the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: this afternoon the house of representatives is poised to pass the defend trade say credits act bringing this critical proposal one step closer to becoming law. over the past few months senator coons and i witnessed a ground swell support for our bill which will strengthen the ability of american companies to defend their most valuable information from theft. business, both large and small, and lawmakers, both republican and democrat, have rallied around our legislation providing the impetus we need to pass this key intellectual property bill. passage of the defend trade secrets act marks not only a watershed moment for the intellectual property community, it also represents a victory for the american people. to appreciate the significance of this legislation, we must first understand the importance of trade secrets in american industry.
trade secrets are the lifeblood of our economy. in simple terms, trade secrets are the groundbreaking ideas to give business a competitive advantage. i should say businesses. they range from unique production and manufacturing processes to food recipes and software codes. this critical form of intellectual property is not only invaluable to individual business owners, it's also directly responsible for creating millions of jobs in our country. by the lack of federal legal protections leaves trade secrets vulnerable to theft and oversight that costs the economy billions of dollars each year. two years ago, senator coons and i set out to fix this problem together. from the very beginning, we sought to input business owners and job creators so we could better understand the obstacles facing american industry and chart a path forward for reform.
the defend trade secrets act is the culmination of our work. under current law, companies have few legal options to recover their losses when trade secrets are stolen. for example, if a disgruntled employee steals a utah company's confidential information and leaks it to a competitor in another state, attorneys must navigate a complex labyrinth of state laws just to bring suit. this cumbersome process can take weeks, which is an eternity in a trade secrets case. during this time, the likelihood that valuable intellectual property falls into the wrong hands increases every day, as does the potential for permanent damage to the company. our bill solves this problem by creating a uniform federal law that businesses can turn to when their trade secrets are stolen. this federal standard keeps companies from getting bogged down in state laws by allowing business owners to take their case directly to a federal court. essentially, our legislation
removes an unnecessary and time-consuming layer of bureaucracy, buying businesses precious time to recover stolen information. but providing america's businesses with the act to protect the most valuable information in federal courts, they will be better equipped to safeguard trade secrets and increase their competitiveness. the president has expressed strong support for our legislation, which he intends to sign into law shortly after it passes the house. mr. president, the defend trade secrets act is not only a win for the intellectual property and business communities, it is also an example of what congress can accomplish when we -- when we put party politics aside and find common ground. indeed, it is often easy to make things look hard but it is impossible to make things look easy. today's house passage of the defend trade secrets act truly embodies countless hours of negotiations and hard work.
i wish to recognize those who made passage of this bill a reality, including chairman bob goodlatte, representative doug collins and representative jerrold nadler. they were indispensable in shepherding this legislation through the house. i also wish to thank senators grassley, leahy, graham, feinstein, flake, whitehouse and many others for their contributions to this bill. likewise, i would like to thank my dear friend, senator coons, for joining me in co-authoring this bill. he has been an invaluable partner throughout this process. mr. president, enacting meaningful public policy in the midst of the toxic presidential campaign is no small accomplishment. with the imminent passage of the defend trade secrets act, our nation has cause for celebration. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i actually come to the senate floor today to
talk about the urgent need to help make college more affordable for american families. earlier this year i launched a comment forum on my web site encouraging people to share their struggles to afford college and how their student debt is affecting them. since then i have heard from so many students and families from my home state of washington and across the country. by sharing these stories today, i hope we can all come together here to work on ways to bring down college costs and make sure that students can graduate college without the crushing burden of student debt. i recently heard from a young woman whose name is katie. she is a junior studying psychology at gonzaga university in spokane, washington. she said she always knew finance ing college would be difficult because her parents were not in a position to help her out financially and because
she couldn't afford to make regular tuition payments, she's had to take on a large amount of student loans, and she wasn't able to live with her parents, so she's also had to plan to pay for room and board for all four years. now here is a typical workweek for katie: katie works 12 hours a week as part of the gone -- gone st-p student body association. on most weekend nights she's not out with her friends and family. she is instead baby sitting for some extra cash to put towards her textbooks. and on top of all that, she is also a math tutor which until recently was a paid position before the department's budget was cut. but she said she kept tutoring any way as a way to give back. that's just who she is. that's all on being a full-time student as well.
so let me be clear, katie is very glad to be investing in herself and her future. she knows it is tough work and she appreciates that. but she, like millions of other students, is just looking for a little relief. in her own words she admits -- and i quote -- "it's a constant stresser thinking of how to pay for life while at college and how i'm going to pay for all of this after i graduate. " students like katie aren't alone. across the country the yearly cost of tuition, room and board at a public four-year institution is five and a half times what it was in the early 1980's. and to afford those skyrocketing price tags, people are turning to student loans to cover the cost. so today americans across the country hold a total of $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loan debt. in my home state of washington,
the average college student owes more than $24,000 in student debt. think about what that debt means for our students. these students are doing everything right. they are investing in their future. many of them are the first in their families to go to college. but when it's time to look for that first job, just starting out, they are already in the red. i've been so glad to work with other senate democrats on legislation actually called in the red that would help students like katie. our bill would give students the chance to attend community college tuition-free. it would make sure the amount of pell grants keeps up with the rising cost of college. and tpwo -- p it would let borrowers refinance their student debt to today's lower rates. and our bill is fully paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes that only serve to benefit the biggest corporations and the wealthiest few. you know, this issue for me is
really personal. when i was young my dad was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. within a few short years he couldn't work any longer, and without warning my family had fallen on hard times. i have six brothers and sisters, and thankfully all of us were able to go to college with help from what is now called pell grants. my mom was able to get the skills she needed to get a job. she had been a stay-at-home mom. she needed work, and she got that job through a worker training program at lake washington vocational school, with government help. and even through those hard times, our family never lost hope that with a good education we would be able to find our footing and earn our way to a stable middle-class life. this country never turned their back on my family. and today we can't turn our backs on the millions of families just like mine who need a path forward to afford college
and pay back their student debt. i hope we can pass this bill and pave the way for lower college costs and less student debt. i hope we can work together to give students and families some much-needed relief. and let's make sure they know we won't ever let up and that we will always have their backs. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: mr. president, i wanted to speak today about the two separate topics. the first is venezuela. venezuela is a country in our hemisphere that is in total crisis, total chaos. it's because of a number of things: failed leadership, failed economic policies, a complete societal breakdown, human rights abuses and now a de facto political coup that plagued the country for about 15 years. this all started with hugo chavez and has now continued
with maduro his successor. let's talk about the first cause of the disaster, failed leadership. for over 15 years now venezuela has been ruled by two strong men who have either, who have mismanaged the country with an iron fist, squandered its wealth and natural resources, corrupted all the country's political institutions to ignore the will of the people and to entrench their power. failed leadership, by the way, that has only gotten worse because the suck -- successor to chavez is an incompetent person. the result is a wealthy country with a highly educated population being led by someone who, quite frankly, isn't qualified to lead anything, much less a nation of the stature of venezuela. the second thing is failed economic policies. venezuela today suffers from shortages across the board. for example, there's a shortage
of medicine and medical equipment, which means -- and this is not an exaggeration -- people are literally dying because their doctors cannot prescribe drugs that aren't available. and the hospitals and the clinics don't have the equipment needed to conduct surgeries. so you speak to medical professionals in venezuela, they will tell you there are simple medications that can save the lives of an individual. they can't do anything about it. i had someone tell me today, they asked a doctor what do you do when one of your patients is about to die, and they say nothing. we comfort them as they die. we don't have basic medicines to deliver them. unlike the case of cuba, by the way, where they're always saying it's because of the embargo the united states has, which is ridiculous, another topic for another day, there is no embargo on venezuela. no sanctions and so as a result there is no explanation for this. the supermarkets are bare. the shelves are completely bare. people there cannot buy food or
basics like toilet paper, tooth brushes, anything. in addition to the government's political censorship efforts, economic policies help censor in the sense that there are shortages of paper that independent newspapers need to print their editions. so here is another machiavellian move that the government has made. there is a shortage of paper and they make sure the independent press has no access to paper. if you don't have paper, you can't print a newspaper. things are so bad in venezuela today that the economists compared venezuela to zimbabwe 15 years ago. and the reason why that is an unbelievable comparison is because as i said earlier, venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. they have a highly educated population. they have a well-established business class of professionals. and their economy last year shrank by 5.7%, and this year will sink by another 8%. this is a country that now has rolling blackouts, an
energy-rich country that has rolling blackouts. in fact, it's gotten so bad that today their so-called president, the incompetent nicholas maluto, announced that government employees are only going to work two days a week, mondays and tuesdays. government offices will now only be open two days a week because they don't want them turning on the lights. this is the state of one of the richest countries in the world and one of the richest countries in our hemisphere. and then you have a total societal breakdown. economic misery begets desperation and you are seeing that reflected in the lawlessness that plagues venezuela. crime rates are among the highest in the hemisphere, particularly the murder rate, but it stems at the top from the highest levels of leadership. when you have a competent thug running a country, someone whos government intimidates opponents by using street gangs to ride around in motorcycles causing all kinds of mayhem shooting people and attacking people, it only contributes to the
lawlessness. do you know that caracas, venezuela, a beautiful city is, is one of the most dangerous places in the world, come forrable with war zones in terms of the murder rate. it's basically every man and woman for him or herself in venezuela. then you have atrocious human rights abuses. since the venezuelan government crackdown on administrators and political opponents began, dozens of innocents have been killed, thousands have been beaten and targeted for intimidation, hundreds have been jailed including lopez who has been a political prisoner for more than two years. we need to demand the release of 115 political prisoners in venezuela and respect the rights of those and their families. i heard another horrifying story today. some of these political prisoners, most of them are men, when their wives go visit them in prison, those wives are strip searched by male guards, as an ultimate act of humiliating them. this is a situation in venezuela. and last but not least, we have
a de facto political coup by the maduro regime. this country faces a real political and constitutional crisis. maduro has stacked the country's supreme court with his loyalists and the supreme court is basically, is basically nullifying law -- every law that the congress there passes. the opposition won the election in the last cycle. they won because the discontent with the government is so massive they couldn't steal the election. it's so big that not even they could steal the election from them. they sat this new congress, he has stacked the supreme court, and the supreme court is literally nullifying law after law. in fact, doing it not for judicial reasons but for blatantly political ones. you have -- they are also using the -- maduro basically ignores the law. the congressional branch there will pass a law with a veto-proof majority. he just ignores it. imagine passing a law out of the house, out of the senate, sending it to the president. he can't veto it, and he just ignores it, refuses to do it.
this is the situation in our own hemisphere. and the result here is an incredible disaster. of deep interest to us, by the way, because of all the uncertainty he is causing in the region. so what can we do about it? first of all, it's in our national interests. the current situation is happening in our own hemisphere, it threatens to destabilize the region, it creates more pressure on our neighbors and our strategic allies like colombia where venezuelans have been fleeing to. this creates migratory pressures on the united states, and the lawlessness is fueling organized crime, including drug cartels which senior government officials in venezuela have established links to, which impacts our entire region. for these reasons and more, the united states has a national interest in making sure venezuela does not spiral even further out of control. the first thing we should do is we should be active at the organization of american states as it considers the situation in venezuela and it should be asked that the voting members recognize the humanitarian and political crisis in venezuela.
the united states should ask our allies in the region, countries that receive an extensive amount of aid from this country, haiti, colombia, the central american nations, our neighbors up north in canada and among others to support this effort. some of these countries, not canada, but right now we are about to give hundreds of millions of dollars to these countries in central america in the northern triangle. the alliance for prosperity. i think that's a good idea, but we should ask them to support what we're trying to do -- what i hope we will try to do at the o.a.s. the same with haiti. we have point of order millions of dollars into haiti's construction. we should use that as leverage to ask them to support something that's happening at the o.s.a. what's happening in venezuela is nothing short of a de facto coup, and the organization of american states if it has any reason to exist anymore it should be to defend democracy in the region. it is the reason why we have an organization of american states. we will soon find out whether that organization is even worth continuing to exist.
if it cannot pronounce itself collectively, on the outright violation of democracy in a situation that purports to be a democratic republic. sanctions. we have imposed sanctions on human rights violators, not sanctions on the people of venezuela, not sanctions on the government. on human rights violators, many of whom steal money from the venezuelan people and invest it in the united states. just yesterday in the front page of the "miami herald," a story that one of the individuals linked to the petroleum industry with the government in venezuela, a billionaire -- and you become a millionaire with these links by basically stealing the money -- is the secret developer behind a major development in miami, florida, in my hometown, in my home state. you travel to florida, you come down there, you let me know, any of my colleagues, and i will show you where these people live and i will show you the money they have stolen from the venezuelan people and are living the high life on weekends in miami. you see them everywhere. that's why we impose sanctions on them. there will be an effort here i
hope in the next day or so to extend those sanctions for another three years. and finally, i hope the united states uses our megaphone to highlight the corruption in the institutions of government in venezuela, and now that should not be tolerated. there is also a humanitarian component to this. we should help make sure the venezuelan government is not stealing or otherwise standing in the way of the venezuelan people getting the medicines and food that they need. for far too long, the issues in this hemisphere have been ignored by administrations in both parties, by this administration. we can no longer ignore this, and i hope we given swale a and the western hemisphere the attention and the priority that it merits. it is in our national interests to do so. on another topic, mr. president, i wanted to briefly discuss the issue of puerto rico and the debt crisis facing puerto rico. as you may know, mr. president, the island faces a major deadline coming up. a $422 million debt payment that is due on may 1, which is this sunday. if this deadline isn't met, it's
going to cause some serious problems, and not just for the people of puerto rico, who let's not forget are american citizens but also for millions of others throughout the united states. i'll focus on one example today of an american community that would be very negatively impacted, and that's the city of jacksonville in my home state of florida. jacksonville is a port city, so its residents, its businesses and families depend in large part on trade. a recent article in the "florida times union" detailed exactly how close the relationship is between puerto rico and the shipping industry in jacksonville. in 2009, as much as 75% of the goods coming in and out of puerto rico flowed through the ports at jackson, which brought about -- at jacksonville which brought about a billion dollars of economic impact to the city. in october and march, jacksport has seen a 32% increase in cargo tonnage from the island. but this trend is likely to
reverse if fiscal conditions in san juan do not improve soon. if puerto rico misses the payment on may 1 and its debt crisis further escalates, its economy is going to stagnate even more than it already has and the harm is going to be passed on to any community like jacksonville that has a significant economic stake in the island's well-being. we've already seen a massive exodus of professionals and others from puerto rico because of a lack of economic growth. they will likely continue leaving and heading to florida and other places on the mainland, which will further cripple the island's economy and reduce the demand for trade. so what can we do about all this? some have suggested washington can deliver a silver bullet solution to help puerto rico out of its debt. this simply isn't true. the reality is that nothing washington does will be effective until puerto rico and its government leaders turn away from decades of failed policies. their tax rate continues to be too high. government regulations are stifling, and they are spending more than they take in.
i don't care if you're an island, if you're a government, if you're a business or if you're a family. if you spend more than you take in and you do it for long enough, you're going to have a debt problem. that's what's happening here in washington, that's what's happening to puerto rico. and any time your economy isn't growing, you're going to have a further problem, and no restructuring is going to solve that until they restructure the way they spend money. bankruptcy protection isn't going to solve either, at least not without serious fiscal reforms from san juan. otherwise it would grand bankruptcy protection, puerto rico will simply go bankrupt again not far down the road. that does not mean that washington should do nothing. all of us need to realize that this is an american crisis. it is taking place in an american territory. it impacts the people of puerto rico, who are american citizens. and the impact will not be contained on the island. it will spread to cities like jacksonville and to other communities throughout the mainland united states. so we need to take the irresponsible leadership in
puerto rico seriously. we need to urge them to get their affairs in order, but we should also look closely at what we can do here in the united states senate, which may mean taking up some of the ideas currently being worked on by house leadership. we can also help puerto rico by doing the same things necessary to help the rest of the american economy. this means passing pro-growth policies at the federal level, including tax and regulatory reform. it means we need to stop spending more money than we take in. and in closing, the leadership in san juan must view the deadline this sunday as a wake-up call. they must show their willingness to get their fiscal house in order. if they don't, our options in washington will be very limited and won't have support from taxpayers. but i think this is a wake-up call for us. this notion that somehow this issue with puerto rico will figure itself out is not true. this notion that somehow this issue of puerto rico, it's not that important, we can put it to the side because it's not a state, it's not true. puerto rico is a territory of
the united states. its people are united states citizens. its people, by the way, on a per-capita basis serve in the armed forces of the united states at levels as high or higher than any ethnic or gee graphic group in the -- geographical group in the country. the people of puerto rico deserve our voice, they deserve our action, and i depend leaders in the house for trying to do something responsible on this. i understand the majority leader has said that once the house acts, the senate will look at it very carefully. i know we have leaders here doing that as well. i urge that work to continue. we cannot ignore this crisis. neither can the leaders in san juan, and i hope we can find a solution sooner than later for what puerto rico is facing with this fiscal crisis. which this sunday you're going to be reading all about when they miss their dead payment. with that -- their debt payment. with that, 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 indiana. a senator: mr. president, we haven't heard much on the senate floor. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. a senator: i apologize, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that the call of the quorum be vacated. the presiding officer: without objection.
a senator: mr. president, we haven't discussed foreign policy issues on the floor in a while. it's not because all is quiet on the eastern front. it's not as we know, what's happening in the middle east and in europe and the migration issue, syria. mr. coats: across northern africa. there are major, major issues here that are ongoing and that affect the united states in a number of ways, not only economically but strategically and leave us vulnerable to threats to -- quote -- "take down america in one way or another." obviously we're in the middle of a heated campaign which hopefully will be resolved in terms of our nominees in a short amount of time, but we do have to recognize the next president, whoever that president might be, is going to be facing some extraordinary challenges relative to foreign policy and
national security issues. so making america great again or whatever is the term that defines that new leader, that leader will be -- have to deal with a number of very challenging and difficult challenges. just this past monday, president obama delivered a speech in germany in which he discussed the future of the north atlantic treaty organization, nature tow. -- nato. he said na nato must be prepareo carry out its traditional missions while at the same time meeting the newly emerging threats to the alliance. that was revealing to me and frankly welcoming because we have not heard from the president anything along those lines for -- in my memory, but his recognition and his statement in that regard i think defines where we are, and that is we need to be prepared to
carry out traditional missions through nato while at the same time meeting the newly emerging threats to the alliance. and we see these newly emerging threats to our alliance and to the alliance we're in almost every day. the president also noted that europe has been complacent about its own defense and called on our allies to do more. i welcome this renewed attention to nato. it also gives us the opportunity to respond to those who believe nato has outlived its usefulness, is too expensive and should be done away. such a view needs a rebuttal. it's not necessary or correct to claim that nato has no problems or its role has not changed or its future is clear. nato does face challenges and has in defining its mission, securing the resources, and providing the leadership that the world requires.
but to deny the alliance's obvious value is in my opinion a major mistake. such a judgment surely cannot be based on any real understanding of what nato is or what it has accomplished much less of what it can become and candidly what it must become given the level of crisis and conflict so present in europe, the middle east and in africa. i've been a strong supporter of the alliance and the transatlantic security relationship throughout my public life. nato's proud past and enduring importance were a constant presence during my service as a u.s. senator and as a u.s. ambassador to germany following -- for four years following 9/11. since returning to the senate the alliance has remained a keen interest to me. contrary to the notion that nato has served its purpose and is no longer needed or is no longer a
viable organization, nato has survived and thrived for half a century because it's proven itself to be an adaptable, flexible and effective organization. now, i think many of us know the alliance began all the way back in 1949 with the principle motive of protecting western europe from the threat of soviet aggression. but many forget that the founding document, the washington treaty of 1949, does not mention the soviet union. instead its founding treaty laid out the core values of the west which values the alliance was designed to protect. i want to state that again. the -- what was trying to be accomplished here through this alliance of nato all the way back to 1945 was a values-based organization that enabled the
alliance and gave the alliance those values which the alliance was designed to protect. it's exactly because the alliance was and remains values based that it has been able to adapt to a strategically changing environment. the permanent need to protect our shared values survived the collapse of the soviet union and the threat it represented and has enabled the alliance to define and confront the major threats and modern threats that we face today. so as nato adapted to the post-soviet world, the clearest proof of its foundation as a community of values was the process of enlargement. at the beginning of that process, few in the administration or congress saw nato enlargement as having very much to do with actually enhancing the military capabilities of the alliance.
when the first countries were proposed for membership by the partnership for peace program, it was not only because of the military contributions, those newly democrat nations could bring, rather the most explicit motivation for extending the prospect of membership to the countries of what we then called eastern europe, was to persuade them to make the political and economic changes that would make them worthy and complimentary allies. we were trying to submit -- sell meant in the democrat revolutions that occurred in the former soviet-controlled states and make those changes permanent. we were extending nato's democratic values along with its security umbrella, and we required prospective members to accept it and institutionalize those democratic values. that process continues today, and nato was and remains a political instrument of enormous
persuasive power with historic consequences. but are shared values enough to maintain the vitality and the relevance of a military alliance? for those new member countries themselves, the appeal of the alliance membership was the vast military capabilities of the club they were about to join. they sought actual enhanced security in a still dangerous world not just a political partnership of values but now in the wake of renewed russian aggression, most especially in ukraine and its illegal annexation of crimea, the objective capabilities of the alliance have become even morell vanity. this renewed -- more relevant. this renewed threat resulted in nato in effect hitting the pause button on redefining nato's post-soviet missions. for many alliance members on russia's periphery, it was nato
back to the future. russian behavior has once again provoked profound anxiety among our allies on russia's periphe periphery, especially the baltic state, poland and romania. in response nato has taken on new missions intended to both reassure our allies, discourage putin's aggressive designs and renew nato's urgent relevance. all of this has a heritage from nato's founding in the soviet era, but it also is a new and in many ways more complicated response. while russia is not the enemy it once was, it certainly is no friend to the nato nations. it is perhaps a necessary partner in some places but it's a dangerous obstacle in others. in restating and reinforcing nato's role in opposing russian
aggression, nato needs to be creative and firm, active and present and it cannot be done on the cheap. this renewed mission emphasizes again the persistent issue of lagging resources. it has long been a problem that the great majority of nato membership in those countries do not meet the alliance standard of the 2% of g.d.p., their g.d.p., gross domestic product for defense. although it is true that robust defense of the transatlantic region does require a greater commitment of resources than most european countries have been willing to accept in the past, it is not true that u.s. taxpayers have simply been required to make up the difference. the defense department says that the direct u.s. contribution to nato is about $500 billion a year. the largest share of nato's budget clearly but not out of line with our comparative gross
domestic product compared to other european nations. it is true that nato relies on the national assets of its members for operations, and in that regard our portion is the largest, but our portion reflects our spending for the entire military, which has global responsibilities. in other words, if there were no nato, those military expenditures presumably would be the same, if not larger since our allies are contributors to our collective security as well. in any case, the growing ant about russian -- ant about russian -- anxiety about russian behavior seems to be generating real progress on this resources front. secretary general stolenberg said this week that five nato members now meet the 2% requirement while it was only two countries just a few years ago. first defense spending has increased in real terms in 16 of
the 28 countries since 2014, clearly a wake-up call for nato. what has happened on their borders, the periphery of russia, has awakened up nato to the belief that it needs to strengthen our military, strengthen nato's resources, and live up -- those countries to live up to their obligations in providing the necessary resources. nevertheless and having said this, we cannot be relaxed about meeting the resources gap. despite the recent uptick, there has been a long and dramatic decline in european defense budgets. for two decades before 2014, not to mention a significant absence of constituent support for defense expenditures in most nato countries. it's a battle in these nations who are dealing with slow or no growth, g.d.p. stag nantz to
come to the -- stagnant to come to the decision to meet the 2% obligation that they have under the nato treaty. they have other issues at home. migration is simply being one of them and a number of other domestic issues that has restrained them. but now the threat has become more real and now the realization of how to address the threat has become more vital and necessary. it is june 2011 farewell speech on nato's future, defense secretary bob gates famously said that our european allies were and had been apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense. he declared that nato faced the real possibility of a dim if not dismal future, but in response to this danger, now especially in the wake of russian invasion
and annexation of a neighbor, this is not the time to call for nato's abandonment but to press ahead in validating nato's relevance. then finding the necessary resources. and i believe that process is under way, as i've just described. given the new threats to nato's eastern border state, our allies are finding greater support for making larger commitments to their own security. now, another pressing reason to solve the resources problem is the host of new requirements this modern alliance needs to face. since the period of enlargement and the euphoria of democratic revolutions, nato has made repeated attempts to define its new missions. the most recent strategic concept of january 2010, makes the alliance's newly global and political roles more explicit. it has identified numerous new transnational threats that a modern military and political
alliance must confront. and these include nuclear proliferation, cyber threat, terrorism, political instabilities and missile capabilities. no one can argue that these global threats are not the core of modern security challenges. similarly, no one can dispute that the most effective and powerful alliance in world history should and must organize itself to confront them. and most certainly, no responsible leader should look at these threats and conclude that an alliance built to confront them should be abandoned. let me restate that. no responsible leader, now or in the future, should look at these threats and conclude that an alliance built to confront these problems and challenges should be abolished. modern nato activities extend well beyond europe. these include combating piracy off the horn of africa,
operational and training support for the african union. in ethiopia, air policing against russian incursions, growing cyber defense capabilities, expanded special operations capabilities, development of the rapid response force. expanded joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations and ex-spantdzed joint exercises to improve the alliance and member state readiness. that's a big challenge, but that challenge is one that needs to be addressed. in terms of more traditional war fighting, nato has taken on missions in bosnia, kosovo, afghanistan, and libya, and continued challenges will need to be addressed. it is not yet clear, to me, that isaf, the afghanistan mission, will go down as a success or not. but clearly it is in the balance and needs to be carefully monitored.
it's clear that the libya operation revealed numerous alliance shortcomings and was not a model of alliance coherence and cohesion. rather, libya was an example of failure at the political level to define the new nato. the correct response, though, to both new challenges and admitted failure is better leadership, better vision, and creative new thinking along with the resources to carry out those goals. i've suggested that these could be best applied in response to the syria disaster, especially the humanitarian catastrophe and migrant crisis. i propose that nato could have helped a member state turkey get control of its syrian border to stop the flow of jihadists into and out of syria. it's clear to me that the uncontrolled flood of refugees from syria could best be handled by creating safe areas in and near syria for the syrian people to remain there in safe and
humane conditions. building on nato's bosnia experience, the alliance could be critical to providing the security for such areas on the ground and in the air. this would not be fighting the war in syria but protecting the populations of u.n.-designated areas. difficult? you bet. and nato is the only possible organization in position to do it. and although i emphatically believe that may tow continues to have -- emphatically believe that nato continues to have stability, it needs a new vision of its role. that is clearly a work in progress, with even some false starts on the way now, but it turns out to be a function in resources but also an issue of leadership. and on that score, i have some concerns. frankly, i'm worried.
the obama administration seems to be guiding us toward a dangerous deference to others to address emerging global security challenges which are and will be threats to our own national security. the most alarming example is our acquiescence to russia's vigorous engagement in syria. russia basically hijacked our paltry efforts to bring the syrian disaster under control, inserted its military forces to change the dynamic on the ground, and guided the political process toward their ends. it has all been a sad display of american incompetence. the u.s. and impotence -- the u.s. and its allies are paying the price for this failure of engainlment. from what i can tell, president obama's recently lengthy interviews on foreign policy published in "the atlantic monthly," he has not drawn the correction conclusions from the foreign policy failures in
recent years in libya, in syria, in ukraine, russia, and elsewhere. for me, we have abdicated america's traditional leadership role. for the alliance, i fear this could be the beginning phase of disengaugement from europe, which if it continues will be at our peril. without firm u.s. leadership of nato, we will begin to see the commitment of our allies weaken. they simply do not have the muscle or the financial capability to support a nato coalition without u.s. leadership. and without the right kind of leadership, the importance of the trans-atlantic security relationship and the continued robust presence of u.s. forces in europe will begin to lose advocates, as perhaps has already occurred among those who do not support our efforts. if americans come to see nato's value in financial terms -- bang
for the buck -- we will lose sight of its real value and the proper terms of national security. american reliability and the eternal appeal of our community of values. in other words, the values beyond price that must be preserved if we are to prevail against our adversaries. mr. president, with that, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. a senator: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: a senator: mr. president, i also ask unanimous consent that the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. perdue: mr. president, i rise today to speak about why all of us are here. the primary role of congress is to responsibly fund the federal government. to do that we must set clear national priorities that we can financially support. all too often the process of setting and then sticking to these national pry yorpts has become a -- priorities has
become a purely political exercise, not a function of governing. it's the number one complaint when i travel back to my home state of georgia. coming from the business world, i clearly see two interlocking crises we face as a country. first we have a global security crisis. the world may be more dangerous right now than at any point in my lifetime. interlocked with that is our national debt crisis that threatens the ability that we have of defending our country today. as we begin the appropriation process, let's take an honest look at what we're appropriating for. one of our top national pry yorpts is -- priorities is to provide for the national defense. it's one of only six reasons while 13 colonies got together in the first place and that is to provide for the national defense. however, under president carter, clinton and owe bam marx we've seen three -- obama, we've seen three different periods of disinvestment in our military. our 30-year average of defense spending has been 4.1% of g.d.p.
following the carter administration, this is the first line over here to the left, the first dip, after that in the reagan administration, they recapped the military. this ennui had another decline -- then we had another decline. you see the buildup in the surge in afghanistan and iraq behind two wars. we've been at war for 15 years. i believe in many cases we burn out our equipment and in cases we're beginning to do that with our personnel, with longer tours and more difficult assignments in this hybrid war that we're facing today. and then you see under this administration a further decline now to 3.1%. this is the lowest point since the vietnam war, mr. president. and the irony of that is that we're still spending $600 billion of a $4 trillion total spend of the federal government on our military. the irony is the 30-year average of 4.2%, we're a hundred basis points below that which equates to with a 19 or $20 trillion economy, that's $200 billion
almost. the question is, is how do we determine the priorities to keep a strong military, to make sure we can fulfill one of six reasons why we came together as a country. we're about to have the smallest amendment since world war ii, the smallest navy since world war i and the smallest and oldest air force ever. how can this be? the world's more dangerous right now than at any time in my lifetime? we see increased aggression from traditional rivals, russia, china. we also see the rise of isis partly because of our own intransigents and they've got to be stopped now or we'll have to deal with them later here. boko haram, al qaeda, isis, all these threats are beginning to be interconnected, impose -- and pose threats not just in the middle east but around the world. finally we have nuclear threats from rogue regimes like north korea and iran and game changing technologies such as cyber threats which nations like russia are using for hybrid warfare right now in eastern
europe. there's an emerging arms race in space that we just don't talk about publicly. this is why our women and men in uniform need to have the tools and resources to complete their missions around the world. this fiscal crisis is jeopardizing our ability to actually fund the missions being asked of our military today. let me give you two examples, mr. president. j stars is a fleet of planes 16 in number. these planes in total are over a million hours of service. they were used when the air force bought them to start with some 30 years ago. they were flown in commercial airlines around the world like air india and pakistan air. today they find missions of oversight. the problem is they are -- they've outlived their useful life and they're being replaced or the theory was they were going to be replaced but because of our intransigents in washington, the funding is not there to replace them, so we're now facing annual eight-year potential where we will not be able to fulfill their mission. these ever the planes that
provide oversight for our men and women who are in harm's way, afghan tan, iraq, southern command where we're interdicting drugs, in the far east, wherever men and women in american uniform face dangers, j stars is there protecting them in ways that no one else can in the military. all these planes have got to be replaced and the sooner we get started the better. they're not able to fulfill their mission over the next eight years. this chart shows the declining availability of the current fleet. down to zero by 2023. it also shows under the current plan pending d.o.d. approval and funding the replacement fleet doesn't even start coming online till 20 # 23 -- 2023, a start date that's now in jeopardy because of the current administration's budget request. jstars recap is the number of four requisition priority for the air force behind the long-range bomber, the new tanker, the f-35 and now jstars replacement.
we are not going to be able to fulfill the mission of these airmen and soldiers over the next eight years unless we do something about it right now. and even then it might be too late. this is a picture of a 57 chevrolet -- 1957 chevrolet. most of you in this group, some of you will remember what this was like. i remember this car. which is a collector's item. some of my friends own this car. this car is of the same genre, same age as the airplanes we're now flying around the world. that's great but imagine if you had to drive this car. if this was your everyday car and you drove it every day, back and forth, you depended on it to get you to work every morning and at home at night. what if you had to drive it to the west coast and back every week? imagine what the maintenance time loss would be to break down. imagine what it would be like traveling those distances without all the modern conveniences like satellite radio, sirius, pandora.
what about the safety factor. these are antiques and the point is this is a directional ji of what we're doing -- direct analogy of what we're doing with our military today in a very dangerous world. mr. president, that sounds ridiculous but, you know, we also have another example and that is our marines around the world are the first to hit a crisis. in ma reason, spain, we have a contingent of marines and their mission is to protect our embassies in africa. post-benghazi, that takes on a new level of importance, mr. president. these marines do a great job. they're the very best of what we have in america. they're ready to go. the problem is because of budget constraints, we're having to cut their fleet of airplanes, the ospreys, the v-22's in half and that fundamentally cuts their mission in half. so they're not going to be able to fulfill the mission they have today the way that they're supposed to because of our own intransigents. so what's causing this great disinvestment in our military?
well, there's only one answer, mr. president, the national debt. these two crises interlock in a way they never had before. it used to be defense hawks and budget hawks were separate people. today i'm living proof they can embody themselves in the same person because i'm both. we have to be. we no longer have the luxury of debating both issues separately. in the past seven years washington has spent $27 trillion running the federal government. that's bad enough but the problem is we borrowed $9 trillion of that $25 trillion. that's 35%. the c.b.o., the congressional budget office says over the next ten years we'll borrow 30% of that. what that means and why that's important is that fundamentally all of our mandatory spending, some $3 trillion, is mandatory. so we pay our first dollars go to that. the problem with that is that all of our discretion, all of u.s. a.i.d., our foreign programs, our expenditures are
fundamentally borrowed under that scenario and that's why we are today. can you imagine that? with this level of borrowing every dime we spend on foreign aid, i want to reiterate, foreign aid, domestic problems -- programs, military, we're borrowing that money because we haven't faced up to this crisis. this is a i can't 'of our growing national debt. first you have the period here under president bush. in 2,000, our debt was $6 trillion. we haded $4 trilt on the back of to wars. in 2008 we had $10 trillion of debt. now we see we have another $9 trillion in the last seven years. we'll be close to $20 trillion by the time we're through. in the yellow here is what the congressional budget office says we're about to face. if we do nothing from today, we'll add another $9 trillion to this federal debt, close to $30 trillion. mr. president, i'm a business guy. and i know the capital markets are under great stress today. the danger of this is this is just totally unmanageable.
if interest rates were to reach their 50-year average of just 5.5%, we'd be paying a trillion dollars in interest on a $4 trillion total budget. there's no way that's possible. that's about twice the amount we spend on our military, mr. president. our debt crisis is directly impacting our ability to protect our nation and project power around the world. this puts in jeopardy our very ability to deal with global threats as they come up every day. and believe me, they're coming up every day. without a strong economy, without dealing with our debt crisis right now, we can't adequately fund our military. that's a fact. you know, it used to be that fiscal hawks and defense hawks, and i've said this, but today i see more and more people who are one or the other are beginning to come together and recognize the other problem. they're interrelated in a way they've never been. believe me, we need a strong defense. i believe we need to be responsible for our federal finances and the needs of our people here at home. the safety net needs to be
maintained. social security needs to be saved. these are things we can't ignore, but we've got to start dealing with our priorities today. that's why we have to find a way to come together, democrats, republicans, conservatives, whatever, and make sure we protect our economic and our national security priorities. we need to get in a room and iron this out. they're not that complicated. we can find the solutions. as formal -- former admiral mike mullen said, i believe our debt is the greatest threat to our national security. if we as a country do not address our fiscal imbalances in the near term, our national power will erode." that was five years ago, mr. president. what have we done since then? nothing but add debt. last year congress passed a budget resolution. we laid out a conservative vision for what spending levels we should undertake and cut $7 trillion over ten years from the president's budget. we passioned a budget but -- passed a budget but because our budget process is broken, we didn't pass authorizations. we passed appropriations in
committees but we weren't able to get them to the floor and vote on them so we ended up with a c.r. at the end of the year and that led to a grand bargain which i opposed in an omnibus that added some $9 trillion to our debt. that pushed us to a first quarter omnibus that really most of us wanted to avoid. and at the end of that, eight people got in a room over a weekend and basically decided how we're going to spend $4 trillion. that's not what our founders had in mind. that means the top line spending levels were set by so-called grand bargaining which i voted against is going to add over $9.5 trillion over the next decade in the national debt. this mounting crisis will not fix itself. quite the contrary. it will only grow worse because social security, medicare are going to demand more and more funds from the general operating fund because of the imbalances in those two items. if we don't get serious about solving this debt crisis right now, we might lose the ability to fully support our national security and our domestic
priorities. recently richard hoss, a former top state department official said in a senate foreign relations hearing, quote, our the to deal with our debt challenge will detract from the appeal of the american, political and economic model." as we try to influence young democracies around the world. he continued, "the result will be a world that's less democratic and increasing lay less derc deferel to u.s. concerns in matters of security. we must create constraint and fiscal sanity in washington. in the private sector, you fix a business by first drilling down and findi the underlying problem. the way that washington funds the federal government, the time it it takes to complete the federal budget, the fact that the current process allows members of congress to put off making tough decisions is the real problem. in business, this would never be are allowed. in your personal homes, this cannot be tolerated. but somehow we're able to do it here. -- year after year. this process has only worked
four times in 42 years. but it's been encouraging to hear budget chairman mike enzi in senate and house chairman tom price from high home state of georgia make this a priority for this year and i believe they're making great progress. bombe are having hearings to find out if there are models around the world that do it better than we dovment and we're finding those examples. especially at a time when we cannot allow the froes break down and result in more continuing resolutions, omnibus bills or short-term funding fights that don't solve anything. we must reduce redundant programs, focus on growing our economy by unlocking finally our nation's full economic and energy potential. finally, we've got to save social security and medicare and tackle the biggest drivers of our overall health care costs. to do this, washington needs to stop pretending that these crises will go away on their own and that the national debt will somehow solve itself.
it won't. in fact, it has already done irreversible damage to our credibility and capability on the world stage. our mounting debt crisis is already raising questions from our allies around the world about how we will be able to stand by our international commitments. i just got back from a trip to europe and the middle east. the number-one question i had asked of us by leaders -- heads of state in those country was, america needs to lead again. to lead again, we've got to get our financial house in order, mr. president. our debt crisis in a failed foreign policy has served to confuse our allies and embolden our enemies. it threatens our ability to defend our country, period. the interest payments on our debt is affecting our education, infrastructure, and more here at home in programs that are necessary. imagine if we didn't have that unproductive responsibility of unnecessary interest. every member of this body knows
that we need to act now. my question is, well, why aren't we acting? the challenge is to stop talking about it theoretically and start you putting these solutions into practice. that's why georgians sent me to the u.s. snavment that's why i will continuing fighting on this issue every day. let's not close sight of congress' number-one responsibility. we're charged in the constitution under article 1 that we are supposed to responsibly fund the federal government and to ensure that the six reasons why 13 colonies got together in the first place are indeed met. mr. president, i yield my time and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the president quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. i am here today to highlight law enforcement legislation that would help crack down on human trafficking, terrorism financing, money laundering, the narcotics trade, tax evailsvation, public corruption and a litany of other crimes in the united states and around the world. these crimes all involve money, and the united states has become a favorite destination for criminals looking to hide it. earlier this month, the international consortium of investigative journalists published the first of the so-called ""panama papers,"" a leak of11.5 million confidential
documents from a panama-based law firm that sets up shell corporations and tax shelters for wealthy clients. the documents we've seen so far show that, along with the caribbean islands you might expect, several american states are popular places to form shell corporations. our friend, senator kent conrad, who used to be chairman of the budget committee, was fond of using this floor chart here showing what's called the ug land house -- the ugland house building in the cayman islands. this little building claims to be the place from which an astonishing 18,000 companies do business. as unimaginable as it may be to have 18,000 companies planning
to be -- claiming to be doing business out of that one little building, i'm story say that there is a building just a two-hour drive from this building -- from the united states capitol -- that serves as the official address for a quarter of a million companies, many of them shell corporations. a shell corporation is a company that serves no economic purpose and doesn't conduct any real business. shell corporations exist merrell to hold -- primarily to hold legal title to bank accounts, real estate, or other assets obscuring the true human owners. while people can form shell corporations in just about any country, many american states make it especially easy to do so. perhaps even easier than getting a library card. you might actually need to go down to the library to sign up
for a library card, but you can often form a shell corporation with a few clicks of a mouse and payment of a small fee. there is another reason that the united states has become so popular for shell corporations. currently, none -- zero -- of the 50 american states requires the disclosure of the beneficial owners, the real human beings who own the companies. instead, corporate records can identify the owner as just another faceless shell corporation. or the owner could be identified as a professional agent, paid to sign the needed forms and never speak of them -- or a lawyer who refuses to disclose who his client is under attorney-client privilege. behind this easy-to-establish
veil of secrecy, criminals can and do use these shell corporations to open bank accounts, to transfer funds, and even to hide the ownership of expensive assets. this building is 650 fifth avenue in new york city. the iranian government -- the iranian government used a string of generic businesses to obscure its ownership of this fifth avenue skyscraper. profits from this enterprise helped fund iran-backed terrorism for decades, until a united states government investigation finally uncovered the scheme in 2008. how could a state sponsor of terrorism own a piece of the new york city skyline and profit from owning that piece of the
new york city skyline for so long without anyone knowing? let's look at how iran used anonymous shell corporations to hide its ininvolvement. 650 fifth avenue was owned on paper by a partnership of the alavi fowption, a new york-based charity, and the assa korntion a new york shell company. assa corporation was in turn owned by yet another shell company, assa company limited, formed in the aisle o isle of ja notorious banking center and tax reform shelter. the jersey island company was in turn owned by individuals representing bank melli, the iranian government's financial arm -- and there is the connection to iran. so to the public, that building, worth about half a billion
dollars, was owned by a charity and a faceless shell company. because there is no requirement in the united states that states keep track of the real owners of companies formed under state law, new york state only knew that the assa corporation was owned by another shell corporation. ultimately, investigators were able to connect those dots and tie iran to this structure from a clue in the corporate records kept on the isle of jersey. how is that for irony? a notorious tax shelter actually had better ownership records than we have in the united states. once iran's investment and involvement was uncovered, the department of justice moved to seize and sell the building and to distribute the proceeds of
that sale to american victims of iranian-backed terror. after years of legal appeals, the victims look to be getting close to receiving this compensating. -- this compensation. of course, iran is the only criminal enterprise hiding behind american shell companies. other recently uncovered examples of enterprises hiding behind american shell companies include a mexican drug cartel using an oklahoma corporation to launder money through a horse farm; a crime syndicate setting up a web of corporations in eight states as part of a $100 million medicare fraud scheme; and a human trafficking ring based in moldova hiding their crimes behind anonymous corporations in kansas, missouri, and ohio.