as tiring as the president found that process to be, it must have been even more challenging for secretary clinton. again he noted, he cited this example in his interview. one example of that is i would assume, based on very little personal knowledge, that it takes secretary clinton a little bomb in the morning to do her hair than it does for the president of the united states to do his hair. and that may seem like a rather prosaic observation, but ultimately when you are talking about an 18 or 19 hour day, that matters. that's the observation that the president was making. >> he wasn't necessarily only thinking of hillary clinton in that context?
is he saying generally speaking on campaign as arduous, it is just toughe cover for women to r the same office? >> in that context in which that sort of, i would acknowledge that the unique challenges that were faced by secretary clinton in 2008, are probably familiar to women candidates who have competed in other political campaigns, even though the presidential level. [inaudible] >> the last time i talked about mr. trump to i got in trouble. i'll let you make that observation can not meet. >> just to clarify, do you think in the context of this race now that ginger is, was the president on the go that far in the statement? or was he just speaking in what sounds like your kind of after
rising as come in a lighthearted sort of it takes longer to get ready in the morning context speak with i think what the president was chiefly talking about is just why doe it is he d developed so much admiration for secretary clinton. and they had this, look at the rather unique thing for two people to participate in such a historic presidential election. and it lasted a whole lot longer than most people expected. it involved campaigning in states that have not recently been involved in, or at least actively contest and the democratic presidential primary process. and while they were on different sides of the contest they went to the contest together. it was a searing experience for them personally, and yet it was an experience that the two of them shared in common. i think the president was just making the observation that he found the process to be
demanding, but his admiration for her was that it must've been even more physically demanding on her as she is going through the process i think he was just trying to explain why he admired her skills as a candidate and her tenacity and her perseverance. and would that apply to other women candidates in the context of other races? yeah, it potentially could. but each race is a little bit different. >> and one other remark. the president i just expressed some regret for being so hard on hillary clinton in 2008. is that something, -- [inaudible] within the white house given how deeply some of those competitive juices were flowing back into is that i sentimentally at the race
now, people worked on the campaign, the president himself said wow, it shouldn't have gotten about the. >> one thing the president made clear once you made the decision to add secretary clinton to his cabinet and once he took office as president, he made clear to his staff that those old rivalries needed to be set aside for the good of the country. and i think for the most part that's what staff members who serve on both campaigns did. because they recognize, particularly at that stage in our history where you had the broader american economy teetering on the edge of the cliff, the stakes were too high to continue heady personal or political rivalries. and look at some of that work happened in the context of a campaign in the general election. the are a number of my colleagues who still work in the white house today who originally supported secretary clinton in the primary race, worked and supported senator obama in the gym election and now serve president obama here.
obviously, secretary clinton, then secretary clinton, camping pretty aggressively for senator obama into 2008 general election. so that was part of a long running process. and i think if you take a look at the effectiveness of the working relationship once she became secretary of state i think you could observe that process was the best. >> i want to ask you about convergence on monday, johnson controls went through a merger, which cost these taxpayers about $150 million. senator sanders it would be a disaster for taxpayers. hillary clinton spoke out at him when it the white house is in a statement our reaction to that deal? >> i don't have a comment on any individual companies transacti transaction. what i want to say in general is the president has made clear that closing loopholes that would benefit the wealthy and
well-connected whether those are individuals or corporations is a top priority of his. unfortunately, we have the republicans embrace that notion but we're going to continue to talk to them about it. i know the number of steps the treasury department has already taken to make it more difficult for any country to engage in a transaction that allows them to avoid their tax bill, unfairly. and they are continue to look at other policy proposals that would improve upon those efforts. but ultimately we need legislation to address this loophole. that legislation continues to be hot on the president's agenda. >> it does not seem like that legislators going forward in a republican congress at this point. >> unfortunately. it is a good illustration though of the republican priorities. look, the president made this
observation at some recent public event. there's middle-class families that are moving to a p.o. box overseas if they can avoid paying taxes. most middle-class families in the united states stand up and pay their fair share. why shouldn't we ask the same thing of large corporations that benefit from the infrastructure in this country, that benefit from the talent pool that exist in this country, that benefit from the most, the biggest, being a part of the biggest economy in the world and a legal structure that allows them their business to thrive. it's time for them to pay their fair share, too. and i'm not sure how republicans make the case that someone is a bad idea. >> why is there so much reluctance to speak out typically about these deals when they come up? why not use the bully pulpit to try to stop some of these deals from happening? >> the challenge is that,
obviously there are elements of the u.s. government that have jurisdiction over individual companies. so i don't want to somehow suggest that our approach to recruiting companies will be prejudice based on some policy decision they have made. unbuckled waiting on a decision that is made by an individual company, frankly, particularly one that involves a tax policy like this. but the principle is one the president has talked about quite extensively i continues to be a top priority of the administration. look, i would encourage you to check with the treasury department for an update on the ongoing efforts to address what we did as a pretty significant flaw in the tax code. >> i think secretary lew was here this morning. i'm wondering if puerto rico came up in that discussion?
[inaudible] it seems like puerto rico was one of the top issues that came up in terms of what the president wants out of congress. did that issue come up with the depression to come up with a synergy for puerto rico in the next two weeks? >> are you asking if they came up with me with secretary sanders -- senator sanders? >> secretary lew. >> i don't have an update for you on any sort of specific internal deliberations on this but the administration considers this a priority. it's not uncommon for this to be a topic of some conversation here at the white house. secretary lew has been at the forefront of our efforts to try to address the situation. he traveled to puerto rico just last week to meet with officials there, and we were gratified at the end of last yuan speaker ryan many specific commitment to allow the house to vote on
legislation that would not bail out puerto rico but if puerto rico's and more options for dealing with their financial challenges. >> one more question on executive actions on tax policy. senator sanders, i think he wrote a letter to the president last year calling for the president to take some executive action to close loopholes. one of his advisers came out -- or executive action to close the loophole. [inaudible] >> look, i haven't seen any specific proposals that have been put for but certainly the president has demonstrated a willingness to use his executive authority to try to advance priorities that we have identified. even when it comes to tax poli
policy. >> josh come on the record, teacher to clarify, is it accurate for us to describe president obama as the impartial and neutral in the democratic race, both privately and public at the stun? >> i think it is fair for you to say that the president has been conscientious about remaining publicly -- in the presidential race. >> and there's no effort on his part to use the political interview as a way to signal preference to one candidate over the other? >> no. i think the goal of a political entity was evident to the opportunity to talk of his experience campaigning in iowa. why that was a meaningful experience for him both in terms of shaping his public identity but also the way that it had an effect on his approach to public service, and fulfilling his response was as president.
the truth is that was the context for most of the questions about both secretary clinton senator sanders came up. >> today's meeting with senator sanders was on the president's public schedule but the meeting last month with secretary clinton was not. can you tell us and will you be putting future meetings with candidates on the schedules because there certainly were a number of concerns raised by people in this room about the fact that the present me with secretary clinton was not announced in advance. and so we took that step with senator sanders last night to include on the nightly guidancee that the president is intent of this meeting today. we will endeavor to announce those kinds of meetings in advance in the future. i'm certainly going to protect depression and stability to have a private conversation. there have been conversations the president has had, for example, former speaker of the house of john boehner when he
was still in office that were not announced in advance that were not even confirmed shortly after they were completed. the president needs to have the ability of private conversations with other political leaders were quick to protect his ability to do. those meetings are not the norm. and when the president is having what would otherwise be destroyed as a routine meeting with senator sanders, or someone like secretary clinton -- >> continue watch the briefings live online c-span.org and you can see the comments of senator sanders after his white house meeting this plan. the senate is coming back in. they will continue consideration of the energy policy bill that would modernize the nation's electric grid. we expect this afternoon they will take up a federal court domination to be a u.s. district judge for the district of new jersey. and now live to the senate floor here on c-span2.
a senator: i would ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: the senate is not in a quorum call. mr. carper: then i won't ask. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: mr. president, in 2014, i began coming to the senate floor almost every month. i came here to highlight some of the great work done each and every day by the great men and women who serve us in the department of homeland security. i continued that effort throughout much of last year and plan to continue coming to the senate floor every month in 2016 with a new story to share. there is simply so much good that's being done across the department by the employees, our servants that work there, that i don't think i'm going to run out of material any time soon. as you know, mr. president, the department of homeland security is made up of some 22 component agencies and employs over 200,000 americans. these men and women work around the clock to protect all of us, our families and our country.
one part of the department -- the department is called federal emergency management agency, we call it fema. it has the unique and challenging task of keeping americans safe when everything around them has been thrown into chaos. in times of crisis, the men and women of fema coordinate rescue operations, they provide emergency medical care and they give shelter to those who have lost their homes. simply put, they bring hope back to americans whose towns and cities have been swept away by flood, destroyed by fire or torn apart by a tornado. ten years ago, mr. president, in the days after hurricane katrina, congress passed the post-katrina emergency management reform act. that law completely overhauled fema from top to bottom. it increased its authority and stature within the department of homeland security and provided it with added new resources. this legislation also requires
fema to bolster its regional office and to build stronger relationships with state, local and tribal governments. taken together, mr. president, these reforms have improved our capability at all levels of government to respond to disasters and while also improving fema's capacity to support state, local and tribal governments as they seek to rebuild. over the past ten years, the men and women at fema have worked countless hours to improve our preparedness for, response to and recovery from disaster. bad things still happen. in the aftermath of a tornado, a wildfire or even a snowstorm like the one we saw on the east coast, a nor'easter like we saw on the east coast this week, we still see the images of destruction and lives turned upside-down on our television screen. most of the work that the men and women at fema do some 365 days a year to prepare for these events and make them less
damaging rarely ever get discussed. every day, the men and women at fema create evacuation plans, they stock emergency shelters with food and medical supplies, and they partner with local law enforcement and first responders in every state, every state to improve preparedness through exercise and through drills. in addition to training first responders, one of fema's top priorities is to educate and train all of us on what to do in case of a disaster. the more that you and i do and our families know, the more likely it is that we will be safe and stay together during a disaster. one fema employee charged with helping some of our most vulnerable communities prepare for disaster is a fellow named milo booth who serves as fema's tribal affairs officer. milo is an alaskan native from -- and i will probably botch this, mr. president --
metlukaka. there we go. metlukaka. an indian community. it's on the southern tip of alaska. after graduating from oregon state university, the other o.s.u. -- one of the other o.s.u.'s -- with a bachelor of science in forestry and a minor in economics, milo returned home to serve as that community's indian community director of forestry and land resources. working to protect his hometown for the next 16 years. but after two years with the u.s. forest service, milo moved to fema to serve the national tribal affairs -- as the national tribal affairs advisor, and that's what he does today. in this role, milo works to communicate disaster preparedness to reservations, alaskan native villages and tribes across the country. these communities being some of the most remote and isolated in the country, are also the most at risk in times of disasters.
ensuring that these communities are educated and prepared helps protect some of the most vulnerable among us. as the primary fema liaison to indian country, milo booth doesn't just help our native american communities prepare for disaster, he also educates senior fema officials and department of homeland security tribal affairs staff on how fema can better help these communities prepare for and respond to hazards. in times of planning, milo leads workshops and training for fema staff, he advises senior leadership on tribal policy, and he works every day to build strong relationships between fema and tribal leaders and their communities. and in times of crisis where disaster strikes, milo coordinates with tribal emergency managers and fema regional managers on the best ways to help and support these communities. in only two years at fema, milo has visited more than two dozen reservations and alaska native
villages and has met with more than 100 tribes at training and regional tribal meetings. perhaps more important than any of these technical work that milo does in planning is the work that he has done building relationships and earning the trust of tribal leaders. when asked their thoughts on milo, tribal leaders described him as understanding. they dribbed him as trustworthy. they trust that in milo their communities have a voice at fema. when milo isn't working here in washington, d.c., he returns home to alaska with his woif and two children -- which i his wifo children. one of hi his favorite activitis is trout fishing with his son. milo is just one shiny example. thousands of dedicated men and women at fema who work to
protect hundreds of communities across our narks treating every one of them as if it was their own hometown. let me close with this, if i could: the presiding officer will remember not that long ago, a couple of months ago when pope francisaddressed a joint session of congress last september, just at the other end of this building. he invoked the words of matthew 25 which calls for us to help the least among us. "i was hungry and you gave me something to eat. i was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. i was a stranger and you invited me in. i nied clothes and you clothed me. i was sick and you loo looked ar me." these have been known as the works of mercy or the acts of mercy. milo booth and his colleagues perform these acts of mercy each and every day. they provide our children and our homes -- they protect our children and our homes, saving
lives and doing truly remarkable deeds. the thousands of civil servants at fema and the tedges of thousands of others across the 22 components of homeland security, these acts of mercy are their life's work. for all of these things that you do, for all of these things that all of you do, to each and every one of you, i want to say thank you from all of us. god bless you. with that, mr. president, i'm prepared to note the absence of a quorum. no, i will not do that. the senator from alaska is here -- and wyoming. this is good. good to see both. i yield the floor. ms. murkowski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: i thank my colleague. mr. president, i have four unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the aapproval of the majority and minority leaders. so i would ask consent that these requests be agreed and and printed in the record. the presiding officer: without
objection. ms. murkowski: thank you, mr. president. at this time i would like to call up amendment number 2953. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator alaska, ms. mor cow skew, proposes an amendment numbered 2953 to s. s. 2012. strike all after the enacting clause -- ms. murkowski: ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. murkowski: i ask unanimous consent to call up the cassidy amendment number 2954. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from alaska, ms. murkowski, for mr. cass -- proposes an amendment numbered 2954 to amendment 295. ms. murkowski: request reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. murkowski: thank you, mr. president. at this time, we will resume the consideration of senate bill 2020 -- 2012, which is the energy policy modernization act.
senator cantwell and i have had an opportunity to speak as well as the senator from texas, and now the senator from wyoming has joined us. he has been a leader on these issues. he sits right next to me on the energy committee, has worked on so many of the issues that we have contained with in this good bill. but the piece that he has probably been most aggressive and shown his leadership on is what we have done to help facilitate the export of our resources with regards to liquefied natural gas, and i would be pleased to turn to my colleague from wyoming. mr. barrasso: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: i thank the distinguished chairman of the energy committee. she does a remarkable job, has brought many people together on this bipartisan piece of legislation, passed the committee 18-4, and people are energetic about this energy bill because it is such a critical, important thing for our communities and our economy. so i come to the floor today as
the senate is discussing this important energy legislation because energy is one of those areas that we should actually all be able to agree on in terms of the basic idea, the basic idea and my goal for this energy bill is that we make energy in america as enclue as wclean as o it in a way that don't raise costs on american families. i think most of us would consider this to be a worthy commonsense goal. that's why the energy bill before the senate today is so important and why it has such broad, bipartisan support. as said, the bill passed the committee 18-4. and this is a bill that actually takes concrete steps to help our country produce the energy that we need. i think one of the good ideas in the bill is a provision to speed up permitting for the exportation ofl liquefied naturl gas.
six democrats have cosponsored this as a separate piece of legislation now incorporated into this energy bill. that's because senators on both sides of the aisle recognize the importance of natural gas to our economy as well as to our national security. america has the world' world's t supply in terms of natural gas, in terms of what we are able to produce today. we also have the resources to be a major exporter of this clean and versatile fuel. it's estimated that liquefied natural gas exports can contribute up to $74 billion to america's gross domestic product by the year 2035678 20356789 ald is for washington to give producers some regulatory certainty, certainty that is not there today. to liquefy and export natural gas requires special production
special export terminals, places to get it done, and the department of energy has been very slow under president obama and very unpredictable about approving these projects. now, the energy bill will expedite the permit process for l.n.g. exports to countries around the world and countries that we do not have free trade agreements with right now between those countries and the united states. so it opens it up to new markets, new customers, people who are friends and allies, who want to boy a product that -- who want to buy a product that we have right now for sale. this legislation would require the energy secretary to make a final decision on an export application within 45 days after the environmental review process is completed. it would also provide for expedited judicial review of legal challenges to the l.n.g. export projects, because things can get tangled up in legal challenges. it can go on for months and years.
finally, the bill requires that exporters publicly disclose the countries toly the l.n.g. is exported so the american people know who we're selling to. this legislation doesn't force the administration to approve the projects. it doesn't shut down the environmental reviews. it doesn't take away anybody's right to voice their opposition. it just says that the obama administration should do its job in an accountable, timely, and predictable way. now, this legislation will help create jobs. it helped to reduce our trade deficit, which is something that president obama has said is a priority of his. it would also help the security of america and our allies. now, that's something that should be apriority for all of us in this body. speeding up american exports of liquefied natural gas will give our allies an alternative for where they can get the energy they need. it'll help our allies reduce or dependence on gas from hostile
places, many of whom are getting it right now from russia. now, remember, russia invaded ukraine largely to get control of the gas pipelines there. now iran wants to step up its natural gas business as well. iran -- the iranians have been working on a liquefied natural gas export plan that is almost complete. construction had stalled a few years ago because of the economic sanctions against iran. well now that the obama administration has lifted the sanctions against iran, iran can start up construction again. the managing director of the national iranian export gas company stays can start shipping liquefied natural gas to europe in two years -- two years. that was an article in the "wall street journal" today, mr. president. today. here's the headline. "iran seeks ways to ship out gas as sanctions ease.
qulings "here it is today. this is incredibly timely what we're discussing here on the floor of the united states senate. when you read through the article, it says that european companies are promising billions in new deals in iran as the iranian president rouhani visits europe this week to revive trade and political ties. so iran is on the move. the obama administration, as of right now, is shackling american natural gas, shackling the production, sham shackling the export. at the same time, the president through his agreement with iran is enabling iran to move forward seeking ways to ship out gas as sanctions ease. if our allies are dependent on gas from russia or from iran or from both, how does that make the world a safer place?
this administration has been dragging its feet on approving liquefied natural gas exports. it's blocked north american energy projects in the past, like the keystone x.l. pipeline that would have created thousands of jobs. then earlier this month the secretary of the interior halted all new leases on mining coal on federal land. this action by the administration, it is alarming, it is drastic, and it is destructive. 40% of all the coal produced in the united states comes from federal land. the interior secretary wants the coal to stay in the ground, wants it to become a stranded asset. with this new rule, she took one more step toward wiping out the jobs of thousands of americans and then she staged a press conference to brag about it. if that weren't bad enough, last week the administration aons nod new restrictions on oil and gas operations on federal land and
on indian land. the unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats of the obama administration have been relentlessly attacking american energy producers with new rules, new regulations, costs hurting our economy, hurting jobs. they're costing american workers and families billions of dollars, and they'll do great damage to american energy, reliability, and reliability is key, mr. president. we need a different approach. it is essential that we create as much energy as possible here at home. and it is essential that we be able to export american energy to our allies as well, people who want to get it from us. that's why energy is called the master resource. and it's why this energy bill is so important. this legislation is a good start toward making sure that america has the energy we need to keep our economy growing.
now there are things that we could do improve this legislation. we could make -- we could use this bill to protect americans from president obama's reckless attempt to end coal leases on federal lands. we can also make sure that the obama administration stops its unwise new rule on natural gas and oil operations. it can actually capture more energy while we reduce waste and emissions from this kind of oil and gas production. i've introduced bipartisan legislation that's going to expedite the permitting process of the natural gas gathering lines on federal and indian land. these are pipelines that collect unprocessed natural gas from oil and gas wells, ship it to a processing plant and then on to interstate pipelines. today a lot of that gas is flared off right at the well. you can see these right at the well, the flames. the obama administration has
been so slow in granting the permits for the natural gas gathering lines on federal land. people want to build them, they want to use this natural gas. the president opposes the in regarding. more gathering lines would mean less flaring. it is good for the environment and for taxpayers. we need the energy. keeping it in the ground is not the answer. the answer is making energy as clean as we can, as fast as we can, without raising costs on american families. i believe that's a better approach. a bipartisan group of members of this body know that it's a better answer. it's time for the obama administration to join us. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. ms. hirono: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii.
ms. hirono: i rise to discuss the energy policy modernization act. along with a broad, bipartisan group of my colleagues, i supported this bill as a member of the energy and natural resources committee. i thank chairman murkowski, ranking member cantwell and their staff for their commitment and hard work in producing a bill that could earn a strong bipartisan vote in the committee. there were other proposals that i would have liked to have seen included in the bill, such as a national renewable electricity standard introduced by senator udall which i cosponsored, and there were proposals included in the bill that i would not have supported on their own. however, i was willing to support a compromise that provides positive direction to our country in the midst of an energy transformation. now that the full senate is considering the bill, i'd like to remind my colleagues of the effort that went into reaching
this compromise. we should not squander the opportunity before us with amendments that will simply erode bipartisan support for the bill or draw a presidential veto. so much has changed in how energy is produced and consumed since the senate passed its last energy bill in 2007. our country is in the middle of a transformation toward cleaner sources of energy and greater energy efficiency in our vehicles, homes and businesses. hawaii's leading the way on many fronts in this transformation. hawaii has already set the most ambitious electricity standard of any state, and that's 100% renewable electricity by 2045. and our state has already more than doubled its use of renewable electricity in six years to 21%. making sure that we have clean and affordable power for
families and businesses will require a more water and reliable electricity system. this act tackles research, job creation and innovation on a number of fronts. let me highlight some of the bill's important provisions. this bill includes provisions of my next generations electric systems act that would establish a department of energy grant program for projects to improve the performance and electricity of electrical grid systems. these grants could assist efforts in hawaii and around the country to make greater use of renewable energy, energy storage systems, electric vehicles and other innovative energy technologies. the bill also provides $500 million over ten years to support the energy storage research, demonstration and deployment program from senator cantwell's grid modernization act, which i cosponsored.
energy storage will help smooth the delivery of power from renewable sources so that it is available even when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. greater use of energy storage systems can help cut energy bills by reducing the need to build extensive power plants that operate only at times of highest demand and avoiding blackouts. thanks to chairman murkowski, the bill also develops the promotion of microgrid systems for communities that are not connected to the grid so that isolated communities in places like hawaii and alaska can use alternative energy and energy storage to secure more reliable and affordable sources of power. the bill includes my amendment to ensure that the u.s. territories and the district of columbia can join hawaii and other states in being eligible to participate in a department of energy loan program to help states support new investments
and clean energy projects. for instance, hawaii could expand as green energy markets securitization or gems program to make rooftop solar systems and other clean energy improvements more affordable for renters and other underserved consumers. the bill authorizes research and development in promising renewable energy technologies like marine and hydrokinetic energy which harnesses the power of ocean's waves, heat and currents. in partnership with the u.s. navy, the hawaii national marine renewable energy center at the university of hawaii-manoa is one of three federally funded centers for marine energy research and development in the nation. including a wave energy test site on oahu. the bill will help people find well-paying jobs in the energy and energy-efficient fields by establishing a $10 million grant program to nonprofit
partnerships that train workers to earn energy-efficient building certifications. it also creates a $20 million energy work force training grant program to colleges and work force development boards. this program will focus on helping workers earn industry-recognized credentials. i will be offering amendments to ensure that our veterans can take full advantage of these programs to speed their transition into the civilian work force. the bill will also help boost energy efficiency. hawaii set a goal requiring 30% improvement in energy efficiency by 2030. according to the hawaii state energy office, that standard has resulted in the equivalent of $435 million in energy savings for hawaii's homes, farms and businesses. finally, the bill strengthens our protection of public lands by permanently reauthorizing the
land and water conservation fund, the lwcf, a fund that throughout its 50-year history has financed over 40,000 projects across all 50 states and protected public lands that support our nation's $646 billion outdoor recreational industry. in hawaii alone, the lwcf has directly provided $195 million to our local conservation efforts, and as most people know, we in hawaii go to great lengths to protect and conserve our native ecosystems. lwcf funds will support hawaii's island forests at risk proposal. these funds will expand hawaii volcanoes national park and hakalau national wildlife refuge by a total of 12,000 acres. these two locations host a total of nearly two million visitors each year and protects some of hawaii's most beautiful and
sensitive habitats. the bill also permanently reauthorizes the historic preservation fund and creates a new national park maintenance and revitalization fund. the new national park fund will help reduce the backlog of $11.5 million in repairs and maintenance needed in our national park, including the $127 million backlog of maintenance at hawaii's national parks. this much-needed new fund will ensure that people can enjoy the beauty of our parks for generations to come. in addition to improving energy usage in our homes and businesses, we must ensure that government takes full advantage of new energy and energy-efficient technologies. for the fourth consecutive year, the state of hawaii led the nation in per-capita use of energy performance contracting for state and county buildings, resulting in the creation of over 3,000 jobs and energy
savings of over $989 million. i'd like to expand the use of energy contracting at the federal level to save taxpayer dollars and support the use of cleaner sources of energy. i will be offering an amendment to allow all federal agencies to use long-term contracts to reduce their energy bills as the department of defense is allowed to do under current law. i also plan to offer an amendment to establish a pilot project to expand the use of federal energy savings performance contracts to mobile sources like federally owned aircraft and vehicles. the guaranteed energy savings will mean taxpayer savings. with all accounting for 80% -- with oil accounting for 80% of energy needs in our state, the people of hawaii are acutely aware there must be new alternatives to the vulnerable prices and vulnerable supply of the global oil trade. hawaii, which for too long has been paying the highest
electricity rates in the country, recognizes that we have renewable resources in our own state that should be developed so that we keep at home more of the $5 million per year that we currently spend to import oil. that's more money circulating in hawaii's economy, creating jobs, raising wages and helping families make ends meet. for all the reasons i have mentioned, i urge my colleagues to support this bill and those amendments that will be offered that move our country forward, not backwards, to a future with affordable, clean and reliable energy. i yield the floor.
mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask consent the quorum call be suspended and consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, it was in i believe april of 2009 that i picked up a new yorker magazine and read an article which had a real impact on me. it was an article quinn by dr. atul gahwandi who is a practicing surgeon at brigham women's hospital in boston. an amazing man. in addition to his medical responsibilities, he is a person with a very inquisitive mind and a real knack when it comes to
investigating challenging issues. the article that i read in "the new yorker" by dr. gahwandi examined the human impact of long-term solitary confinement and asked, i quote," if prolonged isolation is, as research and experience have confirmed for decades, so objectively horrifying, so interrapins cally cruel, how did we end up with a prison system that may subject more of our citizens-to-it than any other country in history has?" his article inspired me, motivated me to look into the issue of solitary confinement in prisons. i was amazed to learn the united states holds more prisoners in solitary confinement, about 100,000 at all levels of corrections, than any other democratic nation in the world. so in 2012, as chairman of the senate judiciary committee on the constitution, civil rights and human rights, i held a first-ever congressional hearing
on solitary confinement. at the hearing, we took a look at the serious fiscal impact of solitary. we learned that it cost almost three times more to keep a federal prisoner in segregation than in the general population.o discussed the widespread solitary confinement given the vast majority of inmates will ultimately be released to the community someday. we heard testimony about the human impact of holding tens of thousands of women, men and children in small windowless cells 23 hours a day for days, months, even years with very little, if any, human contact with the outside world. clearly such extreme isolation can have serious damaging psychological impact. i will never ever forget the compelling testimony of anthony graves. in the year 2010, after 18 years
in prison and 16 of those years in solitary confinement, he became the 12th death row inmate to be exonerated in the state of texas. at the hearing mr. graves testified about his experience. the room was silent as he said solitary confinement does one thing. it breaks a man's will to live. i've been free for almost two years, and i still cry at night because no one out there can relate to what i've gone through. i battle with feelings of loneliness. i tried therapy, but it didn't work. in 2014 i held a follow-up hearing on the issue. i called for an end to solitary confinement for juveniles, pregnant women and inmates with serious mental illness. at the hearing we heard from damon tibidow. he spent 15 years in solitary confinement at the louisiana
state pen ten charry. he testified -- and i quote -- "i do not condone what those who have killed and committed other offenses have done but i also don't condone what we do to them when we put them in solitary for years on end and treat them as subhuman. we are better than that. as a civilized society, we should be better than that." in recent years a number of experts and state and federal officials across the country have questioned our nation's overuse of solitary. in 2014 supreme court justice anthony kennedy testified to congress that -- quote -- "sol it tarry confinement literally drives men mad. last year he again brought up the issue and he wrote research still confirms what this court suggested over a century ago. years on end of near total isolation exacts a terrible price. he went on to say the judiciary may be required to determine whether workable alternative systems for long-term
confinement exists and if so whether a correctional system should be required to adopt them. pope francis, who spoke to a joint session of congress just a few months ago, has also criticized solitary confinement. in a 2014 speech in the vatican, he referred to the practice of extreme isolation as torture. in a genuine surplus of pain added to the actual suffering of imprisonment. the pope went on to say the lack of sensory stimuli, the total impossibility of communication, the lack of contact with other human beings induces mental and physical suffering such as paranoia, anxiety, depression, weight loss and significantly increases the suicidal tendency. in light of the mounting evidence and the dangers of harmful impact of solitary confinement, several states led the way in reas sistering the practice. colorado complemented a number of reforms no longer releasing
defenders from solitary to the community and ensures inmates with serious mental illness are not placed in solitary confinement. as a result of the reforms, inmate on staff assaults are at the lowest level in colorado in ten years. incidents of self-harm decreased among the inmates and most inmates released from solitary do not return. in the state of washington, a focus on rehabilitation and programming for inmates in solitary confinement led to a reduction of more than 50% in the segregated population. the association of state correctional administrators, a group representing the heads of all 50 state prison systems, recently called for limits on the use of long-term solitary confinement. in a statement they said prolonged isolation of individuals in jails and prisons is a grave problem in the united states. correctional leaders across the country are committed to reducing the number of people in restrictive housing. progress has been made at the federal level since our first
hearing. a substantial percentage of those in solitary confinement are no longer serving in that situation. the assessment reached last year noted that some improvements have been made since the 2012 hearing, the initial hearing we had on the subject. the federal bureau of prisons reduced its segregated population by 25% and continues to look for more reductions. despite this, there's a lot of work to be done. that's why i was pleased to see president obama's announcement this week that he's accepted a number of recommendations from the department of justice. in an opened published -- in an op-ed yesterday the president explained how the department of justice review of solitary confinement led to the conclusion the practice should be applied rarely and applied fairly. the president's recommendations included banning solitary confinement for juveniles, diverting inmates with serious mental inmates to alternative forms of housing, diverting inmates in need of protection
from solitary confinement to less restrictive conditions, reducing the use of disciplinary segregation and improving the conditions of solitary confinement by increasing inmates o'out-of-cell time and access to services. i welcome these changes and commend the president for his action and look forward to working with the bureau of prisons and department of justice on this issue. in the course of studying this issue i decided i had to see it firsthand. i went to tams prison in southern illinois. it was the maximum security state prison in the state. i went in and met with the warden, took my tour and then i said to her, i want to see the most restrictive solitary confinement, and she took me into an area where five men were in solitary confinement. i had a chance to speak to each of them. one of the men i will nferl forget. i asked -- never forget. i asked him how many years are you in for. he said originally 20 but they added 50 to that. i said 50 additional years?
he said yes. he said in a very calm voice, i told them that if they put another prisoner in my cell i would kill him, and i did. and i thought to myself, be aware, senator, that there are ruthless and vicious people and violent people who really need to be carefully scrutinized and carefully imprisoned in a situation where they can't harm other inmates or the personnel. but still, even in that circumstance, we have to look to the most humane way to treat them in the course of their imprisonment. the president's decision to address the overuse of solitary represents a major step forward in protecting human rights and increasing public safety and improving fiscal responsibility in our prisons. still, we have the highest per capita rate of incarceration in the world, the united states. the highest rate of incarceration in the world. president obama noted yesterday changing our approach to solitary confinement is just one
part of the large set of reforms. last year senate judiciary committee chairman chuck grassley of iowa and i worked on a bipartisan -- with a bipartisan coalition of senators to introduce the sentencing reform and corrections act. the bill passed the senate judiciary committee in a 15-5 bipartisan vote several months ago. in order to comprehensively address the problems facing our federal prisons, we should bring this bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation to the senate floor and work with our colleagues in the house to send a bill to the president this year. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. white house: i ask the pending quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: i ask to speak for 12 minutes as in mr. morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: today marks the 125th time that i've come to the senate floor to ask this
body to wake up to the threats of climate change. this week is a little different because we are currently debating a bipartisan energy policy modernization act. the bill was crafted by my colleague, senator murkowski and cantwell, and it may become our first comprehensive energy efficiency legislation since 2007. while the base bill is a good start, we have much work to do before we come anywhere near meeting the challenges we face as a result of our decades of carbon pollution. as we begin debate on this legislation, calls for bold action on climate continue to mount. the world economic forum released its global risks report 2016, which for the first time ranked an environmental risk,
climate change, as the most severe economic risk facing the world. the report found that a failure to deal with and prepare for climate change is potentially the most costly risk over the next decade. cecilia reyes, the chief risk officer of zurich insurance group, said climate change is exacerbating more risks than ever before in terms of water crises, food shortages, constrained economic growth, weather, societal cohesion and increased security risks. some of my republican colleagues have begun to wake up to these risks. it was just last year that chairman murkowski said, and i quote her -- "what i am hoping we can do now is get beyond the discussion as to whether climate change is real and talk about
what to do." the chairman deserves credit for reporting a bill that has solutions a broad majority of the senate can support. however, she has been handicapped by the fact that many in her party still refuse to take seriously that human-caused climate change is real and that it presents a significant and growing risk to our economy, our national security and our way of life. many of the provisions in this bill are not new. we saw much of it in the shaheen-portman energy bill that republicans twice before have filibustered. with so many republicans seemingly incapable of supporting responsible energy legislation, those of us who want to promote energy efficiency and a clean energy economy sometimes feel a little bit like charlie brown, hoping that this time lucy won't yank the ball away yet again. these issues are too important,
and i'm hoping this time it will in fact be different. the bill contains commonsense reforms like reforming building codes to improve energy efficiency and directing the secretary of energy to establish a federal smart buildings program. to demonstrate the costs and benefits of implementing smart building technology. it reauthorizes the weatherization and state energy programs so that states like -- that states like rhode island rely on. and the advanced research projects agency energy that have shown the importance of government investment in new energy technologies. it will modernize and secure our electric grid, and it will enhance cybersecurity safeguards my state, rhode island, is a national leader in promoting energy efficiency so we know how programs like this are good for consumers, businesses and the environment. in fact, i just came here to the
floor from a meeting with our grid operator where she said that rhode island actually was the most -- the leading state at efficiency. rhode island has had energy policies guiding electricity and natural gas efficiency standards since 2006. we have consistently ranked in the top five states when it comes to energy efficiency. we do this as one of the founding members of the regional greenhouse gas initiative or rggi for short. the northeast carbon pollution cap-and-trade program. states that belong to rggi are proving that we can grow our economies at the same time that we cut our emissions. between its founding in 2005 and the report of 2012, emissions in the rggi states decreased by 40% while the regional economy grew by 7%. so we won on both sides.
putting a price on carbon and plowing that money back into clean energy projects is, in fact, saving us billions of dollars while helping to reduce carbon pollution. so i hope this bill will be a small step forward towards solutions that will begin to help reverse the devastation carbon pollution is wreaking on our climate and particularly on our oceans. because i have to ask my republican friends what is your best bet on whether this climate and oceans problem gets better or worse in the next 20 or 40 years? i ask this seriously because a great party's reputation is on the line here. so how are you going to bet with 97%, 98% of the scientists with 100% of the peer research?
do you want to bet the reputation of the republican party that suddenly all of this is going to magically get better? because right now, the american public sees what's going on. the american public knows that the republican party in washington has become the political wing of the fossil fuel industry. there has always been a bit of this within the republican party, but since the republican appointees on the supreme court gave the fossil fuel industry that great, fat, juicy gift of its citizens united decision, the fossil fuel industry menace looming over the republican party in congress has become near absolute. trapped by the fossil fuel industry, the republican vision for energy policy has been stuck in the past. most of the time it's just complaints and obstruction. oh, the president's clean power
plan is no good. oh, the states shouldn't engage in massive civil disobedience against the president's clean power plan. oh, we should defund the e.p.a. it will be no surprise if they try to block the department of interior's plan to reform a co-leasing program that has not been updated in over 30 years, 30 years. i'm not sure it's going to matter to them that the way we price extraction of fossil fuels on federal lands is a massive taxpayer giveaway to fossil fuel companies, and it's based on a market failure that ignores the costs those fuels impose on taxpayers and our climate. conservative and progressive economists alike agree on that market failure point. indeed, republicans defend all
the subsidies we give to the fossil fuel industry. there is no subsidy to the fossil fuel industry that does not earn constant republican support. rather than gambling on more oil and gas production, i would suggest we make the safe bet on a strategy that cuts emissions, encourages american investment in american clean energy, saves taxpayers billions of dollars and creates and supports millions of jobs. there's an old hymn that the presiding officer probably knows that says turn back, o man, fore swear thy foolish ways. well, it is time to turn back and foreswear our fossil foolish ways. if we don't, there will be a day of reckoning and a hard price to be paid. remember what pope francis told us. i will quote him -- "god always
forgives. we men forgive sometimes. but nature never forgives. if you give her a slap, she will give you one." end quote. and we have given our earth one heck of a slap. i will leave the chamber with this. last week, nasa and the national oceanic and atmospheric administration reported that 2015 was the warmest year on record globally. that's not a fluke. 15 of the warmest 16 years recorded occurred during this century, which, by the way, has had 15 years. they're all in the warmest 16 years ever recorded. according to the world
meteorological organization, the most recent five-year period from 2011-2015 was the warmest five-year period ever recorded. you can see the long-term trend. it's going in one direction and one direction only: hotter. there is no pause. the pause was a trick. these changes are primarily driven by the excessive carbon pollution that we continue to dump into our atmosphere and oceans. by the way, for all of this measured heat, 90%-plus actually goes into the owe shafnlts -- ie oceans. as the oceans stop absorbing as much warmth, i don't know where that leads. so as we bring our ideas to the floor during our discussion about modernizing our electric grid, we have an opportunity to also have a real conversation on
mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: is there a quorum call now in progress? the presiding officer: there is. mr. reid: i would ask consent that it be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president there's some things that i shouldn't joke about. i try to be funny an hour ago at my weekly stakeout, and you i gs it wasn't very funny. the danger of a donald trump candidacy to our country is not a joke. since he launched his bid for the republican nomination, he has proven over and over again that he is a hateful demagogue who will do immeasurable damage to our country, if elected. i've come to the senate floor many times to decry his hateful comments. dojtdonald trump threatens demoy
thor senator mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator west virginia. mr. manchin: mr. president, are we in a quorum call? i ask to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. manchin: mr. president, i rise today to voice my opposition to dr. kalif, the president's nominee to be the commissioner of the f.d.a., and i do this with all respect to the doctor and his expertise and him are a as a human being and e work he has done. i'm sure that the administration will be able to find a position for him that suits his background better than head of the f.d.a. we had a thoughtful conversation when he came to visit with me. i do not believe that he can be
the leader that we need to change the culture at the f.d.a. and i say that coming from a state that's been ratify and by this opioid addiction. it is going to take someone that is totally committed to make the changes. the number-one priority should be public health and continues afroapt have such close financial ties with the pharmaceutical industry. what he has done is what most of them do. between 2010 and 2014 dr. khalif received the money through his university salary and also his consulting fees from 26 different pharma companies, including opiate manufacturers. dr. khalif has described f.d.a. regulations a barrier, not a safeguard to public health. in 2008 the f.d.a.'s approval of
new marketing claims for existing claims was 66%. in the first eight months of 2015, it was 88%. this includes just last year approving oxycontin for children as young as 11 years old. at a time when opiate deaths are killing tens of thousands of americans every day, our f.d.a. would like to give these dangerous drugs to kids. someone at the f.d.a. needs to change its way of thinking, and they're given all the excuses in the world. it makes no sense whatsoever to meevment dr. califf's past involvement with the pharmaceutical industry shows that he will not be able to be this person -- person of change that's needed. he will not have the impact or leadership capabilities that this nation needs to stem the tide of the opiate crisis. these are the facts of what this who arhorrific pain reduction, , pain suppressor, opiates do to americans. within 51 americans every day
die from opiate use. the f.d.a. now more than ever needs a champion who is committed to dramatically changing the way this agency handles opiates. every other federal agency is fighting to address opiate addiction. let me tell you about addiction, mr. president. there is not one person in the senate, not one person that works here that doesn't have someone in their immediate tbea- immediate family or extended family or close friends who has not been affected by prescription drug abuse. but the f.d.a. continues to endanger the public. in 2014, 18,893 people died due to prescription opiate overdose. again, i've said that's 51 people every day. that's a 16% increase from 2013 and it has increased every year before that. we've lost almost 200,000
americans to prescription opiate abuse since 1999. the f.d.a. commissioner is an important figure in the fight against prescription drug abuse. and he or she must be a public health official whose top priority is stopping the opiate abuse epidemic. we need to change the culture of the f.d.a. to make them address the crisis seriously. that will not happen if the person at the helm is not a strong advocate. i said a very strong advocate who is committed to pushing back against the pressure to continually approve new opiate medications, give j the -- givee significant risk to public health. i believe that the f.d.a. needs new leadership, new focus, and new culture. this is not despairing anybody that's there or anybody that wishes to be there. when i talked to dr. califf, most qualified and will do a good job in some other position, i'm sure. i believe the f.d.a. must break
its cozy relationship with the pharmaceutical industry and instead start a relationship with the millions of americans impacted by prescription drug abuse. and it's just human nature that a person that basically has had all his research funded for many years from this industry is going to be hard to change. it is because of this belief that i will filibuster any effort to confirm dr. califf. instead of voting to confirm a nominee that will not address the concerns of the people of west virginia and all america, i will come to the floor and read letters from those who have had their lives devastated by opiate addiction. i will read letters from children who have seen their parents die from an overdose. i will read letters from grandparents who have been forced to raise their grandchildren when their kids went to jail, rehab or the grave. i will read letters from teachers and religious leaders who have seen their communities devastateed by prescription drug abuse. i will read letters from west virginians who need help from
the f.d.a., not by putting more of these opiate killers on the market. i urge all of my colleagues to examine the financial support dr. califf has received throughout his research career and ask themselves if he is the right person to change the culture of the f.d.a. i am confident when you look at all the facts, mr. president, you will agree that we need a new nominee, one who will join us in the fight against this horrible epidemic affecting our country and every nook and cranny of this country. thank you, mr. president, and i -- i yield the floor. ms. murkowski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: mr. president, i know we're waiting for other colleagues to come to the floor to either speak to the energy bill itself or perhaps offer
amendments. i would certainly encourage that as we're trying to get the process going here with the energy policy modernization act. before my colleague from west virginia leaves the floor, i want to thank him for his leadership on this issue. we have had conversations. i traveled to west virginia at his invitation to view how west virginia deals with its energy issues. they have a little bit of everything there in west virginia, and i was able to see that. one of the sad stories that i learned, though, was what we were seeing in his state as it related to opioid abuse, oxycontin, and it was meth at that time. our states share some similarities in that there are very rural characteristics between west virginia and alaska, and alaska, too, even though we are far removed from most all other states here in this country, we are not immune, we are not insulated from what we are seeing with this epidemic
of -- of opioid abuse, brought on initially by access to prescription drugs and now being replaced in a horrible way through heroin that is impacting our kids, our young people, folks really of ages that i think many would be surprised at, and it is deeply, deeply troubling. when you use a word like an epidemic or a pandemic, those are very strong but i think that's what we are seeing within this country, and it is -- it is reaching from one end of the country to another, so i just wanted to acknowledge my colleagues for the issues that he's raised. politburo manchin: madam chairman, if i may, mr. president? let me first of all thank you for the leadership on the energy bill. it's been a long time since we've had one on the floor. and working in a most i think
rational, commonsense approach, trying to bring all parties together, you've done a great job, working with maria cantwell, from the democrat, our side, state of washington findings, with a little bit of something for everybody. understanding that the energy policy should be an all-in energy policy. i know coming from a fossil fuel state and you come from a fossil fuel state and people think they can live without it, i just think they can live better with it if we use technology, and that's what we have tried to push in this piece of legislation. but on the opiate, i have a lot -- i just have a passion. i have watched it be so devastating. when you have young kids coming to you, telling you they watched their parents die, overdosed, they have watched their families ruin, they have watched their families split up and the kids have been taken in different directions, it makes your heart bleed and makes you think about future generations, what we're going to face. and then -- and then to have the food and drug administration give you one example, it took -- i have been working three years to get all opiates to reclassify
from a schedule -- reclassified from a schedule three to a schedule two. it took three years to get that done. to show the success we have had, millions of prescriptions have been reduced because now it's only a 30-day. let me just tell you it's still a problem that we have. not everybody needs 30 days. unless we start doing a whole re-education to the doctors who basically write the prescriptions, who understand sometimes you might need one or two days of assistance, but we're overprescribing, and the pharmaceuticals are over -- overenticing, if you will, and they are coming out stronger and stronger. i just said we need an f.d.a. cultural change, and that's it. if we can't do it here, there is no one expecting to be doing it on the outside if we don't drive it from the outside. the states that do the heavy lifting, alaska, west virginia, people are going to get from time to time injured, they have
pain, they need help. there's other methods. we're trying to go different directions. so i thank you for recognizing that, but also thank you for coming to the state, too. we really enjoyed having you, and i enjoyed being in your state and would enjoy coming back. thank you, mr. president. ms. murkowski: to my colleague from west virginia, he is always welcome to come back and learn more. on the issue of dr. califf, i have let it be known that i, too, have concerns about his nomination, and it has nothing to do with open -- opioids. it has everything to do with fish, and basically what we refer to as a -- as a fake fish, a genetically engineered fish. all i'm looking for is -- is the assurance from the f.d.a. that if they are going to put this genetically engineered product out there for human consumption, the first one out there that would be an actual species, that there be appropriate labeling.
i don't think that that is too much to ask. i have asked for that and the difficulty has been getting folks within f.d.a. to have a full-on conversation about the import of that. it's a very different issue than what the senator from west virginia has discussed. but again, i think it goes to the issue of we need to have some communication within the f.d.a. the f.d.a. is an agency that has considerable authorities, and we here in the congress need to know that we can have this level of dialogue and discussion going back and forth, and i think we have seen a real lack or a shortfall. until i get certain assurances from the f.d.a. as well, i am not planning on removing the hold that i currently have on this nominee and will be working with other colleagues on this. i know that my senator from --
my friend, the senator from colorado, has arrived to the floor, and i know he wished to speak on the energy policy modernization act. the senator from colorado has been a great member of the united states senate since he came. he was a leader on energy issues when he was over on the house, and he has continued that in a very constructive, very -- just very robust way, and we can talk about these energy matters that come from producing states like ours but a recognition that senator gardner's approach is not just i come from a fossil fuel-producing state, he is also looking to make sure that we move to a cleaner energy future. he's also very conscious and considerate about what we do with conservation, and his leadership in some of these areas have been greatly appreciated. mr. gardner: i thank the senator from alaska. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado.
mr. gardner: i ask unanimous consent that the following members of senator daines' staff be granted floor braistles -- ben cough -- kaufman and amy fortner. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. gardner: the senator's bill has strong support from both sides of the aisle. this bill has strong components in it from grid transparency, accountability and i think on the floor there are some opportunities for other amendments that will be discussed and brought about, including an amendment that's important to senator shaheen and i that's going to be discussing the impact with the recreation the economy has, the amount of dollars raised and generated through the recreation economy, spending money in the great outdoors and how that impacts our states and the jobs that it creates. and so we know that people come to colorado, states like colorado, states like new hampshire, alaska, to -- to hike, to fish, to climb, to ski, and all of the great and incredible benefits that we have
year-round in alaska, colorado and the rest of our many states with so many recreational offerings. i look forward to these discussions and over the next few days, i look forward to coming back to the floor to discuss with you other ideas that are in the bill right now, renewable energy, energy efficiencies, including my legislation to expand the use of energy savings, performance contracts which could save this country $20 billion without spending a dime of taxpayer money. so incredible opportunities as well. but at this point, mr. president, i would ask to speak in morning business for five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. gardner: mr. president, i rise today in memory of officer vernon allston. vernon alston jr. is a member of the united states capitol police. on january 24, officer alston passed away after suffering a heart attack. his concern had been for others that day. he spent the morning by serving those around him, helping those in his community shovel snow, the incredible amounts of snow
that the area had received. day after day, the men and women of the capitol police work to protect us all, not just members and staff but anybody who comes to the nation's capitol to share in the history, the heritage, the traditions of this place. for two decades, officer alston dedicated himself to this work, and i am grateful for his many years of service on the capitol grounds. this building stands as representation of the values our nation was founded on, and it is in this building that we continue to uphold those values of democracy. the capitol police are often called america's police. they protect us as we carry out this work and safeguard those who travel from around the world to experience this living piece of american history which serves as the stage for our future. their support for us is invaluable and unwavering, and this week it is our turn to support them as they mourn the loss of a dear colleague and friend. and whether it's september 11 or ricin attacks or anthrax or
perhaps somebody who is here visit hog had a health issue, we know the support and the pride that every member of the capitol police force brings to their job each and every day. they are never the first to flee. they are the last to leave. and for that, we are eternally grateful. and so my deepest condolences go to officer alston's wife nicole, their children, his family members, and we will always honor his work and legacy. he's a member of our capitol community, and that will truly be missed. mr. president, i yield back my time. ms. klobuchar: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i rise to honor the outgoing canadian ambassador to the united states, gary duer. soon ambassador duer will return home to manitoba, but lucky for us, he will be a frequent visitor to washington, d.c., as the new cochair of the wilson
center's canada institute advisory board. we are glad the ambassador will continue to be an influential voice in shaping u.s.-canada relations. over the last six years, i have had the privilege of getting to know the ambassador. i knew he would get along well when i learned that he is a long-time fan of bud grant, an incredible athlete who became the head coach of the minnesota vikings, but from a canadian perspective, he first coached the blue bombers of the canadian football league. bud grant is adored in minnesota and is still adored many, many years since he left coaching. in fact, it was bud grant during this recent play-off game that we remember well in minnesota versus the seahawks where bud grant came out in 17 below zero weather and flipped the coin with no jacket on. what i will also never forget is
attending an event at the ambassador's home. i walked in the door, and he had a framed photo of coach grant right next to a framed photo of the prime minister of canada. we like that in minnesota. the ambassador has served for six years or double overtime as he likes to call it. this is longer than his two predecessors combined. ambassador duer's long tenure and the fact that he has served under prime ministers from different political parties is a testament to his professionalism and character. the ambassador is also well known in washington for his humor and good nature, and i'm sure that that helps. now, minnesota shares a long border with canada. in fact, about 547 miles. as i like to say, i can see canada from my porch. that must be why early on in my senate career, leader reid asked me to head up the canada-united
states interparliamentary group, along with senator mike crapo of idaho. together we have come to understand what an important geopolitical partner canada is to the united states, and as a minnesotan who is proud to share a border with canada, i appreciate the country's friendship, culture and beauty. not only is canada america's biggest trading partner but it is the only country with an embassy that at one point draped itself with a sign that said "friends, neighbors, partners, allies." i'll nferl forget how gracious ambassador doer was for hosting my swearing-in celebration at the canadian embassy in 2013. i'm the only senator in recent history to choose the canadian embassy as a site for my senate reelection swearing-in party and a lot of that had to do with the ambassador. as president kennedy said to the canadian parliament in 1961, i don't go if -- geography made us
neighbors, history made us friends, economics made us partners and necessity made us allies. during his tenure in washington ambassador doer has been a champion for canada and canadians and an effective diplomat who gets things done. through his successful ten years as premier of manitoba and efforts as ambassador to engage leaders and citizens across the united states, the ambassador strengthened the robust friendship and partnership between our two great nations. his list of accomplishments is impressive. he has worked tirelessly on tourism and trade while ensuring the safety and security of the border between our two countries. the ambassador championed the agreement on the new bridge which will link detroit and windsor. this bridge is destined to become the most important border crossing between our two countries. for too long there has been complete gridlock on the bridge linking our countries, and i know how hard the ambassador has
worked on the windsor bridge. and for awhile it looked as though it wouldn't get done. but the ambassador never stopped fighting for it and refused to be satisfied until the deal was done. often using an old gordy house saying that you can't put your hands up in the air until the puck is in the net. mr. president, that is a hockey analogy between minnesota and canada. the ambassador made sure the puck was in the net. the ambassador was instrumental in the united states-canada preclearance agreement, a new agreement that will facilitate travel and create jobs in both countries while securing a secure border. this agreement reassures the u.s. commitment that will help move more than $2 billion in goods and services and an estimate 300,000 people across the longest border in the world.