tv U.S. Senate CSPAN October 8, 2015 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT
shootings that we all grieve over, all of us grieve over. and, madam president -- i ask unanimous consent for an additional minute. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: and lelt us put the other side on notice, we will get a vote on this legislation. we will get a vote on this legislation. we will use all of the procedural means and our ability, once the groundswell occurs and people on both sides of the aisle have to study the issue, they will have to vote on it. we will do it either towards the end of this term or early in the next term of this congress. and we believe we've chance to win. the american people have said, enough. a small group in the house and senate who are so unrepresentative of the views of their constituents will not hold things up. any longer. that is my belief. i hope and pray it becomes
reality. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, madam president. democracy doesn't work like this. democracy doesn't work such that 90% of the american public can support the pretty simple concept that you shouldn't get a gun if you're a criminal and have congress ignore its will. democracy just doesn't work like that. and so as senator schumer said, this is really about making sure that the american public are engaged at the highest level, are making it absolutely clear that silence in the face of these mass murders, silence in the face of young men and women, predominantly young men getting gunned down in the streets of our cities every day, isn't acceptable. and so we are hopeful that over the course of the next several weeks and months that congress is going to hear loud and clear
that our silence has effectively become an endorsement for these murders. i know that's hard to hear, but the reality is, is that when the nation's most esteemed deliberative body does absolutely nothing in the face of this slaughter, we don't even hold one single public hearing, then those whose minds are becoming unhinged start to think that those in charge have quietly endorsed it. because if they didn't, they'd be doing something about it. and so the outline that we have laid before our colleagues today is reasonable, common sense, exists side-by-side along with the protection of the second amendment. and we should adopt it as quickly as possible. but at the very least, we should get started on a conversation about how we can end our silence
on this issue. i live every day with the memory of standing before the parents of sandy hook elementary school on that morning in which 20 first graders were gunned down. i live every day with the thought of a young man disturbed in his mind walking in with a military-style assault weapon and in less than five minutes killing every single little boy and girl that he shot. 20 little boys and girls shot in under five minutes, every single one of them dead because of the power of that gun, because it was being loaded by cartridges of 30 bullets at a time. something that no hunter needs in order to enjoy his sport or his pasttime. i talked to my first grader this morning as he was heading off to school and i told him that i was
coming to talk about keeping guns out of of the hands of criminals. and he looked at me with this vision of puzzlement. the presiding officer: the senator has used three minutes. mr. murphy: i ask for one additional minute. he couldn't understand why it wasn't already the law of the land. a seven-year-old had enough common sense to know that criminals shouldn't be able to own guns. and as he went off to his first grade classroom, not unlike the first grade classroom that those little boys and girls walked into in december of 2012, i was reminded of the fact that if little boys and girls in a quiet town in connecticut or young men and women in a quiet town in oregon are not safe, then my son is not safe either. and so that's in the face of political opposition, which is real, we are coming together to say that enough is enough. it's time for us to understand that without a change in the law, the reality on the ground
for those that are being affected by this plague, this epidemic of gun violence, will not end either. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, madam president. we're saying today not only enough is enough but rise up, america. demand action from this congress which for too long has been complicit, in effect, an aider and abettor of the mass killings that have taken place in virginia tech and columbine and charleston, sandy hook, newtown and now roseburg. if america rises up, congress will hear and heed that message. just as it would in any public health crisis -- and today we face a public health crisis as real and urgent as a contagion of flu or tuberculosis or, yes,
ebola. and the same kind of urgency and immediacy in response is necessary. common sense, sensible measures to fill gaps, close loopholes, expand existing law to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. one of those principles should be no background check, no gun. no check, no sale. let us close the gap that permits countless criminals from buying guns because the background check isn't complete within the required 72 hours. one of the 15,729 ineligible purchasers over the last five years, people who were barred by law from buying guns, was dillon roof in charleston. he used his gun to kill nine
people in a church in charleston he was ineligible to buy a gun but the background check was not complete within 72 hours. we are igniting and active aight the silent -- activating the silent majority in america. more than 90% of the american people want background checks on every gun buyer. along with other commonsense measures, like a ban on illegal trafficking and straw purchases, a mental health initiative and school safety. let us give america its say. and this moment is one we should seize to say, rise up, america. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: thank you, madam president. i ask unanimous consent that mark mendenhaul, a detailee to
the appropriations committee, have floor privileges for the remainder of the debate on the energy and water appropriations bill. the presiding officer:the presit objection. mrs. feinstein: thank you, madam president. madam president, it wasn't long ago that towns like columbine, aurora, blacksburg, newtown and now roseburg were unknown outside their states. but today these towns have witnessed the worst kind of tragedy -- mass shootings, bodies torn to pieces, families shattered. the common element in each has been an unstable individual who had easy access to deadly weapons. i stood here 2 1/2 years ago to argue for restrictions on the manufacture, transfer and importation of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. that vote failed. i stood here to argue for
universal background checks. it makes sense that there be a process to ensure a firearm isn't purchased by someone who can't legally possess it, like a felon. even that bill, supported by the overwhelming majority of the public, failed. so here we are again, madam president, once again standing on the senate floor demanding action in the wake of another deadly shooting. as frustrated as i may be, i've not lost hope that the american people will rise up and force their elected representatives to take real action to help stop these senseless murders. i hope they pick up their phones and call every senator, every representative, every presidential candidate and demand to know where they stand. president obama noted this week that the united states is the only country -- the only
country -- that so frequently suffers these deadly attacks. let me quote some figures. last year we had 33,636 people killed by guns. in 2011, there were 146 gun deaths in the united kingdom, 698 in canada. in 2012, australia saw 226 gun deaths. and last year, there were six in japan. our number is 33,636. we cannot let that continue. gun laws work in other countries and they can work here too. there are simple actions that congress can take to make a difference. an individual should not be able to buy any weapon they want on-line or at a gun show with no
background check. an individual should not be able to purchase weapons then immediately resell them without background checks to criminals. and an individual who has committed domestic violence should not be able to purchase firearms. now, thesis are not drastic changes -- now, these are not drastic changes. in fact, all of these proposals are already law in some states. madam president, congress simply must take some action. the longer we delay, the more innocent people, including children, will be killed in our schools, our office parks, our movie theaters and our streets. i'd like to conclude with a story written by blog writer glennon doyle melton. she offers up a powerful tale and i'd like to read a portion of it to conclude today. and i quote -- "two weeks ago,
my second and fourth-grade daughters came home from school and told me that they had a code red drill. she recalled her daughter saying, the drill was in case someone tries to kill us, we had to all hide in the bathroom together and be really quiet. it was really scary but the teacher said there was a real man with a gun trying to find us. she'd cover us up and protect us from him. tommy started crying. i tried to be brave. glennon continues, "my three-year-old nephew had the same drill in his preschool in virginia. three-year-old american babies and teachers hiding in bathrooms , holding hands, preparing for death. we are saying to teachers, arm yourselves and fight men with assault weapons because we are too cowardly to fight the gun lobby.
we are saying to a terrified generation of american children, we will not do what it takes to protect you. we will not even try. so just be very quiet, hide and wait. hold your breath. shhhh. madam president, this is chilling. to hear what our children and grandchildren must endure even in their earliest years. i would say to all of us -- we must have the courage to stand up and do what it takes to provide some commonsense protection for our constituents and for our country. madam president, i thank you. i yield the floor.
mrs. gillibrand: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. yil jilmrs. gillibrand: qui thae vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. gillibrand: i rise today to talk about the topic of gun violence. time and again we've heard calls in this chamber for tougher gun safety laws. we've debated ideas that have ultimately fallen short of passage. these were basic reforms that would better protect all americans and every time these proposals have failed, more of our communities have fallen victim to violence, to gun violence. there are more and more vigils, more funerals, more questions about how these tragedies keep
happening. today lawmakers in washington put forward a set of general principles to guide us as we work to stop the enormous amount of gun violence and gun death in our country. these principles include more thorough background checks, which the vast majority of americans support. they include closing the various rope holes that make it -- the various loopholes that make it so easy for criminals -- not law-abiding citizens, criminals to buy guns, and they include cracking down on gun trafficking and making it a federal crime. a bipartisan bill that i've introduced with senator kirk, this bill called the hadiya pe pendleton crime prevention act of 2016. named after two young girls when
stray bullets from gang violence killed them. this bill is bipartisan. my main co-pour is a republican because gun trafficking is recognized all around this country as a major source of fuel for american gun violence. our bill would finally make gun traffickingtrafficking a federa. it would give law enforcement the tools they need to get illegal guns -- we're not talking about legal guns, we're talking about illegal guns -- off the streets and prosecute those who make money dealing in trafficked weapons. right now there is no federal law that prevents someone from loading up their truck in georgia, driving up i-95 and reselling those guns to gang members in new york. these guns go to dangerous criminals. they are not going to our
law-abiding citizens. they are not going to hunters in upstate new york. they are going to gang members in new york city, in chicago, in big cities across this country. we need to make it possible for our law enforcement to do their jobs. i've said it over and over aga again. nothing ever happens in washington until regular people stand up and demand action. they want this nonsense to stop. they want innocent lives not to be lost because of criminals and the mentally ill who can so easily get access to weapons. it is insane that we cannot do commonsense gun reform that the vast majority of americans, the vast majority of gun owners actually support. if you, god forbid, a parent who's lost a child, we need to hear your voice.
if you are a member of law enforcement, we need to hear from you about what has worked and what has not worked; what resources do you need for us to help you do your job. if you are a law-a aabiding gun owner, would we need to hear your ideas about thousand prevent criminals from getting their hands on guns. if your life has been affected by gun violence, we need to hear your ideas about how to prevent other people from having to live through the horror that you have lived through. the only way we are going to make our country safer from gun violence is through federal action. right now we are stuck with a patch of state laws and local laws which make it very hard for law enforcement to do their jobs to keep us safe. we urgently need federal gun safety reform. month after month, year after
year, illegal guns tear apart communities in new york and across our country. according to the last federal data, there were 8,539 firearms recovered and traced in my home state in 2013 alone. and that more than 8,500 guns, nearly 70% of them, came from out of state. i cannot say this more strongly: we have to make gun trafficking a federal crime. give law enforcement the tools they need to keep our communities safe. stop handing guns over to criminals. we can do this. i yield the floor. ms. ayotte: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. ayotte: thank you, madam president. i come to the floor today to urge my colleagues to permanently reauthorize the land and water conservation fund. this has been a very important
program for preserving our outdoor spaces and the beauty of our country and particularly to my home state of new hampshire, where this fund actually comes from leasing revenues of -- from oil and gas, and so these are dollars that are supposed to be designated for this purpose since the law was passed in 1965. and i'm very disappointed that this body has allowed lwcf's authorization to expire. we have a bipartisan bill. senator burr, senator bennet, myself, the burr-bennet-ayotte bill that is one that i'm going to in a minute seek unanimous consent on, that is -- has a number of cosponsors. this is very bipartisan. we have cosponsors from senator tester, senator shaheen, senator alexander, senator collins, senator king, and this would permanently reauthorize the land and water conservation fund.
we know from a previous vote on the senate, we have 60 votes for permanent reauthorization. that people on both side oz of h sides of the aisle feel very strongly about preserving our great outdoors in this country. in new hampshire, the land and water conservation fund has used on 650 projects, from every aspect of our state, from sunapee, to seabrook, to my home city of nashua, the mine falls park, which i love in whenever i'm home. i love that park. if you look at what's going to happen in new hampshire, madam president, this weekend, according to new hampshire travel officials, 660,000 visitors are expected to travel to new hampshire this coming weekend over the columbus day holiday. we welcome them. but they're coming to experience the beauty and icon fall foliage of new hampshire. the lwcf has given them the
opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors, whatever they like do in the great outdoors. so protecting our treasured outdoor spaces is not a partisan issue. this is an issue that we should work together on to extend this important fund. and so with that, i urge this body to immediately take up and pass the reauthorization for the land and water conservation fund and to continue to preserve our great outdoors in this beautiful country and in my beautiful state of new hampshire, which has helped preserve our beauty not only in new hampshire but across this country and our nation. and so with that, i would ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 10, s. 338, i ask unanimous consent that the bill be read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. lee: reserving the right
to object, i want to make sure what is it is we're talking about today. today we're talking about the expiration of the land and water conservation fund to accrue additional revenues to the fund, nothing more. according to the congressional ref service, the land and wawsht -- land and water conservation fund currently has an unappropriated balance of around $20 billion that can be appropriated to implement lwcf projects. if you assume the current rate of appropriations, roughly $300 million a year, it would take around 60 years before the fund was exhausted. we've got the senate natural resources committee and its house counterpartwork on reforms to the lwcf to address some of the issues that are causing a lot of people to be concerned with the lwcf, issues involving, for instance, maintenance backlog that we have with regard
to many of our public lands and parks and also with regard to the manner and at which -- the manner in which the federal government acquires new land. this is of concern to many of us, especially those of us who come from a state like mine where the federal government owns nearly 70% of the land. so on that basis, madam president, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. ayotte: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. ayotte: madam president, i'm obviously disappointed that an objection has been rendered from my colleague from utah, but i would say that i really appreciate his interest in making sure that we maintain our public parks and lands and this is certainly an interest that we all share together. phs mit is my hope, if we don't reauthorize this program, i know that there are some very important projects that can go forward not only in new hampshire -- because you can't do anything new unless you radio authoriz-- unless you reauthori- in new hampshire and this country. i'm disappointed there is of an
objection, but i'm hoping that this is something we can overcome appeared make shiewsh that we can work together and get this reauthorized. thank you, madam president. mr. lee: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: just again to clarify, so we've got two committees, one in the senate and one in the house looking at possibilities for reforming this program. i'm confident that we can find agreement on how this program ought to be reformed. and that is my goal. i'm going to continue to work toward that end. i want to make sure we have reforms put in place, as we reauthorize this. i want to be clear, this doesn't do anything to halt the program as a whole. this just deals with the accrual of revenue to a fund that has an accumulated unappropriated balance of $20 billion. and so we certainly have time. this shouldn't be rushed through. we need to give the committees time that they need in order to work out the reforms needed. thank you, madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: thank you,
madam president. madam president, first i'd like to say that i join the senator from new hampshire, senator ayotte. i thank her for her leadership on the land and water conservation fund. she's been out front on this. she cares about t sh it. she works well with the other members of the senate and my bet is she will succeed before very long. in 1985 and 1986, at president reagan's request, i was chairman of the president's commission on americans outdoors. it was our job to look ahead for a generation and try to see what kind of recreational facilities americans needed in this next generation. and our principal recommendation was that we fully fund the land and water conservation fund because since it's been created in the 1960's, it has worked with states, as well as through the federal government, to create city parks and opportunities to enjoy one of those aspects of the american character that makes us
exceptional and that is the great american outdoors. so senator burr of nocial carolina, senator ayotte of new hampshire have been among the most vigorous supporters of the land and water conservation fund. i join with them and i look forward to their success. now, on another subject, madam president, in a few minutes, about 15 minutes, the full senate will have an opportunity to vote on whether we want to consider this year the energy and water appropriations bill. we're voting on the motion to proceed to the bill. let me try to put that in plain english. that means that our appropriations committee, which consists of 0 members of the --s of the senate, has finished its work. we did it on may 31. we voted in a bipartisan way 26-4 to send it to the floor of the senate. senator feinstein, who is a wonderful partner to work with, from california is the ranking democrat.
she helped write the bill. i helped write the bill. 30 other members of the aeption pros committee -- appropriations committee helped write the bill. this will be an opportunity for the other 30e other 70 members e senate to get involved in our our aresponsibility, the senate appropriations process. a "yes" vote means yes. a as member of the united states senate, i'd like to be involved in the energy and water appropriations process. i'd like to have a say about where we put our nuclear waste. i'd like to have a say about on national laboratories and what they're doing to create new jobs about our country. i'd like to have a say about whether we'll be first or whether we'll be in the middle of the pact on supercomputing. i'd like to have a say about whether the harbors along our coast are dredged and deepened so that the big ships from the panama canal, which is being widened, will come to the united states and bring cargo and jobs here instead of the other places. i would like to have a say about nuclear weapons. i'd like to have a say about
whether to to move ahead with the new class of submarines. all that is in this bill. and all 30 of us in the appropriations committee have had our say but the other 70 have not, madam president. the other 70 have not. and the way the senate works is this is the time for senators to stand up and say yes or no. i want to have my say on behalf of my state about national defense, about growth, about jobs, about -- about -- about -- about our country. now, why wouldn't a united states senator want to do that, madam president? it's hard for me to understand this. i mean, the democrats are saying, no, we don't even want to talk about it. they're saying, no, we don't want to debate it. that's our job. it's our job to debate it. they say, well, we have a difference of opinion over spending. do you know how big our difference of opinion is? 3%. this bill that we're about to vote on spends 97% as much money
as the democrats want to spend. they want to spend 3% more. i actually think this is a pretty good way to appropriate. that means we've had at least squeezed 3% out. and later on in a few weeks if we have a way of negotiated an agreement that says we'll spend 3% more, well, madam president, we can -- we can put that 3% in in 24 hours. it would not take long at all. that would be the way to do it. the way you're supposed to do an appropriation is, bring the bill to the floor, let all 7 -- let all 100 senators vote on it, not just the 30 who are on the appropriations committee, have a conference with the house of representatives. they've had their say. then we send it to the president and he has his say. now, the president has said he'll veto it because it needs to spend 3% more. that is his progress -- prerogative under the constitution. and it's the prerogative of the minority democrats in the senate to say we'll uphold the
president's veto because we agree with him on spending. but, madam president, you don't don't -- you don't stop the process at the beginning and not even allow the full senate to do its appropriations job. you go through the whole process, let the president have his say and then we sit down and talk about what to do. this is a very bad precedent that really insults the senate. what this means is, is that if the republicans are in the minority of the senate in the next congress and we have a difference of opinion with the democrats over how much to spend , we won't have an appropriations process, some might say. they'll say, we have a difference of opinion and since we have 41 senators, we'll just stop the appropriations process at the beginning. we won't let the rest of the senate have its say. that's not the way we're supposed to do our job. we're sent here to have our say on behalf of the people. an example or two if i may. senator feinstein and i worked very hard on this bill. it provides a total of
$34 billion. $1.2 billion more than last year. $668 million below the president's budget request. the bill's consistent with the federal law, which is called the budget control act. we didn't just make up out of thin air how much to spend. the law tells us how much to spend. that's the law the senate, the house and the president all passed, voted for, signed. that governs what we spend. now, our friends on the other side would like to spend more. that's their prerogative. and they can vote to spend more. but why would they stop us from having a discussion about spending more? half the bill is non-defense spending which supports scientific research at laboratories, harbors, locks and dams. half the bill is defense spending. funds nuclear weapons, life extension programs. it maintains our nuclear weapons stockpile. as i said earlier, the senate appropriations committee fully
considered it and improved the work that senator feinstein had done 26-4 on a bipartisan basis. defense spending is higher this year primarily because of an agreement we made a few years ago when we enacted the start treaty to modernize our nuclear weapons program. it funds several other important agencies -- the department of energy, the army corps of engineers, the national nuclear security administration. it reduces wasteful spending because of our oversight. every year, senator feinstein and i cut out of our budget at least one program that we consider low priority. we did that again this year. and if the senate would allow us to have the bill on the floor and discuss it and vote on it and approve it, we could save $150 million from the u.s. contribution to the international thermal nuclear experimental reactor in france. but no, we're not going to discuss that, say our friends on the other side.
the bill helps our economy. former reserve -- federal reserve chairman ben bernanke wrote a good column in "the wall street journal" earlier this week. he said don't count on the fed alone to make the economy better. you have to do some other things. the presiding officer: the senator's time is expired. mr. alexander: i thought i had until a quarter til. the presiding officer: the democrats have nine minutes remaining. mr. alexander: i'm sorry. if i may have 30 more seconds to wind up? no one told me that. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: all right. thank you very much, mr. president. so i would say to my friends on the other side, if you want to have a say about nuclear waste, about national defense, about national laboratories, about flood control, about waterways, about lox, about dams, then vote yes because that will give you a say and you will be doing your job. vote no sets a dangerous precedent for the senate which says we're not interested in doing our job on appropriations. i thank the president. i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: mr. president, i rise on behalf of being the vice chair of the appropriations committee to urge my colleagues to vote no on the motion to proceed to energy and water appropriations. i just want to comment about the gentleman from tennessee's remarks. first of all, i have such admiration for him, of both his advocacy for tennessee, the skilled legislator he is. he has been an advocate for both tennessee and for the united states of america. he's an outstanding chair of the subcommittee on energy and water, and i know he and my colleague, the ranking member, senator feinstein, have worked very well together. i don't dispute many of the things the gentleman has said in terms of what this impact would have on the economy. certainly, if you're the senator from maryland, the corps of engineers is part of our
economy, particularly as it rates -- the role that it plays in helping keep our waterways able for the port of baltimore to be viable and accept the new panama canal. we could go through item after item. but, madam chair, we need a bipartisan budget agreement. while the gentleman says he wants to have his say, which i appreciate, we have been trying to get budget negotiations going since may. in the committee, i voted to move this bill forward because i wanted to move the process forward. i was hoping that the leadership of both bodies would move to -- to a new top line, the 302-b, and lift the caps. we need leadership on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the dome. we wanted that five months ago, yet here we are yet for another parliament maneuver that just
pits well-intentioned, hardworking people against each other over process. we need a new top line so we could have a better bottom line for our national security and our economic security. i am deeply worried that the trajectory that we are on is hollowing out our america, that we were hollowing out the much-needed infrastructure that we need. part of which comes from the army corps of engineers. our waterways. and look at the whole issue of dam safety. our colleagues in south carolina now are worried about the rivers. the corps of engineers is working a 36-hour day with governor haley to really try to help south carolina, but we need investments in our infrastructure. not only crisis response, which, by the way, of course we're going to stand with the people of south carolina to help them. but we need to be able to cancel sequester, and we need to be
able to do it for defense and nondefense. in the energy and water bill that's before us, the increases are in the defense side. some of the national security issues outlined by the gentleman from tennessee. but in the area of nondefense, it has just going up a couple of hundred million dollars. excuse me. $8 million. the bill is short on infrastructure and it's short on research funding. now, i believe we should have a sensible approach to spending, and i know that we agree on budget caps, but these budget caps are placing a cap on our national security, they're placing a cap also on our compelling infrastructure needs that every state is crying out for, and the gentleman knows the request has come his way along with senator feinstein. we're also capping innovation.
you know, we need to be able to have more breakthroughs, whether it's in leg science where we had a wonderful hearing yesterday that we both attended on breakthroughs at n.i.h., but we need breakthroughs in new energy issues. so we need to maintain our strategic petroleum reserve. we need to have the corps of engineers with the resources it needs for flood control, waterways and harbors. my port depends upon it. we also need adequate funding for the cleanup of enrichment plants like in portsmouth, ohio, where we're worried that 500 workers will lose their jobs. madam president, we need to stop talking and engaging in parliament dueling. what i hope is let's encourage our leadership to come up with a new budget deal that lifts the caps so that the senate appropriations committees can get on with their job.
i have worked now with my colleague, the full committee chairman, senator cochran. the gentleman from mississippi, a gentleman of the old school who has done a good solid job running the committee. the chairman that we have worked with, we feel that we have good relations. but it's not how well we get along. it's how much we get done. and the way to get it done this year is to be able to lift the budget caps, come up with a sensible agreement with appropriate offsets and then let's let the appropriators do our job. and i want to say to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, we do look forward to working with you, but when all is said and done, we want to get more done than will get said. madam president, i yield the floor.
mr. alexander: madam president, we yield back any time on our side. the presiding officer: all time is yielded back. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to proceed to calendar number 96, h.r. 2028, an act making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2016, and for other purposes, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the motion to proceed to h.r. 2028, an act making appropriations for energy and water development and
three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted in the affirmative, the motion is not agreed to. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to the en bloc consideration of the following nominations which the clerk will report. the clerk: nominations, w. thomas reter jr. to be director of the pension benefit guarantee corporation. lucy tanly of new york to be public ambassador of benin. jeffry hawkins of california to be ambassador of the central africa republic. edwin richard nolan jr. of massachusetts to be ambassador to the republic of suranami. carolyn patricia alsup of florida to be the republic of
tiew gnash. the presiding officer: under the previous order the question occurs on the confirmation of the nominations en bloc. all in favor say aye. those opposed say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nominations are confirmed en bloc. the senate will now resume legislative session. ms. cantwell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senator murray be added as cosponsor to the bill introduced earlier today to authorize the land and water conservation fund. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. cantwell: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to consideration of s. 2165 which is the permanent extension of the land and water conservation fund, a bill that
will be read three times and passed and the motion to reconsider considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: reserving the right to object, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: this land and water conservation fund has been around for 40 years. it has $20 billion built up in reserve. the authorization as is expired at this point only changes the amount of money coming into it. we're still doing the same projects. literally this fund has 65 years worth of reserve built into it. what we're trying to find is some way to be able to help protect the lands we already have. we're adding more lands. we're not doing maintenance on the lands. we have an $11 billion maintenance backlog just in our national parks. so i do have a concern. we're continuing to add more lands. we're not taking care of what we have. there's not an immediate emergency need for this because the fund continues to operate. we're just not adding new dollars into it in the days ahead.
again, we've got about 65 years of reserve currently in it, so we're not in a hurry. we do want to be able to get this right, though, on how we actually maintain our lands as well as actually do purchase or state entities, whatever it may be. so i do object. ms. cantwell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the objection is heard. the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president, if i could continue, because i am very disappointed that these objections are now proceeding. just to be clear, the land and water conservation fund has been around for 51 years, and this is the first time in the history of the land and water conservation fund that it's expired. so i hope that sportsmen, i hope fishermen, i hope that everybody who loves the outdoors and who participates in the outdoor economy will call their senators and make sure that they understand that these are important bills to pass. we don't want to become the hold-up senate where you can't get the export-import bank finally past the finish line, where you can't get the land and water conservation. things that have worked for
decades and decades, are bipartisan, the majority of members on both sides support and all it is is about making sure that they can get a vote. the land and water conservation fund has supported more than six million jobs nationwide as part of outdoor recreation, and it is credited with over $900 million from basically outer continental shelf drilling. those gas receipts pay for this open space that then generates more to our economy by having outdoor recreation opportunities. so, every state, i'm sure, we'll hear from cities, from counties, from organizations, sportsmen who will say let's get this bipartisan legislation passed. let's continue our efforts as a conservation country to invest in the things that will help grow our outdoor economy. so i hope my colleague will stop coming to the floor on the other side of the aisle and objecting to this. i know that there are members on both sides of the aisle that have tried to get this passed. and i hope that when we return
the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: the senate is not in a quorum call. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. i'm here on the floor of the senate with my colleague from oregon, senator wyden, to share a few thoughts about the tragedy that has occurred in our home state.
a week ago today a mad man turned a quiet fall day in roseburg, oregon, into a day of terror. what occurred on the grounds of umpqua community college is unspeakable, senseless tragedy. nine innocent lives cut short. lucera alcaraz was 19 years old. she graduated from roseburg high school this past year. she received scholarships that would cover her entire college costs and she had hopes of becoming a pediatric nurse working with children. quinn cooper, 18 years old, also just out of roseburg high school. quinn loved dancing and voice acting. he was just on the verge of
taking his brown belt test in martial arts. lucas eibel, 18 years old, a third graduate from roseburg high school. he was studying chemistry. and when he wasn't in school, he played soccer and he volunteered at the wildlife safari animal park and the local animal shelter. treven anspach, a talented athlete. he worked with the fire county district when he wasn't in class. his parents referred to him as the perfect son. kim dietz. kim dietz loved the outdoors, her 18-year-old daughter and her two pyrenees dogs and she worked
as a caretaker at the pyrenees vineyard. jason johnson, age 33. jason recently turned his life around. after completing a six-month rehab program with the salvation army, he decided to continue his education. as his mother said, he had finally found his path. certificate real estate in a moore. sarena moore was in her third semester at umpqua community college studying business. she was an active member of the seventh day adventist church and the proud mother of two adult sons. lawrence levine was the professor teaching the writing class that was assaulted by the gunman. he loved the blues. he loved fly-fishing.
and writing was his passion. and rebecc rebecka carnes. rebecca graduated just last year from south umpqua high school and in her picture, she's holding a graduation cap. the graduation cap says "and so the adventure begins." and she was full of the zest for the life to come. nine upstanding citizens of the community, nine promising lives cut short. even in tranl di tragedy, we san roseburg examples of heroism.
the law enforcement officers, the first responders, they proceeded to act quickly, to act competently. there were students like chris mintz, who was shot five to seven times seeking to stop the gunman. the sheriff, the county commissioners, the mayor, the city manager all made decisions in a flash to respond and address the unfolding crisis. and they did an incredible job. but there is no job that can repair the damage done, the terror and the fabric of the community, the broken hearts of the families and the community and the oregonians. this mass shooting will be seared into our memories. the name roseburg will be remembered on a list that includes charleston, newtown,
virginia tech, and columbine. this is a list of communities and schools that no community or school ever wants to be on. i was born in douglas county in the town of myrtle creek. i spent my early childhood there and then this roseburg, and that area is an incredibly beautiful place, one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, the umpqua river, and a town that's just the right size where everyone knows each other and everyone helps each other out. and i'm shocked when i think of the community that this could happen there. but if it can happen in rose roseburg, it can happen anywhere in our country.
that is something that becomes evident day after day, week after week in the course of just 2015, 45 shootings in our schools across the country, 18 mass murders -- roughly one every two weeks. and so we grieve the lives lost at umpqua community college in roseburg, and we grieve the lives lost i in assaults across the country. and so we will search our souls to ask ourselves how we might diminish the odds of this occurring in another community, and that conversation will take place here in this chamber in the weeks ahead. i just want to close with
recognizing that if we can diminish the opportunity of a disturbed individual to get ahold of a gun and we can increase the opportunity for them to get help, there will be fewer tragedies like this. and with that, i turn the floor over to my colleague, senator wyden. mr. wyden: mr. president, i want to thank my colleague, senator merkley, the son of douglas county, and just reflect for a few minutes on the horrendous events of the last week. and my colleague has eloquently talked about the victims, and i'm grateful for that. i want to talk for a few moments, senator merkley and i
will be returning home tomorrow. i want to talk a little bit about what was inspiring last friday. my colleague and i and our colleague from the house, congressman defazio, we went to mercy medical center and we saw all of the staff, and my own sense is that there's no way that you really can prepare for something like this. you can go through as many training programs, have as many drills, have as many handbooks as anybody can invent, but you're never really prepared for it. and when senator merkley and i and our colleague from the other
body, congressman defazio, we walked into that meeting -- i think there were probably 150 staff there -- i said, this is the face of douglas county. these are the people, the doctors, and the nurses, the pharmacists, and the volunteers who were just there in a time of extraordinary stress, giving those individuals the very best of care. and that little extra touch of douglas county sharing, that my colleague knows much more about than anyone else here in the senate, and i so appreciated what we saw in the mercy medical center because it told me that even at a time of such pain and after such carnage, we know
douglas county is going to come back, roseburg is going to come back. and, to me, the reason we know it is because of what we saw there at the mercy medical center. all of these committed and wonderful advocates who, against all odds, came through. and there's one other part of douglas county that i wanted to reflect on because it says so much about the community. my colleague and i have town hall meetings around the state. we've both been in douglas county of the and i had a tong hall meeting at u.c.c. here just a couple of months ago. and as i was driving in all of the log trucks were parked out in front because it's a community that cares a great deal about sensible natural resource policy. and we had a spirited town meeting, as most of the town meetings in du douglas county a,
because people have strong views. but 0 on that day, i saw much f what i saw at the mercy medical center that my colleague and i visited. people who cared about their friends and neighbors, cared about a whole host of issues from the economy to charity to what the congress was doing that might actually be relevant to them. and i bring this up only by way of saying that i'm so grateful that my colleague made the presentation he did, so we understand what a huge loss this has been. but i also wanted to touch on what i saw with my friend at the mercy medical center and what i saw at the umpqua community college town hall meeting of just, you know, a couple of months ago. because at a time of great loss,
we should also be inspired by what we saw at that medical center and friends and neighbors of good will saying that they're going to come together and deal with some of the biggest challenges that the community and our country faces. so i look forward to going home with my colleague tomorrow to once again talk about the challenges that are ahead after roseburg. we talk add little bit about that on the steps. but i mostly want to say that what we saw last friday in the middle of tragedy and great stress ought to send the message to all concerned that douglas county is going to be back. douglas county is a special place. and as horrendous as these losses were, those are people that embody the best of our state, the best of our country, and i look forward to working with my colleague and his
leadership to try to provide whatever solace we can in the short term and then move on to tackle the community's bigger issues in the days ahead. i thank my colleague. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. king: mr. president, on september 11, 2001 is 3,000 people were brutally killed in this country. the response of our nation was overwhelming. we changed our laws, we increased our intelligence community's capacity dramatically, we fought two wars, we imposed vigorous inspection regimes at airports and in connection with transportation, we made huge changes in order to see that such a thing did not happen again. why?
because we love each other. we're compassionate people. and when american lives are threatened, we react. and in that case, we reacted in an overwhelming way. in 2014, we lost one american to a potential ebola epidemic. one life was lost. even though it was only one life, millions of dollars were spent across the country and our entire health system was mobilized -- again, because we love each other, and we want to protect each other. over the last ten years, we've had disasters in this country that have affected our neighbors. most recently, in south carolina. but, of course, the two great disasters of the last decade -- katrina and sandy -- we again
responded. in money, $100 billion was allocated for relief of those two forms. why? because we love each other and we take care of each other. when we see a problem in this country, particularly a problem that threatens fellow americans, we act. we do something. when there is a risk to our colleagues and our friends and our families, we address it. and yet we have one epidemic in this country, one disaster that we are deliberately ignoring. it's an epidemic which takes over 30,000 lives a year. 30,000 american lives a year. and that's gun-related violence. the breakdown on those -- on that 30,000 figure is over
10,000 homicides committed with guns and 20,000 suicides committed with guns. now, maine is a gun-owning state. i think we're the second or third highest percentage of our population that owns guns of any state in the country, and yet we have one of the lowest levels of gun violence. why is that? because i think it's our deep tradition of respect and care for firearms and the idea that's passed down from generation to generation that firearms are to be treated responsibly and with respect and with an understanding of their destructive capacity. thinking about this issue made me reflect upon what is the proper response from what level of government. i do not think that all government, all problems in this country need to be solved by the
federal government. and i think this is one of them. i think there is an important role to be played here by states and localities because they can adjust their rules and laws according to the needs in their states. tx the needs and responsibility and importance of this issue in mane may be different -- in maine may be different than new mexico or new york. therefore, under the genius of our system, the principal responsibility should rest at the state and local level. however, i do think that there are minimum standards that the federal government can impose that will enable the states then to work within those standards to meet the requirements that they see are most important for their citizens. this is a true role of federalism. in our federal constitution, we have the second amendment, and i
respect and support it. it is a basic part of our governing document. but the second amendment to me not only imparts rights but responsibilities. guns are dangerous instrumentalities. anybody who has ever used one knows that. and there are responsibilities which come with the right to keep and bear arms. justice scalia in the heller decision, where the court struck down the district of columbia's total ban essentially on handguns, saying that it overreached and violated the second amendment, was very clear and explicit where he said the second amendment, like all other amendments in the constitution, has limits, and interestingly, specifically, he mentioned in
that opinion, and nobody ever accused justice scalia of being a liberal, justice scalia pointed out of course you can limit the ability of felons and the dangerously mentally ill to obtain handguns, the government can limit it, and also the government can reasonably place limits on the commercial transaction, the sale and purchase of guns. now, we're here today because of one more in a depressingly familiar series of mass shooting incidents. columbine, newtown, and now oregon. all over the country, this is happening in a repetitive way, and it's important to use this occasion to reflect upon the dangers that we are ignoring, the epidemic that we are ignoring, but i think we also have to realize that mass shootings, as horrendous as they
are, are not the bulk of the crimes committed with guns and the deaths dealt by guns in this country, but those are everyday criminals, abusive spouses and, sadly, people taking their own lives. don't forget that those 30,000 deaths a year of our fellow citizens are not all in mass shooting situations, but they involve many other circumstances. so what's the solution? a friend of mine in maine coined the term, which i think aptly applies -- in fact, it probably applies in this case more than any other -- there is no silver bullet. there may, however, be silver buckshot. a multiplicity of solutions. no single solution. nothing we do here today in the
way of background checks or anything else is going to solve this problem entirely. we must recognize that, so we must move in a comprehensive way, not only here on the federal level but on a state level as well. not to compromise the second amendment, not to take guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, not to make it inherently more difficult for law-abiding citizens to obtain them, but to put into place scens solutions to deal with -- common sense solutions to deal with this epidemic of gun violence. the first, of course -- and i want to commend my colleague from maine for emphasizing this today, and that is we have to deal with the failures of our mental health system. in all of these mass shootings incidents, it appears that the perpetrators had some significant mental health issues, and we have to deal with that, and we have to have a
better system that finds people in advance before they act out their violent fantasies. we have to try to intervene and help those people before violence occurs. so mental health has to be a part of this, but it's not the whole answer, because people are those kinds of proclivities, whether they are violence-prone felons or people with dangerous mental health issues, we simply have to keep guns out of their hands. and that brings us to the second common sense solution, which is background checks, which we already have. we've had them for, i don't know, 15, 20 years. and some people say well, we're worried about background checks because it will lead to a federal registry and they'll know who has the guns and they'll come and get them. we've had the background checks for a number of years. that hasn't happened. and in the manchin-toomey bill
we voted on two years ago, it was a felony for any federal official to create a background -- a registry that would be available to the government. the simple, basic, common sense idea of a background check is to see whether someone is a convicted felon or has demonstrated dangerous mental illness that should disqualify them from having a firearm. that's common sense. that has been supported, it is supported by a majority of gun owners and by the vast majority of the american people. it was even supported by some of the national gun organizations as recently as ten or 15 years ago, but no longer, for reasons that i don't understand. another part of the package that i think will be introduced in the next week or so is to add convicted spousal abusers to the list, which again is common sense. i mentioned in maine we have a very low level of gun violence,
but much of it involves spouse on spouse, and if we have a case where someone has been convicted of spousal abuse, to me again it's common sense that they should not be able to obtain a gun. and finally, if you're going to have a system of background checks that's nationwide, that, by the way, should be efficient in this day and age, there's no reason it has to take any kind of long period to check, but if you have such a system, then it doesn't make sense to turn a blind eye to trafficking and straw purchases which are essentially designed to get guns into the hands of people who otherwise couldn't buy them. that's a modest package. it doesn't violate by the express language of justice scalia, doesn't violate the second amendment, and it won't solve the whole problem. nothing is going to solve the whole problem. we're a human society and humans sadly are often prone to
violence. but it can make a difference. it can make a difference. and remember, mr. president, we're talking about 30,000 people a year. 30,000 people a year. the american people send us here to address issues, to address problems. on september 11, congress acted. after sandy and katrina, congress acted. during the ebola crisis, congress and the american health system acted. why? because we love each other and we value each other, and it seems to me this is exactly the same case. we look out across the country and one of the problems with this issue is that it's slow motion and small. every now and then, we have one of these incidents like we did last week where a significant number of people are killed in
one day, but the truth is 10,000 people a year are murdered in the united states. 10,000 people a year. not necessarily in a mass shooting, but 30,000 people a year all together, if you include suicides, is a small american town disappearing every year. if all of these deaths occurred in one town, in iowa or illinois or chicago or california, we would be on this. we would find the cause. we would be at least trying to prevent it. but because it happens in slow motion, in small ways across the country in small towns and large cities, we're ignoring them. this gives us an occasion to remind us the incident in oregon reminds us once again of how serious this is and that we have
an opportunity to do something about it. not by overreaching, not by violating the second amendment, not by impinging on the rights of law-abiding gun owners, of whom we have many in maine, but simply by the common sense imposition of a nationwide system to be sure that people who are felons or dangerously mentally ill can't get guns. i don't understand how anybody can object to that goal. because i care about my fellow americans. i love my fellow americans, and i want to protect them from harm. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.