tv U.S. Senate CSPAN February 7, 2011 12:00pm-5:00pm EST
u.s. and that in terms of who seems to be the best unobserved, so if you compare natives and immigrants with similar characteristics and what's left over is actually their unobserved characteristics, it's actually the people who came in on temporary visas who are the best, and those are the ones picked by firms, and i think firms know who will work best with firms and not the government. >> jeanne. >> i would, i would suggest that we have to follow the -- we have to keep an eye on what other countries are doing, and, for example, the way canada found out that they have brain waste is that they tracked the success and the outcomes of their immigrants longitudinally and found out that over time they are just not doing better. so understanding of what happens to immigrants after they arrive is key, is absolutely key. and which brings me to the point
that i was trying to make earlier is that we have to have some sort of a, an independent agency, commission or committee, whatever you want to call it that would analyze the economic chance, analyze what happens to immigrants after their arrival and mesh the two trends in order to bring flexibility in admission levels and the types of visas that are available. >> and, david. >> i guess i'll say two somewhat contradictory things. the first is that we need to embed our discussion of high-skill immigration and probably immigration broader in a larger economic strategy discussion. that's one part of an environment that's going to lead to better economic outcomes and other kinds of outcomes for americans. but it's, it's not an answer, and certainly by itself it's not an answer. but the other thing i think that's important to keep in mind
and i'll repeat what i said earlier, there are other people involved. we need to be fair to the people who are involved in this process and, hopefully, we can begin to meld those two things together. so -- >> okay. thank you all for your attention and your interest in this subject. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
e-government administrator cain evans and timothy karr on the ability of the u.s. to shut down the internet, and deborah wheeler on the impact of the internet on the middle east and its contribution to political awareness tonight on c-span2. >> mr. president, it is my great honor today to speak on the floor for the first time as a united states senator. >> the new class of freshman senators have been giving their first speeches on the senate floor. follow their appearances online with c-span's congressional chronicle, track the daily house and senate timelines, read transcripts of every session and find a full video archive for every member. congressional chronicle at c-span.org/congress. >> the heads of ibm and dell gave their recommendations for how the federal government can save a trillion dollars over the next decade and improve its place in the global economy. both are part of the technology ceo council which met with president obama during the week.
this 50-minute event was hosted by the center for strategic and international studies. >> they are going to have to leave fairly quickly, too, so we're going to really dive into this very quickly. and i'm going to, therefore, not waste our time with introducing them to you. i mean, you know, well, that's why you're here, you know who they are. [laughter] so i don't need to do that. i do want to say -- [laughter] i am so glad to see a little gray on michael dell's hair. i mean, for somebody, you know -- [laughter] that's a good thing for a guy like me. i can't believe -- >> i think i look a little more distinguished. >> to help with me. okay, i do appreciate that. so let me start, if i could, you guys. i know that yesterday you spent a fair amount of time with the president. he gave his state of the union speech and emphasized the need for a more efficient government, more effective government. i know that these are private conversations, but what, what can you share with us about this
conversation you had? what is it that he told you? >> yeah. >> [inaudible] >> you need to get your mic -- he usually has people that do this, okay? [laughter] >> leave me out here alone. but, seriously, so we're part of the tech ceo group that we kind of meet with the government a couple times of year, so rough oily eight ceos of large-tech companies. i just frame it, john, because i think that sort of sets the tone for the meeting, and the president was financially gracious with his time -- phenomenally gracious with his time, his key folks were there, valerie and all the folks, so it was a good group. so we, basically, if i could frame it at the highest level; we talked about competitiveness. so it was much like what you heard in the state of the union,
and what are the elements of competitiveness and what's necessary from a competitiveness perspective. we found that it was a very good dialogue. there was a lot of interaction. we had a lot of different point t of view -- points of view. we expressed ours. he and his staff were very responsive, i think michael would agree. i'll let michael comment as well. we had three big points, as you might expect; tax, competitive corporate tax structure, trade which is, you know, in our industry more than 30% of our industry is outside the united states, and most of the growth is outside the united states, so we really need to be able to participate in global economies to continue to be successful, and then we got into ways we say, okay, the president was very supportive of adjusting the corporate tax rate as long as it was deficit-neutral. again, a lot of this was in the state of the union, and then michael arctic candidated -- articulated the proposal whereby they could, basically, use what
we've all done for the past, really, like ten years and just applying it to government with. so it wasn't any invention or rocket science, it was just basic business practice that we've all kind of now done to improve the competitives of our own companies, just applied to government. i just think if i could leave you, john, with a little bit of a comment or a thought, you know, most of us have been in here a lot the past couple of years, and there was, i think, a sincere and keen interest in addressing why the u.s. is not more competitive. and that we might disagree on the details, but at least from the importance of the country's agenda, at least my observation was it was way up from where it was two years ago. michael, please. >> yeah, i agree with that. it was great to see competitiveness on the agenda. and as sam said, a genuine interest in addressing some of the, you know, short-term and long-term issues that had been standing in the way, and we had
a kind of a frank discussion about what that really means in terms of, you know, the other countries out there, you know, what it means for tax, what it means for trade, what it means for government efficiency and productivity and, certainly, education. and, you know, there's a lot to be done. the world's changing very quickly, and, you know, partisan, you know, activities while other nations are advancing rapidly, you know, doesn't really help our cause as americans. so while we're, you know, global companies, we do control the world -- things all over the world, we're still americans. and, you know, we want our country to succeed. and so, you know, we're interested in seeing real action taken against, you know, how does america stay competitive and stay relevant and, you know, maintain or grow the standard of living that, you know, we have
here in this country? >> you know, i was in government and several times was called over to meetings where big guys like you, you know, were in the white house, and we have a wonderful meeting, there's a warm glow and, you know, the world is different now. [laughter] i mean, all that. you know? and two days later you don't remember the meeting. i mean, why is this going to be different? i mean, and what are you prepared to do to make this different? michael, let's start with you first. >> well, i think, you know, what i see as different is i think the magnitude of the challenge that sort of made it onto the agenda. you have this enormous debt we've accumulated as a country. i think the competitive pressures that are all, you know, showing up relative to competing nations are much more obvious. i think there is a real crisis, you know? , in a number of states, and, you know, various geographies where there are particular
challenges. and so, you know, we can't afford to ignore, you know, these issues. we also don't believe that it's too late, you know? we think if we take decisive action, you know, that a lot of progress can be made. but, but, boy, you know, we've got to jump into action here pretty quickly. >> i think that, and you're right, we've all been to a lot of these, john, and for many, many years. but i think what came out of the meeting different than others was not that two groups talked to each other, we actually agreed in if certain areas to go do work together in tax, we agreed to work with secretary geithner on establishing a set of principles. he's met with cfos, they're back again, the tax guys are coming in, so there's a schedule, there's a work plan in place. and when we met with some of the people on the hill again, they agreed that we should get the principles established and, of course, it's going to be a negotiation, but you have to start some place.
and so this is the first time at least in the past two years when it comes to tax, corporate taxes, being competitive on a worldwide basis there is, i would argue, real work underway. i mean, teams at the table negotiating and trying to put something together. so, to me, that's a sign of progress versus, you're right, we give a report, and we go. we have lots of statistics on why we're not competitive, but we had the statistics two years ago as well. i think the other thing that came off on trade, and this was, i think, a very good ask of the administration, they asked us to help them make the case. i mean, they get it. every time you look at where we have an existing fta, manufacturing's better, agriculture's better, that's the data, right? these are the facts. nobody understands the facts. so we're just saying we make the argument just open it up and let us compete.
we're fine, we can compete. and the data says the u.s. is better off based on these facts. now we have to sell the case. clearly, that is not the perception of the average american, and especially it's very, very difficult in a high unemployment environment, so it's a complicated task. on the ways to save money or make government smarter to use the president's term in the state of the union, fundamentally, he told us that in the cabinet meeting that morning, as michael knows i don't think this is confidential, he instructed the cabinet to go work on these elements to drive a smarter government and the government cpo. and he had a whole long list of to dos. a very long list, in fact, it was questionable why he wasn't doing it faster which is appropriate, i think, for all of us. there's smiling in the audience, but that's okay. you know? it's the nature of getting things done. and so, and so, you know, and i'm kind of where you are, i mean, you know, we both have a little more gray hair than
michael. in fact, we both got out of the same school a year apart, so we're probably close in age. but nonetheless, having been through these things so many times, there is real work underway. people doing work, making recommendations, negotiating, give or take. now, i mean, that doesn't deal with the political environment. and so it's hard for us, i think, as business people to underestimate what's necessary politically to get anything done, and that would be an area which we don't have a lot of expertise in. we can only help people with the analysis, the facts, the case, you know, the things that we do for a living. >> yeah. but what we do know is that, you know, here in washington people talk about things being scored, you know? and it has to be scored. and, you know, what i know is return on investment. and return on investment in our business and our customers see return on investment, and the
kinds of things that when we talk about this trillion dollars of savings, these are things that have 30, 40% return on investment. and so, you know, scoring, i'll be the first to commit, i don't -- admit, i don't understand it. but i do understand very high roi, and, you know, those are things that whether it's a company or government ought to be done, and the way you drive it is you say, okay, this is going to save $100 million, $150 million. we're going to take the $150 million out of your budget in the future period, and we're going to go get the savings, and we're going to have accountability to go make it happen. >> well, of course, that's part of the comptroller dod and everybody knows judith is the patron saint of all comptrollers. [laughter] so it makes it really hard because you say i'm going to take money away from you as long as you do the right thing now, you're right. now, let's get into this report. you guys were instrumental in pulling together this report,
one trillion reasons. ask be by the way -- and by the way, folks, you really ought to read it. it's really quite a good piece. i think the audience needs to get a little bit of familiarity. what it is that you're concretely saying that can be done, for example, consolidating information technology. now, you've each had experiences with this. maybe you want to share what you've done with your company, a few things like that. sam, let me start with you. >> i'll start, i mean, fundamentally, i mean, if you think about all we're talking about, i know a lot of times people think these are very complicated, technical projects, right? and we got into this discussion yesterday. all we're talking about is, thinking about it, putting things together and sharing them. so this isn't, this isn't ibm working on apollo 13, the space shuttle. this is taking what exists, putting it together and sharing it. at ibm we have 84 data centers, we went down to 14. you virtualize the environment,
get in our case a 40% return. so this is just, it's months of work, it's not years of work. it's just planning and, literally, just put things together. and is so it's extimely straightforward. the -- extremely straightforward. michael and i are in all the cay that centers, we might think there's more, but we'll go with the public data. [laughter] we might have a different view of the 2,000, but if you would just take that, and let's think about this. does the government need 2,000 data centers? there's 50 states, how about two per state? let's go to 100, you know? everybody can get their fair share. everybody got two. i mean, that's, as you can see, i mean, that's, you know, i just share them. i know incredible the concept of how to use them and. they share the water and phone systems, well, share this too.
but the real case -- which we've all done. in our case the first way we took 84 to 14, i was the guy at ibm who happened to do it. and the ways now as we virtualize these environments, in our case it's 40% return, and the paybacks are in 150 months -- 15 months. so it is very real and very doable. and, miking? >> so, you know, about the size of this stage, something about half the size of a container we can put 2500 compute notes. each compete note can have, let's say, 30-40 virtual servers. and in that same space we can put about 14 ped da bites of storage. this is an enormous level of efficiency. 7, 8, 10, x better than exists in kind of a historical, commercial environments. you've heard about cloud computing. the cloud computing companies
have already done this, and they use this, and supply the infrastructure for 21 of the top 25 large commercial organizations that are doing this as well. the government can do it as well, and there's enormous savings in this kind of consolidation and really, you know, holding on to the stuff that's four, five, six years old when the rate of improvement is so fast is, actually, incredibly expensive. not to mention enormous power saving. so when you do these consolidations and sirh chullization and using the new power-efficient technologies, you actually reduce power consumption by, like, 95%. so it's incredible savings and productivity and efficiency and skill so you don't need all these, you know, small outposts. >> i remember during y2k we actually moved card punch readers. >> well, thank you for being such a low car customer -- loyal
customer. [laughter] hal watson sr. would be proud -- >> when i learned computer science, they didn't have those. [laughter] >> that's great, michael. okay, an ibm centennial, which is this year, that product was introduced, i believe, in 1916. so anyway -- one of the other major recommendations was on the supply chain management. you know, you guys have written the book on this, michael. what are your thought t about what can be done with the supply chain? >> i think what we see are there are an enormous level of different supply chains and collapsing, consolidating those, using full technology, using information to replace physical assets, they're all the things that, you know, have occurred in the world's best companies. applying best practices to that and saying, hey, do we really need hundreds or thousands i of supply be chains, you know, that
could be simplified, streamlines. >> i'm pretty sure, i'm going from memory, but the report says the government spend about 550 a year. so it's a 10% improvement. if we want to run one supply chain and globalize it at ibm, we save $25 million on a lot smaller sum base. so 10port is very, very -- 10% is very, very low. we get the one, you know, probably a little simpler, we're in 1970 -- 170 countries around the world. i just make the point of 5 billion so they the estimates in this report are quite conservative when you look at a 10% improvement. >> washington is a town of 15
goalies and no puck. [laughter] so how do you get -- >> yeah. yeah, yeah. >> you've had to deal with it. you take a big bureaucracy, but you have tools that the government doesn't have. >> right. well, we have management. and i mean -- no be. [laughter] i don't mean that, i'm not being flip. we actually can find somebody, and i have a person dedicated to driving productivity at ibm, full-time senior executive that used to work for me, but now she reports to our cfo, linda sanford. and, you know, we say to linda between 2006 and 2010 we want five billion in productivity. sharing, right? and we said by 2015 we want eight million. so she's an engineer, and she goes to work. oh, by the way, that can't happen in government. if you look at what states are doing today, they're actually assigning somebody that we would call an operations person.
it's that type of a person. they have these huge issues between deficits and pensions and tax receipts. they're slimy individuals who go work these cases and, oh, by the way, guess where they start? sharing things. and what are they sharing? like, data centers and procurement and all those kinds of things is where they begin. so i know it's, you know, when you think about the private sector an analogies that can't apply, my only point is that it can apply. if we can apply at the state level, why can't it apply at the federal level? >> yeah. sam raised an interesting point. we're seeing this with the large university systems in the united states where the budget pressures have forced them to do things that they previously would not have done like the consolidation of the data center infrastructures. we're seeing it at the state level. and a company like ours, you know, we will, we will sit down and say, okay, we're going to
drive a 10% productivity improvement every single year. how are we going to do that? we're going to do it with collaboration, too les, technology, we're going to invest, we're going to put those tools in many, and then we're going to take the money out of the budget. that's going to allow us to invest and grow and continue to, you know, provide value for our customers so they can grow and thrive with the technologies that we provide. >> you earlier raised the issue of cloud computing. let me tell you, every cio in washington is going to say to their secretary, well, that cloud thick, that's dangerous. a lot of cybersecurity things there. tell us what it is we should be telling washington about cloud computing and its safety. >> yeah. i think, look, to be clear about it, there are multiple ways to implement a cloud, right? and there are secure ways to do it. but they are different than just going out and using a consumer crowd. so if i was running national defense or i, as you know --
[inaudible] all that good stuff, if you would have to look at it differently than if you're just sharing office work in a civil civilian agency. so not all clouds are the same. let me give crow a definition. -- you a definition. it's a virtualized environment that michael is describing. everyone's say it's a cloud. okay, fine. when i was training 35 years ago, it was called virtual machine. that's how i because trained. not on the keypunch -- we still had those too. so, you know, it's just been moved from mainframe to large servers down to the intel infrastructure. but fundamentally, it's hairing of resources. now, there's multiby way to do it, and the way you have to do it is if your based on environment. these are very, very real
issues, yes, but they can be architected, underlined and, okay, by the way, we have soft fair that can help the environment. on the other side, a lot of the civilian works lends itself naturally to the cloud, very, very product i environment. and the civilian agencies, i don't think they're seeing that same level. the -- it's not the same level of concern. we gains, like, 50% improvement or productivity. and the way it works in development and test, you have to take capacity, and you set it aside, write new applications. it can run in this environment. what you can do if you use this virtualized ark architecture, c, you can just share your -- and instead of taking two weeks to set these systems up, we do it
now in four hours, and it's 50% less expensive. so the developers get it done faster. there is no security risk in the government to do those kinds of things pause it's behind -- because it's behind the firewall. i think what i would tell them is if they seasoned back from it, not all things are the same. it is in certain areas, and we need to be extremely sensitive. given. we kid all this analysis from ibm, and it's very, very i true. not all that lends itself to the crowd. that's probably about 40 president of what we do -- 40% of what we do, but 60% could very much run in that environment. so i guess where i think, you know, john, what i would say is, you know, i just think, you know, things can't go unchallenged. and the reason i say they can't go unchallenged is we are in a very difficult situation. if it was normal times and life
was moving on and things were great, you'd say, fine. business as usual. but we're not in that kind of a set of circumstances. we are at great risk from productivity, we have a financial debt structure that was nonsustainable. none of us could run those levels of debt and keep our jobs. only in a political environment can that be the case. so to sit there and not and us honest, detail t -- detailed questions about the problem, i think it's not appropriate for any organizations. i don't want to con tiff candidate too much, it's just not appropriate. we are in a financial crisis. so let's wake up and act like it. >> e yeah. so, you know, we're often talking about secure private clouds. just to be clear, draw the distinction from the public cloud, that's quite different.
i think the other collective experience in our industry is that if you, you know, stand in the way of the e more now improvements in technology, that continue to come, you do it at your own peril and you just lose relevance, and you fall behind. and so there have been enormous advances in our economy, and this is where, you know, if you sort of add up what are the basic opportunities that are kind of pretty easily accessible, that's your trillion dollars. >> both of you have remarkable experiences as business leaders. michael, you invented a new model. obviously, you had to condense an industry of something profoundly different, but you did that. you led that. sam, you reengineered ibm, took it from an old, stodgy company to a new, dynamic country.
now, let me ask you to step back with some detachment. look at washington where the average political appointee is in office for 26 months. and you don't -- when you have to change an organization, people have got to think that you going to be there a long time, and you're going to be on 'em like ugly on an ape, you know and and yet bev cot political appointees that disappear. how do we get that sense of leadership mandate and direction and urgency in a government environment that has this alternative lens with senior leaders? you've undoubtedly thought about this. ..
>> i think the thing has tangible and real, i think the thing that comes to mind to me, that people can relate to, in what's happening is, the, measure the emergence of the middle class, john. i don't think people get in the united states. china or india oar brazil everything is correlated because their exports oriented and natural resources in some countries. manufacturing in others there is mix of these things. all tied to the u.s. and
germany. go around this room and poll people, that is the model k lost track after little statistic i'll share with you, like 500 million people entering the middle class next two years. those 500 million people want cars, houses, cell phones, banking accounts, air conditioners, all those things. they expect transportation to work. they expect secure safe cities. they want quality health care. guess what always those things. so the point of it is, so how do those countries that are emerging so therefore they're like, third world, the third world, how do they address it. they ship everything that we've done, -- >> go right to the future. there is. all wireless. talk about 3g, 4g, forget it. they have been doing music entertainment in india, like three or four years ago, right?
so. goll through the things. look at highway systems of shanghai, go to all the places right. they built the loop around shanghai in a year, a year entire city in a year. incredible. at one point in time, the entire, the largest share of the crane capacity, in the world, was in shanghai. all the cranes. 70% of the crane capacity was in shanghai. one other example. rail, we talk about rail and innovation yet for the country. china has decided they're going to build largest high-speed rail network in the world. appropriates $2 billion. off you go. so i mean i think to michael's point, you can take the education statistics which you know engineers, scientists and math, china's here. we're here. number of graduates, et cetera. et cetera. so a lot of owes fields. i think the first thing that needs to be understood, is
these are not developing. countries. have a huge amount of well-educated middle class people entering into their societies right, that are going to drive massive economic transformation. and now, that sound a little bit intimidating i understand but it makes the point, go to the other side, so what do our inherent advantages. talk about oh, my gosh, right. they don't have a lot of debt. no there is no 15 trillion. trying to get authorization, for. writing checks. two billion here, for a smart grid. couple billion there. >> they're the lender. >> lender of last resort. >> fortunately the lender is long term horizon. for the time-being. >> look, they pulled their line of credit. not to make it too negative. other way to look at it, so what are inherent advantages? what are the inherent
advantages. if you did this in old traditional competitive advantages, better economics point of view which you studied, basically, what are inherent advantages of the united states. that we have? guess what we have. we have incredible university system. right, incredible university system. we have the ability to innovate and create research in intellectual property more than any other country in the world. we have right for the individual to create an event and be protected which drives innovation to the future. we have, we had had and will have again, a very transparent capital markets, systems, so you can become a michael dell, right? total transparency. we will have, again, this period will pass. right. so, so basically, you say, we have this inherrent advantage. we have education problems and yes we would like our railroad systems to work and they don't and i like to get to the airport on time but i can't. put all that aside. we have all these other things, right. and then what so is, missing,
what is missing is somebody saying, you know what?, just like they do, these places in brazil and india and china and mike and i sit in the meetings. what mike is saying. we'll take this country from here to there. i'm not talking about sputnik. we'll go from here to there. we're going to set up innovation agenda. we'll drive innovation. these are the elements that create that kind of a society. here's our inherent advantage and go out and sell the case. go on, sell the case. if you can't sell it and people say that is not what they want, then, you know, we have what we have today. >> as to a national priority, if you take things that people familiar with, as proxy for this, there are, about, five billion people in the world with cell phones, out of, let's say, seven billion. about billion and a half people, connected on the internet, so, much, much larger obviously, then u.s. population. and the fastest growth in is
emerging nations. 1.3 billion of cell phone users are in china. adding roughly, sorry, china and india together. adding about, 15 million, new subscribers amonth. between the two of them. so, you know, enormous, industrialization, modernization, and as sam said, sort of skipping past all the legacy kinds of problems, and saying okay, what should this thing looked like in five years, 10 years and let's happy ahead to that. -- happy ahead to that. >> let's ask a noty question. we're noty people so let's ask a noty question. you guys say we need to improve productivity and that is getting tax code done. industry is sitting on biggest pile of cash in history. why would i think this is problem. this is washington question. what do we say to the
broader public on this. what is the problem >> the problem i don't think business has past couple years, shored up balance sheets because of economic uncertainty. most households tried to do the same thing. to sit there is inappropriate behavior in difficult environment is sort of silly. ibm has been around 100 years i don't want to be the guy that took it down because i got a little drunk you know? i got it, think 100 years and, sam crashed it because he got drunk one night at a party and spent 10 billion he has in-house but it was a wonderful event. you should have been there. it was unbelievable. so you, i mean just a little bit of sober up guys. go on a diet. act like adults here. the question really why aren't you investing more. that's the question. not the balance sheets. ist's why aren't you investing more? that gets back to competitiveness. we do invest where there's
opportunity for growth. every case, gets invested with this opportunity for growth. and we spent two days, michael, laughs when i do this, trying to explain to people that never worked in the private sector that the only thing we have to invest is what's left over. now you all know this at home because you take home your paychecks. some portion goes to, governments. depending where you are. somewhere between 30 and 50% and you spend what you have left over. we do the same thing. numbers are bigger. right, john. numbers are bigger. we take whatever's left over and we reinvest it into growth opportunities. and so, so, very simple, straightforward pretty much. if you take more from us there is less to invest. by the way you say, that's okay if you compare the u.s. to the rest of the world, we're take drag mat i canly more on the effective tax rate, 10% above average than rest of the other ocd
nations. we're taking out 10% more. so there is 10% less. you go back in the to turn this into an ibm commercial, last year we opened centers across the united states. we invested all across the united states. we spent 6 billion on r&d. we spent, gosh, another 6 or 7 billion in acquisitions. gave $15 billion back to the shareholders something like that. i could be off 500 million or so in round numbers. oh by the way we opened centers in d.c. and new york and data centers in charlotte and boulder. columbus, east lansing dubuque. probably couple more. probably on the west coast too. it is not a question of that. i think the question becomes, you know, what you need to do, is if, you're in washington, and you're the people that make these statements, obviously, went to johns hopkins. never say things like this. you have to ask yourself, this, and i turn it around
and i say, look, people can go anywhere in the world, they can. people can go to any city in the world. businesses can go anywhere in the world. work flows anywhere in the world. so does capital. the question why would they come here? that's the question. not, you're not spending enough. why would they come here? why would you come and invest in the united states of america, when you could invest elsewhere, instead of giving 30% to the government, 10. why would you best invest here instead of competing for 100,000 graduates in math and science you can compete for 600,000 in that same equivalent country, right? why would you come here when you go to environments that are very green-oriented but don't have requirements that force us to close facilities because i have a plant that has the same emissions as a church? as a church.
so my manufacturing facility, the benchmark is a church. are you going to close your churches too? so, ask, seriously, john, ask this question of ourselves. i think if you asked yourself the question, when people have ultimate choice, money can flow. people will invest,. they all need fair returns. we're not acting like greedy business guys. why would they come to ibm? we have to answer that question every day. why would they go to dell? if you're a government today, state, city, or federal government, you need to have a value proposition that attracts the smartest people in the world and the best flow of capital so that you can continue to be competitive. if you do not do that, if you do not do that, there's too much choice today, michael's point and it moves too fast and it doesn't have a happy ending. >> it just goes right back
to competitiveness and so, we have to address the competitiveness issues or else, the capital doesn't get invested, you know. but, whether it is foreign companies or domestic companies or new businesses, forming, you know, they will go where the talent is. they go are with the structure is and environment is friendly one towards growth and business formation. >> let me ask you. this is odd and a pet rock of mine but i can't figure out why the most prosperous and successful country in world wants to limit most talented people from coming here. we have half the h-1b visas than we had 20 years ago. i think we would be craving to, tell me how you look talent issues, international americans. michael? >> yeah, i think, you know, both of us have a lot of
open positions in the united states that we're trying to hire for. >> thousands. >> exactly. unfortunately, we can't find all those folks. they're pretty highly skilled jobs. often software programmers. engineers. and, you know, totally agree with you, john. we ought to be, you know, stamping green cards to the ph.d certificates. we want those folks to come here and stay here and, you know, certainly if you look at the history in the tech sector, that very talented, you know, group of immigrants have continued to contribute for many, many years to the not only the growth of many great companies but the creation of many great companies. >> i, michael bloomberg, another plug for johns hopkins university, thank you very much, michael bloomberg has a proposal, no, no, ron daniels is doing a
great job. i heard all this yesterday because i was over there giving our centennial speech but mike, mayor mike has a proposal which basically give them all between cards and let them come to new york because they're all taxpayers, right? you know. they're all taxpayers. >> imagine if you were a mayor in any city in america and you said, hey, how would you like to have a bunch of smart, well-educated, reasonably well-financed people come to your city and develop businesses? i don't think you find a lot of mayors would say, well, that is really bad idea. we don't want -- these are job creators. you know, to have, people employed you need employers. >> john. let me get the other side of the argument there is statistic we need to focus on. you can understand and i'm sensitive to the fact politically unemployment is 9.4%. obviously if you esh measure real unemployment it is higher.
let's use the public data. therefore how can you encourage all these other people, right? let's look at the unemployment. let's peel it back a little bit. college graduates and advanced degrees i think two months ago, i did the stuff with bernanke, 4.8 to 5.2. you could argue close to full employment. people with high school educations 15.7%. do we have unemployment problem or education problem? what is it? if you have a college degree or you have an advanced degree, 90, statistically 95 to 96% of the time you're probably going to get a pretty good job and we all have openings so you probably will. so what is the real problem? when they talk about you can't bring in ph.ds or we can't bring in masters in electrical engineering called the double ee in my world, those double have plenty of jobs here, right? we need those skills to go build these businesses. >> the story that sam and i could tell over and over again are, you know, teams
of engineers that we have, we bought a little company in new hampshire, a couple years ago. had 200 engineers. now it has 650 engineers. the fastest growth for the product and technology that, that group of engineers is creating is in china. and it is in india. brazil, all over the world. fortunately, we're able to find enough talent there. but you know, if we want to go to 1,000 engineers we can't quite find them, what do you think, we'll go wherever they are. >> and as you said, it's an education issue here. not employment. the i think administration doing a very, very good job trying to tackle a very, very tough problem but, and that's a, the federal level. so, i mean, arnie deserves a lot of credit. these are tough problems. >> there is lot of forward progress in the right direction. back at reception we got at
the white house. it was a very constructive meeting. >> we're down to the wire here and your handlers have been giving me, we've got to get out of here. >> questions from the audience. >> we have the most influential and mighty audience you could want. >> i don't recognize many ibm employees out there so it is a real audience. they might all be dell people, i don't know. >> so the thing here, we've got to, what is it that you need them to do with this mission? you came to town. you talked to the president. >> right. >> what do you need them to be doing to help with this and we'll wrap up with that. >> what i would say, go take that report and take a good look at that, and familiarize yourself, with this whole competitiveness agenda. i think it really has to get on the consciousness of the, you know, planners and i will tell gentsy yahir in --
intelligentsy yaw in washington. compliment what michael is saying. it is same thing we said in all the meetings. when everyone asks us what are the two or three, biggest inhibiters to competitiveness. tax, trade and education. you like to make it more complicated than that but it really isn't. what that is a bet on, if you have a level playing field, tax and trade, and create and invest in humint lex wall capital, we have great capital. the best system in the world. we're invested in 170 countries. we have a ben mark for those not been to 170 k0u7b9tries. at least you follow me around you get to 60 or so anyway because it is our centennial. er islously you look at that and this inherent strength, right, then why wouldn't we capitalize that and deal with these issues and move
to the future? deal with the issues and move to the future. a business, there is a correlation here, a business can never survive by dwelling on the past. people ask, michael's done it for 26 years. ibm has done it for 100 years. how can ibm exist intact for 100 years? tom watson, jr., in 1962 gave a speech at prestigious university and said of the people that were in the top 25 industrial countries, 900, only two left. if i look back to 1962 to now, when i gave the speech, yesterday, there are four, four. that's it. because you have got to go to the future. whether you're a business, or whether you're a society, you got to go to the future. and yes, we have a responsibility to transition from the past. that is very, very fair and balanced. but you can't trade off and dwell in the past. you've got to transition from the past.
you don't solve the problem by creating housing boom so you give people hammers and nails and say that is wonderful aspirational statement. thank you very much. >> one of the real problems we've had in washington the last 30 years, most ceos have stopped coming to washington to help with swimic problems. they come to town to really deal with transactional company issues. it is rare to see two ceos that are willing to devote their time and energy to broad, national purposes. all of us here should thank these two gentlemen for their remarkable service. [applause] >> thank you, john.
>> the senate begins their short work weak today 2:00 p.m. eastern with a hour of general speeches. at 3:00 eastern they resume debate on a bill reauthorizing federal aviation programs. at 4:00 p.m. theyville a number of debates and votes on number of judicial nomination. they're back tomorrow is expected to be a short day to allow democrats to attend their retreat in charlottesville, north carolina. the house is back tomorrow following a week-long district work period. they will gavel in at 2:00 p.m. to debate a number of bills under suspension of rules including one renew certain patriot act provisions. live coverage of house on c-span and the senate here on c-span2.
>> may not have remembered, your cell phones, thank you. good morning. [speaking in native tongue] my name is jack lynn johnson and executive director of the national congress of american indians. the nation's oldest and largest american indian and alaska native organization representing the interests of tribal governments across the country. it is my pleasure to welcome our distinguished guests here today in washington, d.c. and those of you listening across the country to the 2011 state of indian nations. i'd like to acknowledge at this time some of our honored guests with us in the audience. first of all we have some of our board members. we have irene kuch.
we have david gyp. larry townsend. karen watts. mary ann mills, derek valdo and marge anderson. we also have joining us here today by governor nelson who is the cordova pueblo. brian paterson the president of the united south and eastern tribes. chairman ernie stevens, jr., who traveled all night long to get here, to not miss his, one of the state of indian nation who is is the chair of the national indian gaming association. richard lipsy senior indian affairs as visor on u.s. senate committee on indian finance. we have miss indian nations in the audience today. we have nathan berger, indian affairs director for senator murkowski's office. wendy from irndian affairs advisors to senator reid. we have wade henderson from the leadership counsel of civil rights.
president of the leadership council of sieve rights also joined us here today. as we get started also before i do that i also want to introduce we have tammy duckworth who is the, from the department of veterans' affairs, the assistant secretary and she has given us some special news here this morning. which she is joined by stephanie birdwell, being announced as being the new director for office the indian affairs at the department of veterans' affairs. would like to congratulate her on this new opportunity. i want to thank across the country, native voice one and many tribal and public radio stations who picked up our broadcast this morning to air this address. at this time, it is my pleasure to be able to introduce the president of the national congress of american indians, jefferson kiel. jefferson kiel currently serves as lieutenant governor the chickasaw nation. he is past vice president for two terms. he is firmly committed to the service and advancement
of self-sufficiency and self-reliance for our indian people and he believes in the policy of helping our people through honorable public service. president kiel has i am exemplied that by his own distinguished service being an army officer for 20 years and in active duty. ladies and gentlemen, please help me welcome the president of the national congress of american indians, jefferson kiel. [applause] . .
>> and those listening or watching today from around the country and from around the world. i stand here today honored to deliver to you, the state of indian nations address. after an exceptional year of bipartisan achievements to strengthen indian country, i am pleased to report that the state of indian nations is strong, and driven by a new momentum. once again, let me say that again. the state of indian nations is strong. we stand at the beginning of a new era for indian country, and for tribal relations with the united states. previous eras were defined by what the federal government chose to do. the indian removal period when tribes were forcibly removed from their homelands to reservations. the reorganization and termination era, the allotment era, even the more recent
promise of the self-determination era. but this new era is defined by what we, as indian nations, choose to do for ourselves. i am honored to be joined this morning by many tribal leaders who worked hard to prepare our nation's for this moment. i thank you for being here. we are poised to be full partners in the american economy, and in america itself. we expect that in years to come, and seven generations, our children's children will look back and say, that was the moment when the future of indian country was changed forever. call it the era of recognition. call it the air of responsibilities met, or of promises met country and kept. whatever it is called, it brings
us closer than ever to the to constitutional relationship between the united states of america and the indian nations. it brings us closer to what the constitution calls a more perfect union. [applause] >> today, i issued an invitation to tribal leaders, to indian people, to our partners in congress and the administration, and to all americans, join together, join us in helping to build this new era. why is this new era possibly only now, instead of before? recent years have brought a new foundation, the self-determination era has brought a promising partnership between tribes and the federal government. we've demonstrated our capacity as self-determined governments that contribute to a stronger
america. we worked hard to reach this point. but that alone is not enough to realize the promise of this new era. barriers remain, and we are eager to work with our federal partners to remove those barriers to the economic potential of our nation. there's a need is reason why we're just testing this opportunity for a new era. the state of the economy has played a significant role. these difficult times have made self-reliance into a necessity. today, the country is entering more than a time of difficult budget choices. as the federal government contemplates fundamental changes in the priorities of government, -- as the federal government contemplates these changes, indian country offers a bold opportunity.
investing in self-reliant indian nations is not going to constitutional and morally right thing to do, indian nations offer a great untapped source of economic opportunity for all americans. this is a great moment when doing the right thing is also the smart thing to do. i was encouraged earlier this month when the u.s. house of representatives read aloud the constitution in their session. america's founders recognized the inherent sovereignty of indian tribes and the special relationship between tribes and the federal government, and they affirmed it -- they affirmed by putting it into words in our constitution. like all american people, we are afforded basic constitutional rights. moreover, we carry a special recognition that tribes are inherently sovereign nations within the nation, that tribes
as stated in article 1, section 8 hold the same status as foreign nations and states. these basic rights, these inherent rights, what we seek together to bring to all american people. justice, domestic tranquility, general welfare, and the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity. the preamble of the constitution speaks of a more perfect union. the new era for indian nations is a profound step towards that more perfect union. i stated earlier that there's been much progress to make, to make this new era possible. i'd like to briefly review some of the successes from 2010. the passage and enactment of the tribal law and order act, and indian health care improvement act were monumental.
we thank those on both sides of the aisle in congress who crafted legislation that holds the promise of safer, healthier and more economically productive native communities. but this work is not complete. words are one thing, but actions are another. we call for these initiatives to be fully funded and fully implemented. we were encouraged by the recent settlements of the cobell litigation over the mismanagement of indian lands, and he keeps illegal settlement for discrimination against indian farmers. tribal leaders and indian tribes have supported these overdue settlements because they'll help us turn the page on the wrongs of the past and direct our energies towards securing a better future. finally, we welcomed the united states adoption of the united nations declaration on the
rights of indigenous peoples year is formally affirms our fundamental human rights. it's a great step forward in respect and recognition of indigenous peoples throughout the world. this very morning the u.n. special rapporteur on violence against women is visiting tribal nations to investigate the challenges facing tribal justice systems. together, these achievements set the stage for new era in indian country. this is a moment of opportunity, and we must look to the future to realize its promise as. the resilience and spirit that carried our people to this day is what will carry us forward towards our next great moment. our cultures are resolute and diverse. we see every challenge as an opportunity. indian nations face great challenges, and always have, but we hold great unrealized
potential. high unemployment rates, new to most americans, but native people have felt it for decades, often those unemployment rates are four to five times the unemployment rate of the rest of the country as a whole. but at long last, this new era represents a way forward. one opportunity for tribal nations is energy development. our deep relationship with the land and our reverence for the earth's natural resources provide a clear course for our communities. tribes care for approximately 10% of america's energy resources, including renewable energy, worth nearly a trillion dollars in revenue. let me say that again, a trillion dollars. yet only a handful of tribes have been able to successfully utilize these resources. in fact, the 49th steps, bureaucratic steps that deter
energy development on indian lands stifle the ability of the three affiliated tribes of the fort worth hold reservation in north dakota to access their considerable oil reserves, while oil rigs formed a ring outside the tribal boundaries. it took direct action by the injury department to streamline this process and allow the three affiliated tribes to access its resources. we call on congress to apply this kind of concerted effort to unleash the potential of indian energy resources across the nation. realizing the potential of energy resources offers an immense promise for tribal communities, and the united states as a whole. to achieve the goals of energy independence and economic growth, the focus must turn to the potential in indian country. just last week, secretary of
energy chew offered a promising jumpstart to such investment. he announced $10 million in support for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in indian country. tribal energy development will mean long-term economic development and growth, and it turned the united states will become stronger. that is an investment worth making. this is a good development and it is part of the solution to realizing our potential, but it is not the entire answer. on this and other issues, barriers continue to stand in the way of progress for indian country and our entire nation. sometimes it's bureaucracy. sometimes it's a lack of access to financing and federal programs. we call for tribes to receive the same treatment under the law as state and local governments on tax and financial matters. it's time for these barriers to
be lifted. the situation is similar for electronic communication, which is the backbone of the new information economy. across the nation, broadband communication penetration is 65%. but in tribal communities, it's only 10%. broadbent is the pipeline to progress, and we need investme investment. but first we need an end to barriers that stand in the way of that investment. as with energy, the result will be growth, jobs and opportunity. because our potential is already there. we've already seen what such investment can do. the three, the confederate tribes of the warm springs reservation in oregon operate a telecommunications company that is using federal funds, plus grant and loan packages, to expand broadband. so far they are reaching 1000 square miles of a reservation.
they are connecting nearly 2000 people, 18 businesses and the tribal government, plus schools, health care facilities, and police and fire departments. this kind of an investment is a foundation for progress throughout indian country. broadbent is just one aspect of our infrastructure needs. in fact, -- [applause] >> in fact, there's never been sufficient federal or private investment to spur growth, or fund adequate services in this area. there's also huge potential to invest in our youth. we seek investments in afterschool programs, quality education from pre-k technology, and job training programs. we have many bright students, but many of our indian schools like the curriculum or proper tools that enable them to compete for scholarships and
other opportunities. our republican and democratic partners in congress and the administration share a vision for a more effective education system in america, and we encourage them to start in indian country. our children have been waiting for generations, and today is always a good day to start. [applause] >> thank you. these are some of things that congress can do to free the tribes to pursue self-reliance. and there are other things to do. things that won't cost a penny. our largest assets, tribal lands, remain fragmented and caught in the web of stifling bureau of indian affairs regulations and bureaucracy. current trust policy is neither effective nor appropriate, and congress must modernize the trust to reflect the role of tribes as decision-makers in the management of our own land.
the supreme court's decision in the carcieri? is threatening the ability of many tribes to restore their lands and build economic development and jobs. this must be fixed. with the cobell settlement and depending establishment of the indian land consolidation fund, the federal government has an opportunity to make foundational changes to the trust that will improve administration and further self-determination. we think the administration and in particular secretary salazar for their leadership of these issues at the work is not done. we share the passion for self-reliance and more efficient government brought by many new members of congress. in many instances, that's exactly what native communities and native people need. a government that respects our constitutional sovereignty, a government whose leader want to cut the red tape that blocks
investment and prevents us from participating fully in economic life. this new era must be characterized by equal treatment of our tribal nations with other governments. the same rules and the same opportunities for economic growth. the federal trust responsibility does not have a political affiliation. at this moment, this juncture when a new era is rising, it's critical for congress and the administration to honor the special status of tribal nations, and our people, and on earth the solemn promises made in treaties, executive orders, and acts of congress. we urge congress to sustain investments in tribal nations by holding indian programs harmless and providing much-needed funding for infrastructure, law enforcement, health care, job creation, and education. for the strength of our nation,
and to achieve a more perfect union, now is not the time to step back from investments in tribal communities that hold promise for our entire nation your foundation is in place, but much work lies ahead. tribal nations are united with our federal partners like the great ideals of democracy, equality and freedom. there's something else that unites us, too. this address would not be complete without acknowledging the service of nearly 24,000 american indians and alaska natives that are currently serving in the u.s. armed forces today. [applause] >> they proudly serve, and and that alone, the state of any nations can be summed up in one word, proud. as a veteran, i am keenly aware of this great commitment.
just as hundreds of thousands of other indian people, i've stood for america as a citizen, i've stood for america as a brother on the field of battle, and i stand out as a warrior to defend the honor of our historic trust. [applause] >> since 2001, when our homeland was attacked, 77 of our people have died in iraq and afghanistan, and over 400 of our people have been wounded. the bond between america and the indian nations is not in doubt. we remain united, and in a new era we will build a more perfect union together. tosses go into the water and the ripples can be felt far away. in the same way, the decisions
before us today will be felt in tribal life for seven generations, and beyond. tribal governments understand that washington is entering more than a time of difficult budget choices. congress and the administration are contemplating fundamental changes in the promises -- in the priorities of government. this is a challenge, but any people in any nations have faced challenges forever. our nation to nation relationship presents a unique responsibility and great opportunity. and that is the gateway to a new era of opportunity and self-reliance. today, we call on our federal partners to clear the way for us to expand economic opportunity through entrepreneurism, so that we might compete. clear the way for us to develop energy on our own lands, to build commerce and create jobs so that we might contribute more
to the economy of america. we can create more opportunity for energy independence and a larger recovery. clear the way for us to go public infrastructure for our communities so that our children might thrive and our culture in which all those around us. clear the way for us to build up our own communities. when you invest in america -- when america invests in indian country, you'll be astounded at the economic strength at we bring to america. it's time to harness that power and realize the tremendous return on that investment. united nations and the united states and indian nations our partners and neighbors, we are bound by the constitution, and we are bound by our great and shared commitment to liberty. that includes economic liberty. the indian nations can do the work, if the federal government will clear the way for us to exercise our liberty, and thus
make a new era and a more perfect union. as i said earlier, the state of indian nations is strong. the opportunity of the new era depends on governing wisely. i want to thank you for being here today. god bless america and the indian nations as we prepare for this new era, and we make this great and promising journey together. thank you. [applause] >> thank you. it's now my honor to introduce the senior senator from alaska, senator lisa murkowski.
senator murkowski will deliver the congressional response. and i want to say that senator murkowski is a longtime partner of tribal communities and was the 2009 he said get of ncai's congressional leadership award. she was critical to the passage of the indian health care improvement act, and a strong partner in the successful passage of the tribal law and order act. please join me in welcoming a true champion and a friend for indian country, senator lisa murkowski. [applause] >> thank you, and good morning. jefferson, i am indeed humbled and honored this morning to
provide a congressional response to your comments on the state of the indian nations address. president keel has introduced me, but i stand before you this morning with a special recognition. it was less than a week ago when i was back home in the state that i was adopted into the tribe, a member of the reagan clan, and given a new name. and a name that i'm honored to present to you, which means lady of the land. and as one who has been blessed to have been born and raised in my state, to be welcomed into the tribe, to be given a name of this honor is really quite something so i thought i would share that with you this morning. as you introduced me and my bio
there. but it's been eight years now since i've been here in the united states senate. i'm especially proud to represent my state. alaska has the greatest per capita population of native people, of any state here in the union, and i served on the indian affairs committee since my very first day and the united states senate, and i hope to continue on that committee for many years to come your president keel come you certainly got it right in reflecting on the success of indian country in advancing the agenda before congress and our 2009-2010 session. but i think that it is important to note that the seeds of these victories were planted many, many years before we harvested the success of our labors. it took more than a decade of hard, hard work by ncai, the national indian health board and
the national steering committee to get the indian health care improvement act to the president's desk. it took a long time, but we were successful with that. the tribal law and order act was first introduced back in 2008 when i was vice chairman with senator dorgan on the indian affairs committee, and worked with him to advance that bill. that was signed last year. for a number of years, the members of the staff of the indian affairs committee have been working very hard, very aggressively to explore the various options to resolve the cobell lawsuit, and that settlement again was finally approved last year. but looking back even a few more years we were successful in reauthorizing hosta. we also came together to honor the legacy of asked the martinez as we reauthorize the american dateline which is act. even, even in the most partisan of senate environments that we
see today, i think that it is fair to characterize the senate committee on indian affairs as one of the most productive committees and the entire senate. and the secret to our success is that we worked together. we worked together. [applause] >> we work across the party lines all of the time for the benefit of native people. and this is not only a testament to the strong leaders who have guided the committee people like dan anyway, been nighthorse, john mccain, byron dorgan. it's also a testament to the expertise, the dedication and teamwork of the individuals who have served on the staff of the indian affairs committee. now, it's very gratifying to learn that the new leadership in the house of representatives is paying increasing attention to the needs of american indians
and alaska natives as well. they have reconstituted its subcommittee on american indian and alaska native affairs, and i'm pleased that that subcommittee will be chaired by my friend, my colleague, don young of alaska. [applause] spectrum and it has been an ardent supporter of the indian health care improvement act, a longtime supporter of the native hawaiian recognition bill. he's an individual who understands and defends the economic development opportunities that are created by indian gaming, the important government contracting preferences afforded to american indians, alaska natives and native hawaiians under the aa program. i think that congressman young will be a strong partner in the years to come, and i wish him great success in his new leadership role. now, while we have accomplished a great deal in these last several years, as president keel has noted, there is so much work to be done.
in spite of all of our successes, native people continue to die from diabetes, nearly two times more than other americans. deaths from vehicle crashes are two times higher. a native person is twice as likely as another american to be the victim of aggravated assault. our native people have led the nation in unemployment and lack behind in measures of family income. 15% live in overcrowded homes. 14% have no access to electricity. 12% live in homes without plumbing. and even as the president promises to bring broadband internet to every corner of the nation within the next five years, i think it's noteworthy to recognize that nearly one-third of native homes have no access to telephone service available today. so if you don't have a telephone service, how are we going to connect you? so we have so much work to do.
and we will work hard to get it done. but we will be undertaking this work in a period of great financial stress or our nation. on tuesday at the state of the union address, the president spoke of freezing total federal spending for the next five years. some of my colleagues are talking about even more stringent caps, spend a more than we did in 2008, or perhaps no more than we did in 2006. a key question then is how will this affect funding levels for federal indian programs? i understand this is a cause of great anxiety throughout indian country. indian programs remain among the most underfunded programs in the entire federal government. and in spite of the administration's efforts to improve funding for indian health service, the funding gaps we recognize are still quite significant. the same can be said for nearly every other federal indian
program. in an era where the federal spending high is shrinking, constitution for a slice of the pie will be fierce. but our resolve to fight for the funding levels must remain high. we cannot be deterred in our fight to achieve the funding levels that our native people deserve. funding levels that are proportionate to the challenges that we face in indian country. funding levels that are not eaten up by inflation. now, relatively speaking, funding for federal indian programs is small in the overall scheme of the federal budget, but in times of deficit as we are seeing now extraordinary high deficit, congress placed the hardest over which of these small items to fund. and you need to fight hard to keep what you have, and even harder to get what you need. so here's a thought on how we might get there, and president keel touched on this.
but i ask you to think back to this spring and summer of 2009. there was a common theme among many of the campaigns of those who challenged income members of the house and the senate. and that theme was that the federal government should only spend where the constitution provides that congress with the clear authority to do so. spend only on those things that the framers intended to be federal responsibilities. several other new senators, and many of the new republican members of the house of representatives, ran on this specific platform. now, as every student of federal indian policy knows, the well being of america's native people is a uniquely federal responsibility. a federal responsibility, and only a federal responsibility. not a state responsibility. the federal indian programs that we fight hardest to fund were created to fulfill the trust
responsibility between its nation and its first people. authority to fund these programs to rise from three distinct provisions of the constitution, the indian commerce clause, the treaty clause, and the property clause. and this is not nice to have spending. this is must have spending, to fulfill the trust responsibility that is founded within the constitution. [applause] >> so my suggestion to you, as you visit the offices of my colleagues this year, i invite you, teacher haiti gained a copy of the constitution with you, bookmark the provisions that i discussed. i think that would be helpful as you point out that obligation there. now, i would like to mention a few personal priorities for the 112th congress.
just as we came together several years ago to fight the high rates of diabetes that plague our native communities, we must come together now to attack the high rate of suicide that plagues american indians and alaska native youth. indian youth have the highest rate of suicide among all ethnic groups in the united states. over all in alaska, we have the second highest rate of suicide in the united states, twice the national average. on the north slope and in western alaska, the suicide rate is five times the national average. we are not alone. while the indian pressure the alaska indian held has historically suffered from high rates of youth suicide and the other indian health services region, the aberdeen in the tucson indian health service regions are not far behind. each lost native life is a tragedy in its own right, and we must do all that we can to
prevent every incident of suicide. and we will not be allowed in our quest to bring these unacceptable rates of indian youth suicide under control. on paper 28th, the aspen institute will announce the launch of its new center for native american youth under the leadership of our friend, senator byron dorgan. this new program is the centerpiece of senator dorgan's legacy to the well being of our native people. it will be a center that is committed to improving the overall health, the safety and well being of native youth and notably, the prevention of youth suicide. so i look forward to working with the senator dorgan on identifying those strategies that have truly made a difference in preventing suicide among our native youth, and formulating new strategies towards this and. [applause]
>> president keel also mentioned the significance of energy. and as we watch with growing concern to energy prices rising again, it's important that we once again focus on the relationship between energy costs and economic sustainability of our native communities. indian land contains an estimated 10% of all energy resources in the united states. and yet, energy resources on native lands are vastly undeveloped. i am one who believes that america needs all of the above energy approach. oil, gas, coal, alternatives, renewables, and all the above means that we must, we must include indian country in our national energy policy. we must support our native people in their efforts to develop energy resources on native lands. whether for use in native communities or whether to generate income to support our tribal governments and our
tribal enterprises. and i hope that we will all work together to make this a reality. and, finally, we need to continue our efforts to ensure that american indians, alaska natives in native hawaiians continue to have access to the sba's government contracting program. this program -- [applause] >> thank you. i think you recognize the significance of this program. it has been, it has been a significant economic engine for a lack of native corporations, for native hawaiian entities, and for the growing number of tribes that are taking advantage of it and i think it will be an important increasingly important economic opportunities for our tribes in the years to come, provide that congress doesn't poll that latter outpace a we need to be working together again to ensure the effectiveness of this. it like to draw my comments to a close by expressing my appreciation to ncai for all
that it does every day for the betterment of our native people. ncai is a powerful voice on capitol hill for the interests of our native people are under and. is involved in so many different ways, if you don't want to start down the list of all the things that they did because then you leave something out, but i want to take just a quick moment to highlight one of the programs that i have come to learn a little bit more about in these recent months. and that's native vote. nader vote is a national nonpartisan effort to encourage native people to take control of their destiny by registering to vote and turning out each november. native vote does not endorse particular candidates, but it does provide a strong incentive for candidates at every level, to take the concerns of their native constituents seriously.
and if you ever wonder about the success of a program, if you ever wonder whether native vote works, look no further than alaska and the lisa murkowski writing campaign. [applause] >> yeah, yeah. i will tell each and every one of you that my success in running this historic making write-in campaign would not have been possible, it would not have been possible if alaska's native peoples did not turn out at the polls, did not energize, did not come together as they did. and i deeply, deeply appreciate the trust that alaska native people have placed in me. i appreciate so much the support, the love that i receive from all native people, as it add -- abdicate on your behalf.
as i continue my work in the united states senate over these next six years, i look forward to working with each and every one of you in the coming years to improve the condition of america's first people. thank you. good morning. [applause] >> thank you. this is just an incredible morning to hear the state of indian nations from president jefferson keel and the congressional response from senator lisa murkowski. we have much to be grateful for this morning, and we are humbled by having them to be our leaders and our champions today. in addition, as introductions, a late arrival but very
significant arrival to our forum here today, senator dukakis -- senator akaka who i'm hoping will be announcing -- [applause] >> -- that he will be the new chair of the indian affairs. thank you, senator akaka, for joining us this morning. i appreciate that. at this time we are now open for questions from the press, if there's any questions. yes. wait for the mic about an state who you're with. >> i'm with northwest broadcasting. for president keel, in regards to each branch of government, judicial, legislative and executive, is there a very simple but necessary list for each one that you would like to in terms of cooperation? something that indian country would like to be looking for in the next coming year. >> well, i think in terms of the
u.s. congress, indian issues are not partisan issues. we look forward to working with the new incoming congressional leaders, those have been recently elected that are just now joining congress. we look forward to coming within visiting with you in sitting down and giving you not necessary an education, a package. but talking to you about the importance of indian country, what our issues and concerns are, what our priorities are, and how we can work together to make sure that we continue to advance the interest of indian country. you know, as far as having a list of those items, everything in indian country is a priority. all of our programs and health care, housing, education, all of those things, economic growth and opportunity, does provide for the betterment in elevating the overall quality of life of our citizens.
jackie, you have anything you want to add? >> thank you, president keel. in addition to the i would want to say our board met yesterday and they did put together some of the things we know this country will be contemplating come and we want to be able to be part of that agenda. when we talk about competition, we are doing with education, and those kinds of programs that will help our workforce developer you heard over and over this morning about the opportunity that we can bring into the energy arena. , energy environment. but on top of that we also know we need those basic economic development tools, to be able to do with tax incentives, tax bonds, things that will be able to help our communities. we are looking forward to the education reauthorization. we believe we have a lot to offer in that arena, too. of the questions from the press? right here.
>> high. laurie taylor from the public media. thank you for broadcasting on her station. my question is to president keel. the obama administration is relying more on the bipartisan fiscal commission. has ncai reached out to the commission and can you tell us a little bit about that relationship, if you do have one? >> we have not reached out directly to the commission yet. we intend to. as jackie mentioned, our board has met and we have developed some priorities, a list of action items that we want to present to them. and we want to explore ways that we can be involved. we expect to be at the table in these future negotiations. one of the things that we have asked for, even in the presidential summit in december, the president agreed with the tribal leaders that the office of management and budget would
develop a concentration -- a consultation arrangement with tribal leaders and tribal governments across the country. that's something that has been missing and been needing for a long time. tribal governments as you've heard offer tremendous potential in terms of advancing the economic growth of this country. and we want to be part of that. and we look forward to working with them, members of the commission at times as soon as we can get with him and sit down and discuss what we feel is the best way for tribal leaders to be involved in that discussion. thank you. >> she's already got the mic. >> good morning and thank you for your time. i'm libbey casey with the alaska by the greater network. as native tribes and corporations approach congress
and approach the white house, do they need to take different tactics? should there be a division between what corporations are looking for versus drive to make sure that the tribal voice is heard? in alaska the corporaticorporation voice is often very expensive and heard very loudly. >> thank you for that question. the tribal organizations around the country are represented by tribal leaders. what we have worked very hard, and in the past several years, is to refine our message into one united message to congress. as we walked the halls of congress and we visit with different congressmen, we want to make sure that our voice is not only united, but consistent. we want to make sure that our voice is strong in that our communities are represented by different interest in many ways. and the bipartisan support that we get in terms of indian programs and services, we can't,
they can't be fragmented so we have to be consistent and strong. corporations, the alaska native corporations, i know that jackie and many others can talk about that much better than i am, that i can't because i'm not part of that. but they do represent tribal interests. he goes they represent indian people and native people. so we work together within to make sure that our voice is strong, but our message is united and refined to the point where we have a consistent united message to congress on how we can devote our resources and manage our own affairs. >> john tanner, american indians communication. thank you all very much. the opportunities within energy department has identified hundreds of billions of dollars of energy could be generated on sovereign energy lands.
and one of those requirements would have clean green smart grid. if we have that out there it's like they are proposing long transportation, but that will open up hundreds of billions of dollars towards the opportunity of casinos and add to our ability to rise as indian nations. what are we doing in that arena to be able to make sure that the federal government can meet us halfway, in which case we didn't meet a whole lot of indian needs. 57 tribes have already been doing traditional, and if we add to that the new green, we will have hundreds of new tribes with david lester and the council of energy tribes. >> let me just speak to that very briefly, and i may ask a jackie to step in because she's been working on our policy, energy policy for indian country. but what you just mentioned was exactly our problem in
developing the creative. the grid is out there, but tribes have been, has not been able to access. can't get on the grid. so the hell that we need is to allow congress to allow us to get access to the grid. we have the tribal nations around the country, across the country that have tribal utility authorities. they've already developed those. the chickasaw try what authority is one example. doing great work. managing and contributing greatly to our own economy. but it's without access to the grid, it's very difficult for us to compete, particularly with larger corporations. so i'm going to ask jackie to maybe say something on our policy. >> thank you. yes, in addition to access to the grid and to build the capacity and indian countries, also an important component. we have been working for the last several years with many
folks across the country and put together what was the proposed bill that senator dorgan was living in the senate indian committee affairs. of course, that bill to introduce but did receive a market. within a bill we had a variety of options, those that do with tax incentives and economic tools, capacity building, actual energy resources and alternative energy resources. be glad to share there. and, of course, and, of course, were looking of course were looking for to sharing it with congress this session and try to get some of those pieces enacted. >> hi. jefferson, i mean president keel. i am with gannett. speaking of challenging budgetary times, the house study committee has put out a list of programs and projects that they would like to eliminate or cut back in order to help ease the deficit. one of the ideas that they have is elimination of the dia and sending money directly to tribes. what do you think of that idea?
[laughter] >> is assistant secretary echo hawk your? [laughter] >> well, let me just tell you that tribes have four years, for decades, we have had difficult relationship with the bureau of indian affairs. now that the bureau of indian affairs is bad coming early bad, but the regulations, bureaucratic challenges that tribes have faced. there are tribes across the country that are self-governing tribes. they have proven that they can govern their own affairs. they can manage their own affairs. so for them, we ask that the self-governance policy be expanded to allow tribes to govern themselves to develop,
not only contracts with the federal government, but to be able to develop their own programs and services, to provide assistance. tribes have proven that they can do more with less money than the federal government. primarily because of the type of organizations that we have. we're not talking about a lot of federal bureaucratic employees. you know, not that that's bad, but if we're talking about shrinking the size of governme government, you know come we are talking about allowing the tribes to truly govern their own affairs. and so we think that's good. now, doing away with the bureau of indian affairs, i won't even go there. thank you. anyone else?
>> mr. president, just once again welcome all of our web watchers right now. we have over 500 people watching on the web, and we are two questions that come from there, president, that i would like to ask you. one is, how is ncai helping to implement the tribal law and order act? and and i will ask the next one. >> that's a great question. the tribal law and order act modernizes and abuse our jurisdictional authorities within indian country. one of the first things that we did once that law was enacted and signed into law by the president was to coordinate a meeting between the folks from the justice department and the bureau of indian affairs and the interior department, to talk about what the challenges are and how do we, we bring those, bring those programs together. it's very difficult it is going to be very expensive for tribal
governments because many of the tribal courts didn't have access to the type of jurisdictional things that they needed. so, we are working to bring those people together to talk about how we can improve, not only coordination, but collaboration and partnering to get these things implemented. it's going to take some time and tremendous work, but we are working towards that. the other question was? >> the other question was, what's the most important outcome that came out of the last president tribal nation summit? >> i think the most significant thing that i can recall is that the president agreed with the tribal leaders, when the tribal leaders asked him to include consultation with the office of management and budget, that he
agreed that he would make that happen, that the office of management and budget is, in fact, a federal department, they are subject to the president, and they do have significant impact on tribal programs and services. and that they would be included in the consultation arrangement. let me say something about consultation while i'm on that subject. consultation, consultation is supposed to happen before a decision is made. historically, decisions have been made, announcements are made, and then it's defend, announce and defend. tribal leaders have never been at the table prior to an important decision being made or announced by the federal government. so the true -- in the truest spirit of consultation, tribal leaders need to be at the table
when these important programs and decisions are being formulated before they are made. they need to be part of the process. and so i think that was a significant point that was made by the president at the last tribal nations. thank you. is there any other questions from the press? yes. >> rudy sutter, native american leadership program. the question i have is a show called harbor university professor briefly wrote an article suggesting that the new congress, or congress, is moving away toward self rule for tribes due to, you know, the fact that drives in a sense are advancing and that kind of reining in paraguay is that?
>> i don't know. i'm going to punt. i'm going to ask for some help. >> we do see that trend and i say not all in congress but also in the courts, which is very significant to us. several years chief justice breyer came to our executive council winter session, and at that time we were losing in the supreme court, you know? is right and left the indian country was very concerned about how do we protect our sovereignty. and what he said to us was that there is a lot of great matter because they're so weak unique tribes and so the differences between alaska and oklahoma and california, that we have to have all of these very fluid kind of regulations and fluid kinds of program development and actually, a lot of fluidity in our laws. and so he told us at that point, the tribal leaders and pointed and said it will be a challenge. there'll be a day that you need to start working with congress to clean up the great matter. at our memory and using the word gray matter.
i see that and that's what's happening with congress right now. there are tribes who really have built up our capacity and are self-determination and have taken on the role of the federal government has and have been doing it in our own communities. that's the time where i think congress wants to try to define what that is, become a competitor in our own communities, a competitor sometimes with other governmental services. but it really is about self empowerment, and sometimes there's a control issue. so thank you. >> i really appreciate that question because we did, you know, something i said earlier. we have some bright students here. thank you for exhibiting that and reinforcing what i said earlier about our students. thank you. we have one last -- okay. >> at this time we're cutting
off from our web service i just want to thank those who are across the nation listening by rita. thank those that are on the web line. we will continue to take questions after this is over. thank you once again for joining us for the 2011 state of indian nations. >> thank you. [applause] [applause] >> tonight on "the communicators" " >> senators begin a short work week today with an hour of the general speeches. at 3:00 eastern, they were resumed debate on adobe authorizing the federal
administration aviation. and at 4:30 p.m. they're expected to debate and vote on a number of judicial nominations. they will be back tomorrow for what is expected to be a short day to allow democrats to attend a retreat in charlottesville west virginia. the house is back tomorrow their members were back in their home districts last week, and representatives will gavel and at 2 p.m. to watch a debate a number of bills under suspension of the rules, including one renewing certain patriot act provisions. you can see live coverage of the house tomorrow on c-span, and the cynic here on c-span2. -- the cynic here on c-span2 the chaplain: let us pray. lord god, the center of our joy, thank you for the privilege of prayer.
in a world filled with change and decay, we're grateful that we can always call to you, the changeless one. today, we ask you to guide our lawmakers. shine the light of your wisdom and truth upon their path. give them patience to wait for your clear guidance and courage to follow where you lead. remove pride from their hearts and replace it with a spirit of humility and unity. we pray in your great name. amen.
the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. 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 will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., february 7, 2011. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable christopher coons, a senator from the state of delaware, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the order of the votes scheduled at 5:30 be as follows: the remainder of the consent remain in effect. calendar number 6 would be
first. calendar number 3 would be second. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: mr. president, following leader remarks, there will be a period of morning business until 3:00 p.m. at 3:00 p.m., the senate will resume consideration of the federal aviation administration bill. there will be a short recess around 4:20 p.m. in order to welcome the prime minister of slovenia to the senate floor. at 4:30, the senate will turn to executive session to debate concurrently three district court nominations. those nominations are paul holmes of arkansas, diana saldana of texas and marco hernandez of oregon. at 5:30, there will be two roll call votes on confirmation of the nominations in the order that was just approved by the chair. mr. president, ronald reagan's second inauguration was the first one i attended as a member of congress. it was bitterly cold that day. while the temperatures sank into the single digits, reagan became the first and only president to take the oath of office in the
capitol rotunda. he said in that indoor inaugural address, and i quote -- quote - "history is a ribbon, always unfurlg. history is a journey. as we continue our journey, we think of those that traveled before us." yesterday would have been president reagan's 100th birthday. today we think of president reagan and how he steered america's travels through history's journey. i first met president reagan when he was governor of california. i was the lieutenant governor of nevada. we met in heavenly valley on the nevada side of lake tahoe to watch the first annual hot dogging skiing championship, and we -- as i said, i first met him and we had a wonderful visit. i enjoyed that day very, very much. his own travels took him not only to lake tahoe in my state but through the entire state.
california's ronald reagan was a close friend of nevada's. in his earliest days as an actor, he entertained crowds at the last frontier on the las vegas strip. decades later, the same week ronald reagan became governor of california, paul axel became governor next door in nevada. when reagan first sought the presidency, axel managed his campaign. when president reagan walked at the white house, paul axel worked here as nevada's senior senator. it was a special relationship, a unique relationship. one so close that some called senator axel the first friend and he was that. i was fortunate to see firsthand president reagan's appreciation for nevada. after talking to nevadans across eastern nevada, i came to the conclusion that i should drop some wilderness that i was going to put in place and instead form a national park. nevada didn't have a national park, and we would call it the
great basin national park. after i introduced that legislation and it passed, president reagan's secretary of agriculture recommended that he veto, which would be nevada's only national park. the agriculture secretary didn't much like the idea of a young member of congress from the other political party putting such a bill on the president's desk. mr. president, i was worried about that, word came to me that the president was going to veto this bill that was important to me, and i asked for a meeting with his superintendent of parks , national parks director. he had been the superintendent of parks for ronald reagan when reagan was governor of california. his name was william penn mott. when he came to see me, he had been in service of our country in many different ways. he was an elderly man when he came to see me. i explained to him what was
happening and that i was told that president reagan, on recommendation of one of his cabinet members, was going to veto my bill, and that man looked at me and he said president reagan is not going to veto that bill. he said when i was a young park ranger in 1928, keith pittman who was a vaim us nevada senator, very close to president roosevelt, sent me to nevada to find a place for a national park. he said that's my park. i'm the one that said it would go there, that's where it should go, and it never made it legislatively, but because of that meeting i had and ronald reagan's understanding of what politics was all about, he didn't veto my bill. he overruled his secretary, and together harry reid and ronald reagan created the great basin national park. it wasn't the last time president reagan and i worked
together to preserve our west. mr. president, i introduced legislation that was really important legislation. it is -- it involved two indian tribes, two endangered species. it involves lake tahoe. it involved two rivers. the truckee and carson rivers. i think i mentioned two indian tribes. a huge wetlands that had gone from a couple hundred thousand acres to maybe less than a thousand very putrid acres. birds had died eating and drinking there. it was -- the wetlands had basically dried up. it was a very important piece of legislation. but i got it passed. it passed here and went to the house and got it passed. and again, president reagan's advisors recommended that he veto that bill. part of it was because of who
pushed the legislation through. but president reagan knew how important it was to lake tahoe, and one of his very close -- one of his advisors -- i'm sorry, one of his assistants, that's the word i was trying to find, went and talked to him. he was a long-time nevada an, worked very close to president reagan and president bush. he talked to him about this important legislation. and it wasn't vetoed. he signed this bill, in spite of people recommending that this be not signed. president reagan's help in ending this meant a lot to me because he knew that when americans are in this all together, even local issues, even statewide issues are of all
our concern. remember how he signed my bill to establish this park because his view of the national park embodied his vision of the nation. he never looked at the legislation as a map of red states and blue states and purple states. it was a landscape of states colored by green forests and brown deserts and clear waters. my legislation, entitled the negotiated settlement, has changed that part of the country, mr. president. lake tahoe is better off. indian tribes are better off. we have preserved a lake, lake pyramid. it was really landmark legislation. it couldn't have been done without his signature. he knew that when the sun breached the horizon each day, the morning that dawned in america was a morning for all americans and families of all backgrounds. he said in that second newington rally address -- quote -- "we have worked and acted together not as members of political
parties but as americans." ronald reagan was a republican president from the west who cherished a famously close friendship with tip o'neill, a democratic speaker of the house from the east. ronald reagan was a patriot who created a friendship with mikhail gorbachev, the leader of a nation he called an evil empire. he would make certain america could defend herself, quietly sent a diplomatic team to start negotiating with the soviet union the minute he took office. ronald reagan knew politics has always been and always will be about compromise and that compromise are only -- can only happen when politicians share personal relationships. he knew public servants worked better as partners rather than -- partners rather than partisans, and as much as he criticized government, he knew it wasn't a faceless machine. he appreciated that government exists. as lincoln said, of, for, and by
the people. that's why he was more beholden to simple pragmatism than stubborn principle. that's why he, a staunch conservative, raised taxes 11 times when the economy needed revenue. it's why he viewed the challenge of immigration through a practical lens. it's why he knew america could be strong and would be stronger still in a world without nuclear weapons. he wasn't perfect. i didn't agree with many of his politics or policies, but i always admired the way he captured our country's imagination. i always respected his honest assessment of his strengths and limitations alike. he was somebody who could look at himself and we would all smile a little bit. mr. president, one time he was -- he was running for governor of california, and someone asked him do you think
you'll be a good governor? he said i don't know, i've never acted the part. that's who he was. he honestly assessed who he was, his strengths and limitations, and i really admired the way he humbly surrounded himself with good, smart people. a century after his birth, ronald reagan's legacy remains as enduring as anyone who has ever unfurled the long ribbon of our nation's history. that legacy lives not merely in his policies, and to honor it is not enough to try to apply his solutions of 0 years ago to the problems we confront today. rather, we should remember how he respected his colleagues and his constituents. we should try to emulate the confidence he communicated. ronald reagan was a proud neighbor of nevada who united and motivated us by reminding us that all americans live in the same neighborhood. that's a lesson i still remember today. that's a lesson i remember best about our 40th president,
ronald reagan. would the chair announce the business for the day? the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved, and under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 3:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. mr. reid: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, earlier today the president spoke to the chamber of commerce in what some have described as an effort to make nice with the business community. i'll leave others to analyze what that speech means politically. the first concern of every american is what will it mean for the economy. as i said before, what the president says matters a lot less than what he does.
so we'll just have to wait and see whether the president's actions support his rhetoric. and it's in that spirit that i'd like to suggest one thing the president could do immediately with republican support to show he's serious about jobs and the economy. he could work with us to pass free trade agreements with colombia and panama that have been languishing for years. we welcome the president's support for the south korea free trade agreement which has earned strong bipartisan support. but by failing to show the same commitment in passing these two other free trade agreements, the president is missing out on an important opportunity to do something good for the economy and for jobs. the president says he wants to double u.s. exports in five years. free trade agreements with colombia and panama would go a long way toward meeting that goal. and creating jobs right here in america by opening markets in latin america.
in my view, the time for delay on these two agreements is over. the president needs to do more than promise to pursue these agreements as he did today. he should work with congress to pass these two agreements and sign them into law. this should be an easy one. colombia is a strong strategic ally in south america. it's made great kraoeudz in addressing -- strides in addressing concerns of critics here in the u. we should not walk away from colombia now. as for panama, our two nations have had a strong strategic and economic ties literally for years. this agreement would only strengthen those bonds and build on them. as america sits on the sidelines, our competitors around the world, including the e.u. and canada, are moving forward to lower barriers to trade and increase access for their businesses and workers. this is unacceptable, particularly for an
administration that is claiming as a top priority that it wants to win the future. it won't be enough for republicans and it shouldn't be enough for the business community to a lout administration's trade -- to allow the administration's trade agenda to start and end with south korea. we should be passing all pending trade agreements and inking new ones on a bipartisan basis even when it requires the president bringing his own party along. we've heard secretary clinton, senator baucus and ambassador kirk express support for admitting the colombia f.t.a. to congress. the president's own pronouncements continue to fall short. it is not enough for the president to say good things about free trade while siding with labor bosses over job creators and the vast majority of american workers who do not belong to unions and who would largely benefit from opening markets overseas. we shouldn't allow labor union bosses to have veto power over economic policies that benefit all of us.
so the question is: will the president allow our allies in south america to continue waiting for us to move forward or will he send the message that america stands by her allies and is prepared to do something good for american workers, good for the american economy and good for key allies. congress is ready to pass these two deals today. it's time for the president to commit to do the same. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mr. johanns: mr. president, i compliment the majority leader and his comments on trade. i wish to speak in morning business on the same topic, and i won't have to speak long because i've talked about this many times since i joined the senate just over two years ago.
today i want to focus, mr. president, on the u.s.-colombia trade agreement. this agreement was signed by both the united states and colombia on november 22 of 2006. it's been around many, many years. it is expected to create several thousands jobs. yet, for five years now, to the detriment of u.s. exporters and job seekers, policy-makers have punted on this important trade agreement. the obama administration has been sitting on the sidelines watching other countries slowly chip away at u.s. competitiveness in the columbian marketplace. our friends to the north and canada and to the south in mexico wisely negotiated new agreements with colombia. they saw the void that u.s.
companies and workers should have been filling, and they acted to fill that void themselves. you see, mr. president, i believe it is time that we stop watching other countries make the moves that have been teed up for this country for now about five years. implementing the agreement would increase u.s. exports by more than $500 million annually and create almost 4,000 much-needed jobs in the united states. simply stated, passing this agreement would help to improve our economy. in last year's state of the union address, we heard our president say -- and i'm quoting -- "if america sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores."
i applauded his comments. i applauded his desire to increase exports. but, unfortunately, no action was taken on the president's words. during this last year's state of the union address, the president again acknowledged the need for the colombia free trade agreement by saying -- and again i'm quoting, mr. president -- "we will strengthen our trade relations with key partners like south korea and panama in colombia." end quote. once again these words will ring hollow with no action. yet again today, in a much touted speech to the chamber of commerce, the president talked about pursuing the colombia trade agreement. i must admit, i asked the question: what on earth is left to pursue? the agreement was signed nearly
five years ago. it's ready for approval. all the president needs to do is submit it for our action. and if the president thinks there was more pursuing to do, well then what have we been waiting for the past couple of years? why hasn't the administration pursued whatever it is they think needs pursuing for now over two years? americans who are out of work know that this administration is missing an opportunity to say to thousands of americans, you have a job. our job creators are waiting. my hope is that the president stands behind his remarks today. this is a golden opportunity for the president to send a signal that his words do have meaning
and to show that we can in fact work together in a bipartisan way. he could submit the colombia trade agreement to congress for approval right today and send an enormously powerful message that when he says pursue, he means action. not stall. you see, mr. president, folks from my state are anxiously awaiting approval of this agreement, as are folks from around the country. we should all be reminded that workers and businesses in our home state will benefit from the colombia free trade agreement. our farmers and our ranchers would benefit from the elimination of tariffs on more than 77% of agricultural goods. american workers will see more of their products sold at 76% of
columbian tariffs on our industrial goods are eliminated, wiped out immediately. no doubt about it, this agreement will have a real impact on nebraskans and other americans who work hard every day to make a better life for their families. mr. president, let me share today just a couple of examples of nebraskans who want to see the u.s.-colombia trade agreement ratified. take nebraska-based manufacturer velmont industries, for example. velmont has loyal customers in colombia who buy its irrigation pivots. currently colombia imposes a 15% duty or tax on those pivot systems which would be
eliminated by the colombia trade agreement. you see, if the 15% duty is in fact eliminated, velmont estimates they would gain market share against european competitors and add 10 to 15 new jobs in nebraska alone. or take rick larson of potter, nebraska. he grows wheat and corn. he has a small livestock operation. unfortunately, the market share of our american farmers is declining rapidly in colombia. when we signed the agreement, american farmers like rick larson in potter supplied 76% of the wheat to colombia. today they sell 22%. you see, for rick, that means
he's lost 15 cents per bushel of wheat. that impacts a real family. it's a similar story with corn. he's lost four cents per bushel. well, in a place where we throw around the idea of trillions, that may not sound like very much, but it means rick's wheat and corn revenues were down $7,600 last year just because the administration had not submitted those trade agreements for our approval. farmers like rick cannot believe we are sitting on our hands while our market share is evaporating right before our eyes. he shudders to think what will happen to sales prices once canada beats us to a free trade
agreement, even though it was signed two years after ours. mr. president, i can tell you it is not easy to regain lost market share once it is gone, and it worries our exporters when they say their government standing between them and a promising marketplace. nebraska farmers and ranchers and those across the country, well, i'll just tell you, they can compete with anyone. they can compete with anyone, and all they're asking for is a level playing field and a fair shot. we have been giving exporters from colombia more than a fair shot. through the andean trade preferences act, which is set to expire on february 12, under the agreement -- get this -- a
whopping 90% of goods and services coming in to our country to compete with our citizens enter absolutely duty-free. i think we should extend the andean trade preferences, but we should also knock down the barriers for our own exporters and level the playing field. we must give our workers that level playing field by approving the colombia free trade agreement. mr. president, american exporters have waited too long to realize the benefits of this trade agreement. isn't it time to get serious about beating our global competitors in the colombian market? don't we all realize that u.s. jobs depend upon this?
you see, mr. president, we all represent people like valmont and formers like rick. let's pay tribute to theirent preen neural spirit by -- to their entrepreneurial spirit by tearing down trade barriers that inhaibt economic growth in this great nation. i urge the president to transmit the signed u.s.-colombia trade agreement to congress immediately. this is one senator that's going to stand behind the president and do everything i can to try to get that agreement ratified here in the senate. it is time for speaker boehner and leader reid to call it up for consideration as soon as it reaches their desk. but, most importantly, it's time for the president to lay it on
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. mr. begich: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are, sir. mr. begich: i would like to move to vacate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. begich: mr. president, i rise today to join my friend from oklahoma to talk about a commonsense piece of legislation. i come to the floor pretty often to talk about the deficit and today i want to talk about something very specific that we can do to address this matter. the orphan earmark act would rescind earmarks that remain 90% or more unused nine years after being appropriated. in early january, "usa today" published an article examining
20 years of earmarks that have not been spent. according to the analysis, at least 3,649 of those earmarks -- not a single dollar had gone toward its intended purpose. and many of our orphan earmarks also count against a state's share of federal highway funds that have taken billions of dollars away from the state transportation departments across this nation. during the past 20 years, orphan earmarks reduce the amount of money that states could have received in federal highway funding by almost $7.5 billion. that's $7.5 billion that states could have used to replace obsolete bridges, to repair aging roads and bring jobs to rural areas. as all of us know, when lawmakers earmark money, even if it is never spent for pet highway projects, that money still reduces what states receive from the federal
government. in my own state of alaska, $187 million in funding was lost out in the past 20 years because of orphan earmarks. i know some of you are concerned that -- about states losing out on money that we all could use, especially nowadays. let's not worry. i don't want to take away your earmarks that help communities in need, that create jobs. we are talking about earmarks that have been abandoned for more than ten years. and just sitting like uncashed checks. dr. coburn and i have addressed this in our legislation. we have built in a 12 month period -- i repeat -- a 12-month period for agency heads to make sure that earmarks could be used before rescinding. on that note, i want to make clear something else. i do not personally support an earmark moratorium. i know my friend from oklahoma and i disagree on this earmark
funding, but i believe it's vital to my home state of alaska. we have unique needs and have relied on this critical funding from day one to support health safety and jobs. what i have -- what i have a problem with is wasteful spending that could have otherwise been used for a project or cut the deficit. our legislation requires the director of o.m.b. to submit to congress and publicly post on the o.m.b. website an annual report that includes a listing and accounting for earmarks with unobligated balances summarized by agencies including amount of the original earmark, amount of the unobligated balances and the year when the funding expires. the number of rescissions resulting from the section and the annual savings resulting if the section for the previous fiscal year. and, finally, a listing in accounting for earmarks provided for federal agencies scheduled to be rescinded at the end of
the current fiscal year. senator feingold offered an amendment last march to the f.a.a. bill to rescind any d.o.t. earmarks that remained 90% or more unobligated for nine years after being appropriated with the possibility of holding funds for one more year for earmarks, the agency head believe to be funded within 12 months. because senator feingold had not fried the legislation to reflect concerns by senators boxer and murray, the senate voted 87-11 to pass this amendment. however we all know that the f.a.a. bill did not pass last year. the coburn-begich bill is modeled after a bush administration proposal from 2008. and would have rescinded any highway and privilege earmark funds from the 1998 highway tee-lou 2 that had 21% or less of the funds spent or obligated. that would have save
saved $626 million including 389 million and 152 earmarks that had no funding obligated a decade after passing. the coburn-begich bill targets all orphan earmarks, not just those in the highway bill. mr. president, let me just conclude and i know my friend from oklahoma is also here to speak. i will tell you when i became mayor in 2003 in ran anchorage, alaska, we look add all the bonds, and we looked at all the projects. the size amount was spent on projects a that they were -- that they were intended. but some were -- for a variety of reasons. they maybe didn't get enough money from another source or the project just vanished from the books because the public opposition to it. but what we found was we were passing bonds for projects that may not have ever or gone
forward. so we cleaned the books up when i was mayor to make sure that occurred. then we did one other thing, which this legislation on a federal level focuses on, not only makes sure that we clean up the books, but making clear you better spend the money for the project it was identified for. we made sure that the projects that were on the bond that voters voted for that they put their taxpayer money toward, that 75% or more of those projects would be completed or substantially under way by the end of the year. that was important to make sure taxpayers knew their class were being used -- their tax dollars were being used. not just having a project that they thought were happening. this is a good piece of legislation. it brings fiscal responsibility to the money that's out there and when you think about it, if you have a piece of legislation, an earmark, that's been not
utilized, 90% of it not utilized for 10 years or more, there is no reason you should have that money in some bank account in some agency somewhere hidden away. it should come back and then go toward the deficit. so, mr. president, i yield the floor at this time to my colleague from oklahoma. but i'm honored to be able to join him in this effort, fiscal sanity to this effort, trying to figure out this government's budget in a better way. mr. coburn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: first, let me thank my colleague from alaska. as somebody who's been working on areas of fiscal management in our government for the last six-plus years, this is a one -- is one small step, whether it saves $500 billion or it
saves $1 million. the problem is america knows that we need to do this 1,500 more times. you hear a lot in the press now with the republican appropriators and the republican budgetearbudgeteers about how mo cut, it's the wrong language. the budget was $1.4 trillion last year. we have tons of areas like my colleague and my former colleague, the senator from wisconsin, russ feingold, knows full well we're don't effectively utilize the money that's been given to us or that we're borrowing against our kids' future. so this -- this is great to start. we need to do this every day on every bill that comes before us. we can find it. we've identified 650 sets of duplications in the federal government and they're not small duplications.
there's 49 job training programs across nine different agencies, there is science and technology and math engineering programs, something that the president said at the state of the union he wanted in hand. we already have 105 programs. we're spending $18 billion on job training. we don't know if it's working. we don't know if the people we trained got the job in the area that we trained them. so i'm excited about my colleague joining with me and my hope is that we can set a trend. that with every bill that comes out, we'll start looking. and, by the way, we do have coming from the government accountability office the first third of all the government programs where we inquired two years ago into the congressional research service and to the office of management and budget, and to the g.a.o., we sid, give us a list -- we said, give us a list of all the programs. we don't have a list of where we spend the money.
we're critical of the defense department because they can't pass an audit, but we can't pass an audit because we don't know what we're doing. this should not be controversial at all. it would -- and it should save us close to a billion dollars when it's all said and done. and that's a billion dollars we won't borrow from the chinese and all we've got to do is do that 1,500 more times. and the fact is, we can. we're like that little engine. we can. we can get up that hill. what it's going to take is reaching across the aisle and say here's an area of common ground. it's based in common sense and it's something that should be done and should be done now so that we don't -- you know, in -- in the data, it's just -- just to show you how silly this is, in atlanta there's still money for the 1996 olympics. 14 years ago there'
there's $2.7 million sitting in a bank account they can't spend on because the olympics already occurred. but we've still got that money out there. that's the kind of silly stuff that happens when the federal government's reaching into areas that it shouldn't be reaching into. and what we can do is we can not to lay blame, not to say it's about earmarks or not earmarks, here's a commonsense solution that says here's a way to free up a billion dollars or $500 million. if it's $500 million, great. but here's a way to do that. i would also take time to spend on the floor now, the president's fiscal commission outlined $4 trillion over the next 10 years that we can eliminate that will go a long ways towards starting to solve some of our problems. so my hope is that with this amendment we'll start a trend where we can grab hold of and
capture the things that make sense, that most americans will never miss, and if they do miss it, it's because they're going to get something better instead and more efficient instead and we start down this road. and this is a great start. i congratulate my colleague for his initiative in bringing this back up and what we need to do is get on the phone and get our colleagues in the house to do the same thing and make sure when this bill goes through and this amendment is adopted that it actually happens. don't forget that -- the -- the bush administration wants this to happen. so does the obama administration. think about the amount of labor we're spending taking care of details on things that can't get spent or won't be spent and the amount of man hours that goes too that. and -- and i -- goes into that. and i thought i would finish up on one of the recommendations of the fiscal commission was on the
federal workforce and there's a wonderful article that was published by and murray on -- ann murray on february 3 about how many federal employees do we have? and it's easy for us to think about the fact that when we count just true federal employees, it's 2.8 million. but that doesn't come close to the actual number of employees that the federal government has. when you add up what is actually there, and you add in postal employees, you add in military, you add in contractors, we're at 11 million federal employees. and there's a lot of areas. we have a great federal workforce. there's a lot of areas where we can be efficient and downsize. we don't have to lay anybody
off. we can just not add. and what we can do is through attrition marketedly decrease the number of federal employees that we have which will be the second and third and fourth billion dollars. the other thing that the -- the -- the commission recommended, which the obama administration embraced was a freeze on salaries, but most of us don't recognize we've got $3 billion owed right now to the i.r.s. in back taxes by federal employees that's already been adjudicated. so, i mean, there's all sorts of things that we can do. so we've got lots of ideas. my pledge is to work across the aisle with my colleagues to find one of these every day or every other day. and if we do that together, we don't have to borrow 40 cents out of every dollar that we spend in this country. we can take it down to 20 cents or 15 cents or down to zero so we can, in fact, ensure the future for our children. i would thank my colleague,
yield back the floor and recognize and yield back to my colleague from alaska. mr. begich: the senator from oklahoma, i just wanted to add i thank you for joining in on this. i will tell you when you look at -- you're right. this should be noncontroversial. this should be easy. it's like if you received a check and it sits there for 10 years, i can guarantee you, if you're in a private business, as i have been, you've written that off already. it's gone. in this situation we're saying, there's $500 million. i think you're right when it's all tallied up, probably close to $1 billion sitting out there. that we did this once before on a great support on a much more narrow focus. if we did this on a regular basis, there is unlimited opportunity. i sat here in the presiding chairmany times and listened tower presentations regarding the budget and areas -- we may not always agree, but when we find those agreements, here's an opportunity. i think this is an easy one in a lot of ways.
there's other ones as you know and i know with regard to surplus property that the federal government has that's been idle or under incredible disrepair, not being realized from. from -- realized. from my real estate experience, i realize this and this could be turned back to the private sector that could grow the economy. mr. coburn: can i yield? mr. begich: yes. mr. coburn: the federal government has $90 billion worth of government not being taken care of and we have a budget gimmick, that says an agency needs a new building, because we're going to account for that building in the year they buy it and charge it to the agency what are we doing? we could lease buildings. we can own them much cheaper than we can lease them. what we should be doing is changing that and getting rid of the excess property. lowering the cost to maintain it. there's nine out of the 1,500
that we have right there. and change the way that we purchase the federal buildings for the government. instead of leasing. it costs over the life of the building twice the life versus owning. mr. begich: if the senator would yield back, i would agree. as someone who has been in the real estate business for 30 years, there is enormous opportunity equipment we're not talking about -- opportunity. we're not talking about parks. we're talking about sites that are no longer in use put them back into operation. not only will it save the federal government money in the sense of getting that surplus property off the books. but what you end up doing is turning that into economic development property because the private sector will come in and revitalize them or use them in another means. there are many ideas out there. thank you very much for the opportunity to sponsor this with you. as i would say at the beginning, as you said during your
quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. rockefeller: what is the pending business? the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 223, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 5, s. 223, a bill to modernize the air traffic control system, and so forth and for other purposes. mr. rockefeller: i thank the clerk. i would like to yield at this point -- i have some comments of my own, but the senator from maryland has obviously been down here waiting, and he's always very interesting, provocative, thoughtful and always right. so i would like to yield to him such time as he may feel comfortable with, provided it doesn't go past 5:00. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, let me thank my colleague from west virginia and congratulate him on the bill that's on the floor, the re-authorization of the federal aviation administration. it's a bill i think we all could be proud of, and i thank him for
his long work. but i first would like to ask unanimous consent that the privileges of the floor be granted to scott j.glick, department of justice detailee to the senate judiciary committee during today's session. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. cardin: mr. president, let me just comment, mr. glick will be leaving us tyson. he has been -- leaving us soon. he has been an invaluable resource for the subcommittee i chaired that dealt with terrorism and homeland security. i just want to thank him for his dedicated work here in the united states senate. it was extremely important, the work that we did, dealing with the espionage statute, dealing with terrorists generally, and i just want to thank him for his service. mr. president, i rise today to speak on the legislation to re-authorize the federal aviation administration. our national economy is recovering from the worst economic recession in decades. critical to getting our economy moving forward and getting americans back to work is building an efficient and modern
intermodal transportation system, and this bill will help us deal with that. i am pleased to see that this legislation, which is estimated to create 280,000 jobs at airports around the country is one of the first orders of business in the 112th congress. it demonstrates that this body is focused on job creation as well as improving our infrastructure, particularly as it relates to our nation's aviation system to ensure that america is ready for business. the airline industry accounts for nearly 11 million u.s. jobs, jobs, $1.2 trillion in annual economic activity. this bill provides the airline industry the essential infrastructure it needs to succeed and remain strong and competitive in the global airline industry. every day, the federal aviation administration faces the daunting task of marshalling thousands of airliners and air travelers on those planes across the country from airports to airfields both large and small, located in every corner of our
nation. these members of the federal work force safely guide thousands of airplanes, serving tens of thousands of air travelers across america's skies every day. i applaud my colleague, senator rockefeller's dedication in getting this much-needed legislation to the floor of the senate. i greatly appreciate his willingness in the last congress to incorporate a provision of mine that is important to keeping small rural airports in maryland and other parts of our country in operation. i look forward to working with him to continue to build upon the work that was done on this important bill as it moves forward. this bill is not just important to our big airports, it's important to all the airports in this country. there are many challenges facing the f.a.a. and air travelers. this bill sets a clear path toward addressing these challenges, not the least of which is working to reduce the number of flight cancellations and the frequency of flight delays that can range anywhere from ten minutes to nine or more hours that air travelers have to
experience. this bill will reduce delays by more than 20%, save passenger time, money and reduce airline fuel consumption, making our country more energy secure and reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. while air travel remains safe and a fast way to travel between distant destinations, the technology is readily available to make essential improvements to our nation's aviation infrastructure to make it even safer and faster. the bill authorizes authorization of the facility and equipment funding, reinforces the f.a.a.'s commitment to overhaul the guidance system used to direct flights across the country. the deployment of nextgen flight guidance system will cut travel time and save energy by directing flights to take shorter routes and use less fuel. domestic commercial flight routes follow the same base guidance air traffic control
system that was put in place more than a half a century ago. the paths planes follow between airports is not based on the shortest, most efficient routes, but is instead based on the location of broadcasting points on the ground. mr. president, that no longer makes any sense. it hasn't made sense for a while. we know that we now have a g.p.s. system that could get our airports in a much more direct route, a faster route, saving time and saving energy. just to give you one example, the flight from national airport to boston currently takes 537 miles, one hour and 15 minutes and burns over 7,000 pounds of fuel. using nextgen, that same flight will be 367 miles with a direct flight to boston, taking less than an hour and burning less than 6,000 pounds of fuel. that's a savings of almost 1,500 pounds of fuel, saving
expensive carbon-emitting intense jet fuel. these are significant savings that benefit the environment and the consumer. the air transport association estimates that even a 6% fleetwide reduction of fuel burned results in fuel savings of 1.16 billion gallons of jet fuel and emission savings of nearly 11 million metric tons or 24 billion pounds of co2. that's what we're talking about here. saving fuel, saving costs to our economy and polluting much less. nextgen is essential to achieving these types of greenhouse gas emissions reductions from the aviation sector. nextgen is also critical to meeting future air travel demands and will go a long way toward alleviating the actual air traffic that is responsible for much of the delays air passengers are experiencing while traveling. the research, engineering and development fund is set to advance undergraduate and technical school programs for
aircraft maintenance focusing on new technology, job training for pilots and air traffic controllers. this includes essential job training programs for the next generation of air traffic controllers that will use nextgen's systems to guide air america's airline fleets. mr. president, more jobs for the people of this country. job training and education is an important part for america's work force to advance into the well paid and skilled jobs and it's essential for our nation's economic recovery. the operation and maintenance airport improvement program and facilities and equipment funding authorizations give the green light to hundreds of airports across the nation to advance pressing maintenance security, facility and new construction projects that will create thousands of jobs in the area of engineering science, construction and software development and much more. for example, at the baltimore washington international airport airport in anne arundel county, maryland, the maryland department of transportation has
nearly $400 million ready in airport improvement programs that can be funded under this bill. these projects will help improve our runway safety, tarmac capacity and terminal efficiency at maryland's largest airport. b.w.i.-thurgood marshall serves -- served 21 million passengers in 2009 and was ranked first of the 140 international airports worldwide that serve 15 million-25 million passengers annually by the airport council international's airport service quality survey. we're proud of that, but we want to make sure that we can maintain that type of service at b.w.i. the re-authorization of these programs are critically important for us to maintain that edge. i appreciate the opportunity this bill gives me to show my support for maryland's flagship airport and the 35 other commercial, municipal, regional and general aviation airports across my state. i mentioned earlier my colleagues' willingness to work with me to incorporate an amendment to help small commercial airports. the program i am referring to is
the essential air service program which provides funding to keep the small yet critically important commercial airports serving rural communities viable. this program assures that rural communities are provided a minimal level of service to preserve their connections to the nation's airport transportation system. western maryland's hagerstown airport has benefited greatly from this program and has allowed the airport to secure service contracts with cape air to fly four daily flights from hagerstown to baltimore. without hager town's daily flights to b.w.i., western maryland residents, as well as people living in eastern west virginia, southern pennsylvania, would have to drive anywhere from 75 to more than 150 miles to get to the nearest airport for commercial service. there are many other rural communities where major commercial air passenger service is located at even greater distances, and the essential air service helps alleviate the travel isolation of these communities. i am pleased that this bill
addresses the needs of hagerstown airport and others like it. another issue that is critical to the success of maryland airports that will surely come up during this debate is the changing of the slot or perimeter rules at reagan national airport. this is an issue that i care deeply about because it is -- it directly involves the economic viability of b.w.i.-thurgood marshall airport and the surrounding airport. in the 111th congress, the proposed changes to operations at national airport were made by senators representing states well beyond the greater washington region. changing the slot and perimeter rules in this fashion subverts the established process for altering these rules and undermines the authority of local transportation experts. restricting service at national airport lends itself to the steady growth of the region's major hub airports which have been at the heart of the region's business community's economic development plans.
companies like northrop grumman, l3, general dynamics and other major employers in the baltimore-washington area strategically locate near b.w.i. airport. the growth of that airport is critical to our economic progress. the slow steady growth helped create an attractive business climate for these major companies. this would not have been possible without congress's agreement to maintain the status quo service at national airport that in turn made dulles and b.w.i. the region's growth airport. based on historical evidence of increased slots at d.c.a., allowing flights to be created from within the perimeter and beyond would have an impact on the service at b.w.i./marshal. it will reduce the value and return the federal and state infrastructure investments made at b.w.i. maryland invested more than $1.5
billion in the airport over the last ten years and plans to invest more than $684 million in the next six years. i welcome a collaborative and open process should changes in the region's airport operations be necessary. in regards to another important provision in this legislation, i support the passenger's bill of rights which incorporates -- which is incorporated into this bill. no one should be forced to stay aboard a plan on a tarmac for extended periods of time. i also applaud the provisions within the bill that provide customers with better information about the wide range of fees airlines and airports place upon the flying public. i understand that between high fuel costs and the current economy, travelers are flying less and this has hurt the airline industry. as a result, airlines have resorted to charging a variety of fees for services on each flight. airlines have counted on air travelers adapting to each charge, change in policy so much that today's frequent fliers
really expect a free meal or to check a bag for free. air travelers often have no choice but to pay the airline's fees. the problem is how these fees come at the customer: often by surprise. if the fees are explained in advance, there is less to take issue with. surprise fees have consumers upset and weary of flying. by the time the traveler has reached the ticket counter, they are commited to getting on that plane. at that point the airlines have a clear upper hand when it comes to levying additional charges for baggage based on size, weight or type or even fees for simple on-board amenities like refreshments or blankets once a passenger is in their seat, in some instances travelers have no choice but to pay the fee. in the 111th congress i introduced legislation to ensure travelers were made aware of the fee they were being charged to fly. i look forward to working with
my colleagues to make sure this issue is adequately addressed in this bill. i want the airlines to succeed. working to ensure the honest disclosure of airline fees and improve passenger treatment help public confidence in the airline industry. currently the airlines can point at hoye fuel costs -- as high fuel costs as to why less people are traveling by air. as more americans find work, both business and leisure travel will begin to pick up. whether travelers look to the skies or the ground to get to their designation will largely depend on the user's experience. passenger bill of rights goes a long way to improving the user's experience for air travelers. before concluding on this legislation to reauthorize the federal aviation administration, i think it's important that i bring up an amendment that may be brought up. i want to express my opposition to an amendment that would exclude employees of the
transportation security administration, t.s.a., from collective bargaining rights of federal employees. on june 23, 2010, more than six months ago i spoke on the floor of the senate about the need for collective bargaining for more than 60,000 t.s.a. employees who work at b.w.i.-marshal international airport and airports around the nation. at that time some members of congress opposed collective bargaining for t.s.a. employees because of their concern that we immediate to be able to adapt quickly and effectively to specific aviation threats. the underlying premise of that argument was we must choose between protecting the nation from threats to aviation and collective bargaining. that choice was a false choice because national security or what i call smart collective bargaining are not mutually exclusive. under sphargt collective bargaining -- under smart collective bargaining where a
true emergency exists t.s.a. would be able to act without a negative impact. the administration stated we have to be able to surge resources at any time not only nationwide, but worldwide. that smart collective bargaining agreement would enable us to do that. i believe then and i believe now that a smart collective bargaining agreement would enhance national security because it would enable t.s.a. to recruit and retrain better employees. our nation's history with labor unions teaches us that collective bargaining boosts morale. it allows employees to have a voice in their workplace and allows them to increase stability and professionalism. on the other hand, poor workforce management can lead directly to high attrition rates, job dissatisfaction and increased costs, would lead to gaps in aviation security. in the past there have been reports that t.s.a. has had low worker morale, which can undermine the agency's mission in our national security. i am now pleased to learn that
after he was confirmed by the senate, administrator pistol did what he said he would do. he studied the issue and gathered all the facts and information he could from stakeholders including t.s.a. employees, t.s.a. management, union presidents and a variety of present and former leaders and experts in law enforcement agencies and organizations. this past friday, the administrator decided the more than 60,000 t.s.a. employees working at b.w.i. could vote on whether they want or don't want representation on nonsecurity kpwhraoeplt issues. -- employment issues. this is a small decision and can lead to the kind of solution that i was talking about six months ago. on issues of national security, we need to come together and
reject the either/or. we need to be smart on national security, and this collective bargaining decision by administrator pistol is a smart decision. the fact of the matter is the department of homeland security customs and border patrol officers, some of whom work at the same airports as t.s.a. employees as well as employees at d.h.s. federal protective service and capitol police all operate under collective bargaining agreements. as our late colleague, senator kennedy, noted in august of 2009 when he cosponsored a collective bargaining rights bill for public sector officers, tomorrow morning thousands of public safety officers, police officers and firefighters will wake up and go to work to protect us. they will put their lives on the line responding to emergencies, policing our neighborhoods and protecting us in maryland and communities across the nation. these dedicated public servants will patrol our streets and run into burning buildings to keep us safe, and no one believes for a moment that we are less safe
because they have secured collective bargaining rights. if opponents of the administrator pistol's decision want to invoke 9/11 to support their views, they will soon discover the legacy of 9/11 shows clearly the national security will not be compromised by smart collective bargaining. before 9/11, new york port authority police worked eight hour days, four days on, two days off. by the end of the day of 9/11, vacation and personal times were canceled and workers were switched to 12 hour tours seven days a week. these schedules did not return to normal for three years. the union did not file a grievance and efrpbl recognized it was a real -- efrpbl recognized it was a real crisis. the administrator decision will help us maintain the best employees to protect us, like the countless number of american heroes who work to protect us and keep us safe under
collective bargaining agreements. in concluding i want to acknowledge in the reauthorization of the f.a.a. bill, i want to acknowledge the thousands of hardworking government workers and members of our nation's flight kraoufplt without their service, air travel would not be possible. i'm pleased they support this bill. i also note the important worker safety provisions this legislation provides workers in the aviation industry. congress has passed 17 short-term extensions of this authorization. it's time for a permanent fix. it's time to pass this bill. it will provide stability, safety and jobs for both the airline industry and its passengers. it promotes jobs, consumer and travel protection, homegrown technology innovation and reductions of fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emission. with that i congratulate the chairman for the work he has done. i thank him for yielding me the floor, and at this point i would yield the floor.
mr. rockefeller: i thank the good senator from maryland for his remarks. mr. president, i'd just like to -- and i'm sure that as i call her my vice chair, senator hutchison, will have some remarks she wants to make. simply to catch us up to where we are, this is the federal aviation bill, and it's been deemed to be only the federal aviation bill, which is good because that means extraneous amendments aren't germane. and we're trying to work our way through this aviation policy issue business, which actually is turning out so far to be quite smooth. people have come and it's done in a very bipartisan fashion that's the way senator hutchison and i work always. and it's the way the committee, frankly, works. it's one of the reasons we put out more nominations and probably more legislation than any other committee. we have a number of pending amendments that i know my colleagues also have others.
some will come to the floor this afternoon to get into the queue and speak on those amendments. we're making very good progress in resolving some of the pending amendments. and others, i believe, will require votes. if we can do something without a vote, that's great. if we have to have a vote, that's also fine. in addition, senator hutchison and i continue to work to resolve the issue of slots at the national airport is. i want to thank all of our colleagues for engaging in a constructive conversation on this very difficult issue. it's been very, very heartening that people seem to understand that if we can't work out this issue, the whole bill goes down and 11 million jobs and over $1 trillion of the economy is at risk. we played with fire for this now for 15 -- 17 consecutive extensions of the bill.
a horrible way to do business, to send out a three-year contract for building an airport runway. it's just -- it's awful, but we haven't faced up to this bill. senator hutchison and i are doing that. i expect we'll be on the bill this week, probably hope to finish it the following week. i really believe that we can do that. but then again, i'm not sure. it's how the senate wants to work its will. again, i would urge my colleagues to come and speak with senator hutchison and myself if they have amendments that they would like to offer. that's what we're here for. i thank the presiding officer and -- mrs. hutchison: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mrs. hutchison: mr. president, i appreciate what the chairman has said. i think his message is the same as my message, and that is this is a very important bill. it is one that we have extended since 2007 the authorization of the f.a.a., with 18 short-term
extensions, and neither the chairman nor myself want another short-term -- 19th short-term -- extension. that's, as he mentioned, not the way we ought to be doing business. we ought to be able to assure that a contract will be able to be let 230r a new runway -- for a new runway or repair on a runway that will be able to be finished. i hope that we can get through some of the thornier issues. and there are several of those. so i would ask my colleagues to come down and get your amendments pending, because we want to close out amendments and then deal with the ones that we have and move on. senator wicker and senator collins are going to be here very shortly. they will be talking about the wicker amendment. that is one that i think they have now agreed to sponsor
together. i think that they have made some good changes. we have others that are also being worked on. but it is time to now finalize if you want to offer an amendment, to come down and do it. and we are continuing to work on the perimeter slot rule from washington national airport with the hopes of coming to a consensus that will increase the number of opportunities for people from the western half of the united states to be able to come in to washington national airport. i would just say that i believe it is in everyone's interest to open washington national on a limited basis. we don't want to add to the congestion, but the -- what is being put forward, the proposals that are being put forward would not add to congestion.
they would be mostly incumbent carriers already flying, just transferring to longer-haul flights but not with bigger airplanes. so you can't make the argument that it's going to add to ground congestion, nor air congestion because you're not going to add that many new flights. and it certainly is not a noise issue anymore because we have stage 3 aircraft that have made a significant, significant improvement in air traffic noise for people who live near airports. and i think that it is in the interest of the people who live around national to have that same convenience to be able to go to the western part of the united states, just like people who live farther away from the airport. so i expect we are working through this. we need to come up with something that everyone would say is a fair compromise, and i
hope that we can do that. the underlying bill is important because it does increase the safety measures that we need to increase. it certainly will modernize the air traffic control system and put america in the forefront of putting our air traffic control on a satellite-based system rather than a ground-based radar system. that is the key reason for needing to go forward on this bill, so that we can start that transformation. it will take time, and it is something that needs to be done, but with a longer-term authorization, which we're trying to do. it will improve rural, small-town access in our aviation system, and there is -- there are good consumer protections. we don't think anyone should have to sit on an airplane for more than three hours on the ground with the door closed, and that is provided for in this
bill, that if you are sitting on the ground in a closed act for more than three -- in a closed aircraft for more than three hours, the airline must let the doors open and let the passengers get off. so there are a lot of things that we need to put in law. we have made a good start and i would just ask my colleagues to give us their amendments, if they have them, let's work the through them, and then leat move this bill. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. wicker: mr. president? the presiding officer: the snrr mississippi. mr. wicker: thank you, mr. president. i ask that my amendment, number 14, be modified with changes which i have sent to the desk. the presiding officer: is there an objection? without objection, the amendment is so modified. mr. wicker: and, secondly, i ask unanimous consent that the following two senators be added as cosponsors to my amendment:, senator collins and senator
coburn. the presiding officer: without objection. so ordered. mr. wicker: thank you, mr. president. earlier i called up my amendment -- actually last week -- which would prohibit t.s.a. employees from entering into collective bargaining agreements. now, a lot has happened since i called up my amendment. the transportation security administrator announced his intent on friday to proceed with allowing t.s.a. security employees to collectively bargain. this would reverse a decade of policy, since the inception of t.s.a. actually. currently t.s.a. employees are not allowed to collectively bargain. the 2001 law that created t.s.a. gives this decision to the administrator, and previous
administrators have understood that collective bargaining agreements for t.s.a. could compromise our nation's security. t.s.a. employees have been treated like those of the f.b.i., c.i.a., and the secret service for purposes of collective bargaining. these personnel are treated very we will by our government and taken care of in other ways. but because of the security concerns, collective bargaining is not prohibited for those security personnel. frankly, i think many observers would conclude that the current administration is intent on doling out rewards to comain supporters -- to campaign supporters and, therefore, is moving to reverse this decades' old decision and allow for collective bargaining around
t.s.a. employees. on november 12, 2010, the federal labor relations authority decided t.s.a. employees will be allowed to vote in union representation and then the decision came along friday to allow them to have collective bargaining rights. i don't believe our country needs 50,000 t.s.a. screeners to be part of a union. but the obama administration does. adding workers to union rolls has been a high priority of the administration since day one. as i pointed out, the f.b.i., the c.i.a., and the secret service do not have collectively bargaining rights because union demands could limit the ability of those responsible for security at some of the high-risk targets, and ham per them in -- and hamper them in getting their job done.
let me just reverse a little bit of history. when a british airliner bombing plot was uncovered, the t.s.a. overhauled security procedures in a matter of 12 hours to deal with the threat of liquid explosives. they had to act very quickly and flexiblably. it is difficult to imagine that kind of flexibility under inflexible union rules. in 2006, following a severe midwestern the senato snowstorml t.s.a. employees were unable to get to the airport, but t.s.a. was able to fly personnel in temporarily from other airports to cover these snowed-in personnel. this helped keep the airlines moving and the security lines moving. i wonder how collective bargaining would have impacted t.s.a.'s ability to be flexible, to be quick on their feet and to
move personnel around? there's also the issue of testing and rollout of software to protect the privacy of passengers, utilizing advanced imaging technology. this could b should be done on s of national security and passenger safety and privacy concerns and not delayed because of union concerns or intervention in the management of t.s.a. employees. i would reiterate, t.s.a. has existed for almost 10 years without collective bargaining. and there is no legitimate policy reasoning to change in procedure at this time. working with senator collins, who i believe is prepared to speak also today, i have modified my amendment to make it clear that t.s.a. employees have the a baseline protections that
almost all of our federal employees have while preserving the flexibility needed to give our nation safe. the modified amendment would codify the 2003 t.s.a. agreement. we do not need to limit the flexibility to emerging and evolving threats. my amendment would allow the merit systems protection board to hear actions such as demeigses or firings, so t.s.a. employees will have the same protections as other federal security employees. and also these modifications accepted unanimously today would codify protections urchedz the whistle-blower's protection act. it would create an employee engagement act. this simply adds the protections into the statute.
i would also point out, mr. president, that it is the public employees' union contracts that states are grappling with today. several of our states are literally facing bankruptcy because of the expensive and burdensome government union employee contracts. illinois, nother, california -- the governors on a bipartisan basis are struggling to get out from under these burdens and to free their states from these expensive public employee union contracts. they're causing the bankruptcy of states. now, in the united states government, we have the ability to deficit-spend, and that's quite a problem. we'll spend $1.5 trillion this fiscal year that we don't have, and the american public is demanding that we do something about it. it is unimaginable to me that under those circumstances, the obama administration is taking
action which can only make t.s.a. more expensive and make dealing with our employees there more costly and add to the debt. i don't see any way around it. as states and localities are moving in one direction, here comes the obama administration and swimming upstream on this issue, proposing to add to the public employee union collective bargaining regime some 40,000 to 50,000 additional americans. i don't see how we can afford that. i don't see how it helps secure the -- or helps our nation to adopt some more burdensome requirements, and i don't see thousand helps national security. so, i would urge my colleagues to vote in favor of wicker amendment number 14.
that vote may occur as early as tomorrow morning. but i would urge the option of this. this is an issue that is not going to go away. it is going to be taken up in the other body. we're going to be following this issue and it's something that i think americans feel strongly about. so, recipient, i would -- so, at this point, i would urge the adoption of my amendment, and i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: mr. president, first let me thank my colleague and friend from mississippi for working with me over the past few days to modify the amendment that he originally proposed. i very much appreciated his willingness to sit down and talk about the amendment and i'm pleased to cosponsor senator wicker's modified amendment, which provides additional
workforce protections for transportation security officers while ensuring the management flexibility that is absolutely vital to the operational efficiency of the t.s.a. and to the security of the american people. our amendment would provide additional employment protections to t.s.a. employees while preserving the agency's ability to respond quickly and effectively to security and operational challenges. mr. president, through our committee's work on homeland security, i have become convinced that the availability for t.s.a. to respond quickly and effectively to changing
conditions, do emerging threats, to new intelligence, to impending crisis, even to dramatic weather such as blizzards and health insurance, is essential. from the bill is generals community to our first responders the key to an effective response is flexibility, the ability to put assets and personnel where they are needed, when they are needed, with a minimum of bureaucracy. the t.s.a. is charged with a grave responsibility in order accomplish its critical national security mission. the aviation and transportation security act provided the t.s.a. administrator with certain wor workforce flexibilities. these flbilities allowed the
administrator -- these flexibilities allowed the administrator to shift resources and to implement new procedures whenever needed, even hourly in some cases, in response to emergencies, canceled flights, changing circumstances, threats to our security. this authority has enabled t.s.a. to make the best and fullest use of its highly trained and dedicated workforce. mr. president%, i want to point out that this debate is not just theoretical. we're not talking about something some theoretical flexibility. we have already seen the benefits of this flexibility. we have seen exactly why it is necessary. let me give you a couple of
examples. in the aftermath of the thwarted tailers liquid bombing plot that emanated from great britain, t.s.a. was able to move quickly to change the nature of its employees lemployee's work and e location of that work. with the liquids bombing plot, t.s.a. overnight had to retrain its employees, had to deploy them differently, and was able to do so precisely because of the flexibility of the current law. another example is the december 2006 blizzard that hit the denver area. when many local t.s.a. employees were unable to get to the airport, t.s.a. was able to act quickly flying in volunteer t.s.a. employees from las vegas
to cover the shifts. and covering the las vegas shifts with officers who were transferred temporarily from salt lake city. mr. president, without that ability to deploy personnel where they are needed on a moment's notice, the denver airport would have been critically understaffed while hundreds, perhaps thousands of travelers were stranded. this flexibility is essential to maintain. and that is what the wicker-collins-coburn amendment would do. t.s.a. also redeployed hundreds of screeners to houston and new orleans in response to hurricanes in 2008. these t.s.o.'s relieved local employees at those airports so
that they could safely evacuate themselves and their families. and it helped to quickly resume screening operations after the storms had passed. and these were challenging times for t.s.a. evacuations in these cities caused high volumes of airline passengers resultlin resultling- resulting the t.s.o.'s in new orleans screening more than 32,000 gulf coast residents within a 48-hour period. mr. president, t.s.a.'s announcement on friday purports to preclude employees from bargaining over security policies and procedures. but if you look at precisely what it says, it does allow bargaining over the selection process for special assignments and on policies for transfers
and shift training. matters that could require very rapid resolution during an emergency. there won't be time for bargaining over those issues. in addition the very definition of what constitutes security policies and procedures could be the subject of dispute and litigation. that's exactly the point that secretary chertoff made in a letter that he sent to me in 2007 when the senate was considering this very same issue. he wrote, "although the administrator of t.s.a. purportedly would not be required to bargain over responses to emergencies or imminent threats, it is inevitable that protracted
litigation would ensue over the meaning of these terms. mr. president, that's exactly what would happen if we allow the administrator of t.s.a.'s decision to stand. instead of drastically changing the t.s.a. personnel system in a way that would interfere with t.s.a.'s ability to carry out its mission, there is an alternative. we should make some targeted, but critical reforms in the personnel system to ensure that t.s.a.'s employees are treated fairly. so my point, mr. president, is there's a middle ground here that we can reach. and that's what the modified amendment does.
first, we should bring t.s.a. employees under the whistle-blower protection's act which safeguard the rights of whistleblowers throughout the federal government. there's simply no reason to deny t.s.a. employees that protection. indeed, i would argue it hurts us to deny that protection because it bears a whistle-blower at this critical agency who does not feel fully protected and doesn't come forward, that could hurt our security. so our amendment would codify that coverage and make that protection clear. second, we should make clear that t.s.a. members do have the right to join a union. that's a different issue from collective bargaining. some of them have chosen to be represented by a union now. many have not chosen to be. but they should have that choice
that allows, for example, for them to get representation by a union if there's an adverse employment action. so our amendment specifically provides that we are not depriving employees of that choice. third, we should give t.s.a. employees the right to an independent appeal of adverse personnel actions, such as, removals, suspensions for more than 14 days, reductions in pay or grade, or furloughs of 30 days or less. the amendment would give t t.s.o.'s the right to have those appeals heard by the merit system's protection board. that is an independent board separate from the agency, separate from the department of
homeland security that sits in judgment of appeals filed by most other federal employees. so i see no reason why t.s.a. screeners should not have that same right. and that's an important protection because if a screener believes that he or she is being treated unfairly by a supervisor, there's an independent arbitrator to whom that employee can appeal. mr. president, here's the bottom line. we can provide t.s.a. employees with important protections enjoyed by other federal employees, such as, the right to appeal adverse employment actions to the merit system's protection board and the statutory right to whistle-blower protections
without disrupting t.s.a.'s proven personnel system that has served the agency and this nation well over the past decade. previous secretaries of homeland security and administrators of t.s.a. have described that personnel system in great detail to the homeland security committee in both -- and to other entities in the senate in both classified briefings and open hearings as necessary to accomplish the critical goals of t.s.a. our amendment would preserve these flexible personnel systems while ensuring that t.s.a. employees enjoy important legal protections available to other federal employees.
mr. president, i have been trying since 2007 to achieve a middle ground on this issue. frankly, the previous administration was reluctant on some of the safeguards that i've described. this administration's gone way overboard in the other direction. but that is a middle -- a middle ground is exactly what this modified amendment strikes. it charts that middle ground providing significant additional protections and rights to t.s.a. employees without burdening a system that is working well now and that is essential to our security. we simply have to allow the t.s.a. administrator to retain exactly the same kinds of flexibility to deploy personnel
that he enjoys now and that have been used in the past. that's the important point. this debate is not theoretical. those personnel flexibilityies have proven absolutely -- flexibilities have proven absolutely essential to meet the threat of a terrorist attack and to deal with blizzards and hurricanes. so i urge my colleagues to take a strong, close look at the modified amendment and i hope that they will support it. thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for up to 10 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: thank you, mr. president. let me also thank the chairman of the commerce committee who's dealing with an essentially important bill, and i appreciate his courtesy at this time.
mr. president, later in the evening the senate will confirm judge marco hernandez who has been nominated to serve as a u.s. district court judge for the district of oregon. the vacancy that judge hernandez will fill is one that chief justice roberts has designated a judicial emergency. given that, i want to thank chairman leahy, ranking member grassley, majority leader reid, and minority leader mcconnell, for bringing this nomination to the floor today. i would also note that oregon has another opening and another outstanding nominee, mr. michael simon, who i expect to be reported out of committee this week, and i hope that he too will be brought to the floor quickly. mr. president, and colleagues, it is no surprise that judge marco hernandez was nominated for the federal bench. because his life could serve as a billboard for the american
dream. at the age of 17 marco hernandez moved to oregon by himself. needing to support himself, he took a job as a dishwasher, later found a better job as a janitor and eventually marco became a teacher's aide. at that point judge hernandez began taking night classes at a local community college with the hope of one day attending a four-year college. finally, he was able to enroll at western oregon state college and he quickly demonstrated his ability to excess. judge hernandez earned the delmer dewy award as the most outstanding male student in his class. following college, mark heo went on to -- marco went on to graduate from the university of washington school of law. from the beginning of his legal career, judge hernandez demonstrated a strong commitment to public service. after law school, judge hernandez worked at oregon legal
services representing farm workers. he then served as a deputy district attorney who's later appointed as a state court judge, a position that he has served in for the past 15 years. judge hernandez is so well regarded across my home state and across the political spectrum, that he has been nominated not by one but by two presidents of different parties and at the recommendations of two senators of different parties. judge hernandez was first nominated for the district court by president bush in 2008 when my friend and former colleague, senator gordon smith, led the nomination process. i supported at that time the recommendation of judge hernandez. unfortunately, the 110th congress was unable to act upon his nomination before adjourning.
in the 111th congress i recommended judge hernandez nomination to president obama, and i'm very pleased that senator merkley, who has joined me here in the united states senator, has been a strong supporter of judge hernandez as well. and i was very pleased when president obama announced that he too, like president bush, thought it was important for judge hernandez to serve on the federal bench. one of the reasons that leaders from both political parties support judge hernandez is that throughout his judicial career, he has demonstrated a special affin ity -- affinity for creative solutions. he implemented an innovative domestic violence program to aggressively pursue offenders and created a new program for mentally ill defendants which judge hernandez continues to oversee. with a tremendous record of public service, innovation and commitment to justice, no one was surprised when judge
hernandez was reported out of the judiciary committee mansly. he's -- nanc unanimously. he's had the support of republicans and democrats. he's received the strong backing of the hispanic national bar association. in fact, judge hernandez would be the first hispanic article 3 judge in my home state. it is good news for the people of oregon and it is good news for the federal bench that today the senate is taking up the confirmation of judge hernandez. i strongly urge all my colleagues to join me in supporting an outstanding individual, judge marco hernandez, for u.s. district court judge. i also want to thank again chairman rockefeller who is dealing with an extremely important bill for his courtesy in letting me make these remarks about judge hernandez. mr. president, with that, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the
senator from arizona. mr. mccain: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending business and call up my amendment number 4. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk may report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from arizona, mr. mccain, proposes an amendment numbered 4. beginning on page 128, strike line 5 and all that follows through age 141, line 9, and insert the following -- mr. mccain: i ask unanimous consent that further reading of the amendment be dispensed with. mr. president, we are celebrating president reagan's 100th birthday this past weekend, and i quote from him on many occasions. he inspired many of us in many ways. president reagan once stated -- quote -- "government programs,
once launched, never disappear. actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth." i don't know if president reagan ever observed the essential air service program, but i -- it certainly, i think, fits his description. this amendment to repeal a a $200 million government subsidy may not, may not be significant, $200 million in light of a $1.5 trillion deficit this year is probably not a lot of money, but a lot of americans on november 2 said they wanted us to stop spending things that are not absolutely essential, although this program is called the essential air service, in my
view it's far from essential. but the american people spoke on november 2. they said stop the spending, stop programs that are either unnecessary, have grown too much or unwise or even make some tough decisions. now, in this bill, we're not cutting essential air service. we're actually increasing it by some $200 million. now, my colleagues may be a bit confused by this -- this chart right here, but what it does, it shows -- and by the way, this chart came from the f.a.a. it shows that 99.95% of all americans, 99.95% of all americans live within 120 miles
of a public airport that has more than 10,000 takeoffs and landings annually. so yes, there are some parts of america that represent the .5% of americans -- .05% of all americans who live outside of 120 miles from an airport that has 10,000 takeoffs and landings. all the watchdog organizations, citizens against government waste, the national taxpayers union, all of those organizations that watch what we do support this amendment. earlier this month, citizens against government waste, president tom shadd, said -- quote -- "the nonessential air service has outlived its youthfulness and is another reason why the country has a
a $14 trillion national debt." now, a lot of americans will be watching the boat on this amendment. it's not the first amendment to try to cut back on spending, but it certainly is, in my view, very symbolic of whether we are serious. last week in the president's state of the union speech, he said -- quote -- "the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it, in domesticspending, health care spending, spending through tax breaks and loopholes. as house budget committee chairman ryan has told many, there are no sacred cows when it comes to spending cuts." now, to put it bluntly, the essential air service is -- quote -- "not essential." the program was created in 1978 when congress deregulated the
airline industry and allowed market forces to determine the price, quantity and quality of service. deregulation allowed most airline carriers to focus their resources on profitable, high-density market. that's the way the market works. in response, congress established the essential air service to subsidize airline carriers that provide service to small communities at a loss because otherwise no sane business would serve a market at a loss. you know, again, as ronald reagan once eloquently stated, government doesn't solve problems, it subsidizes them, and that's exactly what we did in 1978 by creating the essential air program. now, so many programs we've created, congress initially enacted the program was supposed to last ten years. it was only ten years that we
enacted this program while markets adjusted and communities adjusted, and then 1996, of course, we removed the ten-year limit. like so many programs the government has created, it started with a few airline carriers in a few communities and now grown to subsidize almost a dozen airline carriers in over 100 communities. you governor enough communities, you get enough votes, you keep the program going, and then you increase the spending on the program. now, in this bill, increased costs of $200 million. again, not much, in comparison to a $1.5 trillion debt. $14 trillion deficit. $1.5 trillion deficit. $14 trillion debt, but it might be nice to start somewhere. like so many other government programs, the program was initially funded for several million dollars, now up to to $200 million. a july, 2009, government
accountability office report questioned whether the e.a.s. program has outlived its youthfulness, stating -- quote -- "current conditions raise concerns about whether the program continue to operate as it has. the growth of air service especially by low-cost carriers, which today serve most u.s. hub airports weighed against the relatively high fares and inconvenience of essential air service flights, can lead people to bypass essential air service flights and drive to hub airports. so, as i mentioned, 99.95 3ers of --% of all americans live within 120 miles of public airports with more than 10,000 takeoffs and landings. in other words, fairly large airports. so let me give you a good example of the kind of great expenditure of the taxpayers'
dollars is. last year, "the wall street journal" published an article entitled -- quote -- "john murtha's airport for no one, which reported on an airport in pennsylvania that has received more than $1.3 million over the past few years under the essential air service program, and the article states -- quote -- " airports sees an average of fewer than 30 people per day. there is never a wait for security. you can park for me almost right outside the gate. you are almost guaranteed a row to yourself on any flight." the article continues -- quote -- "tickets to fly to johnstown are expensive, even though every passenger flying out of john murtha airport has a $100 subsidy behind the ticket, courtesy of the federal essential air service program which provides support to struggling airports." so far, it's gotten $150 million
of payments for what is, i quote from the article, called the airport for no one. there are a total of 18 flights per week, all of which go to dulles airport in washington, d.c. the author goes on to say, "i was visiting the airport from washington, but because flights cost a pricily $400, i drove. the drive took less than three and a half hours and cost about about $35 in gas, not to mention that it was arguably faster than flying, and this isn't a remote area of the state. murtha sairpt less than two hours from the pittsburgh airport. the airport has an $8.5 million taxpayer-funded radar system that has never been used. the runway was paved with reinforced concrete at a cost of more than $700 million.
the latest investment was was $800,000 from the the $787 billion american recovery and reinvestment act to repave half of the secondary runway. never mind that the first one is hardly ever in use. well, the list goes on and on. that's just an example. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to have the article entitled -- in "the wall street journal" entitled "john murtha's airport for no one." the los angeles times article entitled "planes to nowhere." congress plans to increase airline subsidies. "the seattle times" article entitled "rural subsidies test resolve to cut spending." the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: so a los angeles times article entitled -- quote -- "planes to nowhere" stated in 2008, according to senate appropriations committee data,
great lakes airlines received a subsidy of about $1.8 million for the 414 passengers it flew to and from eely, nevada, which is about a four-hour drive to las vegas. this amounts to $4,500 per-person subsidy. since the program requires companies to offer at least two round trips most days, some subsidized flights were almost certainly empty. so it says -- the article says "eely is the beneficiary of essential air service program established in the 1970's after airline deregulation," et cetera, et cetera. the program costs vary widely in differences of ridership.
one saw a per-passenger subsidy of $2,000 for each of the 418 people who flew last year. the 23,581 passengers using the airport in manhattan, kansas, only cost the government $50.82 each. steve ellis, vice president of the watchdog group taxpayers for common sense said the program -- quote -- "was supposed to go away over a period of time as we made the transition from deregulation. congress made sure it hasn't." so -- and then, of course, i mentioned the seattle times article entitled "rural air subsidies test resolved to cut spending." a program that subsidizes air service to small airports often in remote communities is shaping up as an early test in the new congress of conservative zeal for shrinking the federal
government. it goes on to say, "a program that subsidizes air service to small airports often in remote communities is shaping up as an early test in the new congress of conservative zeal for shrinking the federal government. subsidies for airline passengers as of june 1, 2010, ranged as high as $5,223 in eely, nevada, as lee as $9.21 in they have river falls, minnesota, according to transportation department data for the lower 48 states. but critics say the airports often serve too few people to merit the amount of money spent in subsidies. urban growth over the past three decades has also placed transportation alternatives, other airports, trains and bus service, within a reasonable distance of some communities receiving subsidies. studies show that in a lot of those communities, people drive
to larger airports to get better service at a lower cost than they can get at the smaller airport, even with subsidized air service, "said severen borenstein, university of california-berkeley business professor who is an expert on airline competition. some communities claim they need the service, particularly in alaska, but i think these are a relatively small pafrt program, he said. the program has been remarkably resilient partly due to the protection it receives from lawmakers in rural states and districts. it has been proposed for cuts and eliminations many times over the years but continues to grow. that's exactly in the political sweet spot, borenstein said. lawmakers tkoepblt feel it's -- don't feel it's worth upsetting a few people for the moderate
savings in budget terms. i understand -- i received a letter from four senators that stated eliminating the program will have a devastating impact on the economies of rural communities. i quote from the letter i received from four senators -- and i repeat -- "eliminating the program will have a devastating impact on the economies of rural communities." i believe the real devastation to rural communities, big communities, small communities, medium-size communities, if we don't stop mortgaging our children and grandchildren's futures, if we don't stop doing things that are unnecessary th-fplt program was put into being in 1978, was supposed to be there for ten years, was a few million dollars and now according to to this bill is going to be billions of dollars.
it's about time we match our rhetoric with our votes. i believe that this will be a very interesting vote that we'll be taking on this amendment. i'd again point out to my colleagues all of these red dots are people that are served by large and major airports. and there are some areas of the country that are not. you will find most of these are very sparsely populated areas of our country. so, i hope that my colleagues will vote in favor of eliminating this program that was designed for ten years of life and now has continued on for some 30 years. and like ronald reagan said, they are the hardest thing in the world to either reduce or
eliminate. mr. president, i ask for the yeas and nays on the amendment. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second in it appears to be that there is a sufficient second. mr. rockefeller: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment so i may call up on behalf of senator leahy his amendment number 50 which is at the desk. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from west virginia, mr. rockefeller, proposes amendment numbered 50 for mr. leahy. mr. rockefeller: no need to read any more. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rockefeller: mr. president, i want to respond to most interesting statements made, or facts pointed out by the senator from arizona and also the collective bargaining
matter. but senator nelson is here with i think a particularly good amendment. and before we get to the 4:30 hour, at which time we're going to be debating judges, i want to give him a chance to talk about it. mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mr. nelson: thank you, mr. president. i thank my colleague, the chairman, for this opportunity to rise today to discuss an amendment to the f.a.a. reauthorization bill which i will be introducing shortly. we're currently working with the minority on some language changes, and this amendment will be proposed before long. and when it is, i will be seeking a roll call vote on it. the amendment which i proposed along with senators schumer, akaka, whitehouse, tester and shaheen would make it a crime to photograph, record or distribute a body scan image taken by a
body scan imaging machine at either an airport or any federal building without expressed authorization to do so either by law or regulation. i've heard from many nebraskans who are concerned that the use of body scan imaging machines is overly invasive and their privacy is being ignored. and i too share these concerns. this isn't an abstract concern. according to news reports, the u.s. martial service acknowledged last year that some 35,000 images from a body scanner at a security check point at a florida courthouse had been saved. that's despite promises from federal agencies that these images wouldn't be stored. 100 of the saved images were leaked and some are now on line for anyone to view. so an invasion of privacy has already occurred. nebraskans and the american people understand that every step needs to be taken and every resource needs to be used to
ensure the safety of our citizenry. using technology to scan individuals for hidden weapons is a necessary, albeit sometimes unpleasant aspect of making sure our airways and public buildings are safe. however, in the scope of doing such things, safeguards can and must be put in place to help deter individuals from collecting and using those images inappropriately. and this is the goal of the amendment that i and my colleagues are introducing. i'm well aware that transportation security agency officials have said that the agency will not keep, store transmit images, but that hasn't and doesn't assure compliance. if passing laws or directives assured compliance, there would be no speeders in america. what is needed are additional consequences to make anyone considering keeping storing or transmitting these scanned images to think twice about the
fact that they'll be committing a felony. if the consequence is enough of a deterrent, we will have better compliance. and the privacy of every american will be better protected. let me explain very specifically what the amendment does. one, it makes it illegal to photograph, record and subsequently distribute the images taken by body scan machines in an airport or any federal building. two, it imposes a penalty of up to one year in prison and up to $100,000 fine to those who inappropriately collect and distribute these images. three, it says that any individual who is acting within the course and scope of their employment is not breaking the law by saving these images or sending them if the purpose for doing so is to use these images in a criminal investigation or prosecution. so, mr. president, by adopting this amendment, we will be telling the american people and my constituents in nebraska that we're not going to ignore or
compromise their privacy in the process of making sure we have safe airports and federal buildings. our amendment takes a commonsense approach to addressing this issue and why i'm seeking its inclusion in the f.a.a. reauthorization. i thank you, mr. president. i thank the chairman, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. rockefeller: if that we have a short reception at 4:30 and then we're going to the judges, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: i ask the current proceedings be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: we're honored to have as our guest in the senate from the republic of slow vein i can't, the honorable borut pahor, the sixth prime minister since 1991 slovenia holds a special place in my heart. my mother came from there. i've been tremendously impressed with the great strides slovenia has made since breaking away from the former yugoslavia. for the last two years prime minister borut pahor with great skill has continued to lead his nation on a successful course of democratic and free market economics. make no mistake, the success of
independent slovenia like the success of the republic two years ago was no accident. it was secured by sreurbary leaders. -- visionary leaders. nine decades ago my mother left slovenia, a nation that sent forth immigrants desperate to find a better life. today free, prosperous democratic slovenia sends forth statesmen, diplomats and humanitarians helping to build a better world. on behalf of the senate i welcome our honored guest, prime minister pahor. i ask the senate stand in recess subject to the call of the chair so we may welcome the prime minister of slovenia and guest on the senate floor. the presiding officer: without the presiding officer: without
>> members return tomorrow at 2 p.m. to talk about the patriot act. you can watch live coverage of the house when it returns on c-span, and the senate right here on c-span2. while we wait for senators to come back to the floor, let's look at this morning's washington journal for house goals on spending and republican's possible cuts. >> host: thank you for being
here this morning. >> guest: thank you. >> host: there's a piece in the washington post blog, and you call yourself a progressive deficit hawk. you say i'm a progressive deficit hawk. there's a good reason to be lonely in the press. some think it is a pejorative and many think i'm not serious. i have twice the cause to be exas per rated. >> guest: it is to say i want higher deficits now and lower deficits later. i want to see more willingness in washington to be created about a sort of high impact spending proposals, tax deals like the payroll tax cut. this really helps americans build back the amount of moneys they lost and help states repair their budgets as well. in the future in the next 10-20 year, we need to get serious on
how we tax and spend and bringing those into line. these need to be thought on and considered into sort of different time frames. in the short term, the most important thing to do is have the deficits we need to get the economy back on track, and when it is back on track, we need to think about balancing the way we bring in money and spend it. >> host: why progressive? the deficit hawk and leave it there? >> guest: they think they want to cut social security and spending that helps lower families and middle income families. that's not what i want to do. i want to see a more progressive tax code that returns more money to low income families. when you look over the next 10-30 years, the way we spend money on entitlements on social security and medicare is not practice call or sustainable. it's likely as the economy gets
back on track, we might have to tax the middle income people more, change social security so upper income families get less in terms of pension and change medicare so we're not spending fee for service. we change the way we help people get care. when you tell people you are a progressive deficit hawk, do they say that's something i've heard before? they don't go together, so how does that relate? >> there's more progressive deficit hawks than you would think. often, there's a lot of liberals who are smart, but when they hear arguments about cutting social security or arguments about our 30 year deficit projections, they literally think that's an argument to cut spending now. i want to be clear when i call myself a progressive deficit hawk that i don't want to cut spending now, but i see these on two totally different time hoer hoer zones.
we need to get the deficit back on track base the private sector is weak. in the long term, we have to be more progressive. >> host: guest, derek thompson. you talk about spending in the next few years, but maybe they should be if only for the selfish reason it could clear the reasons for spending ideas. when i asked adam, an economist for the center of american progress, to identify discretionary items, but what could happen in your opinion? >> guest: right now, most people are looking at nonsecurity discretionary spendings. that means #, -- that means they are leaving cutting off the board, no social security or medicare cuts. 20% of the budget, most of which
doesn't have to do with defense. there are cuts you can make over a 5-10 year time period if you free spending. there's more cuts you can make say with agriculture subsidies. there are certainly within that $700 billion, there are cuts that you can make with programs that are wasteful or not high impact. there are ways in infrastructure bank or spending on community colleges that is high impact spending. if you're a liberal saying, you know, what's a serious way that we can, you know, shift money from, you know, low impact to high impact, you need to be willing to say, look, we have to make deals with the republicans. this has to be a deficit neutral plan and make cuts to programs that might be semipopular. >> host: caller from maryland, good morning. >> caller: good morning. how are you doing? >> host: we're good.
>> caller: my comment is i believe we're trying to hold on to a system that is not just working. the economy we're working with now will continue to see the problems we've been seeing over the years. i'm an advocate for a resource-based economy because as i listen to the news and what's going on with the gas prices all over the world and the war and all of these issues that we have is because of the monetary system or what we're working with now. that's what i want to say. i got that from a video about moving forward, and it explains the monetary system, why we're in the situation we're in today, and how it can change. it gives us a better option than i think all the republicans and democrats and the politicians can give us rights now. >> guest: you know, i haven't seen that video, but when people
talk about a resourced-based economy, they talk about an export economy with people making things in the u.s. for money, and that brings in financing bids we can use to make us richer. if we want to be an export-focused economy, i think there are some really cheap ways that don't even involve much additional spending that we can do to help that. export control laws for instance by some estimates keep up to $60 billion out of the export economy because we're saying certain things made in the u.s. can't be sold abroad because they violate some defense rules. we can change that. we can liberalize those laws, and if we do, and make other, you know, flagmatic changes, we can sell things for money. >> host: caller from west virginia. hello there. >> caller: he low. my comment is since lbg, this
country received food stamps for people who can't make enough money to feed their family, but will work a minimum wage job. that's a sub -- subsidy right there, small businesses. if republicans could, they would cut the programs that will hurt the small businesses. that's my comment. bye. >> guest: well, it is true government spends a lot of money on helping low income families with food stamps. i don't know it's entirely fair republicans want to cut the program. they want to see additional spending on these low income support programs and entitlement programs to be offset with spending. i don't agree with that. again, i'm more liberal, but if we're going to work with republicans, then we have to think about spending initiatives on how to pass things through
congress. we have to make the programs deficit neutral, and the way to do that is find places to cut. >> host: a blogger and staff editor at the atlantaic. you call yourself a progressive deficit hawk, and i wanted to ask about what the house republicans are doing in proposing a $32 billion cut in the budget. have you been able to look at this yet and grapple what it actually means? >> guest: once again, we're looking to cut spending now in the small part of the pie. if you look at the 20-30 year projections of u.s. spending, nondiscretionary spending as a portion of the budget is expected to fall. what's expected to grow is social security and more than anything medicare and medicaid. the long term deficit crisis has been said 100,000 times, but it's important to say it again, is a health care crisis. if we don't get in control of the health care spending,
there's nothing we can do. i do, however, think that, you know, over the next, you know, 5 years, it's important to slow the growth of the program where we can actually slow their growth, and i think that steps like this are probably useful, but i would prefer not to see deficit reductions for the purposes of deficit reduction this year. i think it's more important to have -- >> we leave the program now, but you can find it online at the c-span video library to take you back to live coverage of the senate. saldana of texas to be a united states district judge. paul holmes iii of arc being a to be united states district judge. marco a. hernandez of oregon to be united states district judge. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will be one hour of debate equally divided in the usual form. mr. leahy: thank you.
mr. president, the senate will consider -- and i anticipate confirm -- three of president obama's nominations to fill judicial vacancies. as was noted there in the district courts in arkansas, oregon, and texas. all three of the nominations will fill judicial emergency vacancies. and given the serious need in those courts and the qualifications of these nominees, there is no reason why they couldn't have been confirmed when they were nominated. they were actually reported unanimously by the judiciary committee way last year, in the last congress. every republican, every democratic senator supported them, and they came out and were not allowed a vote on this floomple-- on thisfloor. the president has remom nateed
the judiciary committee -- the president has renominated them, the judiciary committee reconsidered them. at the republicans' request, they were delayed an additional week but then passed out unanimously from the senate judiciary committee. and i'm hoping that finally we can get back to regular order in the consideration of nominations without having to explain the damaging delays. certainly during the years thaifer a been here, whether it's been a republican or democratic president, republican or democratic senate, when you have people that are confirmed -- voted out unanimously from the senate judiciary committee, all republicans, all democrats voted for them, they ar there ae normally a number of days on that calendar, usually a matter of days, and they are confirmed
by the snavment the thighed people put their lives on hold. but once they get nominated -- if you are a partner in a law firm, you can't take on new business while you are waiting for this to get done. it is somewhat humiliating when you are nominated by the president of the united states, when every republican, every democrat votes for you in the committee, and then for month after month after month you can't get a vote here in the body. and when you do, it is unanimous. the reason i'd like to see us return to the way it used to be, cooperation, that we can confront a judicial vacancies crisis that's put sear just risk on the ability of americans to find equal access to a nature hearing in court -- to a fair hearing in court. there are a lot of places around this country, and the distinguished presiding officer
was attorney general of his staivment he knows what it is like when litigants, whatever side of an issue they are, when they go to seek redples a court and there's huge vacancies in the court, the cases can't get heard, gets delayed, delayed, delayed, witnesses die and move and way and people start to ask, what is the judicial system in this country? now, i happen to think that we have one of the finest, one of the finest in the world. not if you can't get your case heard. in fact, chief justice roberts commented on this in his most recent statement on the judiciary, urging us to move forward, to get these nominations heard. the white house counsel recently spoke to the crisis. the president wrote to us last year urging action. and the real cost of these unnecessary partisan delays falls on americans who depend on
the report. the attorney general warned us last year the system on which we depend for prompt cases is stressed to the breaking point. the national aassistant u.s. attorneys, i grew up with career federal prosecutors, said our federal courts cannot function effectively when judicial vacancies restrain the ability to render swift but sure justice. as we consider these nominations today, there are still 100 vacancies in the federal judiciary. and despite vacancies for one out of every eight federal judgeships, last year the senate adjourned without voting on 19 judicial nominations that had been reported favorably by the judiciary committee. today we'll vote on three of those 19. i believe the united states senate has to do better.
we can consider and confirm this president's nomination to the federal bench in a timely manner. the president has reached across the aisle to work with home state republican senators. i've had a number of republican senators come to me and say they recommended somebody a year ago, they were nominated a year ago, when are they going to get a vote? i remind them they get a vote very quickly in the senate judiciary committee, but they want a vote here. and i agree with them. the president's nominees like the nominees for texas and arkansas before us, today are supported by their home state republican senators. now, with judicial vacancies at 104, nearly half of them judicial emergency vacancies, we can't afford the delays. it hinders the federal judiciary's ability to fulfill its constitutional role.
a return to regular order would mean the nominations sent to the judiciary committee by senate would be considered expeditiously, not stalled, noncontroversial nominations should be taken up and approved on a regular basis. they shouldn't be stalled up for weeks and months for no good reason. i go back to the practice that we always had in the past to move quickly when we have well-qualified consensus nominations. now, i thanked senator grassley, the judiciary committee's new ranking member, for his cooperation in helping us report 11 of the previously reported nominations last week and working with me to schedule our first confirmation hearing in the new congress. i looked forward to working with him with majority leader reid, republican leader mcconnell to work with the other nominees
supported by the judiciary committee so we can ensure that the federal judiciary has the judges it needs. i recall president bush's first three years in office. of those first two years, democrats were in charge for 17 months. i was chairman for 17 months. republicans had not actually even had a hearing on a nominee of president bush's. but i want -- i want at an extremely fast pace. and we reported favorably 100 of his federal circuit and district court nominees and we confirmed all 100. it moved at a pace because -- because the predecessor, president clinton, 71 of his nominees had been pocket filibustered so i wanted to show
a new day so we moved 100. and i continue to work hard to make progress considering his nominations as third and fourth -- his third and fourth year in office and in those 24 months, the republicans have charged they were able without a cooperation to get another 105, so that should be a benchmark. by the end of this congress, we should consider and confirm 205 federal judges just as we did during president bush's first term. because we reduced judicial vacancies during the bush administration for more than 10% to less than 4%. during the bush administration the federal court vacancies were reduced from 110 to 34. the federal circuit vacancies reduced from a high of 32 down to single digits. democrats voted for almost all of them.
but this is not continuing with a democratic president in office. all three branches have to come together when the senate considers a president's nomination to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. we have a constitutional duty to act responsibly. we also have a responsibility to the american people to make sure federal judges are there to protect their rights an administer -- and administer justice. i mentioned that one of the nominees is judge diana saldana to the southern district of texas. i say to my good friends, both the senators of texas, are here. one of whom i had the privilege to serve on the senate judiciary committee. both of whom i had the privilege to serve with in the senate. so, mr. president, i would yield the floor and reserve the balance of my time. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas.
mrs. hutchison: mr. president, i thank the distinguished chairman of the judiciary committee and i do rise today to speak in support of diana saldana confirmation to serve as a federal judge for the southern district of texas. judge saldana's career has given her a breadth of experience that will serve her well. she received a b.a. in history and government from the university of texas and then went on to receive a j.d. from the university of texas school of law. she was born in corizo springs, texas, only a stone's throw from where she is serving as a u.s. manning strati judge. -- magistrate judge. prior to that she served as a u.s. district attorney. she handled as many as 350 active criminal cases a year ranging from immigration to narcotics to health care. it was in this capacity that she was selected court coordinator for the chief judge. before her work in the u.s.
attorney's office, judge saldana spent time as a lawyer for the u.s. department of justice in the civil rights division and the u.s. department of agriculture in the general counsel's office. she also served as a law clerk to judge kasen in the southern district of texas. judge saldana has been admitted to practice before the u.s. southern district of texas fifth circuit court of appeals and the united states supreme court. mr. president, judge saldana has good professional experience an is well respected in the south texas community. the american bar association gave her a unanimous well-qualified rating and i believe she will be an effective federal judge in south texas. in september i introduced judge diana saldana before the judiciary committee and today i urge my colleagues in the senate to support his nomination and confirm her as a federal judge for the southern district in l
lorado, texas. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: i join my colleague, senator hutchison, in confirming judge diana saldana, who has been nominated to be the united states district judge in the southern district of texas. this is a busy docket, as you can imagine, mr. president, being on the u.s.-mexican border with the unfortunate drug trafficking and the immigration cases and the like. and so this is an important nomination. i hope my colleagues will join us in confirming her nomination. senator hutchison and i have, like many senators, have a bipartisan committee of lawyers in the state, people who are very respected in the legal community who screen the people who apply for these positions,
recognizing the importance of them and that they are lifetime appointments. we do our very best to make this a depoliticized process, believing that whether you're a good judge or not doesn't depend on whether you're a republican, independent, or democrat as long as you're willing to enforce the law and not -- not impose your own personal beliefs or any other type of agenda. but diana saldana really represents the manifestation of the american dream. i had the opportunity to introduce her at the -- at the hearing that she had before the judiciary committee, along with her wonderful family. throughout the process the more i learned about diana's personal story, the more i drew to admire not only all that she's accomplished, but what she stands for in terms of our national guarantee that if you come to america, if you work hard, if you make the most of
your god-given gifts, you can achieve anything. and judge saldana represents that dream. at the age of 10 she began traveling with her parents and siblings from her home in corizo springs to minnesota to work as my grant farmers. because of the seasonal nate of farm -- nature of farm work, they would often leave south texas before the school year ended and return after the next school year had begun. of course, you can imagine how tough that is on a young student. she traveled 1,500 miles north and worked with her families in the field every summer in high school and college. and she even worked in the fieldses during her first year of law school as well. despite these challenges, diana rose to the occasion and she succeeded in becoming the first person in her family to get a college degree.
she recalls while working as a my grant farmer, that -- migrant farmer, that her mother told her that an education was the only way out of doing manual labor and, indeed, she learned that lesson very well. she was once asked what person had the greatest impact on her and she said, like many of us might answer, her mother. she said my mother has a third grade education, but she was able to raise six children by working hard and having a deep faith in god. i remember her working up to three jobs at a time, taking naps in the family car when our finances were especially tight to make ends meet. my mother instilled in us a strong work ethic and encouraged us to dream for a better life. today judge saldana doesn't just receive the gifts that she's received -- that she's gotten being the child of a a hard-working and sacrificing
mother, she's turned it around and become a mentor to young people herself using her own story as an inspiration to others, saying that if i worked hard and i was successful, you can too even as improbable as that may seem at the. -- at the time. so, mr. president, i could go on and on about judge saldana because her life story is truly remarkable. diana saldana has been nominated to fill the vacancy left by her mentor, judge george kasen. he knows diana better than just about anybody than her family and she serve as law clerk and appeared before him as a federal prosecutor and presided over many cases as a federal magistrate case. judge kasen described her as one of the finest law clerks he ever had and a tough, no nonsense prosecutor. he called her the quintessential judge, intellectual, hardworking, faring, honest, an
decisive. he told us it would be his personal honor if judge saldana was confirmed as his successor. i can't think of any higher praise. so in just a few minutes, mr. president, the senate will confirm diana saldana as united states district judge for the southern district of texas and i know i speak for many, many texans when i say we do not be more proud. thank you, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you, mr. president. first on the floor tonight we have three very distinguished individuals who president obama has nominated to be federal judges. i commend the committee for bringing them forward and for senator leahy for his tremendous ongoing leadership on the judiciary committee and i know, as my colleagues from texas have indicated, that these are extremely competent individuals. all three of them were reported out of the judiciary committee with unanimous approval in light
of the current judicial emergencies, i urge my colleagues to confirm them this evening. mr. president, i rise today to introduce the charge america forward act based on similar legislation that i offered last year to drive innovation and advanced vehicle manufacturing and to lower costs for consumers when they buy these great new cars and trucks of the future, which, by the way, mr. president, i would remind folks are being made in michigan. so we want people to be buying those automobiles. in the state of the union address, president obama called on us to rise to the challenge of the 21st century economy. to out innovate, out educate and out build the rest of the world. we can do that. he challenged us to put one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. the bill i'm going to introduce today will help us achieve that goal by investing in electric