Skip to main content

tv   US Senate  CSPAN  May 19, 2016 12:00pm-2:01pm EDT

12:00 pm
12:01 pm
12:02 pm
12:03 pm
12:04 pm
12:05 pm
12:06 pm
12:07 pm
12:08 pm
12:09 pm
12:10 pm
12:11 pm
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote in if not the yeas are 68. the nays are 30. the amendment as modified and as amended is agreed to. ms. collins: mr. president, may i have order please. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that following the cloture vote on the collins amendment numbered 3896, senator enzi or his designee be recognized to make a budget point of order against the mccain amendment numbered 4039. further, that senator mccain be recognized to make a motion to waive the point of order and that the senate immediately vote on the motion to waive. i further ask that the votes in the series be ten minutes in
12:12 pm
length. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. there are two minutes of debate prior to the cloture vote. who yields time? ms. collins: yield back the time on this side. the presiding officer: the presiding officer: is the time yielded back by the minority? time is yielded back. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we the undersigned senators in accordance with the rules of 22 of the standing route of the senate move forrably to a close debate on senate amendment number 3896 to calendar 138, h.r. 2577 an act making appropriations for the departments of transportation
12:13 pm
and housing and urban development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2016 and for other purposes signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory yiewrk has been waived. the question is it the sense of the senate that debate on amendment number 3896 offered by the senator from maine, ms. collins be amended to h.r. 2577 shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
12:14 pm
12:15 pm
12:16 pm
12:17 pm
12:18 pm
12:19 pm
12:20 pm
12:21 pm
12:22 pm
12:23 pm
12:24 pm
12:25 pm
12:26 pm
12:27 pm
12:28 pm
12:29 pm
12:30 pm
12:31 pm
12:32 pm
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, on this vote the yeas are 88. the nays are 10. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative the motion is agreed to. under the previous order amendments 3898 and 3899 are withdrawn. mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, i want to thank senator mccain for his tremendous effort on behalf of veterans and the different --
12:33 pm
the presiding officer: can we have order in the senate. the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: mr. president, i want to thank senator mccain for his effort on behalf of veterans. i don't think anybody's worked harder on it or understands it better. i wish there was more that we could do for veterans and we'll work with him to see that that happens. but this amendment isn't the right place to do it. this amendment proposes that we increase overspending by $7.7 billion for a continuation of the veterans choice program. it doesn't offer badly needed reforms to the program. it simply provides more funding. unfortunately, the accountability measures currently in place at the v.a. do not go far enough in ensuring that the health care needs of our veterans is the priority. by extending the choice program, we would be extending problematic waiting periods. we'd be extending a backlog of unpaid health care claims. and we'd be giving little to no authority for the v.a. to manage its employees.
12:34 pm
we've been getting complaints about the, many of these things and other veterans' proposal in the senate improves both health care access for veterans and skphapbd s -- expanded disciplinary measures at the v.a. i've been concerned about what i thought was $6 billion of -- the presiding officer: the senator will suspend. let's have order in the senate. mr. enzi: i've been concerned over what i thought was $6 billion in emergency every year. i had them total it up in committee and found out we do $26.1 billion a year in emergency spending. we're going to have to find that money somewhere because if we don't provide offsets, we won't be able to help our veterans or our military or our education or anything else. so continued spending without making the responsible choices
12:35 pm
for priorities will put us in a real hole. in order to make sure spending are our priorities such as national defense and our veterans and that they're not crowded out, i raise a point of order pursuant to section 314-e of the congressional budget act of 19 197 -- 1974 found on page 3, lines 7-12 of the amendment of transportation and housing and urban development and related agencies appropriations act. i yield the floor. mr. mccain: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: i note with some interest that the senator from wyoming did not have the same zeal for the $1.1 billion we passed in emergency spending for zika not paid for. but the important thing here is that this is a program that 1.4 million for veterans who would
12:36 pm
otherwise wait for delayed care, 450,000 choice care providers. the list goes on and on. and all i'm asking for is an extension of a program that is in effect and helping our veterans. the fact is that the chairman of the veterans' affairs committee said last night what senator mccain is trying to do to improve access to health care, maintain the access through the choice of a private-sector provider or v.a. provider, there's no additional cost unless you assume that you want to take away a benefit that we've given two years ago in the omnibus bill we passed. so all i can say -- and he goes on to say he would support this amendment. who's taking advantage -- the majority of the people are taking advantage of this choice card? i'll tell the senator from wyoming. it's the young men and women who are just returning from iraq and
12:37 pm
afghanistan. we're giving them a choice. we're giving them a choice to be able to get the care they need and deserve. in my home state of arizona, 50 veterans died while on a nonexistent waiting list. 50 of them. and you know, that's why we have the choice card, so that they can go out and get the care that they need or want and not be on a nonexistent waiting list. i don't know what the senator from wyoming's priorities are but i can tell him now they're not mine and they're not of the men and women who are serving this nation who deserve the best care and the choice of going to the provider that they want to within certain parameters. this is simply an extension of a program that cares for the young men and women who have served our nation with sacrifice and some of them didn't even come back to have a chance to have a choice card. mr. president, i ask for the
12:38 pm
yeas and nays and waive the budget point of order. mr. president, pursuant to section 904 of the congressional budget act of 1974 and the waiver provisions of applicable budget resolutions, i move to waive all applicable sections to that act and applicable budget resolutions for the purposes of my amendment, and i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
12:39 pm
12:40 pm
12:41 pm
12:42 pm
12:43 pm
12:44 pm
12:45 pm
12:46 pm
12:47 pm
12:48 pm
12:49 pm
12:50 pm
12:51 pm
12:52 pm
12:53 pm
12:54 pm
12:55 pm
12:56 pm
12:57 pm
12:58 pm
12:59 pm
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or to change their vote? if not, the ayes are 84, the nays are 14. on this -- three-fifths of the senate duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to and the point of order falls. the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the time until 1:45 be equally divided between the two managers or their designees, and that at 1:45 the senate vote in relation to the collins amendment number 3970 and the lee amendment number 3897. further, that following disposition of the lee amendment, all postcloture time be expired, the substitute amendment as amended be adopted, the cloture motion on the underlying bill be withdrawn, the bill as amended be read a third time and the senate vote on passage of the bill as amended. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. the senator from oklahoma.
1:00 pm
mr. lankford: mr. president, i'd like to speak to the issue that was just brought up dealing with deficit spending and specifically the choice program. three years ago, congress put into place a response to what was happening in v.a. centers all over the country.. for any of us that are in congressional offices we were aware and pushing on this issue and had pushed on this issue for awhile. but the media exposed what we all saw, and that was the long secret waiting list for veterans so that the v.a. centers could keep their positive numbers up and look better. months of waiting for things that would take days across the street. as i dealt with the v.a. center in my own city, it would take six months at times to tkpwept tkpwept -- get a knee replacement center when the great hospital directly across the street they could get that same surgery within two days. hearing aids that would take months and months to actually go through the process to get it at
1:01 pm
our v.a. centers. cancer care that should be diagnosed with cancer needs and that treatment was going to be required and literally send you across the country, sometimes more than 2,000 miles away to get cancer treatment away from your family. congress responded to that by putting into place the choice act. it was an emergency. there were major problems that were happening around the country in multiple v.a. centers and there had to be a response right then. congress set ape side emergency funding and an emergency response to make sure something came into existence that loosely existed before. what was called community care now was clarified to say this is choice and it had a simple thing. if a veteran had to wait more than 30 days to be able to get in and get an appointment or get a treatment or if they lived more than 40 miles from a v.a. center, they would be given the option to go wherever they wanted to go. and v.a. was required to start working relationships in every community across the country so that veterans would have that
1:02 pm
option to go wherever they wanted to go. now i would tell you that program is in its infancy. it is two years old at this point. it has a ways to go to be perfected and there are still problems with that and there's a constant push from congress to provide accountability to them to make sure that program is done and is done well. but it should be the first step on giving veterans real choice. the first step of that is 30 days or 40 miles. the second step of that is any v.a. eligible veteran would get a card and they could go to anyplace that accepts medicare. if they accept medicare anywhere in the country, any lab, any hospital, any doctor, they should also be able to receive veterans as well. so that veterans can go to wherever they choose to go regardless of the distance. i have veterans that drive past six great hospitals, driving 200 miles to get to a v.a. center and their families have all of that burden of all of that travel. it should not be that way.
1:03 pm
veterans should be able to go wherever they choose to go for care. so the choice program is not only a good program, it's the right direct to go and it's abpositive first step -- a positive first step. here's a problem. the way this particular amendment has come up is not only not germane to this bill because it deals with something that started three years ago and we're dealing with a new bill right now, but it is also an issue of we're doing the right thing the wrong way. my staff have heard me say over and over again, there is a right thing to do and there's a right way to do it. three years ago we knew this was an issue. three years ago the planning should have been put in place and put this in the normal appropriations process. this process puts it into place, so we're adding $7.5 billion on to our children for a program that should be in the normal appropriations process that we started three years ago that is not an emergency anymore. this is not an emergency.
1:04 pm
this is normal funding now for a program we want to keep going and expand. so there is a big issue here that we do have to resolve. i want to see us do the choice program and do it right, but there's a right thing to do and a right way to do it. this program is already fully funded through the next year. it's not an emergency. it's in place, funded, ready to go. it doesn't go away in the next year. all the way through the fiscal year. let's put it in the normal process. let's do it the right way. let's not add $7 billion to our children for an emergency that's actually a year away from now. no one's going to convince me in a $4 trillion budget that there's not areas that we could cut. i identified earlier this week $86 billion in funds that are available to cover the $1 billion for zika, that this congress decided to do an
1:05 pm
emergency funding anyway. we have the funds available. we can honor our veterans. we can do this and also honor our children. at the same time we're honoring our veterans, let's honor the next generation and let's make sure we're not adding debt to the next generation. so with that, mr. president, i raise a point of order that the mccain amendment number 4039 is not germane to the collins amendment number 3896 as amended, or h.r. 2577. the presiding officer: the point of order is sustained. the amendment falls. mr. lankford: mr. president, i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
1:06 pm
quorum call:
1:07 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. a senator: i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kirk: mr. president, i want to urge my colleagues to support my v.a. bill moving now to final passage. it's a very bipartisan bill. i want to thank my ranking democratic member, senator jon tester of montana, who has been a greater partner. we have worked with all senators on both sides of the aisle to include their priorities and worked through dozens of amendments. we include more than two dozen amendments in this bill. the bill provides record funding for our veterans health care and it protects whistle-blowers and
1:08 pm
includes opioid safety, and it also has the raid act to clean up the v.a. so that cockroaches are not in the v.a. kitchens and dining facilities. this bill also adds 100 staff to the i.g.'s office and combats veteran homelessness and it requires better screening of v.a. doctors so they can't switch from state to state. the bill increases medical procedure and the money for health care of our veterans. i want to thank the subcommittee staff for doing an outstanding work this year, and that includes tina evans and brad shookem and michael bayne and patrick magnusun and carlos elias. this bill does right by our troops and does right by our veterans. i want to thank my senate colleagues and urge its rapid
1:09 pm
adoption. mr. president, i would suggest an absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. a senator: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from michigan. praoets praoets thank you, mr. president. i -- mr. peters:i rise to discuss the need to drive competitiveness in the united states. i vividly remember watching the apollo mission on tv and the launch of that 36-story tall saturn 5 rocket that took neil armstrong and buzz aldrin to the surface of the moon. the space program not only inspired a generation of americans but it also led to incredible advances in science and technology that over the last 50 years have accounted for as much as half -- half -- of all the economic growth in the united states. these groundbreaking advances
1:10 pm
firmly established our nation as an international leader in innovation. during the height of the space race, america's federal investment in research and development reached nearly 2% of the nation's g.d.p. today overall federal r&d spending, the seed corn of our future prosperity, has fallen to an historic low of .78% of g.d.p. with the united states investing less on science, research and education and our competitors outpacing us, we are losing our footing in the global marketplace. congress must increase the federal development in r&d to 1% of g.d.p. if we want to continue to be leading the world in innovation. this commitment should include a focus on increased federal support for basic research, an essential component of any kind of innovation economy.
1:11 pm
but in addition to increased investment, we in congress need to implement policy solutions that will reassert american leadership internationally. we need to invest in what works. we need to listen to the innovators, academic leaders and industry that are making the life-changing inventions of a future realty. to that end, my colleague, senator cory gardner, and i have convened a series of round table discussions on ways to improve the american innovation system. just last week our commerce committee leaders, chairman thune and ranking member nelson, held a productive hearing on ways to leverage the u.s. science and technology enterprise. after receiving input from industry, academia, science organizations and economic development organizations, senator thune, nelson, gardner and i are working to develop new legislation to guide our nation's research priorities in the coming years and to improve
1:12 pm
america's innovation system. through these round tables, we heard that the stakeholder community agrees that modest, sustained and predictable increases in federal research and development investments are absolutely critical to ensuring the economic competitiveness of the united states. we need continued federal investment in basic research while also providing opportunities to commercialize that research. there is basic research that our companies simply cannot afford to conduct, making federal investment absolutely critical. we also need to work to reduce administrative burdens on researchers so that we can maximize our federal research investment. we need that investment to be put into the lab and not filling out more paperwork. we need stronger partnerships between government, the private sector and academia in order to capitalize on discoveries emerging from our world-class
1:13 pm
research universities like the university of michigan, wayne state university, and michigan state university. we must also close the significant employment gap in the stem workforce for women and underrepresented minorities. women make up less than 50% of postbachelor stem degree programs and only about one-quarter of the stem workforce. underrepresented minorities, including hispanics and african-americans make about 10% of the science and engineering workforce. last month i joined a number of my colleagues in introducing the step opportunities act, legislation that would improve inclusion of women, minorities, and people with disabilities in stem careers. it's a top priority for me to see that a similar provision is included in our bipartisan legislation. and finally, if we want to continue to be a leader in the global economy, we need to be a nation that makes things.
1:14 pm
michigan is a state that builds and grows things and i will continue to fight to make sure that we continue to do that. investments in advanced manufacturing will support firms of all sizes, support good-paying jobs, and help keep them here in the united states. that's why it's one of my top priorities for this legislation that we ensure american manufacturing companies can compete and succeed in the highly competitive global marketplace. last month i joined my colleague, senator coons and ayotte to introduce the bipartisan manufacturing extension partnership improvement act. the manufacturing extension program, or m.e.p., is a federal public-private partnership that helps businesses get their products to market through a variety of consulting services. the m.e.p. improvement act would expand and improve the m.e.p. program to serve small and medium-size manufacturing
1:15 pm
companies which are critical part of our economy and our national competitiveness. including key components of the m.e.p. improvement act will also be a top priority for me in the new legislation being drafted. science and technology are inseparable from the american competitive ecosystem. we need to focus on the entire ecosystem, however, from stem or steam to basic research to application and commercialization, and the inspiration that drives ambitious endeavors like exploring space and the outer frontiers of science. we in congress must do our part by supporting and investing in our efforts to drive economic growth, unleash increased productivity, enhance our safety and security and make the world a better place for future generations. we are facing big challenges as a nation, but i am committed to working with everyone,
1:16 pm
democrats, republicans, industry and academia, workers, students and employers to increase investments and implement the solutions that will ensure american competitiveness and create more good-paying jobs here in the united states. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. durbin: mr. president?
1:17 pm
the presiding officer: the assistant minority leader. mr. durbin: mr. president, if there is one specialty that every member of congress has, it's air travel. we spend more time in airplanes, more time in airports, more time waiting for flights -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be u.s.s. -- suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. drowrn: we are veterans of air travel in congress. we have all seen the footage of people waiting in line to go through security screening at major airports, particularly in the city of chicago, both o'hare and midway. the lines are so long people have had to wait two or three hours to go through a security check point. mr. durbin: people are angry. i don't blame them. some are stuck sleeping in airports overnight. the commissioner of aviation ginger evans told me we pulled out the cots we save for snow emergencies so that people now in the heat of early summer are
1:18 pm
facing the same kinds of delays. our highest priority, our highest priority is to protect those who travel on our airplanes. poor planning and inadequate funding have led to alarming delays at airports across america. in chicago, we felt it more than most. more needs to be done to fix the problem. that's what i have been working to do. early this week, i talked to the department of homeland security jeh johnson on the phone about the next steps. yesterday i followed up with a call to the t.s.a. administrator peter neffenger to hear his thoughts. we all agreed that the real problem is the shortage of t.s.a. screeners. more people need to get hired and trained so security lines can stay open and people can move through the checkpoints faster. in the meantime, there are immediate steps we need to take in chicago. first we're going to get 58 more t.s.a. screening officers in the next two weeks and 224 by august. that's about a 15% increase in
1:19 pm
t.s.a. staff. it's a good start. o'hare will also receive five canine teams. that will double the number of canines we have at the airport. two teams were brought in yesterday. the rest will arrive within five days. these bomb-sniffing dogs do important work. they check carry-on baggage. if there is no problem, the passengers can move out of the standard line into the expedited line. these dogs can help us speed up the process by allowing up to 5,000 additional passengers a day to move through the faster security lines. there will also be a shift of 100 t.s.a. staff from part time to full time status so people can be on deck to help with the lines. and officers who currently work on nondirect security functions are going to be called to pitch in and help the officers at the checkpoints. we're also working to get more people enrolled in t.s.a. precheck. i can't emphasize enough how important that is. if you are a regular traveler,
1:20 pm
for $85, you can buy -- at least apply for and be given a t.s.a. precheck status for five years. precheck lines can scan nearly twice as fast as the ordinary lines. customers don't have to wait as long or remove their shoes, belts or life jackets. we need to make sure more people are hearing about this option and signing up for it as quickly as possible. t.s.a. is now working on a mobile app to help people get enrolled while they are waiting in lines and they are also looking at lower precheck signup costs by competing out the actual function of signing up for precheck. precheck has gotten a lot of traction, especially in chicago. this past month alone, 5,700 new enrollments. i hope we can continue to quickly expand this program so more can help. the airlines have to be part of the solution as well. i'm glad that senator blumenthal of connecticut is on the floor because both he and senator markey of massachusetts spoke out early on this aspect that
1:21 pm
i'm about to address. airlines can help us by reducing high wait times, especially during the peak summer season. i have joined my colleagues, senator blumenthal and senator markey, urging the airlines to suspend the checked bag fees. a lot of people are dragging their bags on the airplanes because they don't want to pay to have them checked. when i spoke with secretary johnson on monday, he told me baggage fees are contributing to long lines because more people are carrying on luggage that should be carefully screened through check in. over the last year, the volume of passengers and personnel passing through security checkpoints has increased 7% while the number of checked bags has only increased 3%. that tells the story. more people are carrying on their luggage, and it's causing problems. as more travelers pack their roller bags to the brim, making their bags taking even longer to be scanned. waiving the checked baggage fee during the summer travel season can reduce the incentive for passengers to carry on luggage,
1:22 pm
and it can help speed up the process. let me also add that it's in the baggage that people are dragging on board that t.s.a. screeners are finding things that aren't supposed to be on an airplane. last year they found 2,653 firearms, 83% of them were loaded. most of them were from one state, i won't name it, but by and large, we have to be more findful of the fact that this stops the process or at least slows it down. i'm convening a meeting with administrator neffenger tomorrow, along with state and local officials and the airplanes at chicago o'hare and then we're also going to be visiting the midway airport. we will see firsthand what the passengers are experiencing and what the response is. we have got to stop this meltdown when it comes to airport security. but let me close by saying this. the news today about egypt air was a grim reminder that we still live in a very dangerous world. the role and responsibility of the transportation security agency is to make sure that when
1:23 pm
we travel and our families travel we come off those planes just as safely as we went on. it's an important security responsibility. yes, it's an irritation and a frustration, but we need to do it in this dangerous world to make sure that we stop people from using their carry-on baggage and other sources to cause harm to innocent people. so i stand behind t.s.a. and its mission, but what happened in chicago is unacceptable. this meltdown should have been avoided. there should have been better management, more screeners, and we should have been ready for this surge in passengers. we're going to make that right beginning this week, and i hope that the visit of the t.s.a. administrator tomorrow will be the beginning of a conversation that will not only help our airports in chicago but help the nation. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i want to thank my colleague and friend from illinois for his leadership on this issue and his support for the initiative that
1:24 pm
senator markey and i first raised but he has really supported so very helpfully, and that is to persuade the airlines essentially to stop charging for bags that are checked onto planes as opposed to carried on. obviously, the fee for checking those bags adds to the number of carry-ons. and provides an incentive for a larger number of carry-ons. in fact, the t.s.a. itself reports that there has been an increase in checkpoint screening of baggage fees due to the -- there has been an increase in the carry-ons due to these fees, and i want to ask before i go any further, mr. president, that i be permitted to speak for up
1:25 pm
to ten minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. blumenthal: thank you. the elimination of the fees for checked bags is not a panacea. it's not going to solve this problem alone, but it will, along with other measures, help reduce lines that result from screening. i want to commend admiral neffenger for his very close and prompt attention to this matter and a number of the initiatives that he has taken. we heard about them in the commerce committee this morning. i want to also thank secretary johnson for supporting elimination of the fees for checked bags because i think his leadership will be important. there are a number of other initiatives that can and should be taken. there is automated equipment that can expedite the screening of those carry-on bags, the use
1:26 pm
of additional screeners is important. the number has been reduced over the last three years from by about 5,800, the addition of another close to 800 will help compensate, but again alone none of these solutions will provide the answer. so far as the automated equipment is concerned, the costs for the 20 busiest airports is about $30 million, a pittance compared to the $3.8 billion in revenue that the airlines make every year as a result of the fees for checked bags. i'll repeat that. $3.8 billion going to airlines as a result of their purposefully charging for bags checked instead of carry on. and many of those bags that go through screening now wind up in
1:27 pm
the holds of those airplanes anyway because there isn't room for them on the planes, and so they wind up being checked at the gate. and that simply adds to the cost and inconvenience of passengers, delayed flights, missed flights, flights that are in effect late because of the boarding problems. all of these accumulating issues are reasons to eliminate these fees and give passengers also the benefit of lower costs. my hope is that the airlines will voluntarily eliminate these fees for checked bags, and after the hearing or meeting that we had today with admiral neffenger , i am encouraged that the t.s.a. will be adding to
1:28 pm
take initiatives and help to implement other measures as well. but in the meantime, we need for the airlines to show some leadership as well, and i'm hopeful that they will do the right thing. the national travel association, u.s. travel association, has called it a national crisis. the evidence is irrefutable. at checkpoints that have no charge fees, there are -- at the checkpoints that have no checkpoint fees, charges for bags, the charges -- the carry-ons are 27% lower, and so the numbers of carry-ons definitely diminish as the fees are eliminated. this evidence is irrefutable and
1:29 pm
argues powerfully that the airlines should not keep their passengers waiting in line. they should take some sacrifice to their bottom line and should not be profiting at the expense of their passengers. let me just conclude by saying on this point -- and i'm so glad to see my colleague and friend from massachusetts -- that we need this initiative now and we need it to happen. i also want to advocate on behalf of the safety of our roads, blumenthal amendment 4002 will not be called up, in part because it has been woefully mischaracterized by an industry campaign. we need to make truck drivers in effect more safely empowered on
1:30 pm
the roads to take steps to protect themselves. drivers who spend too much time behind the wheel are tired. they can't drive as safely. this amendment would in effect enable them to drive more safely, give them the rest they need, protect them and enable the roads to be safer, not only for them but for people generally, drivers generally, the 4,000 people who drive every year. and i would now yield to my colleague from massachusetts. mr. markey: i want to say thank you for your work. we've been partnering on eliminating bag fees at the airports since imposed. there's 27% more bags now who go through the baggage clearing with the passengers. if we could just get that out of the way, get ritz of those -- rid of those baggage fees, i just think it would expedite dramatically the ability of people to get on planes in this
1:31 pm
country. i'm glad we're able to have this moment to be able to speak about the importance of the issue. thank you. mr. blumenthal: as i mentioned earlier, the senator from massachusetts and i have really been partners in this effort, and i hope that we can prevail. thank you, mr. president. ms. collins: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: mr. president, i call up the collins-jack reed-cochran amendment number 3970. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from maine, ms. collins for herself and others proposes an amendment numbered 3970 to amendment numbered 3896. ms. collins: mr. president, i ask consent that the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: mr. president, the amendment that senator jack reed, senator thad cochran and i are offering would make very
1:32 pm
clear that none of the funds made available in this appropriations bill can be used by the department of housing and urban development to direct a recipient of federal funds to undertake changes to their zoning laws. there has been concern that some have brought up that a new rule that was issued last year by the department would somehow allow h.u.d. to be the national zoning authority for every neighborhood in our country. while i do not believe that that is a correct interpretation of the fair housing amendment or regulation that h.u.d. has promulgated, this amendment, the
1:33 pm
collins-jack reed-cochran amendment ensures that h.u.d. cannot do that. it eliminates that possibility and ensures that communities will continue to make their own decisions to address these federal requirements. by contrast, the proposal offered by my colleague from utah, senator lee, would prohibit all funding for a rule that was issued by h.u.d. based on a requirement that is included in the landmark civil rights era law known as the fair housing act of 1968. now, it's important to know that this regulation was in direct response to a 2010 g.a.o. report
1:34 pm
that criticized h.u.d.'s implementation of the requirement of the law that grantees, recipients of these funds, affirmatively enhance fair housing opportunities. it also was issued in response to requests from communities seeking guidance to ensure compliance because they don't want to be sued for inadvertently violating fair housing act requirements. so communities asked h.u.d. for more tools and better assessments to make sure more guidance, to make sure that they were in compliance. it's important to note that the fair housing act prohibits discrimination not only based on
1:35 pm
race, national origin, religion, but also against those with disabilities. and, indeed, 56% of the complaints of housing discrimination have been initiated by individuals with disabilities. that is why senator lee's amendment is supposed -- is opposed by the paralyzed veterans of america and other disability groups as well as the urban league, the naacp, and countless civil rights groups. so on the first vote, we will be voting on the collins-jack reed-cochran amendment. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah lee mr. president, -- mr. lee, mr. president, the affirmatively fair housing rule which my amendment would defunct
1:36 pm
is equal parts conden essential and willful blindness. the condescension of this particular rule and its proponents is that local governments and public housing authorities across america can't figure out how to provide fair and affordable housing to their communities without the help, without the paternalistic interference of federal bureaucrats. this the epitome of the paternalism that forms so much of what happens in washington, d.c. today. i don't doubt, as senator collins has said repeatedly that local governments would like quote, unquote better guidance from the department of housing and urban development here in washington. but this is a problem that was created by h.u.d. with its onerous requirements and its vague mandates, not the result of local governments being unable or unwilling to provide adequate low-cost housing for their neighbors in need.
1:37 pm
and this brings us to the willful blindness part of the affirmatively furthering fair housing rule. proponents of the rule claim that h.u.d. officials consulted closely with local governments and public housing authorities when drafting and finalizing the affh rule. now, in their telling, local housing agencies across the country are welcoming the affh rule with open arms. but this ignores what local officials have actually said about affh. i'll let these local officials speak for themselves. roger partridge, the county commissioner of douglas county, colorado, had this to say about affh. the closed process that produced it and the immense burdens it will place on local governments. in an e-mail he wrote -- quote -- "douglas county believes that the assessment of fair housing tool as it now stands is an unfunded mandate that will create an administrative
1:38 pm
nightmare for jurisdictions who want to further fair housing and implement community programs with h.u.d. grants." commissioner partridge continues, h.u.d. headquarters is repeatedly ignored the local practitioners responsible for affh and implementing the affh in our communities. in fact, he continues, h.u.d. headquarter staff was in denver for a public affh round table on april 21 during the afh tool comment period. they ignored the opportunity to inform region 8 fair housing and equal opportunity, fheo staff or the local practitioners attending the round table. no notice from the h.u.d. exchange to the grantee list serve was found. the local governments who were asked to comment on the publication were shut out of the process, closed quote. likewise, this is what we heard from salt lake county officials
1:39 pm
-- quote -- "the administrative burden imposed by this tool is excessive. resources that could be put into housing-related tasks are being funneled into completing the tool and its associated administrative tasks. additionally, although h.u.d. claims that this tool can be compelled without the use a consultants, the assessment is complex enough to warrant considering a consultant. the rule imposes a jurisdictional and regional analysis that is too complex to be effectively completed by staff without specifics, statistical and mapping knowledge. as housing providers most staff at phs -- at pha's have comparative advantages that lie in providing affordable housing services but not providing complex statistical data analysis. forcing pha staff to do this analysis is an inefficient use of their scarce time. salt lake county officials also added the following, quote, the afh does not recognize the zero
1:40 pm
sum nature of pha's resource allocation. by allocating resources to complete this process, pha's are not allocating resources somewhere else. those resources could be used to provide additional housing assistance." mr. president, instead of ignoring the words, the experiences of our local officials and instead of condescending to them, we should listen to them and we should learn from them. we should stop this disastrous new housing rule from causing more problems than it has already caused. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. ms. collins: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: mr. president, i know the senator from alabama is going to speak and the senator from rhode island should have an opportunity to speak so i would ask for one additional minute for each side prior to the votes in this series. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. a senator: mr. president?
1:41 pm
the presidin the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. a senator: mr. president, i rise today in support of the senator from utah, senator lee's amendment that would prevent the implementation of h.u.d.'s affirmative furthering fair housing regulation. mr. shelby: contrary to statement takes have been made, the senator's amendment does nothing to change fair housing laws or to prevent the enforcement thereof. what this amendment does, the lee amendment, is prevent the implementation of a rule that would in effect give h.u.d. federal control over local planning decisions. local planning decision, federal control. supporters of this program have argued that it is intended to protect communities from fair housing lawsuits. quite the contrary, mr. president. this rule if allowed to be implemented will actually lay the predicate for endless litigation ens every community
1:42 pm
-- against every community in our respective states that are required to participate. this should be unacceptable to every member of this body. supporter senator lee's amendment is the only option before us to prevent centralized federal control of local planning decisions. the collins-reed amendment which we've been talking about here, it's my judgment it does nothing to restrain the full implementation of h.u.d.'s program. i urge my colleagues to support the lee amendment. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, the pending amendment is offered by my colleague from maine and i and makes very clear that local officials will continue to remain in charge of the zoning decision and will still have the power to decide how they choose to need their obligations under the fair housing act of 1968. and those obligations are fundamental to our american fabric, of our lives and our aspirations in this country
1:43 pm
because they protect americans' housing choice no matter their physical ability, their race, their family status or their religion. and that's fundamental to who we are. but without effective information and transparency so that local communities can make wise decisions, these aspirations are never realized or seldom realized or not realized to the extent that we americans feel they must be realized. so senator collins and i have worked very hard to come up with clear language that again makes it clear that local communities have wide flexibility to meet their requirements under the law. and their requirements will still be there regardless of our action today. they will still be required to follow the housing act. they will still be subject if they don't to the processes involved in contesting issues about housing that are based erroneously or nefariously on race, on physical ability, on any other factors in the law.
1:44 pm
interestingly, as i understand the lee amendment, it would and ironically it would make grantees liable for compliance without the data and the tools to be in compliance because the thrust, the heart and soul of this h.u.d. proposal based on g.a.o. analysis is to give local communities the tools so that they can find the local answer that makes sense. thank you.
1:45 pm
mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: under the previous order, there are four minutes equally divided on the collins amendment. the presiding officer: the senator from maine.
1:46 pm
ms. collins: mr. president, i will be very brief. let me just reiterate what i have been saying repeatedly. what the amendment which senator reed, senator cochran and i have introduced does is make very clear that h.u.d. is prohibited from intervening in local decisions regarding zoning ordinances. that is in direct response to what some people have been claiming -- incredible, in my view -- incorrectly, in my view, that the rule on affirmatively furthering fair housing somehow would allow h.u.d. to be a national zoning commissary. that is not the case, but just to make absolutely sure that that could never happen, we have
1:47 pm
teamed up on this amendment to prohibit h.u.d. from intervening in local zoning matters. it's very different from the lee amendment, which we will discuss shortly. but this is an important clarification that should take away any fear that there's any possibility of h.u.d. using funds authorized by this bill to interfere in local zoning decisions. i yield the floor. mr. lee: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, the amendment introduced by my friend and colleague from maine is itself unobjectionable in that in and of itself it does no harm, and i intend on that basis to vote for it. it does nothing to help the
1:48 pm
mammogram housing agencies -- it does nothing help the many housing agencies. the ffha rule imposes far too many housing costs. it does nothing shield local housing authorities from the very many real lawsuits they will face as a result of the data collected from this regulation and it does nothing to stop h.u.d. from blackmailing local housing agencies with community development block grant block grant funds. i would like to cede the balance of my remaining time to my friend, the senior senator from alabama. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. shelby: i think we should all be aware that the collins-reed amendment provides no protection to local communities on their local planning rules because it merely prohibits and activity that the rule does not contemplate. even the sponsor of this
1:49 pm
amendment acknowledged earlier today the amendment prohibited an activity that she believed would have not occur. make no mistake, the so-called affirmatively furthering fair housing rule will likely heavily influence local zoning decisions. however, it does so incredible, not through -- indirectly, not through direct action. h.u.d. advise u. advertises this fact on its own web site where it details how communities will have to submit for approval an assessment of fair housing and that these communities will use the fair housing goals and priorities established in their assessment to inform the investments and other decisions made in their local planning processes. in other words, h.u.d. does not intend to direct any specific zoning requirements. it does, however, mr. president, intend to significantly influence local zoning decisions
1:50 pm
by withholding approval of local plans until they meet h.u.d.'s central planning goals. this amendment is not sufficient on its own. the only way to prevent h.u.d., i believe, from intruding into local community planning, exactly as they openly state they intend to do is to support the lee amendment. i believe the collins-reed amendment is not an alternative to senator lee's amendment. it is, at best, complementary to the lee amendment, and that will be something we'll have to vote on in just a few minutes. thank you. ms. collins: mr. president, i yield back the remainder of time on our side. and i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
1:51 pm
1:52 pm
1:53 pm
1:54 pm
1:55 pm
1:56 pm
1:57 pm
1:58 pm
1:59 pm
2:00 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on