are doing our job. thank you very much. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. hoeven: madam president, i rise to discuss the legislation before this body, the national defense authorization act. before doing so, i want to take just a minute and address the drive act. i strongly support the drive act it is very important that we have a six-year highway bill for our country and that we get it in place. it was passed on a bipartisan basis. i think there are many provisions in it that will be very helpful not only to our country but to each and every one of our states. and we worked on that legislation, we passed it through regular order. it's vitally important. when i go home and talk to my constituents in north dakota, as i know is the case for all members of this body, they express how important it is that
we get not only a highway bill passed but a six-year highway bill, a long-term highway bill passed so that these multiyear projects can go forward. and we -- and we do need to get that done and get it done now so that we don't have an interruption in the federal highway program. so to my esteemed colleague, i want to express my support as well for this important legislation and i appreciate both the work of the chairman of the environment and public works committee and the ranking member , my colleague on -- who is the ranking member on e.p.w. this is important legislation and we need to continue to work in a bipartisan way in both houses, the senate and the house, and get this legislation done. mrs. boxer: would my friend yield just so i could thank him for a minute? mr. hoeven: i will. mrs. boxer: through the chair, i just want to thank you so much because you were one of those people that really helped us. and i also particularly, in
addition to every member of the environment and public works committee on both sides of the aisle, they were terrific on this. i also want to single out, in addition to my chairman, which i did, senator inhofe, senators durbin and mcconnell, because they stepped up from both sides of the leadership when it really looked like we'd never -- it would never happen. and we proved that we could do it. and i'm so grateful to my friend for showing his support because we have so many contentious issues. this is not one of them. and i wanted to thank him very much for his comments. mr. hoeven: madam president? again, i thank the gentlewoman from california. this is important bipartisan legislation and we need to continue to work and get it done. i rise today to discuss the ndaa, the national defense authorization act. likewise, incredibly important legislation in this case for our military. for our military and for the defense of this great nation.
and i really want to begin by commending the members of the armed services committee and especially chairman mccain but all of them for their diligence. so that means members both of the senate and the house working together in conference committee after both houses passed this legislation. passed the legislation through regular order. and i emphasize that because it is so important that we follow regular order in this body and in the house, where we bring forward the legislation from the committees, bring it to the floor, have the debate, have the opportunity to offer amendments, debate those amendments, vote on those amendments then vote on the legislation. let these bodies work their will , send the legislation to the president. he makes his decision and we move forward. and i emphasize this right at the outset because it is so important that we work in this
way, through regular order, so that we get the important work of this country done. and i use this legislation as a great example. the national defense authorization act, the defense of our nation. and we're moving forward because we're following regular order, we're working in the way i just described in both the senate and the house and that's what we need to do. it's hard to overstate the importance of this legislation for our men and women in uniform and for the security of our nation. so i'm pleased that we're now debating this conference agreement and i look forward to moving to final passage. and in just a few hours, at 2:00 p.m. eastern time today, we will be voting on final passage on this legislation. now, there are several key features of this bill that i want to highlight and i'm going to talk about just a few of them. there's many, many important provisions but i do want to highlight some of them here over
the next few minutes. the first is in the area of personnel and benefits, taking care of those who put on the uniform, men and women who wear the uniform, and put it all on the line for us and for our country. this bill represents a continuing commitment to the well-being of our servicemen and women. it makes significant improvements to the benefits we offer to those who serve, particularly by allowing military participation in the thrift savings plan, as recommended by the military compensation and retirement modernization commission. we recognize that we need to reward those who state in the military for 20 years with a strong retirement package. and we also recognize through this legislation that those who serve for less than 20 years deserve something in retirement as well. the thrift savings plan provides a great mechanism to do that and
i'm very glad that we were able to include that in this legislation. let me touch for just a minute on international security assistance. we face an incredible array of threats to our security and to the security of our allies. those threats require immediate and careful attention and this legislation points us in that direction and provides important tools. and because of the serious concerns many of us have about the efforts to fight isil, the national defense authorization act increases congressional oversight of the effort to support the fight against isil in syria. and we should not wait to pass this legislation. there's too much at stake in critical regions of the world and we need to move forward. we should pass this legislation immediately and the president should sign it right away so that our military has all of the
authorities it needs to address threats like isil as soon as possible. let me talk for just a minute about some of the critical defense programs. of course, the military needs "the" best tools available in order to meet the security threats of today and tomorrow. the fiscal year 2016 national defense authorization act provides authorization for a number of key weapons systems, including the air force's new long-range strike bomber and the aerial refueling tanker program, missile defense and a wide range of other procurement priorities. delaying these programs now will harm our national security in the future, so it's important to keep them on track by passing this legislation and getting it signed into law. i'm also very pleased that the fiscal year 2016 legislation, this legislation, provides full authority for the air force's nuclear forces, including the
b-52 bomber and the minuteman-3 icbm, as well as the global hawk unmanned aircraft. our global hawks provide incredible intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. we are proud to host in the capabilities that provide vital contributions to our nation, two of the legs of the nuclear triad, the intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the b-52 bombers as well as the unmanned dploabl hawk. i also want to say another word about the remotely piloted aircraft. the air force has been squeezed by the demand for the capabilities we have in the predator and the reaper, and it has been difficult to meet those demands and still have the capacity to train new pilots for these r.p.a.'s, multi-piloted aircraft. i want to commend the members of the conference committee for a very strong section in this
legislation that requires the air force to consider all of its options to train additional r.p.a. pilots. i have been advocating using the private sector to increase our capability to train those pilots. that's a step that can be done in the short term without drawing down our ability to support commanders in theater. right now the commanders in theater want those remotely piloted aircraft for the mission. that's a very high operations tempo. that doesn't leave pilots available here at home to train new pilots to fly these aircraft. and that's why a private-sector solution can be so helpful to our air force. and that's the language that i worked so hard to include in this legislation. i also have language in the report that goes along with the fy 2016 defense appropriations bill, so the companion bli bills the defense appropriations bill.
i've included language in the appropriations bill that instructs the air force to look at private-sector led training. my hope is that between that language and what we're passing in this authorization bill, the air force will find a way to leverage the private sector to enhance what the air force can do with its r.p.a. fleet, meaning a higher ops tempo and at the same time training new pilots and bringing them into the system. finally, i would like to highlight a couple of items that are important to north dakota specifically. one is an amendment i offered during floor consideration of the ndaa here in the senate. this language directs the air force to determine the feasibility of partnering the air national guard with the active duty air force to operate and maintain the global hawk. similar to what it does in support of the predator and reaper mission, i believe the
air national guard can provide a valuable contribution to the global hawk missions. i'm very grateful that the conferees retained this amendment in the bill, and i hope that it will prove to be valuable not only in north dakota but set an example that can be followed with other aircraft and the air national guard units in other states across the country. i would also like to thank the conferees for including the $7.3 million authorization to construct a new intelligence targeting facility at hector field in fargo. our air national guard is taking on an exciting new targeting mission, and this much-needed facility will give them the space required and the capability -- the facilities, the resources necessary to do that job right. and they are already doing an outstanding job, but they need this secure facility as part of this highly specialized and highly important mission.
i worked on this project through the military construction appropriations committee, and i look forward to completing the authorizing and appropriating legislation so we can get construction started on this new facility in fargo. so the bottom line is that this legislation includes many provisions that are important for our men and women in uniform. , that are critical to our national security and are vital to each of our states. the bill is well-crafted and it has received bipartisan support, and it is absolutely necessary that we move forward and pass it and that it becomes law. and so i want to touch on that aspect of the legislation for just a minute as well. the president has indicated that he intends to veto this legislation, so legislation that is passing through this body with very strong bipartisan support. and the irony is that he's vetoing this legislation because
we've included funding -- additional funding in the legislation for our military that is incredibly important and that is very much needed. he says, no, that's not what he wants done, and so he's indicated that he'll veto the legislation. so it's very important today that we have a strong, bipartisan support to send a clear message that if this legislation is vetoed, that this body and the house will override this veto. we have to stand strong on a bipartisan basis. we have to make sure that we get this legislation passed, not just our men and women in uniform but for the good, for the security of our country. this is vitally important legislation. this is about making sure that we join together in a bipartisan way and get it done for our mum in uniform. and then there's still more to do. this is the authorizationing
legislation. then we have to pass the appropriating bill that goes with this legislation so that we fund the authorizations provided in this legislation, and not until all three things are done have we stepped up and got the job done for our military. we need to pass this authorization, we need to make sure that we override any veto, should the president decide to veto this very important legislation, and then we need to stand strong, we need to come together, we need to make sure that we do not have a filibuster of the companion bill, the defense appropriations bill that goes with this authorization. then and only then -- only then -- will we have the job done that we need to do for our men and women in uniform. that is the task before us, and that is what we need to get done. and we need to keep our eye on that ball very clearly, and we need to make sure that the american people understand that we have to pass this legislation, override any veto, and then pass the companion defense appropriations bill and only then -- only then -- have
we got the job done for our men and women in uniform who put it all on the line for us. with that, madam chairmen, i yield the floor. mr. nelson: madam chairman? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: madam chairman, a few weeks ago i brought to the attention of the senate the continuing new challenges that we have with the internet and the fact that so much material is available to all, including our youngest citizens, indeed, our toddlers.
the question is, what is appropriate content for our toddlers? google has put up a youtube application for kids. they call it youtube kids. and, madam president, i'd like to show you some of the content on that application. first of all, i think that's self-explanatory. how to open a beer with another beer. now, mind you, this is a youtube kids application. this can go down to the toddler age. how to open a beer with another beer and it goes through the
sequence -- indeed, there's another fairly graphic picture of how to open a beer with a beer. is that appropriate for young children? readily available, promoted by google. i would doubt that we would conclude that it is. all right, here's another one. this is wine tasting tips. what is tannin in wine? identifying acidity in wine. here is the cutest baby song in the world: everybody dance now. that doesn't look too bad. here's alvin and the chipmunks.
nursery rhyme for babies. but when you play it, there's some unusual words in there. and so forth and so on. you get the picture. this is for children. this is for little ones. okay, now here is making cul fewerric acid -- making sulfuric acid in two ways. is that appropriate for toddlers? give you another one. this is how to make toxic chlorine gas. is that appropriate for young children? i don't think so. so i wrote google and, fortunately, google responded, and i want to share with the
senate what i think are steps in the right direction, but it's not enough. for example, i had asked what policies and procedures govern the inclusion of the videos on this app. and the answer in the google letter is the that google uses algorithms that govern the automated system. parents can notify google of problem videos. google will be informing parents on how to change its settings and a how parents to be more restrictive with the range of videos their kids can access. well, why should parents have to intercede when their algorithms,
if you type in a search for "beer" what i showed you is what comes up, how to open a beer with another beer? that seems contrary to common sense. so then we ask, what factors determine whether content is suitable for children? and google's answer is, an automated system and parental complaints. so i ask in my letter, for what age range must content be suitable? google did not answer that question. so i additionally asked, what steps, such as filtering, does google take to ensure unsuitable
content does not appear in search results on youtube kids? do these steps apply to new content uploaded to youtube kids? and google's answer was, google uses algorithms in the automated system. google will soon be informing parents on how to change settings and restrict the range of videos -- the same answer as applied to a previous question. so i ask, how long after content is flagged does google assess its suitability? and the answer is quite unclear. the statement was in this letter, google personnel quickly
manually review any videos that are flagged. so i additionally ask, how does google remove content that is deemed unsuitable for youtube kids and enshiewsh tha ensure tt continues to be inaccessible to youtube kids? and the answer from the letter is that the video is manually removed by google employees. that's the automatic way of what is deemed unsuitable to ensure that it continues to be inaccessible. and so i ask, what policies and procedures govern how google determines the suitability of advertisements and whether they can appear on this app? and the answer is: advertising must abide by three core
principles which include that ads maintain an appropriate viewing environment and that they not be based on data tracking and that they are formatted to enable exclusive youtube kids control. that's nice. how do we get those beer advertisements off of there? and then i ask: what policies and procedures does google use, if any, to distinguish advertisements and paid con he tent from -- paid content from unpaid content on youtube kids? and the answer is, paid advertisements are clearly labeled. madam president, you know, we
have constantly had this tension between any publication as to what is appropriate content. the movie industry years ago went through this with the rating system. but now we're in the age of the internet, and as such, it is ubiquitous and it's available to very small children who want to know how to use a device that they see everybody else using. on an application that is specifically designed for children, if we allow this kind of stuff to go on, then where are our commonsense values?
because you don't want to be teaching a toddler about beer and wine and about how to open a beer bottle with your teeth. and you certainly don't want to be throwing up pictures like this for toddlers. maybe there's a time and place for that under the parental discretion and guidance, but not available on an app for children. i want to thank google publicly for making a first step, but it is only that. it's a first step. since this is an app by google for small children, google has a responsibility, if there is a privilege of doing an app like
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. perdue: i would ask that the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. perdue: madam president, i rise today to speak in defense of the national defense authorization act. i strongly urge my colleagues in this body to vote for the ndaa and send it to the president's desk for signature. we must move to funding our
military. the threats to our nation have perhaps never been greater or more complex in my entire life. as a member of the senate foreign relations committee, i am given daily briefs of what i believe is an emerging global security crisis. this administration just completed a nuclear deal with iran that stokes the fears of our friends and allies in the region and releases tens of billions of dollars of sanctions relief to a regime that is the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism. we have to bolster our support to allies in the region in the attempt to mitigate the impact of further iranian spending to support assad in syria, the ehudy rebels in yemen, hezbollah, hamas and terrorism worldwide. we've seen the astonishing rise of isis as they've taken advantage of the power vacuum we left behind by prematurely withdrawing our troops from iraq. i'd hate to see history repeat itself in afghanistan which is actually being discussed as we
speak today. meanwhile, traditional rivals are aggressively posturing on two other fronts. china is antagonizing our allies in the pacific rim and russia is testing the resolve of the nato alliance, blatantly grabbing sovereign territory in ukraine, crimea and injecting troops and war materiel into syria. at the same time, we see an increase in semiette rick and asymmetric threats. we're headed in a direction. we're about to have the smallest army since world war ii, the smallest navy since world war i, and the smallest air force ever. meanwhile, the chinese alone are rapidly expanding their investment in their military and in their forces in the asia-pacific region and are set to double their defense budget by 2020. as a matter of fact, i was recently briefed at u.s. pacific command headquarters where i was briefed on the development of u.s. forces in asia pacific. in a comparison directly with
those of china. in 1999, this is very alarming, madam president, in 1999, the u.s. military had a dominant and protected position in the asia-pacific region totally capable of protecting our interests in the region. today, however, china has reached military parity in the region. what's really troubling are the projections for 2020, however, in which china's relative combat power and presence in the region will significantly be more dominant than that of the united states. this is why we need to ensure we continue funding our military at the appropriate levels. we need to ensure that our brave service men and women have the tools, training and technology they need to meet the current threats we face on a daily basis, but also to tackle what's coming in the future. this year's ndaa reinforces the mission against isis and operation inherent resolve. it provides assistance and sustainment to the military and national security forces of ukraine, including the authority
for lethal aid to ukraine for defensive purposes, and this ndaa, madam president, fills critical gaps in readiness ensuring that our service men and women meet their training requirements and have mission-capable equipment. madam president, the convergence of our fiscal debt crisis and our global security crisis is indeed a sobering reality, and they must be resolved simultaneously. in order to have a strong foreign policy, though, we have to have a strong economy and have a strong military, and to have a strong military, we have to have a strong economy. we have to solve our debt crisis at the same time, though, to continue to dominate militarily. as former joint chief of staff admiral mullen once said, the most significant threat to our national security is our own federal debt. that fact still rings true today. having recently visited our troops and military leaders in the middle east and the asia-pacific region, i can tell
you that the best, the very best of america is in uniform around the world in our military, putting their lives in jeopardy every day to protect our freedoms here at home. our military is made up of some of the finest, smartest and bravest people i've ever met. they're true american heroes committed to defending our freedom. they deserve our unwavering support. one of the six reasons, only six reasons why 13 colonies came together in the beginning of our country to form this nation as enshrined in our constitution was to provide for the common defense. as george washington said, to be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace. indeed, as we've learned over and over, maintaining a strong national defense can actually defer -- deter aggression. we absolutely must maintain a military force so strong that no enemy in its right mind would
mr. reed: madam president? thank you, madam president. madam president, i request dispensing with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the time until 1:30 p.m. will be controlled by the democratic manager or his designee, and the time from 1:30 p.m. until
2:00 p.m. will be controlled by the chairman of the committee on armed services or his designee. mr. reed: thank you, madam president. i rise once again to speak about the fiscal year national defense authorization conference report. yesterday i spoke at length about the o.c.o. funding issue. that is to me the most critical issue in the bill and one that has reluctantly caused me to support the conference report. but this time i'd like to take a few minutes to discuss the conference report in its entirety, and again i'd like to thank chairman mccain and chairman thornberry and ranking member smith for a very thoughtful and cooperative process which allowed us to reach agreement on some very difficult issues. i'd also like to thank in particular the staff of the house and senate armed services committee who worked tirelessly over several months to resolve differences on over 800 different provisions. and as i said yesterday, in many respects, this is a good conference report which supports our men and women in uniform and
establishes many needed reforms, and again with the exception of the o.c.o. provision, it would be something that i think would invite widespread support. there are many examples of the provisions in the bill that are commendable. this conference report authorizes a 1.3% pay raise to service members, and we authorize a number of expiring bonuses and special pay authorities to encourage enlistment, re-enlistment and continued service by active duty and reserve component military personnel. significantly, it includes much-needed reform of the military retirement system and bringing the military retirement system into the 21st century for a new generation of recruits. it also deals with the needs to begin to bring into better control personnel costs for the department of defense, because as we all recognize, there are a huge, huge trend line of
personnel costs that would overstrip at some point the training and the equipment that is so necessary to the vitality and agility of the force. one of the examples is a pilot program to test approaches to the commissary and exchange system to see if there are ways in which that can be handled more efficiently without preventing military personnel from enjoying that benefit that they've earned. the report also includes a commitment to seriously consider reforms to military health care in the coming year. all thoald these percent -- all told these reforms will better serve tomorrow's service members hand their families and save the department of defense billions of dollars annually in its discretionary budget allowing that money to be reapplied to readiness and modernization. the conference report includes roughly 60 provisions on acquisition reform, and i commend particularly chairman mccain for his efforts in this area. it is a long history and a proud
history. he's worked with chairman levin previously. he's worked with so many others. and he's made this a personal area of not only concern, but of notable action. the provisions will help streamline acquisition processes, allow d.o.d. to access commercial and small businesses and improve the i as- the acquisition workforce and build on the reform act of 2009. the report also includes a number of provisions that will strengthen d.o.d.'s ability to develop next-generation technologies and weapons systems and maintain our technological super yorty on the battlefield. the report increases funding for university research programs and stem education. it also contains a number of provisions that will make it easier for the pentagon to work with high-tech small businesses, bringing their innovative ideas into the defense industrial
base. with respect to cybersecurity this report includes multiple provisions, some of which i sponsored and all of which i report. these include a requirement for biannual exercise on responding to cyber attacks, the nation's ability to defend against cyber attacks, and the provision of limited acquisition authorities to the commander of cyber command. the conference report also adds over $400 million in additional readiness funding for the military services across all branches: active, guard and reserve. it fully authorizes the programs for modernizing our nuclear triad of sea, ground and airborne platforms. there are specific recommendations on many procurement programs that will help the department to improve management and cope with shortfalls. all of these provisions will ensure that our military personnel have the equipment and training they need to succeed in their mission.
for the various overseas challenges facing the united states -- and they are considerable -- this conference report provides key funding and authorities for two u.s.-led coalitions, the mission in afghanistan and the counter isis coalition in iraq and syria. it includes additional funding for initiatives to expand u.s. presence and exercises in eastern europe, reassuring allies and countering the threat of wafer tactics and authorizes an additional military assistance for the ukraine. i had the privilege of visiting the ukraine recently and being with the paratroopers of an airborne brigade who are training ukrainian forces. and they are doing a commendable job and represents a tangible commitment by the united states to support friends across the globe. the conference report also includes, and very notably and
very importantly, the senate provisions codifying the current policy that interrogations of detainees in the custody of any u.s. government agency or department must comply with the army field manual on interrogations. these provisions sponsored by senator mccain, senator feinstein and myself will ensure detainees are using techniques that do not involve threats. i know how important this was, particularly to chairman mccain and chairman feinstein. it represents our best values and also from the testimony we've heard over many years, the most effective ways to obtain information in circumstances as we witnessed in the last few years. now, all of these provisions are commendable. they are the result of significant effort by chairman mccain, chairman thornberry,
ranking member smith and the staff who worked tirelessly. however, there are provisions that do in fact cause some concerns. let me first talk about the issue of guantanamo. the report continues to the restrictions relating to the guantanamo detention facility. in previous defense authorization bills, we had made progress in giving the president greater flexibility and streamlining the process for making transfers from guantanamo to other locations, bringing us closer to the goal of closing guantanamo. the guantanamo provisions in this year's conference report are in a sense a step backward. they continue to maintain the prohibitions on the transfer of guantanamo detainees to the united states and on the construction or modification of a facility in the united states to hold such detainees. this deprives the president of a key tool for fighting terrorism. the ability to prosecute guantanamo detainees in federal court. to make matters more
complicated, the conference report imposes additional hurdles on the transfer of guantanamo detainees overseas, requiring the secretary of defense to complete a checklist of certifications for overseas transfers and prohibiting such transfers to certain specified countries altogether. further, the conference report does not include a provision from the senate bill that authorized the temporary transfer of guantanamo detainees to the united states for medical treatment in the event of life-threatening emergencies. and as the guantanamo detainees get older, there is increasing risk of a detainee suffering serious harm or death because the military is legally prohibited from bringing that person to the united states to receive necessary medical care. both president bush and president obama have called for closing guantanamo, and our military leaders have repeatedly said that guantanamo harms our national security and serves as a propaganda and recruiting tool for terrorists.
this is an issue we've been wrestling with for over a decade, and i regret that we're no closer resolving it with this conference report. this conference report also does not contain many of the cost-saving proposals that the department of defense requested. for example, the retirement of many aging aircraft and ships are prohibited and background was not even considered. without such authorities, we in congress are making it even more difficult for the department of defense to acquire and maintain the things they need because we are forcing them to keep what they consider no longer cost or mission effective. but finally, mr. president, and as i've said it many times, consistently throughout this process, the one item that i find is most objectionable indeed, reluctantly forces me to argue against the conference report is the fact that it shifts $38 billion requested by the president in the base
military budget. in the routine base budget. it shifts it to the overseas contingency operations account, or o.c.o. essentially it skirts the b.c.a. this transfer from base to o.c.o. raises several concerns. first, it violates the consensus that was agreed to when we passed the b.c.a. that both defense discretionary spending and domestic discretionary spending would be treated equally. and now we find a way to avoid that consensus. in fact, that was one of the premises that many of us found persuasive enough to support the b.c.a. but the concerns that are raised are many. first, adding funds to o.c.o. does not solve and actually complicates the department of defense's budgetary problems. defense budgeting needs to be based on our long-term military strategy, which requires d.o.d. to focus at least five years into the future. a one-year plus up to o.c.o.
does not provide d.o.d. with the certainty and stability it needs when building its five-year budget. this instability undermines the morale of our troops and their families who want to know their futures are planned for more than one year at a time. and the confidence of our defense industry partners that we rely on to provide the best technology available to our troops. second, the transfer does not provide additional funds for many of the domestic agencies which are also critical to our national security. we cannot defend our homeland without the f.b.i. in fact, we just heard reports today of f.b.i. activities disrupting a potential smuggling of nuclear materiel in eastern europe headed, the suggestion is towards isil or other radical elements. we need the f.b.i. and yet they remain subject to the budget control act. we need from the justice department other aspects of their activities. the t.s.a., customs and border
protection, the coast guard, these later agencies are funded through the department of homeland security. without adequate support from the state department, danger to our troops increase. in addition, failing to provide b.c.a. capital relief to nond.o.d. departments and agencies will shortchange veterans who receive employment services, transition assistance and housing support. third, miewchg funding from the -- moving funding from the base budget of o.c.o. has no impact on the deficit. they are outside the budget caps for the reason. they are for the cost of ongoing military operations or to respond for unforeseen events like the flooding we are witnessing in south carolina. to transfer funds for known day-to-day operations into war and emergency funding accounts, to skirt the law is not fiscally responsible or honest accounting. o.c.o. was designed for the contingencies that were nonroutine, that would not be recurring. in fact, we've seen o.c.o. funds
go up dramatically as our commitments both in afghanistan and iraq went up, and then go down, as you would expect. and suddenly that curve is beginning to shift up and go up. not because of increased number of military personnel deployed. in fact, there are fewer military personnel deployed into these areas today. but because we found a way -- at least we think we found a way to move around the b.c.a. for defense and defense alone. and, mr. president, many have argued that, well, that might be true but this is not the place to talk about those issues. i disagree because this is not a debate about which appropriation account we put the money in. it's a fundamental debate about how we intend to fund the workings of the got today and in the future, all parts of the government. because if we can use this technique for defense, frankly and honestly it relieves the pressure to take constraints off other agencies.
and it sets the whole table, if you will, for our budget for every federal agency. so this is not a narrow issue of appropriations whether it's the committee on housing and urban development or it's the committee on interior and environment. this is a fundamental issue. the b.c.a. is a statute, not an appropriations bill per se. it came to us as an independent statute. and we, i think, have a responsibility to respond to the challenges it poses today to the defense budget, but to every other budget. and this is just not a one-year fix. if this was a bridge that we knew would take us from this year to next year, we might do these things in a different light. but unfortunately, i think this conference report is going to be replicated in the future because if we rely on this approach this year, there is huge pressure next year to do the same thing unless we can resolve the
underlying problem of the budget control act. so, i believe it's essential to do this for the best interest of our country and for the best interest of military personnel. i don't think by standing up and casting a vote in this light we're disrespecting or not recognizing the men and women who wear the europe of the united -- wear the uniform of the united states. it has not been uncommon over the years that because of issues this bill has been objected to by both sides. since 2005 indeed my colleagues on the republican side have cast votes against cloture on the ndaa ten times and successfully blocked cloture four times over such issues as senate rules and procedures, the repeal of don't ask, don't tell, and in one case gasoline prices. so to argue today that the only reason we should vote for this bill is because it's procedurally not appropriate to
discuss this. was it procedurally appropriate to use the defense bill to essentially register anguish about gasoline prices? but this goes to the heart not just of this bill, but every bill. and, therefore, i don't think it's something that we have to shy away from. in fact, i think we have to take on. if we cannot fix this budget control act straitjacket that we're in, it will harm our national security. if we don't have the f.b.i. agents out there trying to disrupt must -- smuggling of urm and other fissile material that hurts us, hurts our national security. if we don't have the department of energy laboratories who are cable of doing -- capable of doing research and helping us and working with foreign governments about detection of radioactive material that hurts our national security. this is about national security. and i think we have to consider it in that light. so, we are here today, and we are dealing with an issue of the
authorization act in the context of a continuing resolution because we have not resolved the budget control act. these are all roads coming together. the conference report, the continuing resolution, all of them in the context of trying to respond to the budget control act. i think we should step up and deal with the budget control act. now, we've had many months to try to find the answer. we haven't. when we considered this legislation previously in the senate, it was summertime and it appeared that there might be a coming together on a bipartisan basis, on a thoughtful basis of trying to provide the relief so we wouldn't have to rely on o.c.o. when the conference report arrived. but we're here today and o.c.o. is still staring us right in the face, and i think we have to ensure that we stand up and say that's not the way we want to go forward for the defense of our country, in the broadest context and for the support of our military personnel. there is one other issue that i
do want to raise, too, because it's been brought up and that is a suggestion that if this bill does not pass today, then our military will not receive their pay raise and bonuses. but the provisions in this bill go into effect january 1, 2016, and we still have time, and i would hope we'd use that time, not just to make some changes technical here and there, but to deal with the central issue which i hope we all agree is driving everything, and that's fixing the budget control act in a way that we can provide across-the-board support for our federal agencies, particularly our national security agencies which go beyond simply the department of defense. so i think the time is now. this is a moment to deal with the issue, not defer it and hope something happens in the future, and we have to resolve the budget control act. i would urge for that reason, as
much as anything, that my colleagues would vote against this conference report as an important step in the process, a necessary step, in my view, in the process of resolving the great budget crisis we face in terms of the budget control act. in fact, one of my concerns is if we do, in fact, pass this conference report and it subsequently becomes law or just the simple fact we pass it, it gives some people saying we fixed the only problem we think is of significant concern, the department of defense, and we don't have to do anything else. again, we have to fund the f.b.i., we have to fund homeland security, we have to have a vigorous state department. all of those agencies, if we do nothing on b.c.a., will see sequestration arise and diminish the capacity and in some way diminish our security. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor and i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk
mr. mccain: i ask unanimous consent further proceedings under the quorum call be suspended and that i be recognized to address the senate. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: mr. president, today i -- in about a half an hour, the senate will vote on the national defense authorization act for fiscal
year 2016, and i hope that the overwhelming majority of my colleagues will understand the importance of this legislation in these very turbulent and difficult times. the constitution gives the congress the power and the responsibility to provide for the common defense, raise and support armies, provide and maintain a navy, and make rules for the government in regulation of the land and naval forces. and for 53 years, congress has fulfilled its most important constitutional duties by passing the national defense authorization act. it's precisely because of this legislation's critical importance to our national security that it is still one of the few bills in congress that enrecognize bipartisan support support -- that enjoys bipartisan support year after year. indeed, this year's ndaa has been supported by senators on both sides of the aisle, the
senate armed services committee overwhelmingly approved the ndaa in a 22-4 vote in back. the full senate followed by passing the ndaa in the a bipartisan vote of 71-25. in recent weeks, some of my democratic colleagues and the president have threatened to block this legislation because of disagreements about broader spending issues that are totally unrelated to defense and totally unrelated to authorizing. everything has to do -- of their problems have to do with appropriations spending, nottization. the president made it clear that he will -- quote -- "not fix defense without fixing non-defense spending." in this day, of all the crises around the world -- there's crises and wars and conflicts and refugees unfold -- the
president's priority seems to be the funding mechanism which has nothing to do with the defense authorization. henry kissinger as well as many of our most respected national security leaders have called the most -- it the most diverse and complex array of crises around the world since the end of world war ii and there's nor refugees in the world than at any time since the end of world war ii. and that the president is threatening to veto this legislation, which contains vital authorities -- not just authorities but the ability of our men and women to defend this nation who are serving in uniform, and that we would do so -- he would threaten to veto so he could prove a political point. the president is threatening to veto this bill to defend the nation in order to prove a political point. as i mentioned, the threats we confront today are far more
serious than they were a year ago and significantly more so than when the congress passed the budget control act in 2011. that legislation arbitrarily capped defense spending and established a mindless mechanism of sequestration. as a result, with worldwide threats rising, we as a nation are on a course to cut nearly $1 trillion of defense spending over 10 years with no strategic or military rationale whatsoever for doing so. every single military and national security leader who has testified before the armed services committee this year has denounced sequestration and urged its repeal as soon as possible. indeed, each of our military service chiefs testified that a continued defense spending at sequestration levels would put american lives at risk. i repeat, would put american lives at risk. unfortunately, the defense bill does not end sequestration.
believe me, if the defense bill were capable of that, i would have done all in my power to make it happen. but the simple reality is that this legislation cannot end sequestration and it cannot fix the budget control act. this legislation does not spend a dollar. it's not an appropriations bill. it's a policy bill. it provides the department of defense and our men and women in uniform with the authorities and support they need to defend the nation. this legislation fully supports president obama's request of $612 billion for national defense. let me repeat that. the legislation gives the president every dollar of budget authority that he requested. but the president and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are threatening to oppose this bill because it authorizes, not spends, $38 billion in funding for
readiness and training of our troops in the overseas continuing say operations, or known as. this c.o. account. -- democrats believe that by placing these funds in that conduct it would help the military but fail to do the same for domestic programs. but this complaint fails to understand a basic fact. the only legislation that can stop sequestration, whether for defense or non-defense, is an appropriations bill. in fact, republicans and democrats are engaged right now in negotiations to find a bipartisan budget deal that would provide sequestration relief. i hope they succeed. but the idea that the precise location in the ndaa of certain funds for our troops will have any impact on the substance or outcome of these negotiations is ludicrous.
the choice we faced was between o.c.o. money and no money. when i have asked senior military leaders before the armed services committee which of those options they would choose, they said they would take the o.c.o. so do i. with global threats rising, it simply makes no sense to oppose a defense policy bill, legislation that spends no money but is full of vital authorities that our troops need and need badly, for a reason that has nothing to do with national defense spending. and it certainly makes no sense when the negotiations that matter to fixing sequestration are happening right now. that is where the president and the senate democrats should be focusing their energy, not on blocking the defense bill and denying our men and women in uniform the authorities and support that they need to defend the nation. but unfortunately this has not been the case. in fact, the white house has doubled down and vowed that the
president will veto this legislation. so let's be clear. the president is not threatening to veto because of the existence of an overseas contingency account which the pentagon has been using for years -- for years -- to fund everything from readiness and training for our troops to israeli missile defense, all without a word of protest from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle or a veto threat from the president. this veto threat is about one thing and one thing only and that's one word -- politics. the president wants to take a stand for greater domestic spending and he wants to use the vital authorities and support for the men and women in uniform that they need to defend the nation as leverage. at a time of increasing threats to our nation, this is foolish, misguided, cynical and dangerous. vetoing this legislation will
not solve the spending debate happening right now in washington. that's something that can only be done through the appropriations process, not a defense authorization bill, not a defense policy bill. vetoing the ndaa will not solve sequestration. vetoing the ndaa will not solve the budget control act. rather than fixing the budget control act, vetoing the ndaa would repeat its original sin by continuing the disturbing trend of holding our military men and women hostage to the whims of our dysfunctional politics. so let's be absolutely clear what a vote against or a veto of this legislation really means. this is what it really means, my friends. if you say "no," you will be saying "no" to urgent steps to address critical short falls in fighter aircraft across our military. you will block 12 f-18 superhornets for the navy, six
f-35-b's for the marine corps. if you say no, you will be saying no to a billion dollars in accelerated navy shipbuilding, including an additional arleigh burke class destroyer. if you say no, you will be saying no to upgrades to army combat vehicles deploying to europe. to deter russian aggression against our allies. if you say no to this legislation, you'll be saying no to $200 million to strengthen our cyber defenses, as china, russia, iran and north korea attacked our government and our companies relentlessly and with impunity. if you say no to the ndaa, you will be saying no to significant steps to improve the quality of life of the men and women serving in the all-volunteer force and the needs of our wounded, ill and injured service members. if you say no to the ndaa, you will be saying no to over 30 special pays and bonuses that are vital to recruiting and
retaining military doctors, nurses, nuclear engineers and language experts. if you say no to the ndaa, you will be saying no to greater access to urgent care facilities for military families and steps taken in the bill to make military health care plans more portable. if you say no to the ndaa, you will be saying no to making it easier for our veterans to get the medicines they need. you'll be saying no to the provision in this legislation that would ensure service members are able to get the same medicines for pain and other conditions when they transition from the department of defense to the veterans administration. if you say no to the ndaa, you'll be saying no to new steps to improve sexual assault prevention and response. you'll be saying no to additional tools to enhance support to victims of a sexual assault, including needed
protections to end retaliation against those who report sex-related offenses or who intervene to support victims. and you'll be saying no to provisions that strengthen and protect the authority and independence of the special victims' counsel for sexual abuse. if you say no to the ndaa, you'll be saying no to some of the most significant reforms to the department of defense in a generation. you'd be saying no to the modernization of an outdated 70-year-old military retirement system, a system that excludes 83% of all those who serve in the military from receiving any retirement assets whatsoever, including veterans of the war in iraq and afghanistan, some of whom have served two, three, four tours of duty but left the military with nothing because they retired before reaching 20 years of service.
if you say no to the ndaa, you'll be saying no to a modern military retirement system that would extend better, more flexible retirement benefits to more than 80% of service members, a system that would give service members the choice to use a portion of their retirement benefits when they believe the military to help them transition to a new career, start a business, buy a home or send their kids to college. a new system that not only improves life for our service members and future retirees but does so while also saving the taxpayers $12 billion once it is fully implemented. you'll -- you say no to the ndaa, you'll be also saying no to the most sweeping reforms to our defense acquisition system in 30 years. you'll be saying no to services that are essential to preserving our military technological superiority as our adversaries and field more advanced weapons.
you'll be saying no to reforms that would hold pentagon leaders more accountable for the decisions they make. and you'll be saying no to reforms that would improve the relationship between the pentagon and our nation's innovators. helping to ensure that our military can gain access to the most cutting-edge technologies. if you say no to the ndaa, you'll be saying no to significant reforms to defense management. a no vote is a vote to stand in the way of important steps to reduce the amount of money that the department of defense needs on bureaucracy and overhead, even as it cuts army soldiers, air force fighter aircraft and navy ships. a no vote is also a vote to continue a backwards personnel system that judges our pentagon civilians not based on their talent but their time served. if you say no to the ndaa, you will squander an historic opportunity to ban torture once
and for all. to achieve a reform that many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, especially the senator from california, senator feinstein, have sought for a decade or more, making the army field manual the uniform interrogation standard for the entire u.s. government. voting no will squander an opportunity to stand up for the values that americans have embraced for generations while still enabling our interrogators to extract critical intelligence from our enemies. by vetoing legislation that bans torture forever, the president would be vetoing his own legacy. worst of all, if you say no to the ndaa, you are saying no to vital authorities and support that our armed forces need to defend our nation as we confront the most diverse and complex array of crises in over 70
years. as we speak, there are nearly 10,000 american troops in afghanistan helping a new afghan government to secure the country and defeat our common terrorist enemies. but since president obama hailed the end of combat operations in afghanistan last year, isil has arrived on the battlefield and taliban fighters have launched a major offensive to take territory across the country. so whoa message would it send if the president and some of my colleagues say "no" to $3.8 billion for the afghanistan security forces to fight back against terrorists but were issue to destroy the progress achieved. in the asi asia-pacific region, china is thwarted power projection. at the same time, power is asserting vast territorial
claims in the east and south china seas. china has reclaimed more than 3,000 acres of land in the south china sea and is rapidly militarizing these features, building at least three airstrips to support military aircraft. the addition of surface-to-air radars, this could enable china to enforce an air defense identification zone? the south china sea and to hold that vital region at greater risk. our allies and partners throughout the region are alarmed by china's behavior and looking to the united states for leadership. so what message would it send if the president and some of my colleagues say "no" to $50 million to assist and train our allies in the region and to increase maritime security and maritime domain awareness in the south china sea?
last year, vladimir putin's invasion of ukraine, and annexation of crimea, forced us to recognize that we are confronting a challenge that many had assumed was resigned to the history books: a strong militarily capable russia that is hostile to our interests and our values and seeks to challenge the international order that american leaders of both parties have sought to maintain since the end of world war ii. russia continues to destabilize ukraine and menace our nato allies in europe with aggressive military behavior. now, in a profound echo of the cold war, mr. putin has deployed troops and tanks and combat aircraft to syria, and they are conducting operations as we speak to shore up the assad regime -- the assad regime that has slaughtered 240,000 of its citizens and driven millions
into refugee status. and who are mr. putin's forces bombing most of all? isil? no. moderate opposition groups backed and trained and equipped by the united states of america. so what message would it send if the president and some of my colleagues say "no" to $300 million in security assistance for ukraine to defend its sovereign territory, say "no" to $400 million in lethality upgrades to u.s. combat vehicles deploying to europe, and say "no" to $800 million to the president's own european reassurance initiative which seeks to reassure allies of america's commitments to their security and the integrity of the neigh toe a lines? -- the nato alliance? in the middle east, a terrorist
army with tens of thousands of fighters has taken over a vast swath of territory and declared an islamic state in the heart of one of the most strategically important parts of the world, yet more than a year after the president declared that we would upgrade -- we would degrade and destroy isil, it appears that nothing we are doing is sufficient to achieve that objective. the united states and our partners do not have the initiative. isil does. and it is capitalizinizing on or inadequate policy to maintain and enhance our initiative, as they have for the past four years. the situation on the ground is now taking yet another dramatic turn for the worse, as several recent events have made clear. so what message would it send if the president and some of my colleagues say "no" to $1.1
billion of security assistance and cooperation for our allies in the region to help us fight isil? what message would it send to our ally israel to say "no" to hundreds of millions of dollars of vital support for our common efforts in missile defense and countering terrorist tunnels? these capabilities are more important than ever for israel and the united states in the wake of the president's nuclear agreement with iran p. and this legislation fully authorizes those programs. saying "no" to the ndaa means saying "no" to this vital security cooperation with israel. for four years bashar assad has waged war on the syrian people. the united states has stood idly by as well over 230,000 have been killed, 1 million injured, 8 million displaced, and 4
million forced to seek refuge abroad. the syrian conflict has now created the largest refugee crisis in europe since world war ii. now russia has accepted in to prop up the murderous regime and kill more syrians. with syria descending deeper into chaos and the world more unstable than ever, what message would it send if the commander in chief and some of my colleagues see this as a good time to say "no" to the national defense authorization act? this is the same conclusion that some of the major military service organizations have also reached, and they've written open letters to the president urging him not to veto the ndaa. their message should be heeded by all of my colleagues as we prepare to cast our votes the military officers association of
america wrote, "the fact is that we are still a nation at war, and this legislation is vital to fulfilling wartime requirements. with multiple contentious issues remaining for congress to tackle this year and very little legislative time to complete these crucial actions, this is not the time to add the already extremely daunting burden of legislative challenges by vetoing the defense authorization bill. " the reserve officers association wrote, "the ndaa contains crucial provisions for the nation's military." "the nation's security and the welfare of those who serve." the reserve officers association has a membership of 50,000 former and currently serving officers and noncommissioned officers, represents all the uniformed services of the united states who would be favorably affected by your signing this bill into law."
i also want to read from a recent "washington post" editorial. "american presidents rarely veto national defense authorization bills since they are well vital to national security. refusioning to sign this bill would make history but not in a good way. mr. obama should let it become law and seek other sources of leverage in pursuing his legitimate goals for domestic sequestration relief. time and time again, president obama has failed to do the right thing when it would matter most -- in afghanistan, in the pacific, in ukraine, in iraq, and in syria. vetoing the ndaa would be yet another of these failures and would be reminiscent of a bigone day -- bygone day when the fecklessness of those days was
so accurately described by winston churchill on the floor of the house of commons. he said, "when the situation was manageable, it was neglected. and now that it's thoroughly out of hand, we apply too late the remedies which then might have affected a cure. there's nothing new in this story. it's as old as the books. it falls into that long di disml catalog of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong, these are the features which constitute the endless endless repetition of history."
my colleagues, for 53 years, congress has passed a national defense authorization act, and at perhaps no time in the past half-century has this legislation been more important. everywhere we look around the are reminders of exactly why we need this defense authorization act. i understand the deeply held beliefs of many of my colleagues about the spending issues that have divided the congress for the last four years. this is not a spending bill. it is a policy bill. it's a reform bill. it is a bill that accomplishes what the constitution demands of us and what the american people expect of us. it is a bill that gives our men and women in uniform, many of
whom are still in harm's way around the world today, the vital authorities and support they need to defend our nation, and it is a bill this deserves the -- that deserves the support of the united states senate. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: