tv U.S. Senate CSPAN July 17, 2013 9:00am-12:01pm EDT
technologies to plan for the future. what i see on the biofuels end and what i struggle with is on the one hand we see tax incentives there almost a hundred years, and we see in the public interest competing issues around cafe and the fuel economy. we want to bring fuel efficiency up, we want to bring the use of gasoline down; it's working, there's less gasoline, less demand for gasoline. we're trying to get competition in on biofuels on behalf of the public, but yet there's no pumps, and who owns the stations? in order to get the pumps? we're told that the rf -- that the removal fuel standard doesn't work, the cost of land certainly going up, not enough demand, but yet we can't get
infrastructures owned -- it's your job to control the market and not help competition. we're at odds on how do we move forward on all this? so i would just state for the record, i mean, it's important to note that since 2005 when the renewable fuel standard was created, 75.8 billion gallons of ethanol has been added to the gas supply, cuts demand for foreign crude oil and gasoline, biofuels cut production by 2.4 million barrels alone, in the public's interest. understanding all the other issues while what's happening and so on. i would start with you because you've said that valero is currently investing in alternatives, and i'm wondering both what role you see the technologies in the company's future, but, also, given your
interest in biofuels, are you encouraging station owners to install biofuels blender pumps? >> of course we without, but we don't own any space. they are all owned by independents. i mean, not sure the percentage that our small individual or small company, but they are not the big oil companies that own the gas stations. they're not. >> what would you say to encourage then -- in order for us to get the infrastructure for real competition, to give this a chance to really show whether or not it works and what the public thinks and so on, i mean, how would you suggest that we move forward on infrastructure to make sure that we can have the pumps >> >> i'm not sure i understand exactly the goal, but if you let me, we already have e10 in 95% of the gasoline sold in the united states. 10% ethanol. we encourage that.
we support it. we do it. it's our customers, though, for that 5% that don't do it, they don't feel like they're customers, the ultimate consumer wants them. we support the 85. we'll gladly blend for people e85. we are not supportive of e15 for all the reasons that have been stated: car warranties, pumps, everything with it, and over time -- >> no, i understand from my industry their concerns. >> but valero is in this and very supportive of renewable diesel as well. >> let me just say, mr. chairman, with e15, it's interesting, and i appreciate our industry concerned about it, but i'm a nascar fan, and when i go to nascar, they drive on e15, and talk about efficiency of e15 and what it does in terms of their performance on the track
and so on, and so it's interesting. >> you have a lot of octane. >> that's right. the question is, i guess it seems to me we'd have a dilemma, and maybe let me ask mr. gill mr. gilligan on flex fuel vehicles and pumps and so on, if we had more flex fuel vehicles, had blender pumps, you know, so that drivers could choose a lower cost of fuel, i mean, do you think it would be a good idea to have more of that, and how would you suggest that we bring these fuels to market in a more efficient way? >> well, certainly, it's going to limit the e85 to have the population of flex fuel vehicles so desperate and spread out. it doesn't make sense to have an e85 location if, you know, there aren't a lot of vehicles in his
market place for it. secondly, e85, customers notice that they have to fill up twice a week. a fillup because of the reduced gas mileage. that hurts e80. another thing i want to stress, too, about infrastructure is we spend a lot of time talking about the disspencers capable, and we're concerned about the piping, the storing, the glue used, how does that perform with a higher level of ethanol? we need more information with that. epa's working on it. epa and the petroleum control institute are building a data baste of lists of equipment they say can handle e15. well, a retailer may not know what he has underground. he may not know what piping was put in 20 years ago and may not be able to determine if it's compatible. it's a tangled web of issues.
one estimate i saw is it takes $3 billion to get a large portion of the gas stations able to dispense e15. it certainly can't come from the convenience store owner. the average net profit of the convenience store is $40,000 a year. you can't make the math work to spend $300,000 in renovations when you are really close on the bottom line, so it's a perplexing problem, but we're committed to finding solutions, but they are not apparent yet. >> mr. chairman, i know my time is up, but with the two of us just here, i'm going to take another moment, if you don't mind, for a comment and say i know it's perplexing, but with we sit back from where we sit and talk about where money goes, where the tax incentives go, where the public interest is, i appreciate those having an industry dominated, we insent vised it, talking about winners
and losers, we picked a winner, you won, it's an important industry, but when we look at where we go in the future, i mean, there are options for us on how we incentivize real competition at the pump, and when we do tax reform and we look at one industry that has had, you know, unrestricted tax incentives, others that limp along, can't invest, no dollars and incentives to do what you're talking about, no question that a convenience store can do that. we invest money and continue in industries in certain areas where folks are doing very, very well. the top end, the top five oil companies, i think, we could redirect that to help the folks, and it's in our interest to create competition and make renewable fuel standard work in a way that doesn't create the situation you're talking about, but it is -- it does involve
thinking broadly, mr. chairman, about the soup interest in competition, and i'm all for competition, anxious, as i know you are to have the opportunity for a lot of choices on fuel at the pump, and i think that's our chj. >> you're leadership on this, senator stabenow is extremely important, and there's no question it relates to mark place forces. it ought to be something that brings the other democrats and republicans to have choices on interest in workings. >> let me ask you gentlemen gwen about how we might help the consumer now, not another time, but now to help with price spikes related to the refinery outages. to your credit, you're talking about how you share that information, you're interested in doing it. what if we just said when there was a planned or unplanned
refinery outage, you have to report that in realtime. seems to me that could provide some measure of relief to the consumer. what do you think of that? just require it. >> for a plan, obviously, there would be a publication so people know these are planned. they do happen in the spring and fall. they are usually scheduled. many of these get scheduled a year in advance for planned, and it has to do with safety, equipment. we do risk-based analysis. we do all these kinds of things. now, an unplanned, obviously, it's unplanned, and that means something happened right now, and this particular unit within the refinery is offline. as far as reporting it, we fix it up immediately, and all the commodity markets. the thing the administration
could do today to help prices -- >> right. >> is get a hold of represent. rents are out of control. we at valero are trying to pass them through. when you take a a $-30, you go to 13 cents a gallon tried to be passed through in the marketplace. that's a huge amount of money. >> we are going to spend a lot of time looking at the ren issue, and we do need to get our arms around the refinery outage issue, and i know exxon was pick up by the press, but not accurately. it strikes me that this would be providing relief to the consumer, and i want to walk through eia's role on this. now, in 2007, the congress
directed eia to track those outages that have a significant impact on supply. in 2011 #, before you arrived, the energy information administration stopped tracking the refinery outages. why was that, you know, done, and what would need to happen to get that restored? >> senator, in 2011, iea's budget was cut overnight by $15 million, rougherly 15% of the budget, and we had to quickly prioritize a report, analysis, data collection activity we were engaged in, and so we looked at
the refining planned out report, done twice a year, and the conclusion was that private services and that have been referredded to earlier here were doing some of that, and that our money could be best spent doing other things that congress has mandated. for example, we've been reporting on iran's production and under the sanctions activities. >> let me save time here. isn't protecting the consumer a priority too? i described misleading information that got out, expensive, misleading information. why isn't protecting the consumer a priority there as well? particularly with something that strikes me as quite, you know, modest. i mean, we've had pretty
ferocious debates here over the years about price controls and burdensome requirements and the like. this seems to me a very modest step to make markets that are transparent to help the consumer in realtime. how much would this cost for you to get back in the consumer protection business? >> several million dollars a year. >> all right. well, i'm going to follow this up and walk through the list of activities that you all have. >> senator, i absolutely agree with you that more transparency and the data and analysis is essential. i wouldn't have taken the job, and i'd be happy to work with you on the issues. >> well, we've -- we like to, and i want to really work with
you looking at the context of the entire, you know, budget. i mean, certainly, over the years, there's been antitrust, competition issues, you know, associated with refiners, sharing information about maintenance and production schedules, but that's why the congress brought you all in, and now we're seeing particularly in the midwest, what i think is the conventional wisdom in the energy business which is why when i walk through the charts with you, being turned on its head. i mean, people consistently, in this committee, have been told the price of gas is related to the price of oil, doesn't seem to necessarily be true, and it's certainly looking to us that the inability to get realtime information with respect to these issues, and particularly, outages is an important one, so let me now turn to the question of exports, and let's bring up,
staff, if you would, chart no. 7. now, we'll bring others into it. this is a chart that our staff produced from energy information administration data that was provided on refinery capacity. there's a number of reductions in refineries in the united states, although new investments with the remaining refineries resulted in increased u.s. capacity. this comes at a time when the u.s. has demand for gas that has been declining. now, a number of analysts argue that the united states has surplus refinery capacity, exports of refined products have been increasing dramatically, aided by lower crude prices, lower natural gas prices giving our refiners the cost advantage. u.s. refiners export roughly 2.8
billion barrels of product a day, and united states a exporting refined products to venezuela. the charts from eia show, again, the increase in gasoline and diesel exports, especially from the gulf coast. now, for you all, to what extent do you see u.s. exports of gasoline and diesel, you know, continuing? again, this goes back to the question for the consumers. the consumer is saying, senator baldwin says it. i hear from oregon consistently that we're looking for relief at pumps here in the united states, and yet y'all show up at these hearings in washington, d.c. to talk about, you know, more and more, you know, exports. tell us to what extent you see u.s. exports of gasoline and diesel continuing and/or expanding, and we can bring at least others into this, but any
of you witnesses who choose to comment are welcome to do so. >> senator, we are forecasting that exports of products are likely to continue as crude oil production rises. it's, i think, worthwhile to point out that if refiners have excess of what u.s. demand is, refiners run at higher rates. higher rates generally tend to mean that other products are being produced, that consumers want, and presumably at lower prices to the extent that products enter the global marketplace, gasoline, diesel fuel, and it would tend to limit global price increases as i said earlier in the testimony.
i believe product prices in the u.s. a largely set in the global market to the extent that the u.s. is contributing supply to the global market is probably helping keep global prices lower than they would otherwise be. >> i think if it was cut and dry as you've described, mr. sieminski motorists pulling up to pumps where they feel they are clobberedded would be feeling better. that's why i think there's more to the story than your description. >> okay. if we take gasoline first, sir, the u.s. import gasoline to the east coast, and we're exporting out of the gulf coast, primarily to lat tip america and going down to south america and brazil. the u.s. is still a net importer of gasoline by a very small amount. on diesel fuel, we are very -- we have a lot of excess capacity.
u.s. markets about 3.7 million barrels a day, and they export over 800,000 barrels a day. there is no u.s. demand for the diesel. now, these products are being drawn away in the u.s. gulf coast spot market by higher prices offered by these countries. if you think about it, about half of the diesel fuel's going to south america, the other half is going to europe, and they are paying the price because they actually have to pay freight on top of that to get to the price. where do i think they are going? i think it's imperative for the u.s. refinding industry with the outlook of u.s. demand that we continue that export. >> let us have your colleague, mr. kahn, bring you into this. >> chairman, we used to be a large exporter/importer of
gasoline, and now we have a net neutrality in gasoline with respect to exports and imports. latin america demand continues to grow. in ten years, demand grew by 150,000 barrels per day per year in latin america. a lot of excess production that u.s. produces is shipped to south america and europe. taking these raw materials like crude oil and manufacturing them into higher value products like gasoline and diesel, we think is good for the u.s. economy increasing our relative import/export balance in the u.s.. higher prices in the u.s. are also resulting in new investment. we do see some refineries investing in increased capacity to produce more fuels in places where we are seeing some shortages from time to time. >> i think that, you know, part of what i'm hearing are descriptions of activities that are good for refiners, and i
question whether it's good for consumers, and that's, i think, part of the debate. let me go to you, mr. gilligan on the question of crude prices and benchmarks. one of the issues raised in the congressional research service analysis that was done for us is that usual price benchmarks like west texas interimmediate or brent, one of the major international bench marks, of course, don't accurately refleck the actual cost of crude oil to refiners. refiners often pay less than the benchmarks. in some cases like in the midwest and the rockies, they have been paying a lot less. european union is reportedly investigating how oil prices -- oil producers may have been involved in ma manipulating thee brent oil prices. how do your members know whether or not they are paying a fair price for the products you buy if the benchmark doesn't reflect the actual cost of oil in the
market? >> it's an excellent question, sort of ties to the thoughts that i had in the earlier discussion. i think in some of the earlier comments, you're trying to make a an nexus between gas prices ad the prices refiners pay for crude. that's not the nexus that exists. the nexus that i see it is the nexus to the benchmark, wti and brent. that is, at least in the last two or three weeks, we've seen sizable increases in wti and brent, and those are what are showing up at the wholesale racks so we know -- refiners have to be competitive. perplexing -- per troll yum marketers have our computer screens looking at the areas, and valero has to be competitive with exxon and chevron and other competitors. they move to the lowest spot price that affects all the other prices in the terminal.
those markets are fairly transparent, but i do think it's important to note that it's wti and brent that basically is what we believe drives prices, not so much the price that refiners pay for the product. >> would any of you others like to add an additional point on the question of the benchmark? >> i would go on to stress that that's why we continue to push for both european and united states good regulation of the futures markets to make sure they are honest markets. >> well, gentlemen, here's my take of where we are. the market in the oil business has changed and changed dramatically, and too often, and particularly, when i asked you the questions, you know, early
on, mr. sieminski, about why the lower cost of new oil supplies is not being passed on to the consumer, you gave me the answer that we have heard for years and years, and, basically, sort of defies what the industry has been saying, and what i'd like to do is find a way, and we're going to be following up with all of you to work in a bipartisan way to come up with some practical approaches to try to help consumers who are still getting hammered. they are getting hammered today at the pump. you heard senator baldwin, you know, talking about it in a time when their newspapers are filled with stories about how their new oil supplies, and the consumer's saying how is it going to get to me? mr. sieminski, you know, i got to think there is some affordable way to realtime get people information about refinery outages, and i'm going
to work with you with respect to your budgets, and sufficive to say those of you in the industry and following it, i hope you'll come forward with your ideas for changes that will reflect a very different, you know, market place because when you go through the charts that i've gone through today and the ones that we have prepared with the data from the congressional, you know, research, you know, analysis, we were pointing to hard information about record-level, you know, refining, you know, margins. not every bit is a profit, but certainly a significant part of it is, but there suspect any question that the lower crude oil costs from the new sources of production are not getting through, not getting through to the consumers' wallet at the pump, and that is why people are asking these questions that you had today, and this will not be the last time that we will be at
it, and, certainly, you made a number of good appointments. i note that fact that y'all also reported information about outages. we'll look at the issue. i have real questions about whether the renewable fuel targets can be hit. there's a number of questions here to look at, but i do want us to take steps that can help the consumer now with price spikes that are clearly working a hardship on working class people and small businesses and the consumer, and it's one of the things that the democrats and republicans have said they want different about energy policy. it's always been the consumers as an afterthought. the consumers are no longer going to be the afterthought. you heard that from democrats and republicans. we'll keep the record open because a number of senators want to ask questions. we'll allow all you to offer additional viewpoints, and i thank you for your patience on this busy morning here in the senate, and with that, the energy and natural resources committee's adjourned.
[inaudible conversations] >> this morning, federal reserve chairman ben bernanke is on capitol hill to deliver the fed's semiannual policy report. live coverage of the house financial services committee begins at 10 a.m. eastern time. there's a hearing on the voting rights act at 1 p.m. eastern time live, of coverage on c-span3 and c-span.org. >> they have been taken in a plane crash in 1948, so rose is literally seeing her children almost in birth order disappear from the scene. not only that, but in 196 # 4 in the summer of 64, rose wrote in her journal about what it's like that summer, and she says gone
are the presidential helicopters as we would so look forward to every weekend bringing my son, the president, and i would see his children run out to him, gone are those days. she -- >> she missed that? >> she missed that. she wistfully says "gone are the days when we were the --" says when we were the most powerful family in the world. >> an "after words" author barbara perry uses information from newly released diaries and letters talking about rose kennedy and her contributions and influence over the family dynasty saturday at 10 p.m. eastern, part of booktv this weekends on c-span2. >> the senate gaveling in this morning to continue consideration of president obama's executive nominees under the agreement reached tuesday between democrats and republicans. at ten o'clock eastern, the senate votes to cut off debate on the nomination of fred hockberg to serve another term of president as export/import
bank. considering mccarthy, the environmental protection agency and thomas perez to be secretary of labor. yesterday, senators confirmed richard cordra of the director of the consumer financial protection bureau. that comes a year and a half after the recess appointment by president obama. live now to the floor of the u.s. senate, live coverage of the senate always right here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal god our king, you rule from your throne, sustaining us
with the unfolding of your providence. today, abide with our senators and all those to whom you have committed the government of this nation. lord, give them your special gifts of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and strength, providing them with the insights to choose what is best. bless them with constancy of purpose and an unfailing devotion to their duties. answer their prayers, and give them your peace. we pray in your merciful name amen.
the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our 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., july 17, 2013. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable carl m. levin, a senator from the state of michigan, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. reid: i move to proceed to
calendar number 124. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to calendar number 124, s.1238, a bill to amend the higher education act of 1965 and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: mr. president, following my remarks and those of the republican leader we'll proceed to executive session to consider the nomination of president fred hochberg to be president of the export-import bank. at 10:00 a.m. there will be a vote on cloture of the hochberg nomination. following that there will be eight hours of debate. i doubt seriously if democrats will take any of their time. so we should be able to finish that sometime soon; have a vote on confirmation of him if we invoke cloture. then we have left on the calendar for this week, we have to do the secretary of labor and the head of the e.p.a..
so we should be able to finish that tomorrow. mr. president, i'm so glad that -- to see the presiding officer. for those who may perhaps aren't aware, senator levin is a longtime member of the united states senate. he's decided not to run again, which is very sad, for the state of michigan, the senate and the country. but that's a decision that he made. i had the good fortune -- and he's heard me say this before but i'll say it again because i'll never forget this. i came to congress in 1982 with his brother, his older brother, sander levin. the first time i met senator carl levin, i was contemplating whether i should run for the senate after having served in the house. at the very beginning of our visit in his office with me and him, harry reid and carl levin,
i said to him, i know your brother. he and i came to congress together a few years ago. and carl looked at me so intently and so seriously and said, "yes." he said, "he's my brother but he's also my best friend." having three brothers of my own, mr. president, that is something that's always stuck with me. and for you to be presiding here , doesn't happen very often. we appreciate that. senior members don't preside as much as the more junior members. i would also say this with this man in the chair. we just had an occasion where on one of those rare occasions the senior senator from michigan and i disagreed, but the disagreement we had had nothing to do with us. it had everything to do with positions we had taken.
we need not get into what the difference was. it was something dealing with the senate. it had nothing to do with our personalities. but i will say that as a result of the senator from michigan, i think he's as pleased as i am with what happened here in the senate the last couple of days. because for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the input of the senator from michigan, we have now started a new era; i hope a new normal here in the senate, where senators instead of talking past each other, start talking to each other. so i publicly appreciate the senator from michigan for so many different reasons. he's been a longtime protector of our military. he's the chairman of the armed services committee. i'm not an expert on what's happened in that committee, but i am -- i do know that during the more than three decades i've been in congress, no one has
been more vigilant and caring about the men and women who serve on our military. and so i admire, appreciate, have great affection for the presiding officer. the burdens that we as leaders here in the senate have, though, as i was reflecting walking in here, whether it's the armed services committee or things i'm called upon to do, are so minimal compared to who is the president of the united states. whoever is president of the united states, but let's just focus on barack obama. every day he gets up for a briefing about what's going on around the world, and there are so many things going on around the world that are so difficult for him, for us as a country, and for the world. the problems we have here at home every day, he he, leader of the superpower that we are, has to deal with these. i had a visit yesterday with him
on the telephone. he called after we worked out our arrangement here in the senate that was pleasing to virtually everybody. and i commented to him, he said thanks, it was a lot of hard work and all the stuff, but i commented to him we all realize the burdens that you bear. and i think we do. if we just stop and pause for a minute, it's easy to understand the heavy burdens that this man bears. we all know what a fine human being he is. but we've seen him as we see all presidents change before our eyes. a vibrant young man who served here in the senate with us, with his coal black hair, is now after a few years has hair that's similar to senator levin and mine. he's still vibrant and strong, but he has a lot of burdens on his shoulders. and i, having worked with him as close as i have, have such
understanding of what i think he goes through, at least some understanding, some empathy for what he goes through. and so maybe somebody in the white house will pass him a copy of this exchange between the presiding officer and i and tell him how much that we in the senate, democrats and republicans, republicans may disagree with him politically, but i don't think he can find a republican that doesn't admire him as a good human being. mr. president, would you announce the business of the day. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. and under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, export-import bank of the united states, fred p. hochberg of new york, to be president. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time
quorum call: ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: i ask unanimous consent that the call of the quorum be vacated. the presiding officer: under the previous order the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion. we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules
of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of fred p. hochberg of new york to be president of the he he ex-sportt bank of the united states. the presiding officer: the question is is it the sense of f the senate that the nomination of fred p. hochberg shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are manned tower under the rule -- are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
duly chosen amend sworch having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. pursuant to s. res. 15 of the 113th congress, there is now eight hours of postcloture debate equally divided in the usual form. who he would i do notes time? who yields time? if no one yields time, the time will be equally divided.
mr. toomey: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: madam president, i rise to speak for a few moments about the ex-im bank. the cloture vote that we just had -- the cloture vote that we just had and the confirmation vote that's coming up. madam president, first of all, let me start by saying that i think mr. hochberg is a good man, a capable man, and a competent person. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order.
mr. toomey: thank you, madam president. the point i was take something that -- the point i was making is that the candidate for president of the ex-im bank, for whom we just granted cloture and are likely to confirm, i think is a capable individual. my objection -- i voted against cloture. and i'm going to vote against his confirmation. and it is not about him. i want to explain what this is about for me and why i think this is a lost opportunity, and precisely it is this. by invoking cloture as we have just done, and confirming mr. hochberg as we're no doubt about to do, i think we're going to miss a big opportunity to insist on some modest reforms that are necessary at the ex-im bank and we're going to miss an opportunity to pressure the administration and the ex-im bank to follow existing laws in
ways that are not being followed. first of all, by way of reminder, a word about the ex-im bank. this is a taxpayer risk. this is a bank that makes taxpayer-backed loans and guarantees to countries and companies that buy american products. in 2012 we reauthorized the ongoing existence of the ex-im bank and increased their lending authority to $140 billion. now, not only are taxpayers taking a risk every time a loan is made by the ex-im bank, but the taxpayers are systematically being undercompensated for that loan. the pricing on these loans are necessarily not reflective of the full risk to the taxpayer. how do we know that? because if they were fully pricing in the risk, then the ex-im bank wouldn't have a competitive advantage over the private banks that would be more than happy to finance exports.
in fact, the ex-im bank exists for the purpose of subsidizing these exports. and they do it in the form of -- the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. a senator: they do it in the form of consciously underpricing the loan. mr. toomey: so the taxpayers do not get a market compensation for the risk that they take. that's just the reality. that is the nature of the ex-im bank. i would also point out that we had an inspector general report, an ex-im inspector general issued a report in september about some of the issues they discovered in the management of the ex-im bank. they recommended that the ex-im bank undergo stress testing. we require this of all the big private financial institutions. we require that they go through all kinds of analysis about what happens to their institution under different economic and market circumstances that could
occur. and then we evaluate how well they hold up to the stress of changes in interest rates, changes in economic conditions and so on. the ex-im bank has promised that they'll do this but we haven't seen any results. the inspector general also suggested some at least soft limits on concentration because the ex-im bank is massively concentrated in a single industry. almost all the financing it provides is in a single industry, and that creates a risk to taxpayers, of course, if there's a problem in that industry, the ex-im bank has rejected considering any concentration limits. the third thing i would point out is the board pointed out that have more oversight authority. the other problem with the ex-im bank it seems to me and that is by its very nature it picks winners and losers in ways that are inappropriate.
i'll give a few examples. because it's a government entity, it is ultimately controlled by the political class and its activities ultimately get politicized. it's already happened. so, for instance, in an entity that is supposed to be all about subsidizing exports for job creation purposes, there are mandates that a certain amount of their business has to be green activity, has to be what some people think is acceptable or preferable in the energy space. that's a judgment that has nothing to do with maximizing overall exports. it's a political decision that's imposed on the ex-im bank because politicians can. there's also a mandate on small business, which is to favor one sector over another. and there was an amendment during -- when we were considering this bill, one of our colleagues came down and offered an amendment that would force the kp*pl -- ex-im bank to
make sure a certain amountf their business was subsidized loans to african companies and countries th-fplt senator, i'm sure, has a very sincere interest in supporting africa in various ways. that's fine if he has that interest. but is ex-im bank the vehicle we're supposed to use to do that? let's keep in mind when you establish a minimum statutory lending hurdle for some geographical area and ex-im is not there, they have to lower their standards to reach that goal. so it increases taxpayer risk for this political goal. my point is just it is inevitable. it's guaranteed. it's already happening that this process becomes politicized, and that's not a good idea. there's another problem with the activity of ex-im bank, and that is the taxpayer-guaranteed -- taxpayer-backed loans and guarantees also inevitably help some american companies at the expense of others. that's the nature of this and
that's a problem. so one clear example is take air carriers, commercial air carriers. we have american companies that are airlines; right? they are commercial carriers. and then there are foreign companies had a do this as well. and they compete directly against american carriers f. you're a foreign airline, you get the ex-im bank subsidy loan to buy your aircraft and if you're an american airline, you don't. this happens. it's happened recently. air india got a $3.4 billion loan subsidy from ex-im bank so they can buy their aircraft and air india competes directly with american companies that are not eligible for the loans because it's not considered an export. these are the sort of unintended consequences that occur when the government creates these mechanisms for meddling in the markets. by the way, under current law the ex-im bank is required to provide an analysis, make the
analysis public about the impact on any adverse impact on american companies when they do engage in this sort of activity. and we haven't seen that analysis. in fact, we have a court decision that criticizes the ex-im bank. court of appeals that found they had in fact failed to comply with this law about assessing the negative financial impact on u.s. companies. nevertheless, they're continuing to make these loan guarantees in this context. so all of these problems have been discussed in the past. we have had this debate before. and one of the very constructive things we did in the 2012 reauthorization of the sk*eupl sk*eupl -- export-import bank was we said why do we do all of this? the proponents always give the same argument, and that is other countries around the world do this to subsidize their exports. if we don't subsidize ours we're
at a competitive disadvantage, and we can't have that. so that's the justification we always get. you can question the wisdom of that justification. you can have a big debate about that. let's put that aside for a second because there is a potential solution to that problem, and that is you have in global trade talks and bilateral and multilateral trade talks, we -- the united states, the world's biggest trading country, the world's biggest economy -- could insist on a process by which we have a mutual wind-down of this economically unhealthy activity. we could agree mutually, the countries of the world that have these export subsidizing banks, we could agree mutually to phase them out, and then we wouldn't have to do it because they do it. and taxpayers wouldn't have this risk and we wouldn't be unfairly benefiting some companies at the expense of others. we could phase this out. in fact, that's exactly what the 2012 authorization bill requires.
it requires the administration begin negotiating with our trading partners for a mutual phaseout of all export subsidies. i think that's the right solution to this admittedly difficult problem. let's all agree that we're going to phase out this activity. well, despite the fact that this mandate is in the reauthorization bill that we passed a year ago, it's the law of the land. it's not happening. it's just not happening. there are no such discussions underway. there are no such negotiations. this is not, certainly not a priority of the administration's trading activity. i'm not sure it exists at all. and this, madam president, this is the main reason that i came down here this morning and that i voted against cloture. you see, the cloture and the requirement to get to 60 votes to cut off debate to then consider the vote on the underlying nominee, it's a very,
very important pool. if we had held -- very, very important tool. if we had held 41 votes, 41 senators who refused to agree to cut off debate, the administration would have been in a little bit of a pickle. because by the end of this month, in the absence of a newly confirmed president, the ex-im bank can't do any business. so what would have happened? would the ex-im bank shut down? that wasn't going to ever happen. but what might have happened is we might have had a discussion about can we get the administration to actually begin the negotiating that they're supposed to under existing law? could they please begin to observe the law? and could the ex-im bank actually begin to respond to the inspector general's reports? and in the pressure, frankly, of this moment, i think we would have had progress on this. but instead, we've voted for
cloture. i think later today we're going to vote to confirm the nominee, who, as i said, as a person very capable, very competent individual. and none of this is going to happen. what we're going to do is confirm the status quo, continue business as usual, business as it has been. this, of course, occurs in a context. it occurs in the context of this argument we've been having about whether or not republicans have been obstructing nominees. and i think, frankly, it affects the judgment about how senators might consider voting on something like a cloture measure. i would just remind everybody that going into this discussion earlier this week, the senate had confirmed 1,560 of the president's nominees and was blocking four. 1,560 to 4 and some are suggesting that is an outrageous activity on our part because it denies the president the opportunity to assemble his team.
really? 1,560 confirmed, 4 that we're holding. that works out to 99.7% of the president's nominees confirmed. and we're portrayed as preventing the president from assembling his team. so i completely reject that characterization. epbgt president has enjoyed -- i think the president has enjoyed a tremendous opportunity and reality of getting his team in place, getting them confirmed. and we ought not to relinquish the power that the constitution gives to the senate to advise and consent. remember, the constitution doesn't just say that the senate shall advise. it says advise and consent. consent has a very specific meaning. and if we do this automatically and routinely and we think that -- i guess those who object to our approving 1,560 and objecting to four. it seems to me that the
implication is we're supposed to simply routinely rubber stamp everyone. there can't be any objections ever whatsoever. well, that's not what the constitution calls for. and so as a matter of constitutional principle, i think that is a very flawed analysis. but i wanted to come down and speak this morning because i think this is a very real specific case of where, had we exercised more fully, in my judgment, our opportunity to deny cloture, we would have made a little bit of progress in better observation of existing law, of further reducing risk that taxpayers take, and getting the ex-im bank to comply with some of the recommendations in the inspector general report. i just wanted to share that, madam president. i know how this vote's going to go. i know mr. hochberg is going to be confirmed. and i hope we'll be able to make progress on these things anyway. but i'm sure we would have had a better chance of making
meaningful progress if we had used this moment. and as we consider future nominees, i hope we'll remember that this is a fundamental and important role for the senate to play, to use the moment of confirmation as a moment to focus the attention of the administration on things that are important to our constituents, to our taxpayers. and i hope we won't relinquish that opportunity. and, i yield the floor.
weeks -- mr. lee: two weeks ago while most americans were busy getting ready for the 4th of july holiday, the obama administration made a stunning announcement about the president's signature legislative accomplishment: the patient protection and affordable care act. the president admitted to the american people that because obamacare was so poorly crafted, he was delaying the enforcement of the employer mandate and would not assess fines and penalties to big companies that refused to provide insurance to their employees. the president explained that businesses could not handle -- quote -- "the complexity of the requirements." and that government bureaucrats would spend the next year simplifying the reporting rules so companies could comply. i expected that in the next paragraph he would acknowledge that american families also deserve relief because, as polls consistently reflect, they have
very big problems with the requirements as well. they have concerns about the government-run health care scheme known as the exchanges. henry chow, in charge of implementing the obamacare exchanges has said -- quote -- "i'm pretty nervous. let's make sure it is not a third world experience. " american families also have very grave concerns about how much obamacare is going to add to our national debt. the congressional budget office now estimates that the cost of taxpayers over the next ten years will be $1.8 trillion. young americans are particularly concerned about obamacare because it's becoming clear that they will see the highest increase in health care premiums. one study published in the magazine of the american academy of actuaries shows middle and low-income single adults between 21 and 29 years of age will see
their premiums rise by 46% even after they take the obamacare subsidy. a joint report by the republicans on finance senate finance and senate help committees that looked at over 30 different studies conclude that had -- quote -- "recent college graduates with entry level jobs who were struggling to pay off student loan debt could see their premiums increase on average between 145% and 1289%. some -- and 189%. some studies estimate young adults could experience premium increases as high as over 300%. in my state, the state of utah, premiums for young people will jump anywhere from 56% to 90%. as i read this statement from the treasury department, i was shocked to find no mention of these people: parents, families, students, employees, taxpayers,
hardworking americans in general who are totally left out, along with their concerns about the complexity of the requirements imposed by obamacare. a senior advisor to the president took to the white house blog to spin the administration's announcement. she said -- quote -- "in our ongoing discussions with businesses, we've heard that you need the time to get this right." but why aren't american families part of these same ongoing discussions? isn't the white house obligated to get this right for them too before assessing fines and penalties and forcing them into a government-run third world experience? we knew obamacare would be unaffordable but now we know it's also going to be unfair. it is fundamentally unfair for the president to exempt businesses from the onerous burdens of his law while forcing
american families and individuals into obamacare's unsound and unstable system. it is unfair to protect the bottom lines of big business while making hardworking americans pay the price through higher premiums, stiff penalties, cutbacks in worker hours and job losses. it's unfair to give businesses more time to figure out complex rules and regulations, but force everyone else to figure out equally complex mandates and requirements applicable to individuals. this administration has chosen to put its own political preferences and the interest of various government cronies ahead of those of the american people. republicans in congress must now stand up for the individuals and families who do not have the money, who do not have the lobbyists, who do not have the connections to get this administration's attention on this important issue.
and we should do so using one of the few constitutional powers that congress still carefully guards: its power of the purse. as long as president obama selectively enforces obamacare, no annual appropriations bill and no continuing resolution should fund further implementation of this law. in other words, if the president won't follow it, the american people shouldn't fund it. last week's admission by the administration means that after more than three years of preparation and trial and error, the best-case scenario for obamacare will be rampant dysfunction, waste and injustice to taxpayers and working families. even the president himself has now admitted that obamacare won't work. it's unaffordable and unfair. and if he won't follow it, we
shouldn't fund it. the only reasonable choice now is to protect the country from obamacare's looming disaster, start over and finally begin work on real health care reform that works for everyone. and now, madam president, i'd like to shift topics and speak briefly in opposition to the confirmation of fred hochberg to continue as chairman and president of the export-import bank. by confirming mr. hochberg, we would perpetuate the existence of an organization whose sole purpose is to dispense corporate welfare and political privileges to well-connected special interests. the export-import bank, or ex-im as it is commonly known is an example of everything that's wrong with washington today. it is big government serving the interests of big corporations at the expense of individuals, families, and small businesses
throughout america. i'm of course not alone in this view. i have good company. in 2008 while campaigning for the office of president of the united states, then-senator barack obama referred to ex-im as -- quote -- "little more than a fund for corporate welfare." close quote. and so it is. after all, in fiscal year 2012, $12.2 billion of ex-im's $14.7 billion in loan guarantees went to a single company. one company. madam president, our free enterprise system may not be perfect, but it is fair. crony capitalism, which is promoted by the export-import bank, is neither. abraham lincoln once said that the leading object of government was to -- quote -- "lift artificial waste from all shoulders, to clear the paths of
laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life." crony capitalism is the opposite of this noble vision. it lays on artificial waste, obstructs paths of laudable pursuit and makes the race of life fettered and unfair. we may have honest disagreements about when and whether and to what extent and what circumstances it's a good idea for the government to redistribute wealth from the rich and give it to the poor, but can't we all agree that it's always a bad idea to redistribute wealth from the poor and the middle class and give it to large corporations? the saddest part is that it isn't even clear that the bank actually helps u.s. firms to outperform their foreign competitors. ex-im's convoluted financing has
been accused of pricing at least one u.s. airline out of being able to compete with foreign firms and at least one court has agreed. cronyism is a cancer. it undermines public trust in our economy and in our political system. ordinary americans who have a sense that the game seems rigged against them unfortunately have good reason to feel that way. it's not the free market that serves the middle man at the expense of the middle class. it's the crony cartels of big government, big business and big special interests conspiring against the american dream, helping each other to american taxpayers' money. the ex-im bank is part of this. i urge all of my colleagues to join me in opposing this nominee and the crony capitalist
organization that he leads. thank you, madam president. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: i rise to speak in sport of fred hochberg and his nomination as chairman of the export-import bank. i heard now two speeches on the other side of the aisle from my colleagues who not only seem to take exception with mr. hochberg's nominee, but the export-import bank in and of itself. i think they're wrong. i think they're wrong because they don't understand washington's need to focus on the fact that we have an export economy. we want u.s. products to be bought and sold in countries and markets all over the world. what we're here today is to talk about a critical vote to support 225,000 jobs that are part of our export economy. if we fail to confirm fred hochberg for a second term as
chairman of the export-import bank, businesses across the united states will lose a key tool in job creation. that's because his term expires, runs out, on july 20. what would tha÷ that would mean that the ex-im bank that needs at least threes of its five board members to have a quorum with a not have a quorum and noted being able to issue any new loans. that means that the transactions that u.s. companies depend on, the guarantees and the transactions to finance the sale of u.s. products and services overseas, would not be able to move forward. if we don't confirm hochberg this week, the bank cannot approve loans and it would take away a job-creating tool that american innovators and businesses count on. that's why i'm equaling on my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to confirm mr. hochberg as the ex-im bank chairman for a second term. his nomination is supported by the chamber of comerks by the national association of
manufacturers. he has proven to be a solid leader in his organization by listening, implementing, innovating, and administering a very critical job-tool. when i benefi visited businesses my state to talk about the ex-im bank, i heard that americans wants us to talk about scwoob creating and supporting business. the ex-im bank helps american-made products be shipped all around the world. i saw a company in my state, yakima, washington, the manhasset music stand company, who use the ex-im bank to make sure sales go all around the globe including chiefnlt i saw a grain cy silo manufacturer in spokane who also would testify to the fact that they have been able to sell their grain silos many, many countries around the globe because of the financing that the export-import bank guarantees. airline cockpit hardware made by
a company, este revmentline in every everett, washington, also testified to the same effect. you're looking around the globe to secure financing of u.s. products into more he will having countries, it is hard to get the financing to work. so the u.s. can be left at the starting line or the u.s. can use this vital tool that i call a tact particular for small business to get access to make sure that their products get a final sale. the export-import bank supports 83,000 jobs in my state alone, which benefits from the finance mechanic ninches and over the last five years it has supported many, many jobs throughout the united states. overall, it supports, as i said, 225,000 jobs and more than 3,000 businesses in 2012. and in this small business area, 2,500 of those are small businesses. so the notion that this is
somehow crony capitalism -- maybe he is talking about the shenanigans that happened on wall street, but he is slern i not talk about the sport importer bank. so i am a advocating that we keep the very positive results of this bank and keep mr. hochberg going and to make sure that we continue to sell our products from everett, washington, or auburn, kentucky, all over the globe. 95% of the world's consumers live outside our borders, so the question is, are we going to make sure that u.s. products get into the hands of the growing middle class around the globe? in 2030, china's middle class will be 1 billion people -- 1 billion middle-class people in china, up from 150 million today. and india's middle class will grow 80% from 50 million to 475 million. so we need our businesses large and small to have the tools to reach this new growing pool of
consumers. and not only does this help businesses, the ex-im bank also helps taxpayers. so i don't know where crony capitalism comes from, but i don't know a program where this program is a very good deal for the u.s. department of treasury. in fact, it returns nearly $1.6 billion to the u.s. treasury since 2005. so it actually is helping uses s return money to the treasury and it helps our businesses continue to grow in export markets. as we speak, there are almost $4 billion in transactions awaiting approval for the bank. that is, if we don't approve the chairman, these deals might not go through. those are lots of american businesses counting on that transaction so that they can compete in an international market. the international competitor is not going to wait until we approve mr. hochberg, if we delay this. they're going to go ahead and
cash in on the business deals and their competitors will win. i think the u.s. chamber of commerce said it best in a 2011 letter to congressional leaders: "the export-import bank allows u.s. companies large and small to turn 130er9 opportunities into real sales that help create real jobs in the united states of america." i was proud that mr. hochberg came to seattle last year for an opening of a regional ex-im office, to really focus on even more small businesses, to make sure that they can get the financing for end products to get to these markets. we should be moving more towards policies to help the businesses, the small businesses grow with confidence into these international markets. so i ask my colleagues to do the right thing and follow through and confirm this chairchlt since its creation in 1934, the ex-im bank was approved by unanimous consent or voice vote 24
tiessments 24 times. so, 24 times no one called this chrono knee capitalism. no, they were supporting it. and last time we authorized it, it had 78 votes. it ended up in the house of representatives with 330 votes. i'm pointing this out because all the delays in not supporting this or delaying mr. hochberg's nomination hurts businesses in the end. the majority of my colleagues do agree that this is a vital tool to help make sure that we boost products made in america. and in the last reauthorization, we did make improvements to strengthen the ex-im bank -- quarterly reports are delivered on the default rates which now can't go above 2%. the government accountability also is required to work with risk management structures to make sure that loans and businesses are not too risky. transactions above a certain dollar amount receive public comment and they deliver a
yearly report on those transactions. and i know my colleagues have mentioned this issue about aviation, and i can guarantee you, as the chair of the aviation committee, i want u.s. airline industries to be as competitive in international markets, and so certainly working together, the world community on financing of airplane sales are all work being together to make sure that those are based closer to market-based rates and working on the same page, so these financing schemes work together. so all of these improvements that we continue to make in the ex-im bank, i think, are important and, as i said, mr. hochberg has been open to many discussions of how we move ahead. but let's not deny the fact that in developing markets, a financial tool like the ex-im bank that actually delivers on helping job creation in the united states by getting the sales of many, many different u.s. products into these
developing countries and growing middle classes is a very good thing for the united states. and fangt the fact in a it -- and the enact it returns to the taxpayer is very, very pos tivment so let's not let this slip another moment. let's get mr. hochberg back to the task at harntiondz which is approving these transactions so u.s. companies can continue to grow jobs here by accessing new markets overseas. i thank the president, and i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. cornyn: madam president, i'd ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: madam president, this last monday night we had a remarkable occurrence here in the united states senate. democrats and republicans actually met together, as the presiding officer knows, in the old senate chamber, an historic location, where the senate used to meet before we got to be so big and expand to 100 members. what was so good about that from my perspective is we actually had some communication going on, and we learned that there were a lot of senators who were actually frustrated by the way that the united states senate has been operating, and it got -- gave us all an opportunity there in a confidential setting to speak our mind and i think share our frustrations.
but i think one of the things that we have forgotten -- and maybe not forgotten but need to be reminded of from time to time is what makes the united states senate unique. not just here in america in our form of government, but in the world. sometimes the senate is referred to as the world's greatest deliberative body, but as we all know, it's become less so in recent years. but we all remember the story of the constitutional convention in philadelphia when they were at loggerheads in trying to figure out how to create the legislative branch, and there were some that just wanted a single unicameral legislative body, and there were discussions then about whether there actually needed to be a senate in addition to the house of representatives that of course would be representative of the people literally based on their
numbers as opposed to representing their respective states, which is the function of the united states senate. so in the convention, there was a compromise proposed by the senator from connecticut, roger sherman, on behalf of the small states, and of course the small states were worried that the big states would gang up on them. ironically, under this compromise, now it's the small states that gang up on the big states, but that's another story for another day. so under this compromise, the connecticut compromise, the senate came to be represented by two senators each, no matter how big or how small the state. my state of 26 million people only gets two united states senators. the presiding officer's state, a smaller state, also gets two senators, and that's part of the connecticut compromise back when the country was founded. the constitution could not have been ratified without this
compromise. it initially failed but benjamin franklin later found a better time to reintroduce it and it passed, but here is the real function of the united states senate, and it really comes from a story between thomas jefferson and george washington. of course, washington had presided over the constitutional convention, and jefferson was in paris, and when he returned, he asked washington why he allowed the senate to be formed, because jefferson considered it unnecessary. one body based on proportional representation, jefferson thought, should be enough. washington then asked jefferson if he cools his tea by first pouring it in the saucer, which was the custom of the day. sure, responded jefferson. and so washington said so it is that the senate must cool tempers and prevent hasty
legislation by making sure that it is well thought out and fully debated. i mention that story and that little bit of history to remind us that the united states senate was created not to be like another house of representatives but for another purpose altogether. that's the other reason why the senate -- senators are elected for six-year terms from a whole state as opposed to just a congressional district that our colleagues across the capitol run every two years from a smaller area. of course, they are supposed to be much more closely tied to their constituents. we are supposedly given a little more flexibility to take the long view and not the short-term view in how we decide matters. so this is the reason why so many of us were concerned at the threats of the majority leader to invoke the so-called nuclear option. i know for most americans, this is not something that is the top
of their list to be concerned with, but from an institutional perspective and from a constitutional perspective, it's absolutely critical that the united states senate remain true to the designs of the founders of our country as framed in our united states constitution. and so as a rationale to so-called invoke the nuclear option and turn the senate into purely a majority vote institution, there were claims that this side of the aisle had been obstructing too many of president obama's nominations. but the facts tell a far different story. thus far, the president has nominated more than 1,560 people for various positions, and only four, four of them have been rejected by the senate. since 2009, this chamber has
confirmed 199 of president obama's article 3 judicial nominees and rejected two of them. 80 of those nominees were confirmed by voice vote, which is essentially a unanimous vote, and another 64 were confirmed by unanimous roll call votes. does that sound like a crisis? does that sound like obstructionism? well, i think not. what i would like to suggest is another problem that has created the senate -- that has created the senate in a way that makes it a nondeliberative body and dysfunctional. for example, during senator reid's ten years as majority leader, an unprecedented number of bills have come to the floor directly from the majority leader's office. now, any of us who remember our high school civics lessons, we know that ordinarily committees of the congress are supposed to
write legislation, and then once the committees vote that legislation out, that it then comes to the senate floor. of course, the obvious purpose is to give everyone an opportunity in the committees to vent their concerns, to offer amendments, debate them and then to mark up a bill before it comes to the senate floor, so we do a better job and deal with intended consequences and the like -- unintended consequences and the like. during the tenure of the current majority leader, an unprecedented number of bills have sprung to life out of the majority leader's office. many of my colleagues, including members of senator reid's own party, have been left wondering why it is that the committees actually even exist in a world where bills are simply rule 14 to the senate floor without the sort of deliberation and consideration that they should get in committees before they come here. when legislation arrives on the
floor now, senators are routinely denied an opportunity to offer amendments that they see fit, and they have debate on those amendments and votes on those amendments. just to give you some perspective -- and i know some people say this is -- the public, the american people are not really interested in the process, they are interested more in the policy, but this demonstrates why the process is so important to getting the right policies embraced. during the 109 c this side of the aisle when the republicans controlled this chamber, senate democrats offered more than a thousand separate amendments. 1,043 separate amendments to legislation. during the 112th congress, when our democratic colleagues were in charge, republicans were only allowed to offer 400 amendments.
1,043 to 400, a big difference. during the 109th congress, when republicans controlled this chamber, there were 428 recorded votes on senate amendments, 428. in the 112th congress, there were 224. a little more than half of the number. since becoming majority leader, senator reid has blocked amendments on bills on the floor no fewer than 70 times. now, we call this in the language of the senate procedure blocking, filling the amendment tree, but what it means effectively is the minority is shut out of the ability to shape legislation by offering amendments on the senate floor, and that's no small thing. again, i represent 26 million people in the state of texas. being a member of the minority, when the senator -- when senator
reid blocks any amendments that i can offer to a bill, effectively 26 million texans have been shut out of the process. and it's not just my state. it's every state represented by the minority. well, just as a comparison, the previous senate majority leader, senator bill frist of tennessee, a republican, he filled the amendment tree only 12 times in four years. so 70 times under senator reid, 12 times for senator frist. and before him, majority leader tom daschle, a democrat, filled the tree only once in a year and a half. once in a year and a half. when trent lott was the majority leader, a republican, he did it ten times in five years. george mitchell, a democrat majority leader, did it three times in six years, and majority leader robert c. byrd, who was
an institution to himself here in the senate, he did it three times in two years. and finally, senator bob dole of kansas, the majority leader, a republican, did it seven times in three and a half years. so my point is, not to bore people with statistics, but just to point out that the senate has changed dramatically under the tenure of the current majority leader in a way that members of the senate are blocked from offering amendments to legislation in the interests of their constituents. as majority leader, senator reid has denied those rights to the minority and the rights of the people we represent. when he refuses to let us offer amendments and debate those amendments, he refuse toss let us have a real debate, and he is effectively gagging millions of our constituents.
one more time, i'd like to remind senator reid what he promised six years ago. he said -- "as majority leader, i intend to run the senate with respect for the rules, and for the minority the rules protect. the senate was established to make sure minorities are protected. majorities, he said, can always protect themselves, but minorities cannot." that's what the senate is all about. i'd also like to remind our colleagues what president obama said when he was in the united states senate in april of 2005. he said if the majority chooses to end the filibuster, that they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse. so my point, madam president, is to say that the senate has been
transformed in recent years into an image, into an institution that the founders would hardly recognize, nor would previously serving senators who operated in an environment where every senator had an opportunity to offer amendments to legislation and to get a vote on those amendments, and where the minority's rights were protected by denying the majority a right to simply shut out the minority, deny them an opportunity to offer or debate important pieces of legislation, but that's what's happened under the current majority leader. and that's why i believe those meetings like we had in the old senate chamber last monday night are so important. but we have got to rely on the facts. the facts can be stubborn things, and i think our debate ought to be based on the facts and on a rational discussion of what the framers intended when
they created the united states senate and its unique role, not just here in america but in all legislative bodies of the world. madam president, i'd like to turn to another topic, and that is now that we've gotten past the nuclear option, at least for a time, i think it's important we return to important issues that actually affect the lives of the american people in very direct ways, and health care is one of them. during the fourth of july recess, the administration unilaterally delayed several provisions of the so-called affordable care act, otherwise sometimes known as obamacare, and what they did specifically is they delayed enactment of the employer mandate. it was an implicit acknowledgment by the administration that obamacare is actually stifling job creation and prompting many businesses to
turn from full-time employment to part-time. in fact, there are now 8.2 million americans working part-time jobs for economic reasons when they would like to work full time. no -- now, that number is up from 7.6 million to 8.2 million since just march. and a new stur have survey hasd 24574% of businesses are -- 74% of small businesses are going to reduce hours, or replace full-time employees with part-time employees in part in response to obamacare. the house of representatives, we know, has drafted a bill that would codify the employer mandate delay that the administration announced earlier this month. in other words, they want to uphold the rule of law and yet the president is now threatening to veto the very legislation that enacts the policy that he
himself announced, which is truly surreal. the house bill on the employer mandate would do exactly what the president has already announced that he would do unilaterally. there's no conceivable reason that i can think of for the administration to oppose this legislation unless, of course, president obama thinks he can pick and choose which laws to enforce for the sake of his own convenience. i'm afraid he does believe that and the evidence goes well beyond obam obamacare. yesterday afternoon i listed several examples of the administration's persistent contempt for the rule of law. i mentioned the government-run chrysler bankruptcy process in which the company's secured bondholders received far less for their loans than the united auto worker pension funds. i mentioned the subsequent solyndra bankruptcy in which the administration violated the law by making taxpayers subordinate
to private lenders. and i mentioned the president's unconstitutional appointments to the national labor relations board and the consumer financial protection bureau. and you don't have to take my word for it. that's the decision of the court of appeals. that case has now been taken up by the united states supreme court. to define what the president's powers are to make so-called recess appointments. but one of the things that's absolutely clear is that the president, the executive branch can't dictate to the senate when we're in recess and, thus, empowering the president to make those appointments without the advice and consent function contained in the constitution. otherwise, the executive branch will have no checks and no balances on its power and there will be no power on the part of the senate to do the appropriate oversight and to confirm the president's nominees. butted that to his -- but in addition to his recess appointments, i mentioned
yesterday his decision yesterday to unilaterally waive key requirements in both the 1996 welfare reform law and the 2002 no child left behind act. and then i also mentioned his refusal to enforce certain immigration laws. what the house of representatives is trying to do with its employer mandate bill is to make sure that the same rules apply to everyone and that the executive branch and the white house in particular don't just pick winners and losers when it comes to the affordable care act, or obamacare. if this president or any president is allowed to selectively enforce the law based on political expediency, our democracy and adherence to the rule of law will be severely weakened. the principle at stake is far more important than the particular legislation we're talking about. it's about the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and the legislative branches of government.
by assuming to be able to unilaterally suspend laws that prove inconvenient, the president is showing disdain for those checks and balances on executive authority as well as his oath where he pledges to faithfully execute the laws of the united states. those of us who support repealing obamacare in its entirety and in replacing it with real health care reforms that reduce costs and expand patient choice and expand access to quality care while protecting americans with preexisting conditions and saving programs like medicare and medicare, we believe that obamacare ought to be repealed in its entirety and replaced with commonsense reforms that would actually bring down the costs, increase the quality, and preserve the patient-doctor relationship when it comes to making health care choices. so our preference would be to
repeal the entire law. but we would like to work with the president and our friends across the aisle now that it appears, according to the administration's own actions, that they actually believe obamacare is not turning out as it was originally intended in 2010. indeed, one of the principal architects in the united states senate, the chairman of the senate finance committee, senator max baucus of montana, has told secretary kathleen sebelius of health and human services that the implementation of obamacare is turning out to be a train wreck. and, indeed, it is. well, unfortunately the president is still refusing to acknowledge the growing evidence that obamacare cannot perform as was originally promised. we know the promises that if you like the health care coverage that you have, you can keep it that the president so famously
made -- that's not true. seven million americans have lost their health care coverage as obamacare is being implemented, and many more as employers are incentivized to drop their employer-provided coverage, leaving american families to find their health insurance elsewhere. and we know that the promise that the president made that the average cost of health care insurance for a family of four would go down by $2,400. we know it's gone up by $2,400 since then. so, unfortunately, it appears that the wheels are coming off of obamacare and the people who will suffer the most are hardworking american families who we are pledged to protect and help. and what we ought to be doing rather than denying the obvious is to be working together to try to enact commonsense reforms. it is not an answer for the president to discard the
politically inconvenient portions of obamacare and kick off implementation until after the next election. to me that's one of the most amazing things about the way obamacare has been implemented. it passed in 2010 but very little of it actually kicked in before the presidential election of 2012. so there's no real political accountability, no real opportunity for the voters to voice their objection once it had been implemented, if it had been implemented on a timely basis. and now, because it's proven to be politically inconvenient, the president's proposed to kick off implementation of the employer mandate until after the 2014 midterm congressional elections. that's no way to have accountability for the decisions we make here. that's the opposite. so we are simply urging the
president to support the rule of law and to make sure that the same rules apply to everyone. apply to members of congress and apply to every of one in the -- in this great country of ours. but when the administration chooses to selectively enforce or not enforce provisions of the law or issues waivers for the favored few and the rest of us end up with the harsh reality of this law that's not working out as originally intended, it undermines the rule of law and the public's confidence that every -- the same rules will apply to everyone. and that shouldn't be too much to ask. madam president, i yield the floor and i'd suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. rubio: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas -- or florida. mr. rubio: thank you, madam president. i do like texas but i'm from
florida. i wanted to come -- the presiding officer: the senator would note we're in a quorum call. mr. rubio: madam president, i ask that the -- unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: thank you, madam president. so i come to the floor today, i know there's been a lot of news over the last 24 hours about the nuclear option and how that's been averted here in the senate and how good news that is for the institution. and, by the way, i do value the senate and i do value the ability of individual senators and particularly of the minority, of which i hope i won't be a part of forever, but of the minority to -- to speak and to be heard. and it's one of the things that makes this institution unique. but i think we have to answer a fundamental question about why is it that we have these rules in place, and, in particular, why is it that we have these rules in place when we're dealing with nominees, people that are nominated to the cabinet or some other executive position? and it's because the constitution gives the senate the power to advise and consent, to basically review these nominees and find out information about them and then
decide whether or not they should be confirmed or not. and there are two different standards with regards to that. the first standard is whether the nominee should be able to go forward on its hearing and that requires a supermajority vote, the 60 votes, to continue debate or, quite frankly, it's kind of arcane, i don't want to do a tutorial on the senate, but let me just say that if you can't get those 60 votes, then you have to continue to debate that nominee. and that's an important tool not to obstruct, it should be used usually, but it's a tool that you use to make sure that this process is being respected, that people are answering critical questions and valid questions. and it's an important tool to use. it used kneads to be used judiciously, it needs to not be used on everybody. and quite frankly, the minority has not done it on everybody nor have i. i have been very careful in its use and tried to ensure that when we do use and when i do use it, that i use it for reasons that are valid. and so it's with that in mind that i'm very concerned about a nominee that will be before this body as early as today on a vote on a 60-vote threshold, on a debate about whether to cut off
debate on this individual and proceed to final confirmation and that's this nominee for the labor department, secretary, to head the labor department, a significant agency of our government. that, quite frankly, has a direct impact on the ability of businesses to grow and hire people and -- and so forth. this is an important nomination. and one that i think deserves careful scrutiny. now, let me be frank and upfront. i have significant objections to this nomination on the basis of public policy and i have stated that in the past. i believe this individual, thomas perez, who's currently an assistant attorney general, is a liberal activist who has used his position not just in the department of justice but in other roles that he has played to advance a liberal agenda. quite frankly, that's out of touch with a majority of americans and that i believe would be bad for our economy. hence, the reason why i don't think it's a good idea for him to head the labor department. but the president has a right to his nominees and so that's a reason to vote against his nomination.
that in and of itself may not always be a reason to block a nomination from moving forward. where i do think there is a valid reason to block someone's nomination from moving forward is when that individual has refused to cooperate with the process that is in place to review their nomination. when you are nominated to serve on the cabinet or in the executive branch, you get asked questions about things you've done in the past, about things you've said in the past and you are expected to answer those fully and truthfully. so that the members of this body can make a decision about your nomination based on the facts. and i don't know of anyone here that would dispute that, including people in the majority. irrespective of how you feel about the nominee, every single senator here, and, through us, the american people, have a right to fully know who it is we are confirming, whether it's to the bench or to the cabinet or to some other executive position. and that's a right that i think is critically important. and when a nominee refuses to cooperate with that process, that, i believe, is a valid reason to stand in the way of
their nomination and to block it from moving forward until those questions are fully and truthfully answered. that i do believe is a reason not to vote for the addition wha -- what theycall around her. and i think that's a case in point when it comes to this labor nominee, mr. perez. and i want to take a few moments to argue to my colleagues why it is a bad idea for both democrats and republicans to allow this nomination to move forward until this nominee answers the questions that he's been asked by the congressmen congress. let me give the background. there was a case filed by the city of st. paul in minnesota and this case had to do with a legal theory called disparate impact. and it basically means -- and i don't want to -- it's not really on point per se but it's -- but it basically that says you look at how some policy is impacting people and even if there wasn't the intent to discriminate against people, if the practical impact of it was that it was
discriminating against people -- let's say a bank was giving out loans and although the loan officer wasn't looking to deny minorities that loan, as it turned out, the way they had structured the program meant that less minorities were getting those loans than -- than they should be on a percentage basis -- that under this theory, you would be allowed to go after these banks. or go after whatever institution did that. that's this theory that's out there in law. the city of st. paul had a challenge to that in court that chose to define exactly what that meant, and it got all the way to the supreme court. it was on the supreme court's docket. at the same time, the justice department was being asked to intervene in a whistle-blower case regarding housing and urban development. and, again, it would take too long to describe exactly why that's important but the bottom line is that case against the city of st. paul, the separate case, the whistle-blower case, because of the way the law is written, they couldn't move forward on that case unless the department of justice intervened. and that's why the nominee,
mr. perez, stepped in. and he -- he's an enormous fan of the disparate impact theory. in fact, he had used it to go after banks, of all things, in his time at the department of justice. and, by the way, at some point neuter, i will come to the floor and detail why i object to his nomination, why i object to his appointment and to his confirmation. but today i'm just make the argument why it's a bad idea to move forward on this nomination until certain questions are answered. this is where mr. perez steps in and what he basically did is he basically went to the city of st. paul and said look, if you drop your supreme court case, if you drop your supreme court case, we will not intervene in the whistle-blower case. it's what is known in latin as a quid pro quo. you do this for me, i'll do that for you. city of st. paul, drop your supreme court case and i will not intervene on behalf of the department of justice. he argues reasons why he did that were based on -- he told