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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  April 15, 2010 9:00am-12:00pm EDT

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misunderstood. if miranda warnings are not given, all that means is the statements made by the subject of interrogation can't be admitted into at this against him in an article to record. but when you dealt with somebody like the christmas day bomber, caught red-handed, you didn't really need admissions or a confession. the evidence was overwhelming. and when we talk about the subtleties of interrogation, i find it hard to accept the assistance of establishing the report i the interrogator with the subject would be sufficiently enhanced to
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warrant, giving the miranda warnings as a discouragement for making statements. sos. . waivers. but that is a big discouraging factor. so it would be my hope that the warnings would not be given. the most important thing in dealing with a terrorist is to get information to prevent future not contacting the individual. if you had to make, in my view, if you have to make a truce between convicting and getting information which might preclude his subsequent terrorist attack with all of the information. but is what you're saying to the policy of the department to make a judgment on the specific case as to whether to give more in the warnings or not that you
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leave it up to the interrogator and his judgment is that this report will be established but to not to determine all cases are miranda mornings? you can take advantage of those in interacting with the terrorists. i'm not saying that they should be given in all circumstances. one of the things you correctly point out is in interacting with the suspected terrorists is that you want to gain intelligence from them. that in some ways may be more important than trying to protect a potential criminal cast, and so i think we have to have this -- again, this flexibility to decide what is it that we want to do. we look back on that detroit incident and we request say in retrospect, it was pretty obvious what happened on the airplane, but that's not necessarily what those agents had when they had this guy in front of them, his pants perhaps
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still smoking, and they don't know exactly what's going on at that point. but even so, they did not give miranda warnings in that initial interaction with him. so i'm looking for flexibility, but with the thought that, when it comes to terrorism, the gathering of intelligence is of critical importance. >> well, i'm glad to hear that, that you're not doing it automatically. and that the gathering of intelligence is the more important factor than the conviction. >> round two, senator sessions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it's good to see you in that chair, even though from a different side of the aisle than i'm familiar with. it is in the middle, isn't it? i think your comments about miranda are right except i would have too little cautionary -- two little cautionary comments. one is, senator graham asked you
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what was going to happen if somebody arrested bin laden, would they be given miranda rights. you could not give a clear answer, but that person is not likely to be able to check with you at that moment. we need a policy, number one. number two, if, according to the my ran rules, as soon as a person is taken into custody, they are supposed to be advised of their rights of before questions are asked. and that's the f.b.i. policy, it's in their manual and that's what they're going to do, unless somebody explicitly tells them otherwise. and number three, there is no doubt in my mind, as senator specter has suggested, that when you tell an individual their right to have a lawyer, they have a right to remain silent and that you will appoint them one and bring them one, that you are going to get less actionable intelligence than if you didn't do so. and in fact, the first thing a god lawyer is going to say is
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don't talk. you may have to make a plea bargain with them later and other things may happen and the fact that some people do cooperate openly does not affect the rule, the basic fact is realistically, you're going to get less information from that procedure, and that's why -- that is a big part of the -- the reason that many of these cases need to be handled through military commissions and military custody. >> well, senator -- >> i'll let you respond to that. >> senator, first of off, i was not clear, with regard to bin laden, there would be no need to give bin laden miranda warnings and if i was not clear there, i meant to be, that if he were captured, i cannot foresee any reason why -- >> mr. holder, the presumption is, and you're on report that they would be tried in civilian court, and why wouldn't you give
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miranda warnings? >> miranda warnings -- >> unless you're going to try them in military commissions. >> the concern with miranda warnings is only whether or not information that you would get from that person might be excluded. we have sufficient information, statements from bin laden, so that there is no reason to mirandize him at all and you can -- >> you could do that. i acknowledge that that's possible, but for the umar farouk abdulmutallab on christmas day, like you said, what did the agents know about the strength of their case, and there is a doctrine that says if the improperly obtained information as a result of not giving miranda warnings can poison the entire prosecution and raise questions and create many defenses, that would not otherwise exist, so i think in the rule, to me simply would be that you expect these terrorist
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individuals to be tried and taken in to military custody, and isn't it true and isn't it appropriate that after they've been taken into military custody, if you chose to try them in civilian courts, you could still do so? >> i suppose that's true, but i think there is a -- >> we've done that a number of times, have we not? >> we've done it on at least a couple of -- >> what about khalid sheikh mohammed, he's been in military custody, has he not, and you've dechaired him ready to go to -- declared him ready to go to trial. that's the fact, you can take him in military custody and then you can try him at your option in civilian court. >> well, what i have been trying to say is that there is not -- >> why wouldn't that be the right way to start the case and have a policy for every f.b.i. agent, every police officer and every tsa, airport official, to begin to not give miranda warning and not provide free
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attorneys to people who are attacking the united states of america? >> well, but let's look at what happened with regard to the detroit bomber. abduabsenteeism umar farouk abdulmutallab. they had the present of mind, given their knowledge of law, to understand that in that initial interaction, they did not have to give him his miranda warnings and the information they got from him can be used in a trial against him under the public safety exception, and -- >> well, i don't know if public safety exception goes to 50 minutes. have you had any case that's ever gone that long? >> oh, i think -- >> where you say to somebody, do you have a gun. >> oh -- >> do you have a bomb, but after a while, that exception ends. >> well, i'm going to say as a
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former judge, given my experience, given that set of facts, i would think that the government has acted appropriately here and statements from that gentleman would be admissible in a trial. >> well, i would just say that it would be -- the defense lawyer would make that point, i'm sure. >> oh, i'm sure they would, but they would lose in holder's court. >> this is really significant. let me just say about how we got to this point. and my friend, senator durham, democratic whip, is so eloquent, but president bush, the first case that came up was padilla, and that was before military commissions had been established, he established military commissions and the supreme court found them lacking and the defense department stopped and had to rewrite the rules and during that period of time, up through 2006, the congress passed legislation to
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effectuate military commissions, in plate 2006, and then it took some time for the rules to all be written and moving forward, but the plan was to try to, the several hundred people at guantanamo, all of them didn't have to be tried, that they would be tried by military commission and khalid sheikh mohammed's case was already proceeding as a military commission, was it not? until president obama, when his first act was to stop that. >> well, the case had been proceeding in a military commission, in a very halting fashion, and the decision that the obama administration made was to put a halt to those things, so that the -- the commission procedures could be amended and congress actually passed those, i guess, in 2009. >> and you had a commission, you co-chaired the commission to decide what to do and you concluded that even those who had already been atressed and already are detained at guantanamo, there would be a
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presumption that they would be tried in civilian court and not by military commission. and has that been changed? >> that has not been changed. the presumption that we use, that is i use, along with secretary of defense and all the people who worked with us, the protocol that we were given did have that presumption in it. >> well, i would just say that there's not exactly a clean slate and you decide each case based on the facts of that case. you've got a presumption in favor of civilian trials. >> but it's a rebuttable presumption and there are a variety of factors we take into account, not the least of the which at the end of the day in which form can we be most effective and the test is what i've actually done which is to say with regard to five or six cases, that military commissions are the best places for them to be tried. >> well, we have a letter that came in on march 16th, a few
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weeks act, from the department of defense, a deputy director, that there were no military commissions in 2009, pursuant to an order of the secretary of defense issued in january 20t january 20th, 2009, changing the policy by president obama, as soon as he took office, and prosecutors then sought continuances in each case that were already referred to a military commission. and the convening authority ceased referring new charges to military commissions, and to my knowledge, that's not been changed, has it? >> no, but i believe that we are going to be making determinations as to where these cases ought to go. it is our intention to use military commissions as well as article iii courts, again with that whole notion of being flexible, pragmatic. >> i think that's fair, you would make individual determines
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on cases. -- determinations on cases. some of these are financing cases, support of terrorism cases that could be easily handled in these courts, but it's pretty clear to me that you made a firm decision to go the other way, with civilian courts, with virtually all of these cases and it's in error and hope you will review that and i hope the new york case will be the beginning of reevaluation of that policy. >> well, i actually think in termsof the decisions made in october, november, that in terms of the number of individual cases as opposed to the number of defendants, that we actually sent more cases to the military commission than i did to the article iii court. >> why thank you, senator sessions. senator graham. >> thank you, mr. chairman and i think the exchange between the two senators has been a pretty good flushing out of the complexities of the situation we find ourselves in, but i want to
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try to, if i can, to use some scenarios here to reassure people that the system needs to be improved, but not completely by any means broken. if a military member stumbles on osama bin laden, or some high value target in afghanistan, pakistan, or you just named the location, no one is arguing that that moment in time, that they're going to read him his rights. >> no. >> what they would do as i understand it, they would capture him, pursuant to military operation, which does not require mirandizeing the enemy prisoner, and obviously turn him hover, to some intelligence organizations. that would be the case, right? >> we've got this high value interrogation group, that is designed especially for in those high value cases. >> and this goes to senator sessions' point. i think he's right on point here. the hig, i want to compliment you, i think it is a great organization to have. as i understand it, it's a collaborative group of people
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who will be the primary interrogation team when a high value target is captured within the united states or outside the united states. >> that's correct. these mobile interrogation teams would go to the place and do -- >> and their primary purpose is intelligence gathering, and they will be able to assist what the individual knows about ending the operations. >> correct. >> then they will decide if and when to mirandize, which is actually fine with me. >> that would be a part of the pro cities. >> right. as long as we start with the idea that the initial purpose is to gather intelligence and that's your policy with the hig, they will get to hey zest the detainee in terms of what they know about the war, is that correct? >> these high value detainees are people who we think their primary value to us is to gain intelligence, is to learn about targeting, structure, a whole variety of things. >> it's lawful to interrogate someone, we're not interrogating people, but we will have authority to do that, so i think that is quite frankly a pretty
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good start. now when it comes back to -- and i don't want to micromanage from congress, to tell an agent what to do and when to do it, as long as we are viewing these suspects, not as a normal criminal threat, but as part of a military threat, trying to find out what they know. what additional rights would a detainee have, if any, if they were transferred from guantanamo bay, cuba, to say, illinois, would the transfer of a location create more rights for the detainee than if they were just left at guantanamo bay? >> that is a question that i think has not really been answered yet. one that we're not sure about. i think that certainly, as an advocate, i would argue that there are not other rights that would necessarily pertain, but it's not clear to me how the courts are going to rule. >> i think that's a very god point and this is a situation where congress could help give the courts clarity, is that
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correct? >> i think that is correct. >> and as a matter of fact, i think most judges, judge lambert and hogan in their habeas opinions have been asking for congressional help. have you been reading those opinions? >> yes. >> >> i've never seen a judge so open about congress needs to help, because if a detainee is ordered released, by the judge, the habeas petition is granted, what happens next? what -- do we have to release him in the united states, if we can't find a third country, what do we do with him? >> there's no requirement that they be released into the united states and in those instances where we have decided not to appeal and relows has occurred, they have typically been taken to a third country. >> what if you can't find a third country who will take one of these people. what do we do? >> they do not have to be released into the you state and they would remain in custody, while our efforts to try to find a location continues. >> let's play this out.
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habeas petition is meaningless if they cannot eventually result in release, is that true? >> well, i would not say that. it gives the possibility to a detainee, a possibility that he can be relocated and that would not exist before the judge made that determination. >> if we go 10 years in trying to relocate that detainee? >> you would hope not. you'd hope that you would be able to come up with a place for them to go. >> would you agree it would be helpful if congress spoke about a mace like this, to give some guidance to the judges? >> well, i think it would be helpful. i have a cautionary note that congress can provide guidance, except in those areas where a judge makes the determination that what the judge is doing is of constitutional dimension. congress in that area -- >> i totally agree. we're in a dilemma as a nation here and i do worry about the international community. i want them to be more open. to the idea of what we're doing makes sense, but great britain
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has changed their criminal laws to allow people to be held for up to a year without a trial, is that correct? >> i think the courts have pushed back a little bit with regard to their -- i forget what kind of orders they're called. >> i totally agree and if you're an enemy combatant, then the law of war takes over, because there is no provision in domestic criminal law to hold anyone indefinitely without trial, is that correct? >> without trial and held in communicado. >> and the courts want such a rule. you mean, if you're going to be charged with a crime, i think you'd need to have your day in court, but if you join the enemy force, i'm willing to give you your day in court, but it's not a crime you're fighting. you shouldn't have joined al qaeda. as i understand it, every member of al qaeda that you hold as an enemy combatant will appear before a federal judge. in the habeas proceedings. >> right. if they seek habeas review. >> it's up to them. but if they want their day in court, the judge has to agree
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with the government that the evidence is compelling, reliable, and legally obtain to hold them as an enemy combatant, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> and both of us are trying to work with a system that gives ongoing review, because an enemy combatant determination could be a de facto life sentence. >> well, under the -- >> if the judge rules for the government, we believe that you should have an ongoing review process. >> ok. yes. >> una an you'll review process -- an annual review process and i want to compliment the administration, what you are doing there makes sense, so there's an annual review of this person's status, because the enemy combatant determination could be a de facto life sentence, because this war is not going to end any time soon. there will never be a formal surrender, so it's an accommodation we're trying to make in sort of a hybrid system, so what i would like to do is try to get in committee to work with you, to deal with what happens when a habeas petition
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is granted, institutionalize ago on going review process, so we can look anybody in the world in the eye and say no one in american military prison is held arbitrarily, they have independent judicial review, and every military commission verdict is appealable to the civilian system. is that correct? under the laws we have, the military commission laws. >> every military find something appealable. >> yes, every verdict. >> i believe that is correct. >> that is correct. so there is article iii review of our military commissions, there's article iii review of our combatant operations and obviously if you go in to article iii courts, what i'm trying to establish with your help, is there will be an independent check and balance throughout every lane, no matter what lane you use, but when it comes to closing guantanamo bay, 59% of the american people now object to it. it's been about a 20-point shift
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and i know i'm over my time, but i think this is important. why do you think that's happened? >> i honestly think that there has been a lot of misinformation placed out there. and without casting dispersions on anybody in this room, i think there's been unnecessary bilottiization with regard to -- politicization with regard to national security issues that i don't think have served this nation necessarily well. >> can i give you an alternative they'rely. and there's probably some truth to that. i think there's a lot of people in this country worried about we don't have a coherent policy, and as i've tried to discuss with you, this is hard. this is sort of new areas. and the christmas day bomber probably highlighted to people was a bit unnerving, because they saw this guy as not a common criminal and miranda warnings, we all watched tv associated with drag net and all this other stuff, so i think it would be helpful not only to focus on our allies, but also the american people and assure them that as we go forward in this war on terror, that we're
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going to live within our value system, but we're going to have legal -- a legal system that will protect you and your family against people who are committed to our destruction, that will not include torture, it will be transparent, it will be open, but it will be based on the principle, as senator specter said, this is not a normal criminal operation. i think if we could do that, mr. attorney general, not only would you serve the moment well here in america, you'd serve the future well, and i look forward to helping make that happen. we've got to assure the american people, not just our allies, that we have a good system, that will protect us against what i think is an enduring threat. we will be fighting this war long after you and i have left the political arena. i wish it were not so, but i believe it to be so, so let's park some of the rhetoric and see if we can find a solution. thank you for your service. i really admire what you're trying to do for the country.
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>> i think the point you last made actually is a very good one and that is incumbent upon people like myself to be more forth coming, perhaps more clear with the american people about what our intentions are. and to explain to them, in a way that perhaps we have not -- i have not done, effectively to date, so that there is a degree of assurance that they have, because i think you're probably right, that in addition to whatever i have mentioned, the factors that you have mentioned is also probably a factor in why that approval or that approval notion of chosing guantanamo has i think dropped. >> the congress could be a good partner for you and if the congress and the executive branch p were working together, i think it would help us in court and i think it would help the american people be reassured. thank you. >> thank you, senator graham. before yielding to senator grassley for his second round, i intend to turn the gavel over to
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senator cord in a few moments. in lieu of a second round, just a couple of comments on the pending nomination to the supreme court. i may be consulted on the subject. i'm sure you will be. just a word or two of my thinking on it. i believe the president ought not to be concerned about a filibuster, but ought to face squarely the fact that the supreme court is absenteeism ideological battleground. and the lines are drawn. chief justice roberts ted extensively in his confirmation hearings that he was going to try to draw consensus and narrow the issues. well, that certainly has not happened, it's been anything but that. chief justice roberts was very
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forceful in saying that he would not jolt the system. well, the citizens united is one hell of a jolt. hard to figure a jolt harder than that one on 100 years of precedent. and the theory which has been advanced about finding a judge who will be a consensus judge will be the fifth vote and not the 4th vote and some specific comments about bringing justice kennedy over in to fifth vote with the new appointee, plus the three others on the court. i think is highly unlikely. the precedent, which is cited on the rasoull case, where justice stevens wrote an opinion identifying habeas corpus as a constitutional right, going back to the magna carta and then the
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court of appeals for the district of columbia said it was decided on statutory grounds, statutory habeas corpus and constitutional habeas corpus, about as far fetched an interpretation as can be and then when petition for cert was filed, there were only three justices. i was surprised that justice stevens didn't vote for cert, but as it has been speculated apparently with some real foundation, justice stevens didn't want four justices to grant cert and have boumediene upheld. there were disclosures about major failings in the commissions which putt to petition for preconsideration in cert, takes five justices, not four and then there were five and justice kennedy wrote the opinion in boumediene, but i think it is fanciful thinking, looking for that kind of
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collegeality to carry the day. but i think that battleground would be recognized and president obama is about halfway through his second year, he may have an opportunity for other supreme court picks, which would line up with ginsburg and sotomayor, so that if you have an opportunity, if the president is not watching this judiciary committee session, pass on the word. >> well, i'm sure, mr. chairman, you're going of to have that opportunity yourself. but i will pass along what you said. >> well, that concludes the
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hearing. thank you for very much. >> thank you. >> let me join support graham's commendation to you for doing a very good job. >> thank you, sir. so much of spoof [inaudible conversations]
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>> the senate resumes debate today on continuing several federal programs that have ex expired, including long-term unemployment insurance. the extension would last two months, while congress continues work on longer extensions. the bill also includes higher medicare payments to doctors, national flood insurance. its emergency spending, which means it doesn't have to be offset. oklahoma republican tom coburn has offered amendments to pay for the pill through tax changes. the house meanwhile works on sting the national estuary. live senate coverage here on c-span two. gracious and loving god, the one we live and move and have our being, we call upon you this day seeking your blessing in this united states senate. we call upon you for wisdom and
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courage, knowing without you we can do nothing. but also knowing within you we can do all things. we remember every good and perfect gift comes from you, the father of lights, and we creek your presence and blessing in all we do this day. we remember the words of scripture which rim us saying, blessed is the nation whose god is lord. we thank you for the sacred gift and trust given to us in the senate, looking to you in all things, through christ, in whose name we pray. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk
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will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c, aprl 15, 2010, to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable kirsten gillibrand, a senator from the state of new york, to perform te duties of the chair. signed: robert c. byrd, presidet pro tempore. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: tre will be a period of morning business today beginning as soon ace finish -- as soon as i finish. there will be 10 minutes for each senator. majority will control the first 30 minutes, the republicans will control the final 30 minutes. following that morning business, the senate will resume consideration to the extension of the unemployment benefits and others. yesterday i filed cloture on the substitute and the bill. filing deadline for first degree amendments is today at 1:00 p.m. two coburn amendments are pending. we would like to dispose of those amendments an complete
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action on the bill today. i've had some conversations with senator coburn. he believes we can finish this today. i would hope that we can. others have amendments to offer, i hope they would do it as soon as possible. the reason for that, we could finish early today and allow people to make arrangements for tomorrow. right now people are scheduled out for tomorrow if we're going to leave early today, we can make other arrangements for tomorrow and people simply have to decide if we're going to be here tomorrow morning. and the sooner we have the republicans tell us that, the better off we'll be. thank you very much, madam president. i would ask that the chair now announce morning business. the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order there will now be a period of morning business for one hour with senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each with the majority controlling the first 30 minutes and the republicans controlling the second 30 minutes.
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mr. reid: madam president, i would ask that there be a quorum and at this time called and that the time be charged eally against both sides. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. without objection.
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mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: are we in a quorum call? e esidinoffi yes, we are. mr. mcconnell: i ask that
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fourther proceedings be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: madam president, two things have been clear in the past week over the need to protect taxpayers from the mistakes of wall street. one, both parties are united in the need to take action. we agree on that. and, two, the bill our colleagues across the aisle are insisting on as the remedy is seriously flawed. the good news is the bill can be improved. and both sides have expressed a willingness to make the changes needed to ensure without any doubt -- without any doubt that this bill would not allow future bailouts of wall street banks. we need to make sure that future bailouts of wall street banks never occur again. i was encouraged to hear the president yesterday acknowledge that it is his hope that the bill which oh, merges from this debate -- emerges from this debate will not allow for bailouts. i share that hope. republicans believe the solution is for the bipartisan talks to
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resume between chairman dodd and ranking member shelby and others. not for one side to insist on a take it or leave it approach. like the president, i hope we can get back together and address this very important issue on a bipartisan basis. republicans and democrats, alike, believe that the flaws in the democratic bill, flaws that would allow taxpayer dollars bailout wall street banks can and should be krebtd. let's get this done. let's take away any possibility that the taxpayers will once again be told they'll be on the hook for mistakes on wall street. madam president, i yield the floor or -- i suggest the absenc ofuorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: madam president, i
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would ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: thank you, madam president. i rise to say i will be speaking this morning in morning business about two topics. one is is the recent work that the president has done on nuclear security and some progress we've made this week and also on the question and the issue of tax policy in the united states of america. but, first, i rise today to talk about the threat posed by nuclear terrorism and the historic progress made by president obama and his administration at the nuclear security summit this week and some observations on iran's nuclear program. the threat posed by so-called loose nuclear material is real. we know that more than 2,000 tons -- 2,000 tons of plutonium and highly enriched
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uranium exists in dozens of countries with a variety of peaceful as well as military uses. there have been 18 documented cases of threat -- of theft or loss of highly enriched uranium or plutonium. that's 18 documented cases throughout the world. in september of 1961, president kennedy addressed nuclear weapons in a speech to the united nations general assembly. he said and i quote -- "every man, woman, and child lives under a nuclear sword of demaclese, hanging by the vendestest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by miscalculation -- accident, miscalculation or madness. unquote. today the threat of a nuclear strike is more likely to come from terrorist actors, not
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state. these groups are harder to deter because they may not have a geographical base. moreover they're not threatened by the concept of mutually assured distruction. president obama noted that we're paracoxicly more more vulnerable today to a nuclear attack than we were during the cold war. today this hangs by the slenderest of threads, but we have the ability to prevent this threat by minimizing the access that such groups -- such terrorist groups would have to nuclear material. so what did the united states accomplish at the nuclear security summit? first, i believe it was important for the president to elevate this threat in the minds of international leaders. particularly among the so-called nonaligned movement, those
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nations across the world who are not aligned on these issues. many leaders around the world do not see nuclear terrorism as an extensional threat. this summit was an important first step toward accurately defining the threat that nuclear terrorism holds for us across the world in building a broad political support -- i should say building broad political support for higher security standards. this political support is important because we can't stop nuclear terrorism on our own. securing nuclear materials requires the active participation of a host of actors, including governments, militaries, border guards, parliaments, intelligence services, local law enforcement, and, of course, citizens the world over. we need increased vigilance and an understanding that a nuclear strike anywhere in the world would have a profound impact on
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all of us. the administration was also able to attract concrete support for several initiatives. in fact, every country in attendance this week pledged to do more to tighten regulation of nuclear materials and several made concrete commitments to comply with international treaties on nuclear security. most notably, our allies decided to do the following. first, by way of example, c.e.o. returned a large amount of highly -- of spent highly enriched uranium fuel from their medical isotope production reactor to the united states and committed to funding highly enriched uranium removals from mexico and vietnam. second, chile removed all highly enriched uranium in march. third, italy and the u.a.e. signed megaports agreements with
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the states which will include installation of detection at ports. next, kazkstan. kazkstan will convert a highly enriched uranium reactor and eliminate its remaining highly enriched uranium. mexico will convert a highly enriched uranium reactor and eliminate the remaining highly enriched uranium by working through the iaea, the international atomic entering agency. -- energy agency. norway will contribute contribute $3.3 million over the next four years to the iaea nuclear security fund which will -- which are flexible funds for activities in developing countries. russia signed the plutonium disposition protocol and decided to end plutonium production and will make contributions to the iaea's nuclear security fund as well. and finally, ukraine. ukraine will remove all highly
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enriched uranium by the next nuclear security summit in 2012, and half of it, half of it by this year's end. so this conference was only a beginning of a renewed international focus on fulfilling commitments to u.n. resolution 1540 and the nuclear nonproliferation treaty itself. in december, representatives from each participating country will reconvene to measure commitments made against concrete results. this effort to focus the international community will lead to even more tangible progress. looking ahead to the next nuclear security summit in seoul in the year 2012. ultimately, real progress will be found in the consistent enforcement of rules already in place for monitoring and controlling the establishment
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and movement of nuclear materials in these countries. this is not exciting work, but it's very important work as countries safeguard and reduce their weapons grade material, and we will begin to build progress and to build a more secure future. also, i was encouraged by president obama's ability to use the summit to continue building support for strong sanctions on iran. i believe that his face-to-face meeting with president hu will pay dividends as the u.n. security council has negotiated a resolution imposing sanctions on iran. given china's recent opposition to new sanctions, i was encouraged by president hu's apparent willingness to consider, to consider the resolution. we are not there yet, but the administration has laid the diplomatic groundwork necessary for a strong sanctions package.
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we will need to move forward on this pressure track and we need to move quickly. at the end of march, i traveled to the international atomic energy agency in vienna for an update on its work to track the iranian nuclear program. while i was impressed with the agency staff and the leadership of director general amano, i came away convinced that the international community needs to do more to confront iran's nuclear program. my concerns have grown with reports that iran may be planning two additional enrich ment sites. in a recent interview with the iranian student news agency, the head of iran's atomic energy organization said that president ahmadinejed had ordered work to begin soon on two new nuclear enrichment plants. the plants, he said, and i quote, will be built inside mountains, unquote, presumably
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to protect from attacks. if iran's nuclear program was peaceful in nature, they would have nothing to hide from international inspectors. iran has all but rejected the geneva deal of october 1, 2009, that would have seen iran's low enriched uranium, so-called l.e.u., shipped out of the country and then the eventual return of that uranium enriched to 20%, well below weapons grade. and that could be, of course, used forte ran's medical research reactor. but iran would have agreed to this very good deal offered repeatedly by the international community if it wanted a nuclear program for medical and other peaceful purposes. if the united states is committed to demonstrating that international law is not an empty promise, obligations must be kept and treaties must be
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enforced -- must be enforced so that the iranian regime knows that we mean business. the regime must face penalties for violating its commitment to the united nations as well as the iaea. france, the united kingdom, the united states, china, russia and germany have made serious attempts to engage with iran through the so-called p-5 plus one process. these efforts have been repeatedly rebuffed and in some cases even scorned by the iranian regime in tehran. iran's leaders continue to pass up extraordinary opportunities to integrate their country with the rest of the world, a desire felt by so many of iran's citizens. i support these engagement efforts as a means towards changing the behavior of the regime. unfortunately, it has not worked to date. noncompliance with u.n. and
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iaea -- with the u.n. and the iaea must have consequences in the international community -- and the international community must move quickly to show the regime that we are serious. during my recent trip, i also attended a conference on transatlantic relations in brussels with american and european leaders. i called on our european allies to support an aggressive multilateral sanctions package, and i was heartened to see that so many participants heeded this call to action. i appeared on a panel alongside yassi kaperwasser, deputy director general of the israeli strategic minister of affairs who also made an impassioned plea to those assembled in brussels, not only on behalf of those in israel but on behalf of the broader international community. iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons would spark an arms race
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in the region which does not advance iran's or any other country's security. the clock is ticking, he said, and free people around the world have a shared interest in stopping iran's nuclear program. i could not agree more with our friend from israel when he made that statement. next, madam president, i just move for a few moments to the other topic that i wanted to speak about briefly about tax policy. you know, we're in this season of -- of not only tax -- the focus on tax day -- and it is april 15 -- but we're also in the season of debate about the budget and about our economic future, and that's as it should be, but i think when you step back and look at what's happened over the last 18 months or so, we see that -- and i think the evidence is abundantly clear now that democrats in the united states senate working with
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president obama and a very few, very few number of republicans have provided meaningful tax cuts to hard-working middle-class families throughout america. through the american recovery and reinvestment act, the so-called stimulus bill or the recovery bill, as i like to call it. we'll continue to fight to provide this kind of tax relief for middle-mcfamilies so that they can fully reap the benefits of their hard work and stabilize their family's finances. so i think on this side of the aisle, if you look at the record the last more than a year, we have been on the side of middle-income families, middle-income families as they work very hard to make ends meet in a very, very difficult economy. i think this record stands in stark contrast with the record of our republican friends who have tried to sell their tax breaks over the past decade as beneficial to all americans, when in reality they gave away
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nearly $3 trillion. let me say that again. $3 trillion to tax cuts to the wealthiest 20% of u.s. households. and what happened after that? well, our economy went into the ditch, and we have been in the ditch for far too long. so at the same time that was happening, the democrats were trying and have been succeeding in making sure that we understand what middle-income families are up against. in the past year, democrats have provided 98% of americans with a tax cut. a new study shows that middle-class tax cuts included in the recovery bill have saved taxpayers an average of $1,158 on their tax returns this year, and every single working and middle-class family and individual -- and here we're talking about the bottom 80% of
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income earners -- have received a tax cut. this analysis counts the following parts of our policy. first, the making work pay tax credit which has been available to 94% of all working families and individuals. second, changes to the child tax credit. third, an increase in the earned income tax credit. and finally, relief from the alternative minimum tax as well as new partially -- a new partially refundable education tax credit. the site for this is citizens for tax justice april 13 of this year. so i think the record is pretty clear when it comes to recent history on tax policy. democrats have been on the side of middle-income families, providing tax cuts for so many americans who weren't getting
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that kind of relief before, and republicans have in washington a long record of making sure that wealthy americans get their cuts but what we see from that is an economy in the ditch, and we're thankfully moving out of that ditch. we saw that in january and february of 2009, the job loss was more than 1.5 million jobs lost. contrast that with january and february of 2010. much less job loss in the tens of thousands and even by the revised estimates actual growth in jobs and certainly growth in jobs in the month of march, 2010. i think the record is pretty clear. with that, madam president, i will yield the floor and i will yield the floor to my colleague from delaware, senator kaufman. mr. kaufman: thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. kaufman: thank you, senator
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casey. madam president, i rise once again to speak about one of our nation's great federal employees. we have all just returned to washington. i know we have a long and busy work period ahead in the senate. all of us will be relying on our staff, he will our schedulers and personal assistants to keep us abreast of the latest votes, schedules, and meetings with constituents and colleagues. i cannot overstate how much those of us in positions of leadership depend on the hard work and expertise of those who keep us organized and ever prepared. this is not just true for me in the senate, my colleagues in the senate, but also for members of the house, the cabinet secretaries, agency heads, and other senior officials. that is why i have chosen to honor as this week's great federal employee a woman whose long career did so much to keep our nations safe during the cold war. thelma stubbs smith served for over 40 years in the defense department as a personal assistant. she worked for seven consecutive secretaries of defense, both
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republican and democratic. before that, thelma served under six assistant secretaries in the department. a native of chicago, thelma began her public service career during world war ii when she worked at the selective service system in the office of price administration. after the the war she worked with the veterans administration before coming to work at the pent's gone guided missile committee. he served for melvin price in 1952, but she soon returned to the pentagon. in the 1950's and 1960's, thelma served as a personal assistance to six of the -- including william bundy. she began to accompany them on what would later total 85 trips overseas during her career. she worked closely with secretary robert mcnamara. one of the most frightening
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times was during the cuban missile crisis. as there were sets to be shredded when she left after midnight, she was one of the few americans who knew just how precarious the situation was and she couldn't say with certainty whether the pentagon would be there the next morning. but, thankfully, that morning came. in 1969, when melvin laird, she was asked serve as his personal assistant. i she agreed to do so on a temporary basis. when joe biden asked me to set up a senate office in 1972, i took a one-year leave of absence from my job with the dupont company and i ended up staying with joe biden for over 22 years. in that way thelma began her service to every secretary of
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defense from melvin to frank calucci. she visited every corner of the world. she was awarded 10 meritorious civilian service medal and the secretary of defense medal for distinguished public service which is the highest medal a civilian employee of the pentagon can earn. a para gone of professionalism, thelma always answered those who urged her to write a book where she said, it would be 500 blank pages and the title would be "my lips are sealed." we owe so much to great organizers and assistants like they'll mavment i know how thelma's dedication to public service is passed on to her family. her daughter cheryl rogers and son-in-law jeff rogers have lived in my home state of delaware for 20 years an both were federal employees as staffers here in the senate and, in fact, met here in the senate.
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cheryl used to work in the office of virginia senator john warn he which is down the hall from senator biden's office and that's where she met jeff when i was chief of staff. thelma now retired resides in northern virginia not far from the pentagon where she served for so many years. i hope my colleagues will join me in honoring the great contribution thelma stubbs smith made to our nation as well as thanking all those who served as personal assistants in the defense department and across the government. they are all truly great federal employees. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from tenness mr. corker: i ask permission to vitiate the quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. corker: madam president, i come to the floor today to talk about financial reform. i know we have a number of issues before the body right now and it will be a couple of weeks, maybe three, before this body takes up what i think is a very important piece of legislation, financial reform. it's something that the banking committee has been having hearings on now for about a year and a half. it's an issue that i think is very important to our country and to americans from all walks of life. madam president, at present the bill that has come out of the committee is a partisan bill. it came out of committee on a
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13-10 vote. it came out of committee, believe it or not, of 1,036 page bill came out in 21 minutes with no amendments on party line vote and no debate. madam president, i could talk a lot about dysfunction and activities on both sides of the aisle that may have put us where we are today, but the fact is we have a very important piece of legislation that is getting ready to come before this body and it's one that i believe we need to deal with in a bipartisan way. the stated reason, madam president, that we handled the bill the way we did in committee a few weeks ago, the stated reason by the chairman of the committee not to have amendments, not to debate the bill, was to -- after the bill came out of committee was to negotiate a bipartisan bill
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before it came to the floor and then have a debate on some of the smaller issues. madam president, there's been a lot of rhetoric flying around here over the last couple of weeks. some of which came from the white house. some of which came -- some of it came from democratic leadership. some of it came from our side of the aisle. and it's evident that that's what's happening right now that instead of seeking a real bipartisan bill, what's happening is one member, two member -- two members on the republican side are being reached out to try to snag somebody and to make that, in fact, a bipartisan bill. madam president, that is not my understanding of what is a good bipartisan bill is. and that certainly was not my understanding as to why the banking committee handled the bill the way that we did. again, i want to say one more time, a 13,036 page bill coming
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out of committee with no amendments. the reason that was done or the stated reason was so that the two sides wouldn't harden against each other and that before the bill actually came to the floor, we would reach a true bipartisan amendment. madam president, i came here to try to solve problems for our country and put in place good policy. i think everybody in this body know that i have worked hard, along with others, on our side of the aisle to reach a real, solid, good bipartisan bill. a bill that ends too big to fail. i think everybody in this country on both sides of the aisle, of all walks of life wants to ex pong from the american -- ex pong that any company is too big to fail. the bill that has come out of committee tried to address that and there are many, many good provisions in the bill under the title of orderly liquidation in order to deal with that. but what happened at the end the
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treasury got involved, fdic got involved, they wanted to create some flexibility for themselves, as any agency or administration would like to have. but in creating that flexibility, that fall on the runway as some would call it, what's happened is we actually have a bill that doesn't end too big to fail. and it's my bleer, and i had a -- belief, and i had a colloquy with my friend, senator warner, it is my chief we can solve that in about five minutes, maybe it's 15, maybe it's 306789 but there are provisions that we know could fix this piece of legislation so that it ends any chance of a company seeping through, if you will, and actually being bailed out. and my guess is, madam president, if we -- again, if we sat down as adults, we could solve that problem. as a matter of fact, i think some of that activity, some of those discussions actually began yesterday. i think all of us want to make
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sure that consumers are pro teghtd. there's no question both sides of the aisle understand that in many ways there needs to be more transparency. there needs to be more accountability. and, madam president, i had some great negotiations with senator dodd from connecticut. we reached a middle ground. i'll say that again. we reached a middle ground. we have an understanding that leadership on our side of the aisle was in agreement with. and, madam president, what i would say is, let's get back there. let's get this consumer protection, let's get this new agency back in the middle of the road. let's protect consumers and let's make sure at the same time that it doesn't undermine the safety and soundness of our financial system. we can do that. we can do that in two or three or four days. it can be done. it's not that complicated. we've worked through many of the issues. on derivatives, madam president, i could not agree more that we
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need to make sure that we use to the that the senate we can clearing houses to make sure that when companies are trading in kerrive tifs and -- kerrive tifs and money bad, they get even, they put up cash to make sure that they're not money bad so that we don't end up in the same position that we were when a.i.g. had not done that, had not triewd up on a detail -- trued up on a daily basis and they found themselves with huge liabilities that they could not own up to which destabilized our financial system. that's not where we need to be. but, madam president, we know what we need to do. look, this is a very complex piece of legislation. there's no doubt. and it's intellectually challenging to try to work through it and try to make sure that you don't have unintended consequences by not fully seeing what a piece of legislation in the senate might do. the fact is we can do this. this is not that heavy.
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madam president, it's my understanding that the chairman of the banking committee, the chairman of the banking committee plans to bring this bill forward on april 26th, maybe a week later. it's my understanding that we may deal with other issues. maybe it's the first week of may. what i would say to everybody in this body and anybody who may be watching, we can easily, we can easily reach a bipartisan consensus on this. we just have to have the ability to sit down and do that. and what i would say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, i consider it not a good-faith effort, not a good-faith effort to instead of sitting down with the principals involved in this since day one, the ranking member of the committee, the people on the committees, instead of sitting down with them to try to work through these issues and create a template on the floor, a
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template -- it doesn't have to address every single issue, but a template on the floor that deals with, instead of doing that, reaching out and trying to find one person, one person to come over, i don't consider that a good-faith effort, i'm sorry. i hope that that type of activity will end. that is not, that is not what has been stated as to how we can reach a bipartisan bill. let me go back to the template. this is complex, this piece of legislation. to me, what we need to do is sit down together. we could have it done in a week, as i mentioned. sit down together and work through the main issues in this template. let's deal with derivatives, let's deal with the consumer, let's deal with systemic risk and the systemic risk council. let's deal with orderly
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liquidation. then there are going to be some issues that i promise you, members on our side of the aisle, there is no way we could reach agreement on in our own caucus, and i know there are issues on the other side of the aisle, that there is no way their caucus could reach consensus on some of the issues. having to do with governance. having to do with some of the securities issues that may exist in title ix. and let's debate those issues on the floor. my guess is that if we did that, there are going to be some amendments adopted that i don't think were particularly good ideas. there will be some amendments adopted that my friends on the other side of the aisle would not think are particularly good ideas, but at the end of the day, we would have come to the floor with a template that on the big issues we have reached bipartisan agreement, and then we can have amendments to debate here on the floor. some of the other issues that maybe delve down into some details that don't necessarily change the entire bill but address the issues that members in this body think are
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important. so let me say one more time, madam president, i consider it an honor to serve in this body. i have enjoyed more than any issue we have dealt with trying to reach a consensus on this financial regulation bill. there is plenty of fault to go around on both sides of the aisle that does not need to be rehashed at this moment. the fact is we are where we are. we're getting ready to deal with a major piece of legislation. the good i can say is there is numbers of people on both sides of the aisle that have spent a lot of time trying to understand the complexities of these issues. i'm actually really proud of the work that members on both sides of the aisle have done to try to understand these issues in a real way. so let's get those folks together. let's sit down, let's work out this template. let's bring a real bipartisan bill to the floor. not a bill where you go out and you make a deal with one person
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and bring him over. maybe there is other things going on at the same time. that's not what i call a bipartisan bill. let's bring it to the floor, let's debate it, let's do what the people all across this country have elected us to do. let's come to the floor and let's act like adults. let's tone down the rhetoric. let's don't exaggerate the pluses or the minuses. let's do what the senate was created to do. we were supposed to be the cool heads. we were supposed to be the people that took some of the red hot activities that sometimes can come from the other body and sat down with cooler heads and resolved these issues like adults. we can do that. as a matter of fact, i would say if we cannot do that on financial regulation, an issue that really doesn't have any real philosophical bearings to it. i mean, there are some differences in points of view,
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but at the end of the day, we all want to make sure that we address financial regulation in an important way, that we do what we can to alleviate risk in the system without stifling innovation. i think everybody still wants this country to be the world leader, to be the world leader in financial innovation, but we want to do so in a manner that doesn't create risk, that doesn't upset our economy, that doesn't have periods of time where we have such risk and instability that people are unemployed. we all want to do that. so, madam president, i would say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, i believe a commitment was made. i took it as a real commitment that after this bill came out of committee, we were going to sit down like adults and reach a bipartisan agreement on a template that would be brought to this floornd -- floor and
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debated like adults. i took that as a commitment. i expect that commitment to be honored. i look forward to that process beginning. thank you, madam president. i notice the aence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mrs. hutchison: madam president, i ask unanimous consent to lift the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. hutchison: madam president, later today, president obama will travel to the kennedy space center in florida. he will visit with employees and officials there and deliver a speech on his vision for nasa. we have begun to learn the details about some of what the president may be announcing, with you -- but so far, nothing
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has been suggested that alleviates the concerns that i expressed on the floor earlier this week. in fact, i am growing more concerned. i have serious questions about the administration's proposed vision. for example, the president is proposing to rely on a commercial space launch industry that is still in its infancy. once the space shuttle is retired, a commercial vehicle would be the only american human space flight capability for the foreseeable future. further, we are about to complete the international space station and begin the period of scientific research that we have been waiting for. for the past ten years, we have waited for the space station to be up and going and operable. at the same time that it is now becoming operable, we are beginning to phase out the space shuttle program, and that is the
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only means that we have to deliver crew and cargo to the space station. we are nowhere close to having an alternative to the shuttle, whether government operated or commercial operation. congress and the president agree that we should extend the life of the space station to at least 2020. that only makes sense because we have invested $100 billion in this space station. our partners are international. we have contractual commitments to our partners who have also made huge investments in the space station, and yet now we are looking at stopping our shuttle at the end of this year so that our alternatives are going to be very limited. we must be certain that the space station can be supplied and maintained with the spare parts and equipment it needs to operate for the next ten years.
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it may well be that equipment needed to ensure the sustainability of the space station can only be delivered by the space shuttle. i introduced legislation last month to require nasa to have a review of the station components and identify anything that might be needed to be delivered to equip it for its research mission. of course, nasa could do that review right now, without legislation, and i urge general bolden, the nasa administrator, to undertake such a review, particularly in light of the space shuttle not being extended under the president's proposal. it is still possible that we could extend the time between the shuttle flights to deliver the necessary materials to the station, and that is an option i believe we need to preserve. this is also part of the
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legislation that i introduced because it would prolong the time that we can put our own astronauts into space with our own vehicle that we know is reliable. that is the key. we don't have to add more into the budget. the budget is already providing for two more space shuttles this year plus one that would be a contingency, and we have this paid for in the budget if we will just extended -- just extend these out, it will give us so many more national options that would be in america's best interests. without a nasa-managed alternative for human access to space, we will be dependent on the russian soyuz rockets to take american, european, japanese and canadian crew members to the space station. today, it is a cost of
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of $56 million per passenger. now, that price could go up. if we end the space shuttles this year, we don't know what the next contract might have, especially when it is realized that we will have no capability and are shutting down our own capabilities at the time that we would be asking for help from the russians. of even more concern is the possibility that without a shuttle or other alternative, that any failure of the soyuz for any period of time could lead the space station to be abandoned and become an orbiting example of space debris. what if something happened to the russian program, and what if the commercial industry that is very fledgling doesn't come up with an alternative or worse yet, what if they go out of business? well, these are the concerns that the president is not
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addressing in its budget for nasa, and i hope that he will become more willing to look at the long-term consequences of what he is proposing to do if we are going to retain our leadership position, in case, in economics, and in security. these and other concerns have been expressed by a number of other individuals, editorial boards and organizations over the past days. i would like to insert into the record letters and editorials expressing serious reservations about the president's plan and its adverse impact to our nation's future leadership in space. madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the letters from which i am going to read and the editorials be made a part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. hutchison: i'm going to highlight a number of the key quotes from these documents. let me start with a letter by three of our nation's renowned
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astronauts, true american heroes neil armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon from america, commander of apollo xi, james lovell, commander of apollo xiii and james cernan, commander of apollo xvii. in a letter, they state that although some of the president's proposals have merit, the decisions to con sell the constellation program is devastating. they say -- "america's only path to low earth orbit and the international space station will now be subject to an agreement with russia to purchase space on their soyuz at a price of over over $50 million per seat with significant increases expected in the near future. until we have the capacity to provide transportation for
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ourselves, the availability of a commercial transport to orbit as envisioned in the president's proposal cannot be predicted with any certainty but is likely to take substantially longer and be more expensive than we would hope. it appears that we will have wasted our current current $10 billion-plus investment in the constellation and equally important we will have lost the many years required to re-create the equivalent of what we have now discarded. for the united states, the leading space ferrying nation for nearly half a century to be without carriage to low earth orbit and with no human space exploration capability to go beyond earth orbit for an indeterminant time in the future destines our nation to become one of the second or even third-rate in stature. while the president's plan envisages humans traveling away
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from earth and perhaps toward mars at some time in the future, the lack of developed rockets and spacecraft will assure that ability will not be available for many years. without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the u.s.a. is far too likely to be on a downhill slide to mediocrity. america must decide if it wishes to be a leader in space. if it does, we should institute a program which gives us the very best chance of achieving that goal." that is all from the letter signed by neil armstrong, james level and eugene sermon. in another letter to president obama, 27 space experts, including naugh astronaut and os make the points, america is nearing the ending of a shuttle program and to cancel the
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constellation program. this is wrong for our country for many reasons. we are very concerned about america ceding its hard-earned global leadership in space technology to other nations. we are stunned that in a time of economic crisis this move will force as many as 30,000 irreplaceable engineers an managers out of the space industry. we see our human exploration program, one of the most inspirational tools to promote science, technology, engineering, and math to our young people being reduced to mediocrity. nasa's human space program has inspired all in wonder in all ages by pursuing the american tradition of exploring the unknown. we strongly urge you to drop this misguided proposal that forces nasa out of human space operation for the foreseeable future.
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from those of us who have accepted the risk and dedicated a portion of our lives to the exploration of outer space, this is a terrible decision. america's greatness lies in her people. she will always have men and women willing to ride rockets into the heavens. america's challenge is to match their bravery and acceptance of risk with specific plans and goals worthy of their commitment. nasa must continue at the frontiers of human space exploration in order to develop the technology and set the standards of excellence that will enable commercial space ventures to eventually succeed. canceling nasa's human space operations after 50 years of unparalleled achievement makes that objective impossible. one of the greatest fears of any generation is not leaving things better for the young people of the next. in the area of human space
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flight we are about to realize that fear. your nasa budget proposal raises more questions about our future in space than it answers. that all from the letter that was signed by 27 people who have dedicated their lives to america's space exploration. in an open letter by astronaut lee archibald who was a pilot on atlantis in 2007 and discovery in 2009, he says, "as the space program marchs closer to its apparent end, nasa's future is in jeopardy more now than perhaps at any time in our history. the shuttle retirement would yield sole access to the international space station to russia for the projected seven-year gap, the u.s. human space flight tbap. others argue that commercial alternatives exist to ferry our
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astronauts to and from the space station. not quite yet. our commercial industry is, indeed, getting closer to attaining the ability to send unmanned spacecraft to the space station as we supply ships. ultimately these companies may produce spacecraft safe enough for human travel to low-earth orbit. i would not base the future on the space station for access much sooner if at all than 2017 if orion is capable of flying to the space station. this option cannot be considered a viable gap filler at this point not until orion or a commercial alternative is indeed ready and capable of transporting our astronauts to and from the space station should we consider retiring the space shuttle. the future of nasa and our manned exploration of space must include flying the shuttle
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through the gap whatever it may be. finally this week in an editorial from "the washington times" entitled "losing it in space," the editorial from the "times" says, pity por nasa. -- poor nasa. rather than reaching for the stars it has settled its sights on studying shrimp schools beneath the antarctic ice cap and sticky accelerators on toyotas. such is the scope of hope and change in president obama's universe. the editorial goes on to say, in his 2011 budget the president zeroed out nasa constellation project, the project of launch and landing vehicles that were to replace the aging space shuttle fleet to carry americans into space. this is not a cost-cutting move. the agency is budgeted to receive $19 billion next year.
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and mr. obama wants to throw an additional $6 billion at it over the next five years. the hitch is he wants to shift its mission toward climate research and airplane design. anxious to stay relevant, nasa agreed to research the cause of toyota's sudden acceleration problem. nasa administrator charles bolden said thursday that federal money is budgeted for fostering the growth of the space industry including the development of space taxis. but if the results of the president's stimulus are any indication, command economic policy is an inefficient generator of jobs. it goes on to say, as nasa's wings are clipped, our competitors soar. the u.s. space agency even had to sign a $340 million deal with russia on april 6th, to
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transports astronauts to the international space station through 2014. by then china intends to conduct an ambitious schedule of flights with its spacecraft. it doesn't take much imagination to envision the day when nasa must pay its asian competitor large sums for american astronauts to ride into orbit as passengers. thanks to mr. obama, the united states will be dependent on russia and china for space travel. the editorial goes on, the space program is a great symbol of the american achievement. the day this nation cedes this conquest to others is the day that we admit that we forfeited our competitive exceptionalism. the study of the antarctic shrimp ecosystem and automobile amoplies should be left to others. a less costly nasa should be relieved of extraneous
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responsibilities and allowed to retain its core mission, one that no other agency can accomplish, the exploration of space. on behalf of all americans, floridians should make certain the president gets the message loud and clear when he hosts a conference about the agency's future on thursday, today, in the sunshine state. let nasa be nasa. that is the editorial from "the washington times" earlier this week. let me remind my colleagues that the augustine committee, which the obama administration asked to review the nation's human space flight activities use a subtitle for its report which proposed a set of options for a space program worthy of a great nation. the items i have submitted for the record reflect the thoughts and feelings of many of those who gave us a space program that was worthy of greatness. i believe their words represent
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a challenge that congress and the president must meet. mr. president, in a few hours president obama will share the details of his latest vision for our nation's future space program. i still remain hopeful that the president will come away from this visit today with a deeper understanding of what is at stake in our nation's history of space exploration. i renew my offer to work with the president in my congress -- and my congressional colleagues to come up with a plan that makes sense for america. the principles necessary to bridge the gap between the president and congress have been set forward by the bipartisan legislation that i have introduced and has also been introduced on the house side. all that is needed to align these principles with the president's goals and existing budget realities is a willingness to take the same risks that have been hallmarks of our nation's commitments to
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space exploration. madam president, some people would say, you know, we've got to cut the budget somewhere. why not here? madam president, the answer is, this doesn't cut the budget. the president's proposal does not cut the budget. it increases the budget. it just turns the money over to private companies that are as yet unproven to try to do something that we have already made a $10 billion investment in and cut it off. and when it is cut off, we will lose all that has been gained, the engineering, the -- the science, the research that has gone into this will be lost. those people will go into other areas. we will not be able to recreate it. but, yet, we haven't cut the budget a penny. what we have done is squander the capability for america to
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continue to be the leader of the world in innovation, in creativity and, most certainly, in taking the risk to explore the heavens which have produced so many results in our country. it has produced results from national defense capabilities. we are putting -- we are using satellites to put bombs into windows from miles out so that we will not have collateral damage and hurt innocent people. we learned that by exploring the heavens. we now have velcro, we have m.r.i.'s, we have health benefits that we could never have gotten without the research that we did to go into space. now we have a $100 billion investment in a space station that will specialize within
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n.i.h. and other agencies in doing research that cannot be done on the ground because of the microgravity conditions. and, yet, we are stopping the capability at the end of this year for americans to go into space under our own auspices. madam president, this is not sound policy for our country. and i'm urging the president to listen to people like neil armstrong and gene sernon and jim level, and former administrators that have knowledge behind mine or his about what we can do for the future. we need to rethink the position that is being announced today and remember that america's greatness is dependent on our creativity and our entrepreneurial spirit. and stopping midtrack and
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turning everything over to private companies that are in their fledgling stage is not the answer. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the president from arizona. mr. mccain: i ask unanimous consent to extend morning business for up to 10 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: i thank you. today is april 15th. perhaps the most dreaded day of the year for the american taxpayer. at some point today millions of people will engage in a painful, complicated and uniquely american exercise, filing their federal tax returns. according to the tax foundation, americans worked well over three months -- over three months, from january 1st to april 9th before they earned enough money to pay tax obligations at the federal, state, and local level. congress has succeeded in establishing a pattern of taxing and spending to the point that
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the average american must work a full 99 days of the year just to pay their taxes. sadly, while we continue to spend and spend and spend here in our nation's capital, the tax burden carried by the average american gets heavier and heavier and heavier. on september 12, 2008, dover, new hampshire, candidate obama said this and i quote -- "i can make a firm pledge under my plan no family making less tha than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase, not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes." another interesting quote from then candidate obama. according to data released yesterday by the house, ways, and means committee since january of 2009, president obama and the congressional democrats have enacted into law gross tax increases totaling more tha
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than $670 billion or more tha than $2,100 for every man, woman, and child in the united states of america. the list of tax increases includes at least 14 violations of the president's pledge not to raise taxes on americans earning less than $200,000 for singles and $250,000 for married couples. for example, there is a new tax on individuals who don't much government-approved health insurance. there is a new tax on employers who fail to fully comply with government health insurance mandates. there is a new 40% excise tax on certain high-cost health plans. there is a new ban on the purchase of over the counter drugs using funds from f.h.a.'s, and h.r.a.'s. there is an increase from 7.5% to 10% of income, the threshold after which individuals can deduct out-of-pocket medical expenses. there is a new $2,500 annual cap
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on f.s.a. contributions. there is a new annual tax on health insurance. there is a new annual tax on brand name parmts. there is a new 2.3% excise tax on certain medical devices. there is a new 10% tax on indoor u.v. ultraviolet tanning services. there is a new tax on insured and self-insured health plans, and it's double the penalty for nonqualified health savings accounts distributions. there is a tobacco tax increase. there is federal unemployment surtaxes which have been extended through 2011, and there is more and more on the list. in addition to the financial burden associated with all of the tax increases heaped upon the american people in the past year, taxpayers face the added anxiety of a complicated, antiquated and oversized tax code. let's look at what americans go through every year in order to
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meet the april 15 deadline as reported by the national review online. as april 15 approaches, like an incoming monsoon, millions of americans brace for the pain of writing checks to the i.r.s. even worse, this annual discomfort begins even earlier as taxpayers generate a cyclone of documents just to calculate their tax liability. america's excruciatingly complex tax compliance regime deepens the aggravation of sending hard-earned cash to washington for virtual incineration by congress. completing tax forms require 7.75 billion hours of human labor in the 2008 fiscal year, according to the latest reg data. that equals everyone in los angeles filling out i.r.s. forms
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for 40 hours every week all year without vacations. that involves more workers than those at the fortune 500's five biggest employers. the national taxpayers union david keating concludes in a forthcoming report." more than everybody at wal-mart, u.p.s., mcdonald's, i.b.m. and citigroup combined." keating also found that individual taxpayers would devote some 2.43 billion hours grappling with the income tax in 2010 at an equivalent labor cost of $71.4 billion. add to this the $31.5 billion that individual taxpayers will cough up for tax software, accounting services, photo copying, and other compliance-related expenses. all told, individual taxpayers will spend $103 billion to determine how much more money
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they must purpose into the beltway. meanwhile, the i.r.s. website now offers 1,909 different documents -- that's up from 1,770 last year. these include the rivetting form 8833, treaty based return position disclosure under section 6114, or 7701 b. don't miss form 99 -- w, estimated tax on unrelated business taxable income for tax-exempt organizations. this year's basic 1040 tax return includes 76 lines and 174 pages of instructions, up from 68 lines and 52 pages in 1985. last year, the national taxpayers union calculated that u.s. corporations spent
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spent $159.4 billion on tax compliance, equal to 54% of corporate income tax revenue. in 2008, general electric's tax return droned on for some 24,000 pages. it's abundantly clear that we're on a path to fiscal disaster. david walker, the former head of the government accountability office and current president and c.e.o. of the peter g. peterson foundation and one of the most respected budget experts in the nation, recently said, and i quote -- "the financial condition of the united states has deteriorated dramatically in recent years. importantly, our primary fiscal threat is not today's deficit and debt levels, but the structural deficits and escalating debt burdens that will occur after the economy has recovered, unemployment is down, the wars are over, and the
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recent crisis have passed. these large and growing structural deficits and the tens of trillions in unfunded federal government promises that drive them to serve to threaten the future of our country and our families. we must begin to take steps now to put our federal financial house in order. in addition, we must achieve some meaningful reforms within the next three years in order to help avoid a crisis of confidence that could have much worse economic consequences for america, americans and the world than the recent housing and financial crisis. today all over america, there will be people demonstrating at tea parties, at gatherings, at organizations, at coffee shops, at restaurants, at places of business, at the water cooler. people all over america will be talking today about this incredible, complex, difficult,
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burdensome system that we have laid on the american people. fundamentally unfair, fundamentally incomprehensible to average citizens. most citizens now, after they file their tax returns will live in some concern if not grave concern that they didn't make a mistake because of this incredibly complex document we call the i.r.s. and the tax bills that we have, and these americans, these american citizens can't be positive even if they have gone to an accountant that they won't be audited and then subject to further penalties. we need to clean up the tax code. we need to stop the spending. we need to restore confidence in the american people. there is a veritable uprising
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going on out there. it's a peaceful one. it's all over america. on a day like today, when they see that their taxes have increased by some $670 billion, just in the last year, that this will fuel the fire that's spreading across america and will culminate this coming november. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. coburn: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order the leadership time is reserved, under the previous order -- i'm sorry. morning business is closed. under the previous order the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 4851, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar 323, h.r. 4851, an act to provide a temporary extension of certain programs and for other purposes. mr. coburn: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: thank you. i appreciate it. and i appreciate senator reid in terms of his working with us. we're going to try to work through the amendments that we have left today and hopefully get this taken care of tonight. that's our in -- our intent has not been to slow down, but, rather, to pay for this as most
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of our colleagues know. i want to discuss amendment 3726, which has already been called up and is pending. i don't believe there's another pending amendment at this time. is that correct? the presiding officer: 3727 is also spending. mr. coburn: that's my amendment as well. i thank you. let me describe it. yesterday we defeated by a vote of 51-46, actually smart financial management that would have paid for all the costs for the next 60 days for the unemployment insurance. what we were doing was utilizing money that we're already paying interest on that is sitting, not being used by taking a portion of that to pay for this so that we don't go and borrow anothe another $18.2 billion. the wisdom of the senate said, no, we don't want to do that. so we -- we're going to have two
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other opportunities on a way to finance that today. and this amendment basically takes the agreed to tax loopholes that we agreed to before we left for the spring work period and adds to that half as much of the financial management money that i recommended we do yesterday and the amendment was defeated. so we -- we have abou about $9.5 billion worth of tax loophole closures that we've already agreed to in this amendment and $20 billion, which will save $10 billion in terms of the c.b.o. scores it -- it's ridiculous the way they score it, but in terms of the way they score it, we have to mov move $20 billion so we can save $10 billion. but the point is is we get an option. we can borrow anothe another $18.2 billion to pay for this or we can take money that we're already utilizing very
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inefficiently and pay for it. and we're going to choose not to do it again. we'll probably get another 46 or 47 votes. but we're going to choose to transfer the cost of helping people today to our grandchildren. because in my lifetime we're not going to pay back any of this money. so we're going to be borrowing and paying interest on thi this $18.2 billion over the next 30 years. so the cost really isn't $18.2 billion. it's $18.2 billion times 6%, times 106, times 106, times 106, it will cost our kid kids $60 billion because we're going to refuse to pay for something that we ought to do. we're also not going to do is we're not going to make tough choices about priorities like every family in this country has to do. we're going to refuse to do
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that. we're going to say we're going to keep the bad habits, the thing that has got u us $12.85 trillion in debt, the thing that's got us 75 - 75 -- $75 trillion in unfunded liabilities, we are going to continue that process. we're going to continue that process until such time we can no longer borrow the money. that's what it seems like to me. in other words, only until we can't go to the world markets and finance debt against our comirn's future -- children's future, are we going to change the habits in the u.s. senate or the u.s. congress. and when we -- every dollar we spend this year will -- 43 cents of it will be borrowed. what are the long-term consequences of that?
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we're very plainly speaking of what the long-term consequences of that is a lower standard of living for those that follow us. a marked decrease in opportunity, a loss of freedom, an inhibition in entrepreneurial spirit. and, truly, an unwinding of what -- the gift that was given to us which was this great opportunity and this great freedom. you know, we don't often make the connection between freedom and debt as a government, but we do personally. because our choices when we're highly in debt as individuals, our choices start getting limited. and if you're in a business that is -- has a high degree of debt, your choices get limited by those who loan you the money. because they start getting involved in your decision-making process.
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and if you really look at our foreign policy today, that's happening to us with what we're trying to do in terms of sanctions on iran. who are the two nations that own the most of our debt who also are least likely to agree with us on harsh sanctions for iran? it's china and russia. they're our number one and number two holders of our bonds. so we're giving up tremendous flex ilty and -- flexibility and freedom. and i would put forward if we can't find $18.2 billion in our federal government as we run today, which is going to spend over $4 trillion this year, none of us need to be here. we need a whole new 100 senators if we can't find $18.2 billion. but the institutional stronginess of always - doing it
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the same way is inhibiting us from creating a bright future for our children. i won't detail the exact tax loophole closures that we've had, but we've agreed that they could be utilized for this purpose, both senator baucus and senator reid, and senator mcconnell, and myself. and they come to a total o of $9.756 billion. and to properly manage our money instead of having money sitting that's been appropriated, but not obligated -- and that's almost $900 billion that's sitting out there in the agencies that's not being utilized, hadn't been committed for two years, to not utilize that money is foolhardy. so my hope is that my colleagues
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will consider at some point in the future that we have to start making harder choices. and i understand the bias against it. it eliminates some of these -- somebody's control of power. but where should the power be in this country? should it be in the senate or should it be in the american people? do the american people want us to pay for this? absolutely. 5-1 think that anything we're doing new, we ought to be paying for. yet it's going to skid through here today and we're going to add another $18.2 billion over the next 60 days that we don't have to, but we're going to choose specifically to do. and i want to leave with one last point on this amendment. when we say there's nothing else that we can do to be eliminated in the federal government to pay
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for it, what we're saying is all the waste, all the fraud, all the duplication is more important than helping people with unemployment insurance, because if it was less important, we would eliminate it and pay for the unemployment, but by not paying for it, by not making the choice to pay for it, what we have said is we have elevated everything else above this as a priority. we have refused to do what every other business, what every other family, what every other organization except the federal government has to do, and that's to make tough choices. in my own state of oklahoma, the legislature right now and the governor are making tough choices. they are going to cut several hundred million dollars from our budget. i promise you they are going to go and look at what is least important so that they can continue to fund what is most important. we'll have none of it.
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we have demonstrated none of it. we lack the character and courage to do what is best for the future. now let me talk about amendment 3727, which is again another opportunity, another way to pay for this good thing that we want to do. it also has two components. the first component utilizes the agreed to closure of tax loopholes of $9.7 billion. but then it gives us some real chance to do some real good things to eliminate spending that is low priority. there is 14 spending provisions that i propose eliminating in
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this amendment. many of them have been endorsed by president obama and president bush and before him president clinton. in the past three months, the president endorsed five of these offsets. the house passed four of them. and the senate passed one identical to one section in section 203. what's the first one? according to the government accountability office, we paid out $1.1 billion to dead farmers. and that's over the last seven-year period. 40% of those payments were to people who had been dead more than three years. most people in america would say maybe you ought to eliminate that. maybe farmers who have been dead for more than three years shouldn't continue to get payments from the government. that will save us $1.1 billion
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over ten years, if we just hold the department of truer -- of agriculture accountable to not continue to make payments to people who are not deserving it. we have -- we recently passed a senator feingold amendment to the f.a.a. bill that rescinds any d.o.t. earmarks that remain 90% or more unobligated after nine years of being appropriated. with the possibility of holding funds to one for year the agency heads believes will be funded within the following 12 months. the only difference between what we passed and this amendment is that this section applies to all agencies, not just the department of transportation. the secretary of the department of transportation endorsed the feingold amendment. well, if it works for the department of transportation, why wouldn't we do that everywhere on earmarks?
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it's $500 million savings immediately, and we can't quantify through the c.b.o. what it will be in the future, but it will probably be at least that every year. another section is the president's request to eliminate a duplicative bus grant program. this would repeal the inner city bus security grant program. president obama recommended this this $12 million program be eliminated because the grant awards aren't based on risk and it's duplicative of the public rail grant security transit program that's already out there and much less important than any other homeland security priorities. it saves us $120 million. in other words, the president doesn't want it. the department of transportation doesn't want it. but somebody who is getting that grant somewhere is going to say no, we can't do that, even though there is a duplicative grant program already in place to take care of it.
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section 235 of this amendment would repeal the resource conservation development program. president obama recommended this this $51 million program be eliminated because it's outlived its need for federal support. it was first begun in 1962 as a temporary program. it was intended to build community leadership skills through the establishment of the rcnd councils. these councils are now all up and running, secure funding for the continued operation without any money coming from rcnd. it saves $510 million. why would we continue to spend the money? the president, the leader of our country, agrees with it. it's been voted on several times, but it will be voted against today because somebody somewhere is still sucking off
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this in a way that's not efficient and that's not a priority for the country. section 236 would repeal the brown fields economic development initiative. president obama recommended this program be eliminated because it is a duplicative of a larger, more efficient federal program, and local governments have access to many other public and private funds that address the same purposes. this was designed to assist cities with redevelopment of abandoned, idled and underused industrial and commercial facilities where expansion and redevelopment is burdened by real or potential environmental contamination. they have eliminated almost all of those, and we have a better program now taking care of it. which goes back to the habits of congress. we create new programs to address the need of what some may think a present program isn't doing, rather than change the present program. and here the administration as well as the bush administration agreed that we should eliminate
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that. that's $180 million over ten years. section 237, this provision would repeal water and waste water treatment projects administered by the u.s. army corps of engineers. president obama recommended eliminating these projects. they are duplicative and they are outside of the scope of the corps of engineers. that's what private civil engineering firms do. they plan, build and organize these events. the corps of engineers has stated they do not have the expertise to do these projects, which the environmental protection agency normally funds through other grants and the revolving fund loan program. since these programs were first funded in 1992, they have been exclusively funded through earmarks. in other words, somebody put something special in for one
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city or one place through an earmark. it may not be the highest priority for the country. it may very well just be a priority for the state, but it's been exclusively funded through earmarks. special interest, lobby-generated earmarks. it saves -- it saves saves $1.29 billion over ten years. section 238, this provision would repeal the rail line relocation program. president obama has twice recommended eliminating this program because it's not merit based. in other words, if you're well connected, you get it, but if you have a real need and somebody else has a lower need, you're not going to get it. and it duplicates other federal programs that are larger and that are merit based. the grant program is primarily
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earmarked again. 75% of it gets earmarked every year. what happens is the administrators of the grants don't get to administer the grants based on needs and merit because a senator has already said it will go here instead of into a pool of the greatest need. again, duplicating the existing program that's more efficient, that is based on merit. it's a pot of money for -- it's a slush pot of money for earmarks. you will hear lots of complaints about eliminating that program, even though the administration wants to get rid of it as well. savings, $340 million. enacting -- this is section 239. enacting rescissions offered and passed by the house leadership. this would rescind $112 million from a commerce department program designed to provide
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coupons to households to help people buy analog and digital converter boxes. this has already been used. that program isn't going anymore because everybody has converted. and so why should we continue to put money out to a program that nobody is going to utilize? that money was used for an offset for a summer job youth program in the house already this year but did not come here. estimated savings, $115 million. section 241, enacting the usda nutrition rescissions amendments offered and passed by the house leadership. this would rescind almost almost $362 million of unobligated, reserved stimulus funds for the w.i.c. program. this offset was selected because it was identified by the house appropriators, and they unanimously voted to use these funds to offset another program.
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so it's obviously a low priority. it's a reserve fund. it hadn't been utilized. it's setting there, and we need to eliminate it rather than borrow the money. again, there is three or four other sections. there is a final section -- or a next to final section on federal real property disposal. we have 21,000 buildings that we own that we don't use, but yet we don't have a clear way to allow government agencies to dispose of property, so last year on these 21,000 buildings that we can't get rid of because we have created a block to do so, we spent $8 billion maintaining them even though we're not using them. now, we could sell those, we
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could give them to the states, we could do a lot of things that would immediately save us us $8 billion. but if we sold them and we saved saved $8 billion a year, over the next ten years, that's that's $80 billion, not counting anything we might get for selling them. we might have some costs associated with raising some of them. according to the office of management and budget, 46,745 buildings that are underutilized , with a total value of the ones that we should be selling, are worth worth $83 billion. and we're going to hear people say no, you can't do that. you can't sell those buildings. why? why would we go borrow money when we could sell buildings we're not using for $83 billion? almost enough in properties that
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we don't need and are having to maintain to pay for this entire bill. estimated savings this year alone from starting this would be $4 billion -- just from starting it, that process, would save us at least $4 billion this year. section 244, what we know is that at least 28 federal programs totaling over over $9 billion support job training and employment. 18 of these programs fall under the labor department's jurisdiction, and the agency spends $130 million administering its training and employment programs. so you have got 18 programs rather than one, you're spending
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spending $130 million just to manage them. this is just inside the department of labor. rather than have one job training program with one set of administrators and not duplicating that administrative cost all the way across the board. savings of probably $100 million to $130 million annually. there's well in excess of of $22 billion to $24 billion in this second amendment, numbered 3727. so the question becomes this -- we continue down this road, fair to our kids, fair to us because the senate refuses to act responsibly i've heard the harsh rhetoric.
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you don't care about the people who are unemployed because you think we ought to pay for it. you know, i think there's two sets of people we ought to be caring for. i think we ought to be caring for the unemployed and making sure they have sustenance and needs fulfilled, as long as they qualify for that. but i think we ought to care about those that are going to follow us, those that are going to pay back this $18.2 billion. are they not both important? especially when we know we waste through fraud, duplication, and waste $300 billion a year in the federal government. and i've just come up with $20 billion of it. we've got enough fraud, waste and duplication in the federal government to pay for this, for the whole rest of the year, to pay for the war supplemental that's getting ready to come without borrowing another penny against the backs and future opportunities and freedom of our children.
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i'm pretty cynical about whether we're going to do that. i think the american people have to change who's here for us to ever get to the point where we're going to start making the hard choices that families have to make. but i think that's a fight worth having for our future. i think it's a fight worth having for my grandkids and everybody else's grandkids. i was born in 1948 right after the end of the war. we had the highest debt ratio we've ever had in this country. but because we had a limited government, what happened was, is we moved greatly and expanded both growth, opportunity, innovation and wealth through the hard work and great character and spirit of the american people and we handled that. we can do that again. but we can't do it if we don't have the leadership that's necessary to do it. we have to start sometime to start paying for what we're doing. we have to start making choices.
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i know -- that's a rare occasion in washington but it's one i sense the american people are going to start demanding. i've been working at this for 5 behalf years -- or almost 5 1/2 years. i've not made much progress other than to make sure that the american people are informed of the absolute atrocious amount of stupidity, waste, duplication that goes on up here. it's time we act. and since the majority controls the outcome and they'll let a few senators vote for these amendments, we'll get a high number but not enough to make a difference. and the question we ought to be asking is: what's so wrong with trying to pay for what we're doing?
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oh, well, we've always done it as an emergency, we've always charged it to our kids. well, we haven't always been $12.8 trillion in debt. we haven't always been to the point that in 2010, we're going to have a debt-to-g.d.p. ratio of 90%, which means we're going to have about $20 trillion in debt. and that's going to suppress and depress our economy by two percentage points in terms of growth. we've never been here before. in terms of the risk to our economy. i see the chairman of the finance committee is here and i will just close with saying we're going to start doing this. the question is, is when. and the question is, should we be doing it when we're in control or when the bankers outside of america are in control? the sovereign nations outside that are going to tell us how we will and what we won't do?
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just like what's happening to greece today. you know, the leadership in greece are making decisions not because of what they want to but because of what they have to, and they're not necessarily nice choices for the people of greece. that can and will happen to us if we don't change. and i'd yield the floor. mr. baucus: madam president? madam president, i have 12 unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. baucus: madam president, yesterday the senate tabled the amendment offered by the senator from oklahoma by a vote of 51- 51-46. that motion to table was successful. and shortly i'll move to table the two pending coburn
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amendments. the senate should reject these two amendments offered by the good senator from oklahoma for the same reasons that the senate rejected the other amendment yesterday. the senator makes basically the same argument for each of his three amendments and they appear pretty much to be a set of amendments. the senator argues that this emergency temporary extension of unemployment insurance benefits is the place to draw the line, is the place to draw the line in which we need to make a stand to balance the budget. madam president, i agree with him that the nation should turn to serious budget negotiations. our high budget deficits are unconscionable. they must be addressed. we should balance the budget over the life of the business cycle. we should balance the budget as quickly as we possibly can. but we should not balance the budget in the grips of the worst recession since the great depression.
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doing that would only put more people out of work. i might say, madam president, that at a hearing yesterday held by the finance committee, the well-known economist, mark zandy, who was advisor to presidential candidate john mccain, volunteered that this is not the time to draw that line on -- on deficit reduction. that is, that we should not force people who are unemployed to bear the brunt of -- of -- of offsets at this time. this is not the time to balance the budget now that we're facing this -- this recession. i might also point out, we should not balance the budget on the backs of unemployed americans who, through no fault of their own, are struggling to get by in this recession. they need these unemployment benefits, madam president, and if we were to adopt the amendment offered by the senator from oklahoma, first of all, it would be a mistake; serkd the
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bill would have to go -- second, the bill would have to go back to the house. the house has said they wouldn't accept it. so for another several days, people who deserve unemployment insurance benefits would not be getting them. this congress failed to act some time ago. as a consequence of unemployment -- as a consequence, unemployment benefits have expired and people who deserve unemployment benefits are not getting those benefits. and if we were to again adopt the amendment and the senate would have a longer period of time in which people who were waiting for their benefits would not be getting them. it's just wrong, frankly, madam president, for this congress not to have passed the temporary extension a short while ago. it's just wrong but that's something that's happened and it's unfortunate so we're here trying to correct that. hundreds of thousands of unemployed americans are already going without unemployment insurance benefits, again, because we have not passed this bill. hundreds of thousands more will go without unemployment insurance benefits if we do not pass the bill this week.
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i must -- i'll repeat myself here. if we were to adopt either of the coburn amendments, the house of representatives have made it clear it would simply send the bill back to us again without the coburn language, so adopting either of these amendments would simply further delay the need -- further delay the needed aid to unemployed americans struggling to get by. so i urge senators to vote for the motion to table so we can temporarily extend benefits that so many people justly deserve. i yield the floor. and i suggest thabsee of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. baucus: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana of the mr. baucus: madam president, i suggesthat further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. baucus: madam president, i ask consent that at 12:10 p.m. today, the senate proceed to vote in relation to the coburn amendment 3726, to be followed by a vote in relation to 3727, that prior to the second vote, there be two minutes of debate equally divided and controlled in the usual form, that no amendment be in order to either amendment prior to a vote in relation thereto. further, that the time until 12:10 be equally divided and controlled in the usual form. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. baucus: madam president, i now yield such time as the senator from new hampshire would desire. mrs. shaheen: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: thank you, madam president. i rise today to join so many of my colleagues in urging that we
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pass critical extensions of federal unemployment benefits, the cobra health insurance subsidy, flood insurance and other vital programs that expired at the end of march. now, i want to applaud my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who, despite opposition from their leadership, have joined us in moving this legislation forward. but despite the progress that we seem to be making, these extensions have been held up too frequently for too long and the american people deserve better. sadly, twice this year, individual senators have blocked extensions of federal unemployment benefits right as the programs were about to expire. those actions have put struggling families at risk and already this month, over 200,000 americans have lost their benefits and another 30,000 lose their benefits every day until
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we pass an extension. and what's of particular concern is that we've continued to deal with filibusters and delays and obstruction even though almost every member of this body says they want to extend unemployme -- extend unemployment. after weeks of delay, when extensions finally come up for votes, they've passed overwhelmingly. we've had three situations where this has occurred since last fall. in november when the vote on extending unemployment benefits finally came to the floor, that vote was 97-1. in december, when the extension came to the floor, the vote was 88-10. and in march it was 78-19. now, given those majorities, i don't understand how the other
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side of the aisle can justify obstructing votes on these issues in the way that they have. and, madam president, as important as this short-term extension is, the senate must do more to address the long-term challenge of joblessness. of the 15 million americans who are out of work today, nearly 6 million -- so, more than one in three -- have run through the six months of benefits provided by their states. in fact, the average period of unemployment currently stands at a record high of nearly eight months. we need to pass a longer-term extension to provide some stability for the millions of people who are going to need unemployment benefits in the months to come, and i applaud senator baucus, who's been working to try and bridge this gap. and while some people may think it's no big deal to wait a week or two, even short-term expirations have damaging
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results when state workforce agencies are forced to shut down and restart complicated federal benefits programs, they experience huge backlogs in their systems that delay getting checks out the door, even to people who aren't affected by the expiration. phone lines at call centers are jammed with claimants holding up others from filing for benefits while lines at one-stop centers get longer and longer. you know, in the best of circumstances, individuals who lost their benefits during this expiration will have to wait weeks before they begin receiving checks again. that's a very long time when you're supporting a family on an unemployment check. and there's also the uncertainty and the fear that comes when parentparents open the mail to a notice that although their benefits are supposed to last for months to come, this is the last week they're going to receive. families can't afford to make
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the responsible choices to budget and plan for the future when we can't guarantee the future of their benefits and of their safety net. and, you know, the fact is, when somebody is unemployed, it is an emergency in their family and we need to treat this situation extending benefits as an emergency in our federal programs as well. now, i want to conclude by sharing a letter that i got from one of my constituents named joellen from canterbury, new hampshire. she wrotings on april 3, my benefits maxed out, i am in my 60's a nurse and psychotherapist out of work. i'm getting no responses from employers, probably due to my age. i've worked my entire life caring for others. my husband's salary is much lower than what i brought in,
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but i have never had to rely on others. unemployment checks are allowing us to at least pay our bills. it plays havoc with one's body and psyche, affecting one's health and causing monumental anxiety when a vote is taken on a monthly basis to extend benefits. it's the never knowing for sure. those of us who are in the situation are hard-working citizens who've come upon bad times it. i can't believe you won't take care of this horrendous situation immediately." now, unfortunately, like so many in this chamber, i've received dozens of e-mails and letters and phone calls in the last two weeks from granite staters like joellen. unemployment benefits allow them to take care of their families, to fill up their gas tanks so that they can go out and look for work. but the obstructionism that has kept us from passing meaningful
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long-term extension of unemployment benefits is having real effects on the financial, physical, and mental health of our communities. joellen is right. it's horrendous. aim hopefui'm hopeful thatwe'ree agreement from the other side of the aisle that we can move this forward, extend unemployment benefits for those thousands of people who are losing them every single day. thank you, madam president. . baucus: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. but a bhiewch time remains? the presiding officer: six minutes remaining on the democratic side. mr. baucus: i'm sorry? the presiding officer: six minutes. mr. baucus: i yield six minutes to the snr from illinois. mr. burris: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. burris: i'd like to to thank the distinguished senator from montana. i hope i can do my little brief
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remarks in six minutes. this is tax day. senator, i hope your taxes are filed. madam president, my colleagues, the american people are undoubtedly well aware, today is tax day. across the country hundreds of millions of americans are filing their tax returns, paying what they owe, calculating refunds they will receive. now even in the best of time, paying taxes is not something that most americans look forward to. in fact, in the wise words of george washington, i quote, "no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant. ." end of quote. even washington and other founding fathers recognized th thattatiothattaxation is necesst paying taxes is every american's patriotic duty. when they are levied, not by some tyrannical monarch across the ocean but by a representative government, taxes
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are -- and i quote -- "the price we pay for our civilized socie society." end of quote, in the words of oliver wendell holmes. it is the only way a modern government are function. we're each asked to contribute a percentage of our income. in return we expect our government to provide certain essential benefits: a strong, highly capable national defense, adequate roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, and, madam president, quality schools. emergency responders so that there's someone to answer the phone when you call 911. basic regulation and consumer protection so you can buy food and other products without fear of getting sick or suffering injury, a safety net to help you get back on your feet in tough economic times. these are all programs and services that are supported by our tax dollars. they serve functions we cannot
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perform for ourselves, and it is appropriate that the government step in to fulfill this role. that's why my democratic colleagues and i are fighting republican obstructionism to extend unemployment insurance and other benefits people desperately need. that is why i'm proud to report that this year up to 70% of americans will get a tax refund. but even so, my colleagues and i are still painfully aware that, especially in difficult economic times, taxes can be a burden. they can be hard on families that are already stretched to the breaking point, struggling to make ends meet and face paycuts, reduced hours, and even unemployment. madam president, that is why my democratic colleagues and i have been working hard to ease the burden on these families. we have committed ourselves to fight for the interests of
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working americans. our economic recovery remains fragile. the national unemployment rate stands just under 10%. in my home state of illinois, it exceeds 11%. among minority communities, it's much higher. up to 16% of african-americans are currently unemployed along with 12% of hispanics. that is why my democratic colleagues and i have taken action to pass a sweeping stimulus package that brought us back frl from the edge of econoc disaster. while the republicans dragged their feet on cobra, we fought to increase access to this important program. while they talk about enacting responsible tax policy, democrats are actually getting it done. we're working hard to make sure everyone pays their fair share of taxes, but no one is asked to contribute more than they can afford.
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this is why the issue that has defined our party for many years, especially under recent democratic administrations. on the middle-class tax relief provided by president clinton to the largest tax cut in american history which was proposed by president obama and ratified by the -- my democratic colleagues and i just last year. time and again, madam president, we have proven our commitment to commonsense tax policies. we have pressed -- we have passed fair, targeted reforms and responsible tax cuts for those who need it most. we have stood squarely on the side of the american people, despite what some of my republican friends might claim. and in fact when you examine their record, you can look at the truth behind the republican rhetoric. it's quite different from what many of them would have you believe. for decades republicans have
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claimed to be both fair and responsible when it comes to tax policies, but the reality is that when they have consistently failed to deliver for the american people. since the day of president reagan, republicans have slashed tax rates of corporate and the superrich while squeezing the middle class for everything that they're worth. now in this country, that was always encouraged personal initiative and respect for success in the business world. but pie friends on the other side of the -- but my friends on the other side of the aisle are making it harder for mexico to realize their dreams -- for folks to realize their dreams. it has never been harder to get rich in america. but it has never been eas easieo stay rich. for those of us who can't, republican tax policies have brought nothing but headaches. under president bush, republicans passed a massive tax
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break for the top 1% of wage earners and did little or nothing to help the vast majority of americans. in fact, this massive tax cut wasn't even paid for. every penny was added directly to the difficult deficit. my republican friends exexploded the -- exploded the deficit by more than $1 trlt so they could give tax breaks to the richest of the rich. now they're specking us to pay down the detect by using the dollars of regular middle-class americans. tees are all folks who did not benefit from the original tax cut. but now republicans expect them to foot the bill. not on my watch, madam president. these tax policies are responsible. they're outrageous. the american people have had enough. even now my friends on the other side of the aisle think we should spend even more money that we don't have on people who don't need it. madam president, my democratic colleagues and i strongly
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disagree. we believe significant tax breaks should be targeted to the middle-class americans who need help. that's why we have passed legislation that accomplished exactly that. we believe in responsible tax policies which ask etched and every american to pay their -- which ask each and every american to pay their fair share without placing on fair burden on any segment of the population. my republican friend will tell you they believe in the same values. so i would urge americans to ask them, if that's the case, why did every single one of them vote against the largest tax cut in history? madam president, the democratic record is clear. we believe in american prosperity on main street, not just wall street. so i urge my republican friends to join us in standing up for ordinary folk, not just wall street, bankers and the richest of the rich. fortunately, taxes -- unfortunately, taxes will always
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be necessary and they will never be pleasant. but if we embrace commonsense tax policies and fight for the principles that have guided democrats for many, many years, we can make enough tough times just a little bit easier for ordinary folks. so, pay your taxes, enjoy america, and let's make sure that everyone pays their fair share. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. and i ask for a quorum call, madam president. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:


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