tv U.S. Senate CSPAN October 29, 2015 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT
ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, it is not always easy to get a majority of congress to agree on something, but when it comes to the export-import bank, the numbers are now clear. three days ago, the house easily passed a bill to reauthorize this critically important program 313-118. months before that here in the senate, we approved reauthorization 64-29. that is a supermajority in both chambers, so no one should think we should not be able to pass this. but right now, the will of a bipartisan supermajority is being blocked by senate republican cleerdz who have so far refused us now the opportunity to act. this lack of movement on this critical issue is unacceptable and people across the country
are not going to stand for it. every single day that passes without this program in operation, america's businesses, most of them small businesses, are at a disadvantage, and that is because one of the main goals of the export-import gang is to level the playing field for american companies to sell their goods overseas. there are 60 other export credit agencies worldwide including several in china, and while the companies around the world are enjoying the support of their own lending programs, this congress allowed one of its best tools to grow the economy go dark, and that is now hurting our economy at a time when we should be continuing to work to build and grow and create jobs. for months, i have heard from businesses in my home state of washington that they are being held back by partisan
grandstanding nearly 3,000 miles away. businesses in washington state make great products, and they want to ship what they make overseas and continue to build their business at home, and congress ought to be a good partner in that effort. mr. president, this isn't a republican issue or a democratic issue. this is about supporting american companies that are creating local jobs, adding to our economy and helping our economy grow from the middle out. and it's why the export-import bank has had the support of this body now for more than 80 years. mr. president, i urge republican leaders to stop allowing extreme members of their party, a minority of their party, to hold our economy hostage. it's time to renew the export-import bank on behalf of american businesses. american workers and american families. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor and i suggest
a senator: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: thank you, mr. president. once again we are down on the floor of the senate begging, pleading, trying to get anyone to listen to our pleases to once again open up the export-import bank. as we look at the consequences of having closed for the last 3 1/2 months the export-import bank, it becomes readily apparent every day, every hour that we are losing american manufacturing jobs, we are stressing small businesses who
have a long history of reliance on the export-import bank. ms. heitkamp: that we are, in fact, not only not helping american business but we are, in fact, hurting american manufacturers in this country. why would we do that? why would we wait one more day? we were told back before the charter expired on the ex-im bank that the reason why, even though we had 64 votes in the united states senate for the ex-im bank, we were told the reason why we couldn't possibly get this done is because the house of representatives would not take this up, the house of representatives would not move the ex-im bank. and, in fact, if it came to the floor, it was doubtful that we would actually get a vote that was favorable to the ex-im bank. well, a funny thing happened when we look at the reality of where the house of representatives is. when we counted the votes this week for the ex-im bank, guess
what? over 70%, 70% of the house of representatives voted to reauthorize the ex-im bank. 70%. and probably even more remarkable, a majority of republicans in the house of representatives voted to authorize the ex-im bank. now, you might wonder, what changed, what happens, how di did -- how could we possibly have been so wrong? well, let me tell you. no one in their right mind in the business community ever believed that we would let the ex-im charter expire. and so everybody assumed that we would do the right thing here, that the charter would go on and that this would happen. and guess what happened? when we shut down the ex-im bank, when we didn't make it possible for people to approach the ex-im bank to get credit guarantees to do the work of manufacturing and exporting, all of a sudden those small businessmen and women, those
employees of those institutions picked up their phones and they started calling their members of congress. and when they called their members of congress, that's when we saw action, that's when we saw things moving in a direction that actually supports american manufacturing. this is an institution that has been reauthorized many times. this is an institution that's been in existence for decades. it's an institution that is in competition with dozens, in fact, about 80 or 90 export credit agencies run by other countries. every day they're competing against those same agencies. so what we have is we have unilateral disarmament. we have a situation today where our manufacturers -- can you imagine this? american manufacturers,
long-standing manufacturers actually considering moving their manufacturing facilities offshore? offshore so that they can compete for this export business. and so we can't wait another minute. we can't wait another day. we can't wait for another opportunity to present itself. we have to do this now. i understand and i know that i'm new to this institution and i probably come with a sense that most times when you have super majorities in support of something, it shouldn't be that hard to get done. and you know the president will sign it. and so i always am -- am a little shocked when people say, "well, you know, we still can't get that done because we need to find a vehicle." "we need to find a vehicle." and i think, well, what does that mean? when you actually introduce a bill and you have the bill itself and the bill is sitting at the desk and you have an opportunity to not -- not try
and attach to something so somebody can hide their vote, not trying to attach it becauseh it to something because you might be able to leverage another idea there, but actually move this bill forward. so we don't need to look for a vehicle. we don't need to look for another opportunity to advance the ex-im bank. guess what we need? we need to bring this bill to the floor right now. we need to ask our colleagues to engage in what we should be doing here, which is debate and legislation on the floor of the senate, and we need to resolve this issue and -- and wrap it up. and so when we -- when we started this journey, we were told the ex-im bank was in need of reform. in a very bipartisan way, my office sat down with senator kirk's office, joined by senator blunt, joined by senator lindsey graham, joined by senator
manchin and senator donnelly and said, what do we need to do to make the ex-im bank better? what do we need to do to make the ex-im bank more accessible, more accountable? and we negotiated something that's rare here, which is a bipartisan bill, the kirk-heitkamp ex-im reauthorization bill. and that bill has been the vehicle that bill has been th the -- and that bill has been the vehicle, that bill has been kind of the blueprint for how we're going to move forward. in fact, when the house did thinks discharge position, they discharged the bill that is, in fact, the kirk-heitkamp bill. so there's no we've got to balance this, we've got so somehow reconcile a house version and a senate version. we can get this done today and we can move this forward. we can send the message to the rest of the world that the ex-im bank and american manufacturers are open for business. and so it -- it -- it makes
absolutely no sense for us to wait any longer to in any way delay the movement of the ex-im bank. i yield the floor. ms. cantwell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i want to thank my colleague from north dakota for her continued leadership on this issue and for pointing out to our colleagues that we really could be just a short step away from reenacting a very important business tool for small businesses and for manufacturers and for the agriculture industry by making sure that we reauthorize the export-import bank. what she's referring to is it would just take a short agreement here this morning to go ahead and take the house-passed bill that as she just explained was passed after colleagues got a discharge petition. but it is the same as the language that we have had over here in the united states sena senate. so the process would be very simple to move forward on this reauthorization. i'm sure she pointed out before
i got to the floor that the majority of our colleagues support this, a filibuster-proof majority of our colleagues, 67 -- i think 67 of our colleagues. and now we have this tremendous support, 313 votes, from the house of representatives. so as she said, we're just a short step away. so why are we so emphatic about that? well, why wait? when you look at what has just come out in the financial numbers of 1.5% job growth, i think something like that, very, i would say, anemic numbers for our economy. i don't know about you, but since we're a very cyclical economy in the northwest, and we have been for various periods of time in our history, i know thit me to get up every day and fight for things that will improve the economic opportunity of america. and so that's what we're here doing. when you look at 2014, it
supported $27.4 billion in u.s. exports and 164,000 jobs. and my colleagues know how much the economy outside of the united states is growing so we want to sell them u.s.-made products. i think it's one of the biggest economic opportunities in front of us. i believe in what we make. you know, i -- i complain because i think exotic financial instruments got us into trouble and i want to be known for something in the united states of america besides exotic financial instruments. i like that we make airplanes and automobiles, as the senator from michigan has joineddous the floor. i like to we make great agricultural products from north dakota that are then exported around the globe. i visited bob's red mill in oregon who makes great variety of various grain products that are shipped all over the world. but he uses the export-import bank as a way to gain market access because not every bank in
oregon is brave enough to take on a deal in, you know, tanzania or some other country. why? because the banking doesn't exist there. so the oregon bank says okay, i'll bank you, i'll get bob's red mill sold all those places but i want some credit insurance that you have an insurance program in case something goes wrong. that's where the export-import bank comes in. so to 14, $27.4 billion u.s. exports and 164,000 jobs. so where have we been since thi? it's helped us with 1.4 million jobs. so at a time that we're getting economic information about we've had somewhat anemic quarter to our economy -- i would say it's interesting that it did coincide with this issue of the export-import bank and probably this whole malaise here of not getting work done probably
didn't make anybody happen in business, the fact that a lot of doubt and uncertainty plagued us. so if you want to help the economy, let's just agree this morning that the export-import bank is a great tool to help u.s. manufacturers grow their economic opportunities outside the united states. let's just agree this morning and get this done and we will be on to moving ahead on this important -- on this important issue. now, some people are saying, let's just wait. okay? so i'm saying, what you're risking in waiting -- more job loss, more small businesses are at risk, and the u.s. economy is at risk. so there are more than right now 9 billion export-import bank deals on the table. 9 billion. that can't get done because the bank doesn't exist anymore. so if you just think about that,
those are u.s. companies who have economic opportunity to do around the globe that help us grow the u.s. economy at a time when we've been anemic and by today, just me making a motion and no one objecting, we would be able to restart that engine. a senator: would our leader from washington state just yield for one quick question? ms. cantwell: yes. a senator: i wanted you to just one more time fertion that $9 billion? $9 billion that is right now in economic activity hang not guilty the balance. ms. cantwell: yes. a senator: and because of this inactivity we're losing every single day, $9 billion. not $9 million, $9 billion with a "b oil. ms. cantwell: yes, those are u.s. companies being held up with deals that could be moved forward. so, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of calendar number 282, h.r. 597, the export-import bank reform and reauthorization
act, that the bill be read a third time and passed and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i would remind my colleagues that we've voted on the reauthorization of the export-import bank already. there are numerous objections on this side of the aisle. therefore, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. ms. cantwell: mr. president, i hope that our colleagues realize that the economic activity that we could be seeing today could help us in everything that we're doing. while the senate has passed the export-import bank, it's part of a larger transportation package that this senator hopes actually will get done, but there are many people who don't want to see the export-import bank done. in fact, some of our colleagues suggested in the recent budget deal that they put a one-year
provision in for the export-import bank. so i don't support a one-year provision. we support a five-year reauthorization, and we want to get to that now. we do not want to see more jobs shipped overseas as we continue to have this debate because that's what's happening. we are giving economic opportunity to other businesses to take advantage of our businesses. so i would hope that we would take this up and move it forward so that we can get the economic opportunity back in front of the american people at the time we most critically need it. ms. heitkamp: mr. president? would my friend from washington yield for a question? ms. cantwell: yes. ms. heisman trophy -- hiz heitkamp: we have had four months. ms. heitkamp: no opportunity for a small business to actually look at how they can grow that
small business. we know we have lost jobs all across america in states where they are challenged economically. opportunities are there. we know that the large institutions, the large manufacturers in our country, some of which are in your state, rely on this small business chain of businesses, and those are the businesses that have been hit the hardest. if we wait again for another promise of another -- we're going to put it on another vehicle, how much more inactivity, how much more disruption to these small businesses can these small supply chains have given their economics? isn't it true that a small business is much more challenged by a day delay in opening up the ex-im bank than a large corporation? ms. cantwell: mr. president, i thank the senator from north dakota for her question because she is right on the pinpoint of what this issue is about. it is really about small
businesses who don't have huge capital reserves to set aside money so that they can guarantee the sale of their product, and as i said there is $9 billion of pending issues before the bank right now, and many of those are small businesses, so those small businesses could be opening up the economic opportunity that might, you know, grow their -- grow their revenue significantly, allow them to hire more jobs, and when you think about the motion that i just made, if no one would have objected, that $9 billion would have been free to go out into the economy, those deals would have gotten done, those small businesses would have been empowered, and we would be on our way to winning in what is an export economy. why is it an export economy? because the growing middle class around the globe is going to double in the next several years. 95% of customers live outside the united states of america. so we want to win economic
opportunity, we have to be able to sell outside the united states of america. well, it's hard because not every place in the united states of america is so developed that their banking system is there to do deals. this great company in our state, in spokane, washington, scapco, two of my colleagues here, the ranking member on the ag committee from michigan and my colleague from north dakota, very active in ag issues will get it. he is basically making and selling grain -- aluminum grain containers, silos, all over the world. that's his business. and he's expanded it, built new buildings. he's not an incredible work force. so as the rest of the world, particularly in africa and south america, but even in asia, start to grow their agricultural economies, guess what they need. they need ag equipment. i'm sure the senator from michigan understands that because she has some of those manufacturers. so those manufacturers have a huge opportunity to sell
u.s.-made agriculture equipment. i like to say guess what we're still number one at in the united states of america -- agriculture. we know how to do agriculture. guess what's the next big economic opportunity around the globe. feeding the growing middle class around the globe. it's one of the biggest economic opportunities. but guess what? you have to be able to sell them things. you have to be able to sell them michigan manufactured, you know, products. you have to be able to sell them the agriculture products that my colleague from north dakota makes. scapco needs to be able to sell their grain silos around. but no, they can't because people want to hold up this process all to put a trophy on someone's desk saying they did the bidding of a very conservative think tank that last i know i don't think they created any of these manufacturing jobs in america. so i hope my colleagues will help us continue this debate because i know that there are some that will say okay, well,
we passed this bill and it's going to get done someday. someday, really? because you know what? everybody said we'll get it on the transportation bill in april. okay. guess what? that didn't happen. they did an extension. that didn't happen. we'll get it on a transportation bill in july and the bank won't expire. guess what, it expired. now they're telling us to wait again and we do not want to wait on creating more u.s. jobs. ms. stabenow: will my colleague yield for a moment? the presiding officer: the senator will suspend. the senator will receive a message from the house of representatives. the majority secretary: mr. president, a message from the house of representatives. the house reading clerk: mr. president, i have been directed by the house of representatives to inform the senate that the house has passed a bill stating that paul ryan, rea representative from the state of wisconsin, has been elected speaker of the house of representatives of the 114th congress. the presiding officer: the message will be received. the senator from washington.
ms. stabenow: mr. president, if i might just wrap up one statement. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: i know that -- the presiding officer: the senator from michigan had been interrupted. the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: i want to thank my colleagues who are such great leaders on the export-import bank. the senator from washington, senator cantwell and senator heitkamp from north dakota. i just want to put on the record that 100 businesses in michigan alone were assisted in a billion dollars in exports, which means jobs in michigan last year. we can't wait. we need those jobs. our businesses need the support. we need to get this done now. thank you. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: mr. president, i ask that following my remarks, that senator sessions be recognized by the chair. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. menendez: and following
senator sessions, that senator daines be recognized after him. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. menendez: mr. president, i rise on the third anniversary of superstorm sandy to reflect on where we have been, how far we've come and what is still left to accomplish, and to praise the people of new jersey who have remained new jersey proud and new jersey strong during this long three-year recovery process. but most importantly, it's to remind everyone in this chamber and all around the nation that the job isn't done yet. many people believe this is over, that everyone just moved on, but i know that for many sandy victims, that this is not the case. if these last three years, we have made a lot of progress. billions of dollars of federal funds have flowed to the state, were used to rebuild bridges,
roads, boardwalks, help businesses reopen and keep people working. those fortunate enough to navigate the maze of federal and state programs have rebuilt their homes stronger and more resilient than before, and the jersey shore has enjoyed a resurgence in tourism which fuels the local and state economy, creating jobs and supplementing the recovery. but while the beaches have been replenished and the boardwalks have been rebuilt, three years later, far too many working class new jerseyans, the recovery for them is not only is it incomplete, in some cases it has still barely begun. there are still parts of the state that remain neglected. there are still families that haven't stepped foot in their home for three years. now, they may not have a reality tv crew following them around, but they are the real new jersey, the salt of the earth who form the backbone of our great state. they are the unsung, hardworking
new jersey families who suffered loss and pulled themselves back up and kept going one foot in front of the other every day, not only because they wanted to but because they had no other choice. for these families, even after the storm passed, the clouds parted and the sun came out. a different kind of disaster, this time man made was looming on the horizon. they went from filling up sandbags to fend off the atlantic ocean to filling out endless forms to fend off insurance companies and government officials. they had endured the fight against mother nature but were simply no match against uncle sam. a constituent of mine who served as a marine, and once you're a marine, you're always a marine so i won't say former marine, but who served as a marine, doug quinn, and served his country with distinction, encapsulated
this sentiment perfectly in a letter that he wrote to me. in it he said -- quote -- "i was in my home the night the floodwaters rushed in. i waded out through waste-deep water at midnight to escape while electrical transformers exploded and houses burned down. that was the easy part. it's the year and a half since then that has been the tragedy. " let me repeat that. he says the flood was the easy part. and there is a picture of him in that flood and the consequences to his home afterwards. now, doug had maximum coverage of $250,000 and received estimates of damages in excess of that, $254,000, but he received only $90,000. just over a third of what he needed to rebuild. and doug was not alone. chuck applebee is another one of the thousands of new jerseyans who has had to engage in this
fight for the past three years to get just what he deserves. like many others, chuck, who joined us recently, was lowballed by fema and his insurance company which somehow claimed it wasn't sandy that severely cracked the foundation of his home. according to them, it was all a preexisting condition that just happened to magically appear the day after sandy hit. imagine that. you played by the rules, you faithfully paid for flood insurance for 10, 20 or 30 years, never had a claim until sandy came, only to find out it wasn't enough. you assume, since you have insurance, that you would have made whole and the resources necessary to rebuild would be there, but after surviving the wind, the rain and the storm surge, you woke up to another nightmare. a flood insurance claim process that threatened to take what the storm had not. and as much as i wish it were an
aberration, chuck's story is not unique. thousands of new jerseyans were lowballed by their insurance company, stunting the recovery and leaving families out of their homes. now, fortunately, i, along with senators booker, schumer and gillibrand, were able to convince fema to allow all sandy survivors to have their claims reviewed which will result in tens of millions of dollars going to the recovery. chuck is one of those people who opted into the process, and fema recently admitted its mistake and acknowledged he was shorted at least $50,000. dawn and sonny markowski are another example. they stood next to me in belmar, and this week after having received a check of $56,000 from fema's claim review money that they should have received the first time around. now, sonny served our country as
a retired army reservist and a police chief. he is now only receiving the justice he deserved and the chance to rebuild. and even dawn's mom, who was lowballed $17,000 on her house, got an additional $17,000 from the claims review, money she had been owed all along. and it goes on and on. it shouldn't have taken this long, nor should the path have been this winding and difficult, but these successes illustrate the incredible resiliency of all the sandy survivors who wouldn't give up, no matter how dark things appeared on the morning of october 30, 2012, and throughout the three years that followed. and i will continue to fight to help everyone recover. i'll continue to be a voice for everyone in the sandy community as we seek to repair what happened and make our communities more resilient in the future and more capable of dealing with storms like sandy that left incredible devastation
in its wake. now, as we take a moment to think back on that day three years ago today when the clouds finally parted and the ominous seas receded, the destruction that sandy left was almost unimaginable. we remember images like these of seaside heights. in fact, i actually took this photo while touring the damage with vice president biden. and then this photo of hoboken, new jersey, in northern new jersey where street after street looked like a series of canals. thousands of families lost everything and suddenly found themselves homeless. billions upon billions of dollars of property, roads, bridges, trains, schools, fire stations, hospitals, were in ruins. and most tragically of all, dozens of people lost their lives. it was a dark time for our entire state, no doubt about it. but as the proverb goes, the darkest hour is just before the dawn. today, as we remember that dark
hour, we recommit ourselves to completing the job and entering the dawn of a new era in the long journey to rebuild and recover. not just to where we were before the storm but to a place where we are stronger, more resilient and more prepared. and i have no doubt we'll get there together, not just through our efforts here in washington but because of the indefatigable dogged character of the people of new jersey. we showed that character in the immediate aftermath when despite the level of devastation, new jerseyans were true to their reputation of being new jersey strong. communities united, families took in neighbors who lost their homes, and we all came together, worked together and it was a testament to the fundamental nature of community action, community involvement and to what real community service is all about. after seeing the impact and damage that day, i came back to washington with a heavy heart but a determined mind solely focused on representing the countless victims of our state
who had their lives turned upside-down. i didn't ask for a handout, i didn't ask for help and kept moving forward. i remember working closely with my late colleague and dear friend, senator frank lautenbe lautenberg, and we made it our number-one priority to bring every available resource back to the victims of our state. and i continue to work with senator booker, who jumped headfirst into the fight from the moment he entered the senate to do the same. and to be clear, we had to fight from the beginning. we had to fight a tea party inspired opposition that was blocking the relief we so desperately needed. we had senators and congressmen who said no to disaster victims in new jersey with one phrase while asking for federal funds when a disaster struck their state on the other side. but ultimately we overcame the callous and ideological attacks and secured more than $50 billion for the entire region. these federal funds have been absolutely critical to our
recovery. but mistakes by government agencies at the federal and state level have hindered our progress. but on this third anniversary of sandy, i don't come to the floor to point fingers at fema or the state or to play a blame game. it's not about politics or scapegoating. it's about continuing to do all we can to deliver for the people in every disaster who still need help and that requires cooperation and teamwork from all levels of government. one example of bipartisanship was our effort to stop the draconian flood insurance rate increases that sandy survivors were facing after the storm. these families were being confronted with skyrocketing premiums which threatened to take what the storm had not. in response, i led a broad bipartisan coalition from all parts of the country and we passed legislation to stop these egregious hikes and restore fairness in the flood insurance program. a recovery requires more efforts just like this. it requires the state to be
transparent and open to correcting any inefficiency that causes delays, and for the federal government and every federal agency to continue to step up, step in and make corrections when needed. it requires strong oversight and technical assistance from federal agencies like housing and urban development. and as we've seen in the past, this cooperation can result in significant improvement. for example, when i discovered that homeowners were being needlessly delayed from rebuilding because the state chose to conduct historical and environmental reviews at the end of the application process and, therefore, further delaying it, i worked with then-secretary donovan to clarify to the state that they could conduct these reviews at the front end of the application process, allowing victims to begin rebuilding sooner without jeopardizing their funding. it was a perfect example of eliminating unnecessary obstacles and inefficiencies and i was proud to lead the charge. we always need to find more opportunities like this.
we need h.u.d. to continue to work with the state to discover these inefficiencies and get people fully restored. and it's our responsibility to make the system and the process work for them. when i look at two of these families, a marine who served with distinction his country, a former army reservist police chief, their country didn't ultimately respond to them in the way that they should have. they made life more difficult when, in fact, it should have been the other way around. we cannot allow partisan and geographical politics into our nation's disaster response priorities. there is a reason that we call our nation the united states of america. now, i have cast my vote time and time again for flood not guilty the mississippi, wildfires out west, hurricane
katrina, and the list is on and on, because i believe in this we are one country. no matter where a disaster occurs, no matter if it was across the street or across the country, we come together as a nation ready to help. with that, mr. president, i look forward to our continuing efforts to get every new jerseyan back into their home, and i yield the floor. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: mr. president, i appreciate the remarks of the senator from new jersey. there's no doubt they faced tremendous challenges. mr. president, i would ask consent that senator daines be recognized for up to two minutes for remarks and then that i be recognized for the 30 minutes that i have noticed. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. daines: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. daines: today i rise to honor montana world war ii veteran charlie decrane, a member of the crow tribe who passed away earlier this week in
billings, montana. charlie was an incredible person. he was hard working, he was dedicated to serving his country as well as his tribe. he was a quiet and gentle spirit and that was apparent to anyone who came into contact with him. you see, charlie was a man of principle and honor. i had the privilege of spending time with charlie in washington, d.c., when he accompanied me as my one special guest to the state of the address -- state of the union address. i was able to witness firsthand truly what an amazing man he was. our walk from my office to the house chambers is one i'll never forget. to personally know a man who fought so courageously in world war ii was a great honor. many freedoms that we have today stem from the sacrifices made by charlie and men and women like him because his accomplishments in his life will continue to live on. it is my hope that through
charlie's life we remember how important our veterans are and how much respect and care they deserve. his passing is one that will affect many and not just his close family and his friends. cindy and i will be keeping charlie's family and the entire crow community in our thoughts and our prayers in this most difficult time. thank you to my colleague from alabama for allowing me to spe speak, and i yield back to senator sessions. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: mr. president, the budget package that's before us -- or will be before us essentially does a number of things. but one of the more basic things it does is to spend a lot more money than the current law allows. and it's done in a way that the new speaker of the house has said stinks just a day or so ago. once again, a massive deal is
crafted behind closed doors, is being rushed through congress under a threat of panic. the bipartisan budget act of 2015 serves as a reminder that the most important and controversial legislation is still being drafted in secret, with little or no input from the members of this chamber. we've been cut out of the process. no amendments will be allowed to this massive package and the cloture vote will be filed immediately after the bill is placed on the floor in order to limit debate and force a vote. limiting the debate to the shortest possible time under the rules of the senate. and those who question, who object and want more time are accused of wanting to shut down the government and disrupting the machinery of the government.
they say president obama will accuse us of shutting down the government and that we should cower under our desk at this great charge he might make against us if we were to insist that we have a right to read and study a bill of this magnitude, that it should not be run through the congress in the shortest possible time. they can bluster and they can huff and puff, but i say the arguments that i'm going to make in opposition to this are bricks of truth. and this house will not fall down and they will not be able to sustain a charge that somehow we have bad motives by objecting to what's set about here. at its core, this deal with president obama provides what president obama has demanded
throughout. first, it lifts the federal spending caps for two years, including a $40 billion increase in spending on the federal bureaucracy. a "yes" vote affirms this spending level, the new higher spending level is correct and that we need to spend this much more money. second, it erases the current debt limit that we have that stops spending or borrowing money above a certain amount. it erases that debt limit until march of 2017, allowing for approximately $1.5 tri trillione to be added to our debt of $18.4 trillion now in two years. the tech states -- and it could be more than that. the tech states that that date, march of 2017, the debt ceiling
shall be raised to whatever level of public debt is occurring on that debt. so unlike in the past when we had a debt ceiling, it was a dollar amount and we raised it, we would raise it to approve a certain dollar amount. this is a very unwise process that was done last time, should not be done in the future, that raises it to a debt -- to a date in the future and indicates, in effect, that as much debt as congress or the president wants to add in that time is approved. we don't even know the amount. so this is a covert, a clever way of raising the debt ceiling without having to engage in a real discussion of washington's runaway spending problem. it ensures that no further serious conversation about our debt course or any corresponding action to alter it will take place. the debt ceiling has always been
a pivotal point. it's the classic case of the parents calling the young man home from college, he's overrun his credit card and they have a little prayer meeting about this spending and demand certain reforms in the young man's spending habits if he wants to continue to have a credit card. congress has the debt ceiling power to call in the president and say, this is an unsustainable debt course we're on, we need to have reforms. that was done in 19 -- 2011 and that's why we have these numbers in place today that contain spending but are being violated by this act. finally, the deal cements the unacceptable precedent that every dollar of increased defense spending should be matched with a dollar of increased non-defense spending. how silly is this? what possible logical argument can you make for this?
this isup side-down. if an emergency requires more defense spending, as i think it does -- we can dispute the amount but it does -- we have the russians in crimea since 2011, russians in syria, refugees by the millions in the middle east, isis threatening the very government of iraq, afghanistan still with a problem, yes yemen, libya and so forth. all these have happened i think in some part due to the inconsistent, incoherent policies of this president. but it's happened. we've got a lot of problems out there. we need some more money for defense. but common sense says we should seek to identify reductions not -- and not demand spending hikes because we have to spend more money on defense. so i think this is a deeply troubling problem. a problem that we have.
inaction as we're going forward now removes the moral authority of senators who vote "yes" and approve this process, reduces our ability to - -- to with integrity talk to our friends and voters back home to whom we promised more reform and more principled spending decisions in washington. how can we with a straight face say this is a good policy? and also i think if we approve these higher spending levels, those who vote for it are prohibited in many ways of objecting to the levels in the future. if they find some waste, doesn't mean we'll reduce spending. we'll just spend that money up to the higher levels in the future. it's a big decision that i think is wrong. and i would just 2340e9 note, aa member of the armed services committee and my concern about defense, but the defense account takes a larger percentage of the
budget than does the non-defense account for discretionary spending, and by increasing defense and non-defense by the same amount, the non-defense category actually receives a larger percentage of increase, all to pay for more government bureaucracy and employees and government in washington. so let's be clear. the spending caps in law today were placed in as a part of the 2011 budget control act agreement to lift the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion. we objected. congress objected to raising the debt ceiling without reform. senator mcconnell stood firm, and this is the reform that came. then we raised the debt ceiling. then we approved raising the debt limit on the credit card -- only after we got a containment of the growth in spending. so supporters are calling this bill sequester relief.
as if that's okay. but sequester and the budget control act were just simply limits on spending. that's what they were. and we've never followed the sequester. in 2013 the congress passed the ryan-murray budget deal. that raised it $62 billion over two years. now that has ended. instead of returning to regular order, the president wants us to yet again break the budget control act and raise spending an extra $80 billion over the next twoiers. twoiers -- next two years. this deal will obliterate future spending restraint. it does do so. destroying our credibility to achieve meaningful spending reform. the budget control act represented a bipartisan commitment to cap, to limit spending at a fixed amount.
good, responsible policy. i thought it didn't limit the spending enough. it was passed by a republican house, a democratic senate, and signed into law by president obama. he agreed to these limits. this deal shatters that commitment by spending $80 billion more over the next ten years -- two years than we promised. and it is really problematic because it's filled with gimmicks. they contend -- not correctly -- that all this new spending is offset by new revenues or cuts in spending somewhere else. i would just suggest -- and would show here -- that that's not accurate. this is a lot of gimmicks we have here. and, secondly, if we've got
wasteful spending -- and some of this is wasteful spending that needs to be eliminated, which is good, except it ought to be used to reduce the deficit, which is over $400 billion last year and will be $400 billion next year and will double in the next ten years according to the congressional budget office. we need to be using these wasteful spendings, these low-hanging fruit problems, to reduce government expenditure and reduce our deficits, not cutting that opportunity to reduce deficits in order to spend more money somewhere else. so th it offsets. it appears it is built on the same principle as the bill in 02013. it exchanges instant increases in federal spending for distant promised savings in the future. as much as 20 years -- two
decades -- down the road, many of which are unlikely to occur. if funds -- it funds increased spending through some increased revenues, violating a core budget principle, by extracting ever-more money from americans to expand an already-too-large federal bureaucracy. we need to be reducing the bureaucracy, not adding to it. and it trades the ending in the law's spending limits for the promise of new spending limits ten years from now. well, we just agreed to limits in 2011, and they promise that we're going to have new spending limits in the future. my time in the senate says, promises about the future seldom come to pass in this body. we need to fight tenaciously to hold to the spending limits that are in law today and not
exchange those limits for a promised limit in the future. this is how a country goes broke, and we're heading into financial catastrophe on the path we're going. the deal also uses a common gimmick where alleged savings in an entitlement program -- a trust fund -- are used to boost unrelated spending in the general discretionary budget. this is a bigger issue than most of our colleagues understand. any savings found to the entitlement programs faced with insolvency must be used to shore up those programs, those trust funds, not surge spending somewhere else. yet this deal claims illusory savings from disability insurance part of the social security. that's the disability trust fund. there are two trust funds of
social security -- disability and real estate tirement funds. every -- and retirement funds. every american pays into both, off your paycheck. 2.2% of your paycheck goes to fund the disability fund. the rest of it funds your social security and then there is additional moneys that come oust your paycheck to fund the medicare trust fund. so this deal claims illusory savings from the disability insurance and increased pension insurance fees in order to boost bureaucratic budgets. perhaps even worse, the deal attempts to stave off the shortfall in the insurance disability program has got a host of problems we all know and have known for years. it's coming into default within the year.
how does it get around the default in the disability program? it raided the social securit ray retirement program to pay for the badly managed disability fund. it weakens social security. we need to be looking at ways to strengthen social security, not raid it and weaken it. $150 billion in funds will be siphoned off from america's payroll retirement contributions, and it's taken out of the social security fund and transferred to the disability program. .4% each year of the amount of the income of an american. this will weaken the social security trust fund by $150 billion, while politicians all over america continue to promise
that what they're doing is acting to strengthen the social security trust fund. i mean, we've seen the disability trust fund heading to disaster for several years now. "60 minutes" and program after program have shown abuse, fraud, and just total mismanagement in that program. it has not been reformed. it needs fundamental reform. they made a few changes in the program that i'm sure are worthwhile but none that come close to putting the disability fund on a long-term, sound basis. it's basically a gimmick to get past the social security disability program, to kick it down the road, and then create some money to justify the new spending above the spending limits imposed by the budget control act. so the people who want to end wasteful washington spending, -- the people want that. lifting the budget caps and raising the debt ceiling through
2017 only ensures that our ineffective bureaucracy continues its wasteful ways while momentum in washington for deficit reduction stalls out. that's what's happening. we need to be -- we're losing momentum. several years ago we were in serious discussions about the dangers we face financially, and that has been eroded. and it eliminates a powerful opportunity of the debt ceiling to advance the case for fiscal discipline. and what about social security? the deal uses the same fraudulent accounting methods, which our democratic colleagues used to pass obamacare on a straight party-line vote. we just got in a letter to the congress from the social security actuary, mr. goss, who stated that -- quote -- "the
enactment of these provisions in this proposed legislation is projected to reduce the long-range 75-year oasdi, the disability actuarial deficit, by .04% of taxable payroll. close quote. which isn't a lot. "however, the savings goin are g countecounted -- creating mo ent can be spent to increase new spending. this is an important concept, colleagues. they're used to pay for more government spending outside the disability fund. in other words, you make some reforms in the disability fund, you put some new money in, make
some reforms. that shortens the -- lengthens the time that the fund remains solvent before it goes insolvent. but these changes have come nowhere close to ending the insolvency of the disability fund. but, even worse than that program, which has been overstated as major entitlement reform, the savings are being counted as money that can be spent on the discretionary accounts. it basically provides cover to extend the debt of the united states. so in order to pass the obamacare bill, amazingly, and to produce a phony score so the president can say that every penny of it is paid for, saying it did not -- would not increase the deficit, our colleagues did the same thing then and counted the funds they cut from
medicare. they reduced payments to hospitals and doctors and othe others, but medicare is a trust fund. they claimed some $500 billion would be used both to extend the life of medicare and to pay for the new obamacare spending. openly, directly claimed that this savings could be used for two different things, $500 billion. one of the largest, i contend, misrepresentations of finances, fraudulent activities really, in the history of the world. you cannot have money that's used for two different purposes. mr. elmendorf, the director of the congressional budget office, wrote a letter and he said, you can't spend the same money
twice, even though the conventions of accounting might suggest otherwise. so they used an accounting gimmick to make it appear that this money was available to strengthen medicare and fund obamacare, and it's the same money. and we accepted that kind of improper financial analysis, and the bill was passed on the promise it wouldn't add to the debt, and it certainly did. the same accounting gimmick lies at the heart of the proposed legislation to waive federal spending caps and raising the debt limit by $1.5 trillion. promoters of the legislation boast of long-term future savings to social security disability but those savings need to extend the life of the disability program, which is nearing insolvency. they're spent instead on new
discretionary spending, basically adding to the debt. this is not entitlement reform. this is an accounting gimmick. any savings to be captured in the future from disability insurance cannot be spent today on bureaucratic budgets for federal departments like the e.p.a. and the department of labor or the department of health and human services. a second and no less egregious accounting trick siphons off as much as $150 billion from the social security trust fund for retirees and transfers that money to the fraud-ridden disability program. but there is no surplus in the retirement trust fund. we know the social security retirement trust fund is heading to ininsolvency. taking this money out and moving it to the disability program shortens the life span or solvency of the retirement
program. all this reform accomplishes is advancing the insolvency date of the retirement fund while bailing out the mismanaged disability fund by taking working americans' pensions contributions and reallocating it to the disability fund. again, the authors of the bill double count the savings as both increasing the sustainability of social security and paying for the new spending. so, instead of implementing much-needed reforms to fix the disability program, which is projected to go broke next year, this deal robs $115 billion from the social security trust fund and uses it to pay for disability through 2022. the social security trust fund is never reimbursed. so they reduce the amount of
dedicated money going to the social security retirement fund on everybody's paycheck and redirect it for seven years to the disability fund, and the social security retirement fund is never reimbursed for the money they lost. so social security is left in a worse financial situation than it currently is. it's also a violation of the budget law to do that, i'm confident. furthermore, this bailout lasts only six years. in 2022 the disability fund runs out of money again, and congress will have to bail it out once again. this bill removes the incentive to provide serious reform to fix that broken program, put it on a sound basis. it kicks the can down the road once again. so, mr. president, in
conclusion, i would say to my colleagues, we don't have to pass this bill today. there's no crisis that requires us to pass it today. there are a number of interim steps we could take to allow this bill to be out there for the members to actually study it, to offer amendments on it and maybe improve it. and for the american people to understand just what it is the members of congress are doing to their social security and the fiscal debt of america. well, the legislation increases the amount that we can borrow in exchange for $2.1 trillion in spending cuts we're able to win in 2011 what we did when we faced a debt ceiling issue. we were able to force a new
spending law that limited the growth of spending in the future, saving $2.1 trillion over that period of time, and we're still in that time period, and we're ceasing to save money because we're violating the law. we were able to win a concession from the president. we didn't cower under our tables. we didn't retreat from the huffing and puffing of the president on this issue. we stood up like members of congress committed to fiscal integrity in america, and we told the president you're not going to get an increase in the debt ceiling unless you agree to some spending reforms, and we did that when there were only 45 republicans in the chamber. and now there are 54 republicans in the chamber, and the house has a huge majority.
so i think we can do better. i don't think this should be rushed through the congress, and i would object to its passage. i thank the chair and would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from inn. mr. coats: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i be recognized for up to 20 minutes, and that senator sanders be recognized immediately following my remarks for up to 15 minutes. mr. sanders: i thank the gentleman. if you could extend that up to 20 minutes, that would be great. mr. coats: i would amend that to 20 minutes for senator sanders if there is no objection. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coats: mr. president, having previously served in the united states senate, i came to the floor once again for the second time as a freshman senator in the early months of 2011 full of optimism and a sense of purpose, back for a second time as a newly elected freshman. i delivered my inaugural speech
which included the following thoughts: for each of us serving today, i believe it is our duty to rise to the immediate challenge and resolve the problems which now confront us. it will take all of us uniting behind a common purpose that above all else, we must first restore and strengthen our fiscal security. we must articulate a clear vision, set specific goals and make the tough decisions needed to bring our nation out of debt and preserve prosperity and opportunity for future generations. those remarks outline a major part of my vision for what i hope to achieve during my term here as a united states senator. it is now seven years later. what i came back to try to accomplish hasn't been accomplished.
at the time i saw -- and the reason why i wanted to answer the call to come back, because i saw that our fiscal health was eroding right before our very eyes. and i didn't want to be part of the first generation of americans to leave our children with a country worse off than the one we inherited. anyone who reads through our history knows of the sacrifices that have been made by generation after generation after generation so that their children and their grandchildren and their country could be in a better position so that they wouldn't be saddled with the burdens that might not allow them to live the american dream. i asked hoosiers to send me back to washington to focus on taking on these essential issues. it was the first thing in my very first debate where i put on the table and said unless we go back and address our run away mandatory spending and entitlement programs, it's not
worth going back. and i'm not asking -- i will not ask you to send me back there unless you give me the mandate that this is a task that has to be undertaken. it was called political suicide at the time. oh, you can't bring that up. i mean, those that are on medicare or medicaid or social security will make sure that you'll never be sent back to the united states senate if that is what your goal is. and so i just want every hoosier to know when they walk in that voting booth that what you're voting for and what you're not voting for. and i received a mandate to come back and address that because people in my generation understood that the privileges that they had received and the opportunities they had received throughout their life, they wanted to pass on that same opportunity to their children and their grandchildren, and they wanted us to come back and make difficult decisions so that that would happen. now it's not that the issue
wasn't worked on. whether it was fix the debt or the business round table or domenici-rivlin, simpson-bowles, the gang of six, the super committee resulting in the budget control act and the dinner club of senators, all of these efforts over the early years i threw myself into in support of, and many of us, and even on a bipartisan basis, many of us were working together to try to address this gorilla in the room, the run-away mandatory spending now eating up over 70% of our total budget and ever decreasing discretionary spending. the president, unfortunately, walked away from every effort that was made, the effort where we divided, where nearly 40 of us -- 20 democrats and 20 republicans -- sent the president a letter stating we need to address that, and we're willing to step up and address this if you will join us in this
process. i was very much a part of the final effort with the president, so-called dinner club at the president's initiative and working with the president himself and his chief of staff and his top director of o.m.b., now secretary burwell at h.h.s., and his political director. and over the months eight of us met privately -- no press, no staff, working to see as principals if we could come up with something, and in the end it fell apart. it fell apart because the president in the end wouldn't even accept his own previous proposals rnlings -- proposals, his own white house proposals to address this problem. and here we are seven years later and what we've gone from under this administration, $10.6 billion -- trillion. $10.6 trillion at the beginning of his presidency, now almost
$18.2 trillion, almost a doubling in just one term -- two terms of one president. almost a doubling of our debt. and here we stand with injunction from the congressional budget office saying we're headed toward a crisis. it is holding down our economy. we're not growing as we should and putting people back to work as we should because this is a drag on us. it's an anchor holding us down. and every member of this senate understands that the issue here is not this particular program or that particular program. the issue here is run-away mandatory entitlements that's eating up everything that we, virtually three-quarters of everything they spend money on. there are essential functions of the federal government that have to be addressed. the national health service and
obviously our defense, national security, c.d.c., dealing with communicable diseases. the education funding, veterans programs, law enforcement, border security, food safety, just to name a few. those are essential functions. but the money available to do what government needs to do is ever shrinking in terms of our ability to allocate that to being done. and the mandatory spending is just simply running out of control. is anyone in this senate or in this congress saying we should end social security and medicare and medicaid? no. everyone here has to understand, however, to preserve those programs, we have to bring in sensible reforms to do that. and that has been the challenge. c.b.o. earlier this year said -- and i quote -- "large and growing federal debt will have serious negative consequences,
including increasing federal spending for interest payments, restraining economic growth in the long term, giving policy-makers less flexibility to respond to unexpected challenges and eventually heightening the risk of a fiscal crisis. the evidence that we read -- talk about here every day comes to the same conclusion. congress too often has governed to avoid a crisis and failed to make the tough but necessary choices. and now here we are yet another crisis looming, another leverage for us to use to try to achieve some sensible forward movement in terms of dealing with this run-away mandatory spending. and this is the raising of the debt limit. you know, given all the failure of previous efforts, the exhaustion of the private sector in congressional efforts, we're left with very few options to address our fiscal problems. and now here we have a debt
limit that's hitting us just days from now -- november 3 -- which we won't be able to pay our bills unless we raise that debt limit. so what have we done using this potential leverage to try to achieve something of significance? we end up passing -- we end up basically waving the white flag and saying there's really nothing more we can do. we just simply have to raise this. we have to live with it. we have to continue spending more. oh, and by the way, those caps that we put in in terms of discretionary spending, we've got to break those also. there is a legitimate argument for the need to provide additional funding for the department of defense and our national security. all you have to do is turn on the television and watch what's happening around the world to understand that america is in a weakened position and that national strength and defense strength is important for the future of our country.
and so i don't -- i do think that was a legitimate issue to try to deal with. but to break the caps on an equal basis for more government spending on the discretionary side simply is something that we shouldn't have to do. and an these so-called pay-fors that were put out there are the same ol', same oavmen ol'. it is a gimmick in most instances, it is something to sell the program but it doesn't begin to address the problem of out-of-control debt. in addition to that the trustees say the disability insurance is going to go broke in just a few months and benefits will have to be dramatically cut unless it is fixed. so do we come in with a real fix for the real future of a social
security-related program? no, we transfer money from the old-age fund into -- actually, there is no money in that fund. we just simply allocate the money that is owed to that fund to pay for solvency for the disability part of that fund. and for those -- you know, first of all, the thing what we need to do to be honest with the american people is to rename the social security trust fund into something else, because "trust" tells us that there is money there to pay these benefits, and there isn't. there are i.o.u.'s there locked in a box or safe somewhere. simply piles of paper that say we have to pay you back at some point. and without addressing it -- and we saw this last evening in the debate, those of us who watched. i was going back and forth, to be truthful, between the world series and the debate, trying to catch both of those. we saw a few members stand up
and tell the truth, tell the american people exactly what the situation was and why we needed to do what we need to do. and i commend those few that really had the courage to go forward and tell the american people straight up, this is a problem, it must be solved. anyway, speaking of this vote that's coming up, the vote that will spend d -- allow more spending for federal programs, many of which are not priority programs, the arpght whic -- tht which will simply say take a pass on the debt limit. we're not going to use it to achieve anything meaningful. the offsets we've used before, we use over and over again the same old shuffle game where we move pieces around, but it doesn't accomplish the purpose. all of that leads me to the
conclusion that i cannot support this particular arrangement. there are reforms that must be put in place, and we have to get to the point where we stop talking about these reforms and put them in place, where we make the political decisions that i believe will be supported back home. but even if they aren't supported by everyone back home, even if they are distorted by organizations that are funded by trying to scare seniors into the congress or the government taking away their benefits -- which is not the case; we're trying to save those benefits and we're trying to put our future generation, our children and grandchildren in a better position so they won't be so saddled with that debt -- there are many ways that we can go forward. we've talked about balancing our budget. what entity in the world doesn't have to balance a budget at some point and can keep borrowing
money and saying one a piece of paper, we'll -- and saying on a piece of paper, we'll pay is later? we'll spend is now and pay it later. what business, small, medium, large business, what family can continue to deal with the fiscal i issues the way the federal government deals with its fiscal issues and surrif survive? there are solutions to this and it takes political will and we'll seen far too little of that political will. and more importantly, it takes support from both branches of the federal government, both the legislative and executive, if we're going to accomplish this. it appears knew we're going to have to wait for yet another presidency, yet another congress, by kicking another can down the road. let's dump this problem on the next group coming in. boy, i feel for whoever wins the presidency, whether it is democrat or republican, what they have to inherit given the
damage that has been done here over the past several years. clearly, we need to address the gorilla in the room. clearly, we need to stand up, be truthful with the american people, as some of our candidates were last evening, and tell them exactly where we are, what we need to do, and put the long-term reforms in place that will save these programs and put america in a solid fiscal situation. so getting a balanced budget amendment in place is something that we've talked to, we've made efforts and we need to continue that, because without the discipline of putting your hand on the bible and swearing you will uphold the constitution of the united states, and that includes balancing your budget, we will never get there. you have to put people under oath in order to achieve that. and we have come close on a couple of occasions but unfortunately not close enough. i, therefore, am resorting to
what -- a program that has worked in the past regarding our national defense and our military and proposing that what we do is create another -- what's called a brac. brac was the base realignment commission that, through a process and procedures that we had finally agreed to, because there was no way you could touch or close anything and we were just overrun with excess spending and excess bases in the united states, and it worked ... it worked very, very well. all of us here know exactly -- or very closely to what the parameters of that was. in this case, i think if we cannot summon the courage and the will to stand up and do this, as we are required to do under the oath of office that we take but avoid doing, we should then turn to a commission that
would provide a budget reduction accountability commission -- we can use the same "brac" title on the thing. so let's call it the budget reduction accountability commission, which will bring forward a plan to achieve the goal of bringing us back to fiscal health and put it before this congress, both the senate and the house, with a straight up-or-down majority vote, yea or nay. here's the plan. you haven't been able to do it yourself. you've tried t w it. p we appreciate you trying t but it's come up short. whether it is the executive or the legislative branch p. so the outside commission presents us the path forward and we say "yes" o. "no." -- "yes" or "no." then the people back home will know exactly where we stand. they'll know exactly where we stand in terms of how we want to leave our legacy to the next
generation and future generations? how we want to treat our children and grandchildren. and each member will have to go home and not talk about procedures and not talk about bumping up to the crisis level of spending and we have to do something to avoid a government shutdown or avoid chaos or avoid economic collapse. every member will go home and say, you were presented with the plan to get you there. are you for it or are you against it? and nobody can say, well, we had to do this, had to do that. it was late, we were bumped up against the ceiling, it was running out and so forth. i am just tired of hearing all that stuff. so, mr. president, clearly solutions exist to deal with this problem. clearly we must summon the courage to set aside politics and do what we all know we need to do and suffer the consequences. i think the consequences will be applause and support, because finally someone stands up and
says, we're going to fix this problem for the future of america and the fiewp of our --d future of our children and grandchildren around we're going to take that isk reform and if the groups outside that are going to rally against this kind of thing try to take us down, yeah, fine, we'll go down doing the right thing. but i think we'll be rewarded for doing it. mr. president, i want to close this today with the same words that i use to conclude my inknoc-- toconclude my inaugura. where i said, i am standing here today to find solutions, to make the hard decisions and to leave behind a country that is stronger and more fiscally secure for future generations. this crisis is not insurmountable. we can overcome it by doing what great generations before us have done, mustering our will to do what's right. if we do, i know america's greatest days are not behind us
mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: mr. president, i would ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: thank you. mr. president, today i want to spend a few minutes discussing a major crisis in this country
that must be addressed. tragically, in the united states of america, we now have 2.2 million people in jail. that is more people incarcerated than any other country on earth, including china, which is a communist authoritarian country, four times our size. we have more people in jail than does china. further, at a time of large deficits and a very large national debt, we are spending about $80 billion a year in federal, state, and local taxpayer money to lock people up. $80 billion a year to incarcerate people. mr. president, our criminal justice system is broken, and we need major reforms in that
system. i think there is no debate in this country that violent and dangerous people must be locked up, and they must be kept in jail and away from society. i think nobody argues that. on the other hand, i would hope that there is also no debate that nonviolent people, people who have been convicted of relatively minor crimes should not have their lives destroyed while they do time in prison, create an arrest record which will stay with them for their entire lives. the important point here is it is not just the year, the two years that somebody is in prison. this record will stay with them for their entire lives and do
enormous damage to their lives. mr. president, in 2014, there were 620,000 marijuana possession arrests. that is one arrest every minute. according to a report by the aclu, there were more than eight million marijuana arrests in the united states from 2001 to 2010. eight million marijuana arrests and almost nine in ten were for possession. arrests for marijuana possession rose last year nationwide even as colorado, washington, oregon, alaska, and the district of columbia became the first states in the nation to legalize personal use of marijuana. and let's be clear that there is a racial component to this
situation. although about the same proportion of blacks and whites use marijuana, a black person is almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person. in other words, as we try to understand why our prison population today is disproportionately black and latino, one of the reasons is that because of overpoliced black neighborhoods, african-americans are much more likely to be arrested for dealing with -- for smoking or using marijuana than will whites. and here's the simple truth, an upper middle-class white kid in scars dale, new york, has a much, much lower chance of being arrested for using marijuana than a low-income bin laden kid
kid -- low-income black kid in chicago or baltimore. those are just the facts. mr. president, too many americans in this country have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. that is wrong. that has got to change. let's be clear, a criminal record could mean not only jail time but much, much more. if a person has a criminal record, it will be much harder for that person later in life to get a job. not so easy coming out of jail getting a job. and if you don't get a job, there is a strong hld -- likelihood you're going to go back into your same environment and end up in jail again. if somebody has a criminal record, it may be impossible for them to obtain certain types of public benefits and make it difficult in fact for them even to live in public housing.
a criminal record stays with a person for his or her entire life until the day he or she dies. a criminal record destroys lives. mr. president, right now under the controlled substance act, marijuana is listed as a schedule 1 drug, meaning that it is considered to be a drug that is extremely dangerous. in fact, under the act, marijuana is considered to be as dangerous as heroin. i know there are conflicting opinions about the impact -- health impacts that marijuana may have, but nobody that i know seriously believes that marijuana is as dangerous as heroin. this is absurd. nobody believes that. in my view, the time is long overdue for us to take marijuana
off of the federal government's list of outlawed drugs. in my view, at a time when colorado, washington, oregon, alaska, and the district of columbia have already legalized the personal use of marijuana, every state in this country should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern sales of alcohol and tobacco. among other things, that means that recognized businesses in states that have legalized marijuana should be fully able to use the banking system without fear of federal prosecution. mr. president, in response to the initiatives that colorado and other states have taken, the obama administration has essentially allowed these states to go forward and to do what the people in those states have chosen to do.
that's a good step forward, but it is not good enough because a new administration with a different point of view could simply go forward and prosecute those marijuana businesses and individuals in the state who use marijuana despite what the people in those states have decided to do legislatively. what i'm saying today is not that the federal government should legalize marijuana throughout the country. this is a decision for the states. and i would hope that many of my colleagues, especially those who express support for states' rights in our federal system of government, those who often decry the power of the big, bad federal government in undermining local initiatives would support my very simple and
straightforward legislation which will be introduced next week. all that legislation says is that if a state chooses to legalize marijuana, that state should be able to go forward without legal impediments from the federal government. mr. president, let me also talk about another issue of great importance in this country, and that is that i believe the time is now for the united states to end capital punishment. i know that this is not necessarily a popular point of view, but it is, in my view, the right point of view. right now virtually every
western industrialized country has chosen to end capital punishment. i would rather have our country stand side by side with european democracies rather than with countries like china, iran, saudi arabia, and others who maintain the depth penalty. mr. president, we are all shocked and disgusted by some of the horrific murders that we see in this country, including massacres in schools and on college campuses that seem to take place every week. all of us are just tired and disgusted with what we are seeing. but it seems to me that at a time of rampant violence and murder all over the world, where
people are being blown up and their heads are being cut off, it is important that the state itself, the federal government here in america say loud and clearly that we will not be part of that process. when people commit horrendous crimes and we see too many of them, we should lock them up and throw away the key. i have no problem in saying that people who commit terrible murders should spend the rest of their lives in jail. but the state itself, in a democratic civilized society should itself not be involved in the murder of other americans. i know that there are strong differences of opinion on this issue. in fact, i think i am in a minority position. but i think that those of us who want to set an example, who want
to say that we have got to end the murders and the violence that we're seeing in our country and all over the world should in fact be on the side of those of us who believe that we must end capital punishment in this country. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i want to take a few minutes to talk about an issue that's very important to me and that is the care of our nation's veterans. as the daughter of a world war ii veteran, i realize what it means for a family member to be willing to sacrifice their life for their country. we promise our men and women in uniform the country will be there for them after they leave service and sometimes that means long after the war is over. but i'm concerned our country is about to turn its back on thousands of veterans and i'm here today to say we h