tv [untitled] August 2, 2011 1:54pm-2:24pm EDT
the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska. mr. johanns: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be set aside. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. johanns: mr. president, i rise today to remember a fallen hero. nebraska army national guard sergeant omar jones of maywood, nebraska. sergeant jones served as an electrician in the 623rd engineer company, nebraska army national guard out of wahoo,
nebraska. sergeant jones died at a military base in afghanistan on july 18, 2011. omar grew up in mississippi. he lived in bogota, colombia, for many years. he graduated from high school in colorado and chose to enter the army instead of pursuing a college athletic scholarship. he served two tours in iraq, one as an infantry naan the active duty army and one with the nebraska army national guard. his love of country compelled him to seek an assignment in afghanistan. he volunteered and even changed units and developed new skills for this opportunity. in october, 2010, he deployed to afghanistan with the 623rd engineering company. it was a tough decision to
deploy again because his wife ava and two children had become the center of his life. but it was for their freedom he chose to serve again overseas. his commanders and his fellow soldiers recall sergeant jones as a kind, friendly, and helpful person. they say they counted on sergeant jones for a big smile and always a willingness to listen. he loved being a soldier. a former commander put it this way: "he had the biggest heart of any soldier i knew." his decorations and badges earned during a distinguished career over three combat tours speak to his dedication and to his bravery. he received the combat infantry badge, combat action badge,
marksmanship qualification badge, driver and mechanic's badge, overseas service bar, army commendation medal, army good conduct medal, national defense service medal, iraq campaign medal, afghanistan campaign medal, global war on terrorism expeditionary medal. global war on terrorism service medal, armed forces reserve medal, army service ribbon, overseas service ribbon, and the nato medal. i cannot put into words how the death of sergeant jones will impact the lives of those close to him. nebraska is honored to call him one of our own, and i know that nebraskans in maywood and wall fleet will provide his family with the care and love during
this difficult time. today, i join the family and the friends of sergeant jones in mourning the death of their husband, their son, their father, and their friend. i ask that god be with all those serving in uniform, especially the brave men and women on the front lines of battle. may god bless them and their families, and bring them home to us safely. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, i stand to address this body to honor -- to honor the life of one of utah's great citizens, a good friend of mine, former utah governor norman bangeter
who announced on saturday that his beloved wife of 58 years had passed away after a long-time battle with alzheimer's disease. colleen swanson bangeter having been born in 1935 was the mother of six children, the mother also of one foster son, and in many respects was the friend to all of utah's three million residents. she served faithfully in many capacities including as p.t.a. president and other offices within the p.t.a. she also served faithfully in a variety of positions as a member of the church of jesus christ of latter day saints. just a few years ago, she and her husband, former governor bangeter pre?rieded over the church of jesus christ of latter day saints mission in south africa. they worked hand in hand in raising their children, in running the governor's campaigns and in running the state throughout his time as governor
which wasn't an easy time for our state. during governor bagerter's two terms in office, the state faced financial difficulties, flooding challenges, and the bangerters served the conditions well, serving as standing examples for all the citizens of utah for what it means to rise to the challenge of adversity. colleen bangerter who had many friends in many coirns and she also had -- corners and she had many talents, some of which, including the fact she was the state hopscotch champion in utah in 1947. there are are not many first ladies who can claim that distinction and she definitely did. she was the recipient of the highest award granted by the boy
scouts of america which she received a few years ago. but of all the honors, including the honors that went along with being the first lady of the state of utah and serving with someone who in my opinion was one of the great governors ever to serve our state, her greatest honor, her greatest prize was that of her family. she loved being a mother, loved each of her six children, their 30 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. today, we as utahans mourn the loss of this great citizen of our state. we mourn the loss of this friend and our thoughts and our prayers go out to former governor bengerter and his family. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: i wanted to speak
about the legislation that was just passed. for the last 14 months traveling the state in almost every nook and cranny have talked about the situation our country is, talking about, offered legislation, the only bipartisan, bicameral legislation offered up until this point to deal with our country's deficits and debts. i had hoped we'd figure out a way to deal with $5 trillion to $7 trillion worth of spending and/or savings over the next ten years, and finally decided that $4 trillion was the magic number. i know the markets had looked at that, the rating agencies had looked at that, the people who buy our treasuries had looked at that number. over the course of the last few weeks it became apparent $3 trillion was probably the most that was going to be achieved and now we've ended up with this bill that passed today and i supported, that hopes to achieve $2.1 trillion to
$2.4 trillion in savings over the next decade. mr. president, obviously like many of us in this body on both sides of the aisle that know our country is in dire straits, and we have a lot of work to do, i'm disappointed at the magnitude of this legislation. but i'm hopeful and thankful that we've taken the first step. i think this is going to be a decade of us having to focus on our country's irresponsibility over the past many years, both parties no doubt have been responsible for putting us in the situation that we're in. it's going to take both parties to move us away from where we are. but i think everyone in this body is fully understandable that on the present course, our country's best days are behind us and i think all of us want to ensure that this country's greatness continues, that we continue to be -- to display american exceptionalism, not only here but around the world.
so mr. president, what i want to say is i look at this solely as the first step. i know we're going to have an appropriations opportunity to look at even more savings at the end of september, i know we're going to have a committee that's going to be looking at this during the month of november and december. and i know we're going to have a series of opportunities for us to deal with this. but mr. president, again, today was just a first step. i learned through a lifetime of business starting doing very, very small projects at the age of 25 when i first went in business, that as a company, you can never go broke if you will, taking a profit. and what i've learned here in the senate is you should never say no to spending cuts. so while these spending cuts are not of the order of magnitude that i would -- or of the magnitude that i would like to have seen, i think that this is
a very good first step. and this is something that we can all build upon. i look forward to working with people on both sides of the aisle to ensure that this is just the first step and that our country continues to have the discipline, the fortitude, the courage and the will to make the tough decisions that all of us know we're going to need to make over the course of the next many, many years. that's what we owe these young pages who are getting ready to leave after service to this country over the last month. that's what we owe future generations. that's what we owe americans and candidly, that's what we owe the world as citizens of this world, and that is for our own selves to be disciplined and to know that we have to live within our means and to know that the best thing he we can -- we can possibly do for the country at this moment in time is to -- to show that we have that courage and that will. mr. president, i thank you for the time to speak on this topic.
i know that all of us leave here and go home to recess, i know that many of us will be talking about the vast amount of work that needs to be done as it relates to making sure that we rein in this out-of-control spending that's been taking place for many, many years. i look forward to that. i look forward to talking to citizens back in tennessee, and i look forward to coming back in september and dealing with folks on both sides of the aisle to make sure we -- we put that thought into action. with that, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the gentleman from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, i want to thank the senator from tennessee, senator corker, for what he just said, and i want to affirm an extraordinary
amount of effort that he has made to not only inform this senate body of the crisis that we face financially but has come forward with some very constructive solutions for how to deal with it. i know he was disappointed we were not able to reach a better solution than the one we just voted on. i know that his struggle to decide what was the best course to follow in moving forward, in the end he decided to support it as a first step. but as he said, the first step of what probably will be a decade-long challenge that faces all of us to successfully address this deep, deep hole of debt that we have dug for ourselves as a nation. and continued deficit spending in the fulfillment of promises made that were not paid for and
could not be realistically financed and paid for by our taxpayers as they extend out into the future. i rise today to speak as to sharing all he 0 -- sharing all those concerns, certainly believing that our work here has just started and there's much more to do but as someone who decided to vote against the bill that we just had before us. compromise deal to increase the debt ceiling. i have not taken this vote lightly. for the past 1 1/2 years, i have as a candidate traveled the state of indiana, just about every town and city and village in the state, talking to thousands and thousands and thousands of hoosiers on a day-after-day basis. hearing what they had to say. and frankly, what they had to
say if i could categorize it into one statement, it would be a deep concern about the future of our country and a deep desire to have their elected representatives go to washington and do everything they could to address this situation. i spent the last seven months here in the senate hearing from hundreds if not thousands of hoosiers who have written, called, visited, again talking with them back at home, and nothing has changed except the urgency of their concerns and the deep worries that they have expressed have simply grown rather than diminished. we saw in 2010 americans across the country express their desire for us to get a hold of our fiscal situation, that the era of spending, of promising beyond our means, was over. and that we had to take major steps to reverse that.
and that's why i decided in the first place to try to return to the senate, to come back to work to help prepare -- repair our country's economic future. i came back to work on the things that many consider politically toxic, entitlement reform, tax reform, passing a balanced budget amendment to ensure we would never end up in this situation again, that if there was a legacy we could pass on to our children, if there was something we could do for the future of our country, something we could do for our children and grandchildren, and everyone's children and grandchildren, it would be to never have them have to go through what we're going through now because we had taken fiscal responsibility, passing a budget balanced amendment that as we were sworn in required each of us to come here and require to us put our left hand in the bible and the right hand in the air to repeat the oath to honor the constitution and that
constitution would obtain -- attain a balanced budget amendment as a requirement. so before taking this vote, i pondered for days and evenings and nights about the many hoosiers who had put their faith in me and confidence in me and sent me back to the senate to do everything i could to accomplish this goal. some of those hoosiers had tears in their eyes, worried about the future, for themselves and for their children. some had fingers in my chest, saying, "don't let me down." "don't go and settle for too little." "do everything you can." and that's what i've tried to do. so after giving consideration, i decided not to support this bill because i couldn't come to grips with having to go back and tell hoosiers that's the best we could do. i do want to say this.
i want to recognize the -- the work and the leadership, strategy, the efforts of our majority leader, senator mcconnell, our whip, senator kyl, those in leadership and others, john boehner and cantor in the house, people who represented us at the white house. i was, as most of us were that serve here, able to appreciate their hard work and understand their frustration with the ability to accomplish a meaningful goal, a grand bargain or at least a big plan that would put us significantly on the way to fiscal reform. i don't hold them liable at all or really anyone who voted for this bill, as senator corker has
said and others have said, look, this is the best we can do and we'll keep going. and i applaud that. it's just that i thought we could have done so much more when the crisis that we face is so severe, when the consequences are so great, when the -- when the situation that we face is imminent, now, it's not 2013, it's not even 2012, it's now. i don't know what the ratings agencies are going to do for o our -- our debt. many were cheering and championing the fact that this vote would not result in a debt downgrade. i think already we've heard information to the contrary that that's the case. that means higher interest rat rates. that means that full faith in the -- and confidence in the united states of america as being that last safe haven of safety is put at risk. we have taken a step in the right direction.
it's a small step and it's a marathon that we have to run, but we do need to go much further. i believe the bill we just passed significantly -- is significantly short of what is needed to address the severity of the crisis. senator corker said there's been a consensus here, that a minimum of $4 trillion of cuts needed to be put on the books to be enacted over the next ten years with true enforcement mechanisms to look it in, and we achieved just half of that in the bill that we passed. i have been stating over and over the reality is that if we don't address health care spending and the entitlements that provide for benefits through medicaid and medicare, the virtual consensus is that no matter what else we do, we will not be able to solve the problem. this is an area where people
don't want to talk about it. it's the supposedly third rail of politics. suicide to bring it up and there's been a lot of efforts to evade that, discussing and debating and making the tough choices on that particular issue or that category of issues. but that's what we're going to have to do. it has been avoided in this bi bill, pushed off to the selection of a special committ committee, six senators, six congressmen, balanced six and six between each party, to come up with an additional trillion dollars of savings or perhaps a little more. i don't feel real comfortable with that. i'm -- i have some real reservations about whether we should have to do this in the first place, because that's our job, all of us -- that's what we were elected to do and we weren't able to do it. we've turned it over to six --
12 members of congress. i'm not sure how they're going to accomplish what we weren't able to. nevertheless, i hope and pray that they are successful and i hope that they will address in whatever recommendation they make to us later this year the commitment to entitlement reform and the commitment to tax refo reform. entitlement reform because that spending is bankrupting this country, is denying future seniors benefits that they are counting on, is potentially denying current seniors who are dependent on social security and medicare, denying them opportunity to rest easy that their benefits will remain the same or increase with the cost of living. that they -- that the situation that the trustees have reported regarding the future of the medicare part-a is that serious
cuts will have to be taken unless we take measures now to reform that system in a way that preserves those benefits. for those currently on and perhaps those -- and those within, say, ten years of retirement. we all know we have to do this. we all know that if we don't do this, we simply won't be able to accomplish what we need to, no matter what else that we do. the real work is ahead. congress must commit to address the root causes of our problem and our debt. we have to make the difficult choices necessary to restore economic growth and good-paying jobs for the american people and that's where tax reform comes in. on a bipartisan basis, senator ron wyden of oregon, a democrat, and myself have joined together in putting together a comprehensive tax reform bill. i give senator judd gregg, my predecessor, a great deal of credit for the two years of work
that he spent with senator wyden in putting this together, and senator wyden and i have worked together this last seven months to make additional changes and improvements we think to that product. if we're going to have a growth component to help grow our way through a more prosperous economy out of the debt problem we have, it has to include not only spending cuts but it has to include real tax reform. those special interests out there that are receiving exemptions and special breaks, credits, subsidies are going to have to -- those are going to have to be closed out in a rational basis. we can retain some of the legitimate deductions, such as mortgage interest and charitable deductions, but most have to be eliminated and those funds and revenues generated from elimination of those special interests have to be used to reduce rates, to make our businesses more competitive