tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN December 18, 2013 3:00pm-5:01pm EST
agenda for health care in america because we know that the inflation associated with health care costs is unsustainable, that there are millions of americans who are -- do not have health care, and there is particular problem for those with preexisting conditions. so we need to repeal this horrendous mistake -- which, by the way, was done on strictly party-line votes. the first entitlement program ever enacted that was done without a single bipartisan vote on it, and as many of us predicted back in 2009 when this legislation was passed, it was doomed to failure. and time after time, amendment after amendment, as we attempted for i believe it was 25 days of floor consideration back in 2009, was voted down on
a party-line basis. and now, my friends, they sowed the wind and are now reaping the whirlwind. so we need to repeal the affordable care act and we need to replace it. because health care in america is still not satisfactory, nor have we fulfilled the needs and our obligations that we have to all of our citizens. the problems with the affordable care act are well known. a failed web site rollout that has hindered enrollment and the purchase of mandated coverage. as of december 17 only an estimated 440,000 -- 835 people have ben enrolled for a health plan. that's 6.2% of the enrollment goal of seven million by march 31, 2014. there's a destruct jiff tax on medical devices that encourages
these businesses to move offshore. we have already seen medical device manufacturers leaving the united states of america, as they said they would if they were taxed to the point where they could not be competitive with medical devices that were manufactured in foreign countries. the disappointment for americans who are happy with their current coverage to keep their coverage, it's estimated that ten million americans will have their health plans terminated due to obamacare. according to a december 17 "washington post" abc poll, only 19% of americans believe obamacare is improving the country's health care system. only 8% believe obamacare is improving their insurance coverage. only 5% of americans believe their health care costs are decreasing as a result of obamacare. and 47% of americans believe the president's health care law is
increasing the cost of their health care. it's clear that obamacare is not working for the american people and they have little faith in the administration's effort to fix our broken health care system. this legislation that i'm introducing today makes the purchase of health care financially feasible for all americans. from deductions, to advancable, refundable credits so that everyone has an economic incentive to purchase coverage they want for themselves and their families, not what the government forces them to buy. in addition it allows greater choices in portability so every health policy is owned by the patient regardless of who pays. this means the coverage would go with the person if they change or lose their job, it gives employers more flexibility in the benefits offered and provides many more coverage options for people with preexisting conditions so that no one is priced out of the
market regardless of health status. it addresses increasing costs by clamping down on abusive lawsuits, ends the practice of defensive medicine, gains significant savings from health care efficiencies, sifting out waste, fraud, and abuse and bringing our nation's budget under control. finally, it establishes doctor-led quality measures ensuring that patients receive quality care defined by people that know medicine, not by government. it encourages healthier lifestyles by giving employers and health policies more flexibility to offer discounts for healthy habits, wellness and prevention programs. if enacted, this legislation would save trillions of dollars. douglas holtz acre --, holtz akin, one of the most credible people in this town, estimates this legislation would save
american taxpayers $2.37 trillion in its first decade alone. according to the analysis of mr. holtz akin, compared to current law this would produce smaller premium increases on average, yielding lower premiums than current law, nearly 19% for single policies and up to 15% for family policies, increase patient access to physicians, produce a 10% increase in medical productivity, and increase the number of insured individuals by 29%. americans are looking for an alternative to obamacare. this legislation is a step in the right direction and provide americans an alternative that empowers patients, families, and doctors to make medical decisions, not in washington, d.c. mr. president, i find of
interest in a "wall street journal," there's an opinion piece, obamacare's care troubles are only beginning, by michael boskin, a very well-respected economist, and says be prepared for eligibility, payment and information protection debacles and longer waits for care. he says -- and i quote -- "in part the shocks will get much worse next year and beyond, here's why. the sticker shock that many buyers of new a.c.a.-compliant health plans have experienced with premiums 30% misch or more than their previous coverage has only begun. the cost borne by individuals will be even more obvious next year as more people start having to pay higher deductibles and co-pays. if as many predict too few healthy young people sign up for insurance that is overpriced in order to subsidized older,
sicker people, the insurance market will unravel in a death spiral of ever-higher premiums and fewer sign-ups. the government through taxpayer-funded risk corridors is on the hook for billions of dollars of potential insurance company losses. this will be about as politically popular as bank bailouts. finally, the i can't keep my doctor shock will also hit more and more people in coming months to keep prices to consumers as low as possible, given cost pressures generated by the government's rules, controls and coverage mandates, insurance companies in many cases are offering plans that have revery restrictive networks with lower cost providers -- providers that exclude some of the best physicians and hospitals. finally, an article entitled "second wave of health plan cancellation looms." it goes on to say an analysis by
the american enterprise institute, a conservative think tank, shows the administration anticipates half to two-thirds of small businesses would have policies canceled or be compelled to send workers into the obamacare exchanges. they predict up to a hundred million small and large business policies could be canceled next year. mr. president, i ask both these articles be included in the record at this time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: so my friends, it is time for us to begin to consider alternatives. and recognize that this legislation needs to be repaired and replaced. i thank my colleagues and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. udall: i want to rise today and associate myself with the remarks of my colleague, the senator from shaheen that she
delivered earlier today. she's a fierce supporter of our men and women in uniform, both while they serve our nation and when they retire or leave the military. and i'm an original cosponsor of her military retirement restoration act and i'm also supportive of passing a bipartisan budget deal that prevents our government from shutting down and prevents our defense budget from being slashed. mr. president, the american people have made it very clear, crystal clear, in fact, that they're tired of gridlock here in washington. they're tired of the bipartisan bickering, they're tired of the fact that that's led us to sequestration and the kind of crisis budgeting that's prevented us from getting our fiscal house in order. like i think every one of us i don't support every provision in the bipartisan budget agreement. but i want to give great credit to senator murray and congressman ryan for their willingness to sit down together, negotiate in good faith and come up with a deal
that moves our country forward. let me make it clear that the budget compromise is not perfect but it's far better than the alternative, and let's be clear what the alternative is, a $20 billion sequester cut to the department of defense on january 15 and a much higher likelihood of another government shutdown. our countrifully simply can't afford more ideological stand-offs that lead nowhere, and our men and women in uniform and our national security can afford to see those catastrophic cuts. now, like many of my colleagues, i believe we should find an alternative to the decreaseness the cost of living adjustments for working age military retirees and that's, again, why i'm proud to cosponsor senator shaheen's legislation which would do just that. and i'm also committed to working with chairman levin and my colleagues on the senate
armed services committee to find additional ways to protect the retirement that our retirees and their families have earned. now, these proposed changes don't go into effect, mr. president, until 2015, and that gives us some room and some time to get together to work on addressing these areas where this bipartisan budget agreement falls short. this is an important agreement. it's important to the defense department, it's important to many other programs like head start and meals on wheels that affect coloradans every day. it will mean more resources for housing and economic development programs, for roads, small airports, for first responders and those who fight wildfires. the list goes on and on. and this agreement provides predictability for the individuals, organizations, cities stis and businesses in colorado who need to know what to expect from the government and it -- from the federal
government. it does this while providing a net reduction in the deficit, something we all know must be achieved more often. for all those reasons i support the bipartisan budget package and urge my colleagues to join me in continuing to find ways to keep faith with our military retirees and their families. mr. president, if you think about what we're doing with the bipartisan budget agreement, we're creating more certainty for our economy and i wanted to take a few additional minutes to talk about a driving force in our economy that's creating good-paying american jobs and that's our manufacturing sector. manufacturing sector right now supports about 17 million jobs in the united states. those jobs are the backbone of a strong, thriechg middle class and they -- thriving middle class and they prove it's possible to make it in america and in colorado our manufacturers literally have the wind at their backs and i say that because our wind energy
industry is not only a critical part of colorado's manufacturing sector but it's also an essential component of our made in america strategy for energy independence. and that's why i'm proud to have successfully fought to ensure the manufacturers who power our wind are energy industry have the policies they need to create jobs and thrive. these policies support american workers and they ensure we're giving a leg up to all sources of american grown energy. i've been proud to lead these efforts here in the congress including when i delivered 27 speeches on the senate floor last year that culminated in the extension of the production tax credit for wind. mr. president, wind energy which is enabled by the wind p.t.c. supports thousands of manufacturing jobs across this country. and that's because building a wind durbin takes a -- turbine takes a heck of a lot of work,
these are good-paying, middle-class jobs that helps grow the economy from the middle out and these are jobs that are not only not being offshored, they can't be offshored. they're staying here in colorado and across our great nation. to prove that point look at this map of wind manufacturing facilities across the united states. there are more than 550 manufacturing facilities in every region of the country spread across 44 states involved in the wind industry. i'm making sure the presiding officer's state is represented and i think it is, the great state of delaware. here's some of the concerns all across our country. you've got z.f. wind box gear manufacturing in georgia. you've got t.p.i. composites as a turbine plant in rhode island. the molded fiberglas blade plant in texas and i've got a return to colorado, we have vestus in
my home state, a tower facility among others, and this all adds up to a wind industry that supports thousands of good-paying american jobs. and as this job-creating industry has taken off it couldn't have come at a better time for our manufacturing base, which after a lot of tough years in the wake of the recession is ready for a resurgence in a big, big way. a lot of other companies and sectors are outsourcing american jobs. as that is happening the wind industry is cutting against the grain creating good manufacturing jobs right here in the united states. in fact, more than 50 new facilities, manufacturing facilities entered the wind energy market in the last two years alone. that's an impressive statistic. it's an accomplishment that we all should be proud of. the success, mr. president, of the wind industry is having positive ripple effects on other
areas of american manufacturing. and that's because the industry is not only growing, but it is doing so while also increasing its use of american-made components. and this chart makes that point very, very clearly. in 2007, 25% of all wind turbines included american-made parts. and in 2012, as you can see, that number increased to more than 70%. and it's one of the main reasons for the dramatic increase in manufacturing facilities across our country. that support this wind energy industry. this isn't just about the manifestations of the wind energy world that we think about in blades and towers. it's about gears and nuts and bolts and all the other made-in-america components now helping to power our renewable energy future. but, mr. president, there's some worrying storm clouds on the
horizon because despite all of this progress, despite all the american jobs supported by this innovative industry, we are truly at a crossroads for wind energy. the p.t.c. which i have championed has helped keep our american manufacturing sector strong but it is once again going to expire in about 20 days. previously i joined many colleagues on the other side of the aisle including chuck grassley, the father of the p.t.c., to include this tax credit. with the clock ticking we need to step up and give this industry the surge it needs towards creating jobs and creating towards energy independence. in pursuit of the balanced approach to energy security we've supported energy production across the board. i see my good friend from
oklahoma, senator coburn is here. we need an all-of-the-above approach. if we let the wind p.t.c. expire we'll put one of the cleanest sources of american made energy at a disadvantage. that's because even if the production tax credit for wend expires, tax credits will continue for traditional sources of energy like oil and gas. but we've got a choice to make. will we act to preserve american manufacturing jobs and support domestically produced clean energy or will we choose to do nothing and let other countries claim our manufacturing jobs and the leadership of the new energy economy? these aren't trivial questions. allowing the wind p.t.c. to expire will cost thousands of american jobs and billions of dollars in investment. and all you have to do is look at what's happened to wind capacity installation over the past 15 years when the p.t.c. has expired.
every time it expires or comes close to expiring, wind installation stalls and american jobs are lost. weaned see that pattern -- and we see that pattern, mr. president, as the year 2000 opened and 2002, 2004 and now potentially again in 2013. in my home state, you can't talk about manufacturing without talking about the wind industry. wind manufacturing employs about 1,500 people in colorado today and supports about 5,000 jobs statewide? as i alluded to earlier, we're home to several manufacturing facilities including a tower facilities, two blade plants and a cell factory. they are all operated by the great vestus company. last year due to the lack of certainty about the p.t.c., no new orders were placed for wind turbines and vestus was forced to let go over 600 employees.
that hurt cities like pueblo and brighton whose local economies benefited from the wind manufacturing jobs that the wind p.t.c. supports. after my effort and effort of others to extend the p.t.c. last year orders again started flowing and vestus again started hiring workers to meet demand. that is good news for colorado. these are jobs with good benefits. what concerns me and i know it concerns vestus is that these jobs can banish if we here don't act. that's what this is all about, mr. president. these jobs can vanish if we don't act. so i'm back here. i'm renewing my call from last year. we should act now to extend the wind production tax credit or we risk losing this industry and the manufacturing jobs that it creates to our competitors. who are those competitors? they are in china, they are in europe and they're elsewhere all over the globe. that's the last thing our
economy needs. the men and women employed in manufacturing facilities across the country are calling on us again in congress to act. let's heed their call. let's act now. the p.t.c. equals jobs. let's pass it as soon as possible. let's save these american jobs by extending the production tax credit. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: mr. president, as chairman of the committee on veteran affairs, i rise today to urge senate passage of s. 944, the veterans health and benefits improvement act of 2013. this bipartisan legislation is the result of months of hard work by my colleagues from both sides of the aisle. this legislation was passed out of committee by voice vote. there were no objections that took place on july 24, and this legislation is paid for.
this legislation is paid for. furthermore, this legislation is supported by nearly every major veteran and military service organization in our country, including the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america, the military officers association of america, the american legion, the vietnam veterans of america, the association of the united states navy, the reserve offices association, the jewish war veterans, the enlisted association of the national guard of the united states, the national association, the uniformed services, amvets, gold star wives, the national congress of american indians. it would in fact, i think, be a very good statement about what we are trying to do as a nation if the senate could pass this comprehensive veterans bill before we adjourn so we can get about the business of working
with our house colleagues to get important veterans legislation passed by both bodies, signed into law. mr. president, let me very briefly highlight some of the key provisions of this very important piece of legislation. again, legislation that is bipartisan, came out of the committee unanimously and has the support of virtually every veterans organization. ranking member burr and i have worked together on a provision that would help service members transition back into civilian life by making recently separated veterans eligible for tuition at the in-state ranks. this has been a very contentious issue. but what we do is make recently separated veterans eligible for tuition at the in-state rate, something that many of the veterans organizations and people all over this country have wanted. begin the nature of our own forces, service members have
little to say as to where they serve and where they reside during military service. this legislation would help our brave men and women who have sacrificed so much in defense of our country transition by giving them a fair shot at attaining their educational goals without incurring an additional financial burden simply because they chose to serve their country. it's an issue i know discussed in the house a great deal, discussed here a great deal. we have reached resolution on this important issue. further, mr. president, while the pentagon congress and other stakeholders continue to work to end sexual assault within the ranks -- this is an enormously important issue -- i want to do everything within my power as chairman of the v.a. to ensure that v.a. is a warm and welcoming place for those survivors of military assault. that is why this legislation contains important provisions that would improve the delivery
of care and benefits to veterans who experience sexual trauma while serving in the military which was inspired by ruth moore who struggled for 23 years to receive v.a. disability compensation. it would expand access to v.a. counseling and care to members of the guard and reserves who experienced sexual assault during an inactive duty training. it also takes a number of steps to improve the adjudication of claims based on military sexual trauma. this legislation would give v.a. additional tools to do all that it can to provide victims of sexual trauma with the care and benefits they need to confront the emotional and physical consequences of these horrific acts. maintaining v.a.'s world-class health care system remains a priority for this committee and this legislation does just that. i am pleased that we were able to respond to calls from
veterans to increase access to complimentary and alternative medicine for the treatment of chronic pain, mental health conditions and chronic disease. by expanding the availability of these treatment options, we can enhance the likelihood veterans get the treatment they need in ways that work for them. additionally, this legislation calls for v.a. to promote healthy weight in veterans by increasing their access to fitness facilities as a healthy weight is critical to combatting multiple chronic diseases including diabetes and heart disease. by managing veterans' obesity, we can both improve their overall health and reduce the costs to the health care system. mr. president, remember this body knows all too well the challenges of the claims' backlog. i am pleased to see v.a. making progress on this complex issue but much more remains to be done.
this legislation supports v.a.'s ongoing efforts and would make needed improvements to the claims system. among a number of claims-related provisions, this bill for the first time would require the department of veterans affairs to publicly report on both claims processing goals and actual production. this would allow congress and the public to closely track and measure v.a.'s progress on this difficult issue. mr. president, this bill also addresses a number of concerns presented to the veterans' affairs committee by the gold star wives earlier this year. by improving the benefits and services provided to surviving spouses. the veterans health and benefits improvement act would provide additional dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses with children in order to provide financial support in the difficult period following the loss of a loved one. this bill also expands the marine gunnery sergeant john
david frye scholarship to include surviving spouses of members of the armed forces who die in the line of duty. mr. president, as you can see, the veterans health and benefits improvement act contains provisions that will improve the lives of our nation's service members, veterans, and their survivors. i am proud of the bipartisan manner in which the veterans' affairs committee has conducted its business to produce this important legislation. our veterans deserve far more help from the united states congress than they have received, and i ask, mr. president, unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of calendar number 258, s. 944, the committee-reported substitute amendment be agreed to, the bill as amended be read a third time and passed, the committee-reported title amendment be agreed to, and the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening
action or debate. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. coburn: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. sanders: well, i'm disappointed that there is objection to a bill that came out of the committee without objection, that was done in a bipartisan manner, that is paid for and that has the support of virtually every veterans' committee. i would hope, mr. president, if there is objection to unanimous consent, that there would not be objection to a roll call vote on this bill. mr. coburn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: there will be an objection to a roll call vote because if opportunity to amend this bill has not been made available to members of the senate. i have two specific concerns with the bill. i'm writing my whole letter right now on this bill. and until they're addressed, i'm going to hold this bill until i have an opportunity to amend the bill.
i yield the floor. mr. sanders: well, i understand the senator's objection. i am disappointed. it takes forever to get anything done in this body, and you have a situation now where we have -- that has developed in the committee where there has been bipartisan support, kind of the way it is supposed to be done. yet because of that objection we are going to be unable to move forward in a way that i think most of the members want. thank you very p, mr. president. -- thank you very much, mr. president.
mr. graham: mr. president, i would -- let me just inform what you i am trying to do. we were told, myself, senator ayotte and senator wicker had some time at 4:00 -- the presiding officer: the senator reminded. mr. graham: i would ask unanimous consent that we get out of the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. graham: we were told to come down here. we had a 4:00 time. glad to be able to discuss things earlier. so what i would like to talk about with the chair's permission is to talk about the military retiree provisions. the presiding officer: the senator may proceed. mr. graham: thank you. number wurntion i want tnumber r budget chairwoman, you had a
really good discussion were senator chambliss and isakson about trying to figure a way to fix this provision. i'm very disappointed that we can't have an amendment to fix it or amendments to do other things. but we are where we are. so the bottom line, this has been a healthy exercise because all of us are now looking at a provision. this is a bipartisan product, so it is not about blaming democrats or republicans. it's a good exercise. how could a bill -- and, one, this bill, as we all know, doesn't fund the government. we if wif we pass the budget, it doesn't keep the government open. it sets limits on spendingment we're increasing the amount we can spend on defense and non-defense, setting some sequestration aside. that's a great thing. i think that's going to be good. how we pay for it is the problem. and the question is how did this happen? you know, the chairman of the
senate budget committee and the chairman in the house are great folks. the military retiree provision is a pay-for that has got everybody a bit wondering. and upon a second evaluation it is probably certainly not the right thing to do. in may 2014 there will be a commission that was set up by the congress to tell us how best to reform military pay and benefits, because they're unsustainable, quite frankly, in the future. but we put in that commission report a requirement that any reform could not affect those who are in the service now. they're grandfathered. and i think the reason the congress did that was we don't want to break faith with those who signed up you for deal "a." they're doing their part of the deal. they're serving. the congress is looking for a way for making these programs
more sustainable by applying it in the future, which i think we should do. about the employee -- civilian employee contribution to their retirement program, that's prospective. the one thing i was disappointed in is the money doesn't go into their retirement plan. senator, what you have been doing with every gang of six, eight, ten, 12, 14 -- i know entitlement programs are the source ar of the problem. i know programs like tricare, we have to look at. that's not a problemment but we're i--that's not a problem. but we're in a hurry to pass a budget that generally i support it -- it ge gets us into a situation of sequestration relief. how could we have pick add pay-for that this to me is just unacceptable. the military retiree community up to the age of 62 will have
their cola reduced by 1%. that doesn't sound like a lot, but the compounding effect goes like this. if you have a master sergeant who retires after 20 years of service at, say, 42, by the time you go et to 62 get to 62, thist you $72,000. nobody has ever suggested that it should be applied to people who are almost at retirement or in retirement when it comes to how you would reform benefits. and my good friend, senator mccain -- and he has earned every penny he's ever gotten in retirement and then some -- mentioned the intoal the simpsos commission. when you're $17 trillion in debt, you have got to do things you would otherwise not like.
but simpson-bowles did not, as my good friend, senator mccain suggests, adopt eliminating colas before 62 as part of their solution. they wanted to find $70 billion over ten years for federal workforce entitlement reform. they created a commission, said a federal workforce entitlement commission to eevaluate civil service, military health and retirement programs. they did not say we're going to eliminate colas entirely for the military and civilian workers. they said we need a commission to look at how to find $70 billion over the next ten years. the examples they gave of what you might look at is use the highest five years of earnings to calculate civil service pension benefits for new retirees, defer cost-of-living adjustment is the second one,
adjust the ratio of employer-employee contribution s to federal employee pension plans to equalize pensions. that saves $4 billion. they wanted a commission. guess what? so did the congress. this came out in 2010. in 2014, the congress said, let's form a commission to look at this. the commission hasn't reported back to us and we did put a prohibition on the commission's work product. you can -- you have to grandfather existing service members. you can't retroactively apply any reforms. so simpson-bowles does not say we're is going to eliminate all colas many they said, form a commission. and that was one example of what to look at. the congress did form a commission. the commission is not back yet. but the congress told the commission, grandfather people who are in the current system. but we forgot to tell ourselves that, because this pay-for is retroactive in flair an nature d
applies to all past, present, and future. the people who drafted this assumed that disability retirees would not be included. they are. and the $600 million of the d.3 billion that this generates in revenue to help pay for the deal, $600 million comes from the disability retired community and that's not the right thing to do. someone senior senator lost -- t their legs in afghanistan, iraq, they get benefits outside of disability retirement. they have earned those benefits but to reduce their coa cola, wh would have tens of thousands of dollars lost in benefits, nobody wants to do that. they thought they weren't included. they are. i am a military lawyer. so i am not a frontline military person by any means. i tried to be the best military
lawyer i could be. i loved the cull tiewrks the environment, tried -- i loved the culture, the environment, tried to be part of the team. the pilots who go fly and face danger, you know, they are the herheroes. to them go the glory. but the bottom line is, i don't think it's fair for us to consider, you know, if you're in the m wrap that didn' mrap thaty the tour, you made it through just's a as ib else. they get things that the average military retiree doesn't because the needs are greater. all i'm doing is begging the body, late don't pass a budget deal with a pay-for that really violates our own commission requirements, that in hind signature is not the message you want -- that in hind sight is not the message you want to send. let's see if we can fix this thing. let's see if we can fix it
before it gets into law. because once you get something into law, we all know how hard it is to take it out. ms. ayotte: will the senator yield for a question? mr. graham: i would, but i want to sthait senator from mississippi first asked a question to our conference. can you tell bhee -- and all of us on the republican side looked at him, me included -- me included; i didn't have a clue how to answer that. when i found out it was $71,000, almost $2,000 for e-7 from 420 to 62, i em fell ou about fell y chair. as to the senator from new hampshire, she was the first one to really take this torch up and run with it and i have been trying to help where i can. i will yield for any question. ms. ayotte: i want to thank the senator from south carolina for his leadership on this important issue. i wanted to ask you this:
some have come to this floor and said, pass this budget agreement and we'll fix this later. do you think that's a good way to solve this? mr. graham: well, good question. the best way is to never -- fix it before it passes and we've got until january 15. nobody wants to shuttle the government down -- nobody wants to shut the government down. the budget deal is just about numbers. we've got to actually appropriate. but i think we could. i mean, there are so many different ways. i've thrown how the the idea of eliminating subsidies for people who make over $250,000 for their part-d premiums. there's $54 billion over ten. i'm not asking my democratic colleagues to go to food stamps and safety nets. i'm not asking you to do that. i'm certainly not going to ask a republican to raise taxes. there's better ways to do it. so i couldn't agree with the senator from new hampshire more.
with a little bit of effort here in the next few hours or days, we could fix this in total. ms. ayotte: and of all the people that deserve our effort, don't you think we could stay here as long as wee we needed be the holidays, a little bit of inconvenience for us, to fix this? because one thing i see from this is we're saying to our military retirees, don't worry, trust the politicians in washington to fix something that they voted for. i mean, here we are -- we know the problem is here now. people yet haven't had a final vote on this. and the yet they're still sayine know the problem is there. we're going to vote for it anyway. i don't understand this. if you're someone who is serving our country, what kind of message does 245 -- does that send. mr. graham: well, in all honesty, the provision doesn't take effect for a year or two.
but i think what you're saying so important. why leave any doubt in people's mind? they've got enough to worry about already. life is hard for all of us. you know, for some people, life is just incrediblely hard. i've lived a fortunate life. but a military retiree who's not disabled, it matters to them. so we shouldn't create stress where none is needed. you know, they've been stressed out enough i think. lasthe last 10 years have been d as hell for them. multiple deployments. senator warner, all of us would go overseas. you see the same people. i would do small reserve tours for just a few days in iraq and afghanistan. i'm seeing the same people in afghanistan i saw in iraq, in my career field in the j.a.g. corps working on detention matters. i don't think they really understand how hard this has been on 1% of the american people. so wouldn't it be nice if they didn't have to worry about this and we could get this issue behind us? because here's the truth of the
matter. it may come as a shock to the body but we're not in very good standing right now and that's a bipartisan problem. and here's the concern, is main things that have been fixed that are wrong -- not a whole lot. it's hard to fix things. and the unraveling effect is what people worry about. if you fix the military retiree, what about the civilians? and i'm willing to look at that. but the bottom line is they've fought hard, they've fought long, they've earned what they've got. we shouldn't retroactively diminish their retirement. they've worried enough. let's don't give them anything to worry about for the holidays. let's take this one off the table. ms. ayotte: i couldn't agree with the senator from south carolina more on this issue because, you know, i heard th the -- the chairman of the budget committee say that the fact that disabled veterans are included in this, those who have had a medical retirement -- we've talked about them, we've been to walter reed, we've seen those who have sacrificed so much for our country and are
getting a cut to their cost-of-living increase under this, their retirement -- and that this was somehow a technical glitch or something. well, if it's a technical glitch that we know is there, why are we going home until it's fixed? i don't understand it. and even putting one shred of doubt in their minds that we stand with them and that we know this problem exists in this bill and that it can be fixed. mr. graham: well, just to respond, i think this is what happens when you're trying get something done late in the year. all of us -- you know, we're all adults here. we've had months to deal with these issues. and i sort of hate the fact that you're dealing with important things like the defense authorization bill a day or two before everybody wants to go home for christmas. you know, eventually that leads to $17 trillion in debt. how do you get to $17 trillion in debt? it takes bipartisanship. no one party can get influence. and this is the way you've run the -- run the place.
what happens when you fill up the tree? you can't fix things. and here's what's wrong with that. you can't fix the things that politically are bad for you and expect the rest of us to go away quietly because we have something that we want to do. so this filling up the tree process is -- is not good for something this big, and i hope people would be responsible with their amendments. but again, it goes back to, how did this happen? i don't believe for a moment that patty murray or paul ryan meant to hurt disabled veterans. i don't believe that. i think the whole issue -- nobody looked at it. these things are put together very quickly. you know, i'm on the budget committee. you're on the budget committee. you're on the budget committee. i had no idea. nobody asked me if this was a good idea. i didn't even get to look at it. i got to read about it in the paper. that's what happens when you put the deals together with just a handful of people. you make mistakes, because the more eyes the better, and you find yourself here talking about
something quite frankly that we all know is wrong, we need to fix it, we're creating a lot of anxiety for people who've gone through enough anxiety. and i just hope we can rise to the occasion here at the end. a senator: mr. president, will the senator from south carolina yield? mr. graham: absolutely. mr. sessions: senator graham, you've served in the house. i know 6 that powers that be would just like -- i know that powers that be would just like to see this bill rubber-stamped, dealt with, ra, ra, ra. but if this legislation were to be amended and this problem were fixed, don't you think the house would have ample time to pass it before the january 15 date for the c.r.? or, really, they could, as we've done many times, extend the c.r. a week or so if needed? but i don't really think it would be needed. i think they would pass it promptly, do you not? mr. graham: i think the senator is absolutely right.
we have a legislative process that could rise to the occasion if we would use it. you know, for 200 years we've been doing business a certain way and the senate is changing, all for the worse. and like i say, this is a bipartisan problem. i'm not blaming patty murray, the democratic chairman. this got into a bill that was bipartisan. 330 votes, 70% of republican conference. we all make mistakes. but how did it get there? nobody will tell me who put this in there because they don't know. so you're right, i think our house colleagues would find the equities of the matter easy to resolve, they would come back and fix it in just no time and i think we could fix it. the offsets might be hard to find in terms of our ideological differences but i think we could find some offsets to fix this pretty quickly. and, yes, senator sessions, the house would be able to do it, too. one final plea, i would hope that as we go into the holiday
season, that the acrimony that's been created in this body about different aspects of the way we run the place, that we don't miss a chance to do the right thing. they come on a lot here. i mean, it's not like you don't get a chance to do the right thing, as republicans and democrats. we just both don't rise to the occasion enough. but here's a chance to do the right thing and a very necessary thing. and maybe if we rose to the occasion here, it might lead to doing more right things. i will leave here as an optimist and hope and pray we do the right thing while we still can. i yield. ms. ayotte: let me just say, we can -- we can do the right thi thing. we don't have to set our expectations so low that we can't come together and find a pay-for that's acceptable to both sides of the aisle that says what we should say to our men and women in uniform and
that's "thank you." "thank you, god bless you." the first responsibility of our nation is to keep -- to defend our nation and to keep it safe. and of all the things that would keep us here -- would keep us here to christmas, i think this is the -- one of the most important things we could do for the people that go in there first for us and ensure that we have the privilege of being on this floor, have the privilege of going home and spending the holidays with our families. and so of all the things, to say that this isn't possible, i think it's very possible. and we are -- we should have the will to do it for our men and women in uniform. we should have the will to do it for those who have been disabl disabled, who gave their brave service in the line of duty for this country. and i would happy to we would rise to the very best of this body and fix this and not go
home for the holidays with any uncertainty for our military retirees or our men and women in uniform of where we stand. and we stand with them. so with that, mr. president, i yield the floor to senator sessions. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: mr. president, when i first came to washington considering running for the senate, i met at a republican luncheon and they asked me to say just a thing or two -- not that long -- and i said i could think of no greater honor than to represent the people of alabama in the greatest deliberative body in the history of the world. this is a great deliberative body. and that's our heritage, and it's being eroded. and it's not disputable that it's being eroded. it's being eroded in a way that is faster and more significant
than any of us seem to understand, likely frog in the warming water, we don't realize that we're being cooked and that the freedom of americans are being cooked. and i -- this bill contains another provision that constricts the ability of a minority in the united states senate -- could be democrats or republicans or just a bipartisan group who don't represent a majority but have a concern -- to have those concerns heard and dealt with. and it's very significant. i wish it weren't so. i was sthoocd i shocked that ite bill, had no idea it was in the bill. and as senator graham just indicated, this started out as a republican conference that senator ayotte, senator graham and senator wicker and i were members of the conference. and we met and had a couple of public meetings where everybody talked but no legislation, no language was laid out. and the next thing we hed the
leader -- the nextthing we heare drafting a bill. i would say affectionately, a gang of 2 this time. and so this was the bill that was their product. and i know they were trying to work out an important solution to america's financial problems. i know the differences between the parties were so great that it's difficult to bridge those agreements. and we weren't expecting a great solution to the long-term financial state of america that needs to be dealt with, must be dealt with. and every year we wait makes it harder to fix that challenge we face. but i -- i didn't expect a lot but i didn't expect some of the damage that we've seen in the legislation. i have got to talk about a certain point because it changed the rules of the senate. i'm not sure the house members understood how significant it was, but three times i have made
objections to budget violations, three times. and we contended that they -- that the bill before the senate was spending and would spend more money than the budget control act allowed to be spent. and if that's so, the budget control act being in law, having certain limits on spending, then the senate would have to recognize that we were busting the budget and we would have to have 60 votes, a super majority, to approve busting the budget, a pretty good matter. and it doesn't make any difference if they're taxes and fees used to pay for that. it still spends more than the amount of money we agreed to spend and it allowed us to contain spending. there were three different votes in the last year or so in which the senate was stopped from spending more than the budget
control act limit required because 60 senators would not vote for it. there weren't 60 that would support waiving the budget, breaking the budget, spending above the budget. so that's the issue at stake. and i'm sure the spenders were deeply disappointed. they got over 50. and under this bill now, it only takes 50. they got over 50 but they didn't get 60. so they were not able to continue that spending. this agreement, this bill that's before us today would significantly weaken the ability of senators in this congress -- in this body to enforce the spending and revenue limits under our budget resolution and future budgets. the ryan-murray agreement that's before us today includes an egregious number of
deficit-neutral reserve funds -- 57, to be exact -- operationally a reserve fund allows the chairman of the senate budget committee to adjust the spending limits in a budget resolution prior to senate consideration of a bill that busts the budget. this allows the proposed legislation to avoid most spending points of order. now, a reserve fund can be a useful tool when used in the context of a true budget resolution, one that is properly negotiated in public by a conference committee rather than a backroom deal. reserve funds can shepherd legislation with common policy goals through the house and senate by cultivating minor differences between the budget plan and the final legislation. so that makes sense. it's not -- reserve funds aren't a total fraud. congress does not want
legislation -- if congress did not want legislation they agreed to in concept to get tripped up by scoring differences. that's why reserve funds were originally created. but there is virtually nothing policywise in common between the house and senate budget resolutions that we are seeing today. they are quite different. the house ryan budget is a historic budget. it also is a debt course of america and puts us on a sound path, and the senate budget that cleared this body over my objection would have spent a trillion dollars -- would raise taxes a trillion dollars, but instead of using those tax revenues to pay down the debt, it would have funded a new trillion dollars in more spending above the budget control act limit we agreed to in august of 2011. so that's the situation. these are different budgets. and with 57 reserve funds, the
murray-ryan spending bill that's before us now will allow senator reid and chairman murray to bring to the floor a practically unlimited number of big tax-and-spend bills, and it will not be subject to the 60-vote limit. normally, the minority party would be able to raise a point of order under section 302-f of the budget act. the 302-f is known as the tax-and-spend point of order because it's the one we deploy when congress tries to spend more money than it promised to spend and offset that new spending with some fee or tax increase. it's the point of order we deploy when democrats on these occasions i have mentioned with some republicans supporting it want to grow the size of government. it takes 60 votes to get around the 302-f point of order, and it forces colleagues to go on record and say yes, i know my
legislation will bust the budget, but we ask that we do it anyway. and you know, what i have found is we have looked at it. when you shine light on these votes and votes on the floor of the united states senate, it asks senators to say do you really, senator, want to spend more than we agreed to spend? you just agreed in august of 2011 to the budget control act and it said we're not going to spend over this level and a bill hits the floor that spends over that level and they say don't worry about it, it's paid for by taxes. do you really want to do that when it's raised as a budget point of order? well, senators kind of get shy and many of them back off what they might otherwise have agreed to if that issue were not raised, and as i said there were three successive votes in which this congress refused to bust
the budget and spend more than was agreed to, and it rankled some of our members who liked to spend. they didn't like that. but the sheer number of reserve funds in the legislation before us, 57, would essentially take that point of order away. there are so many reserve funds in this bill that senator reid and chairman murray could bring an endless number of tax-and-spend bills to the floor and my colleagues and i would be unable to shine light on that and be able to have a clean vote on one question. not whether or not we favored the idea they want to spend money on. that was not the question. the question when you raised a budget point of order is do you believe we should break the spending limits that we agreed to, and if you can fund your bill and your cause that you believe in by finding savings
elsewhere in the budget, then we might support that, but we are not going to support spending more than we agreed to. that's what this budget point of order has allowed us to do on a series of occasions, and i believe is causing a lot of people to come to me and chairman murray when they offer legislation to make sure that they're within the budget, and they go back and try to draft it in a way that doesn't violate the budget. but eliminating this budget point of order could reduce the number of people who are concerned about that and we will see less discipline, in my opinion. so in summary, the reserve funds would allow senate majority a number of senators who have got legislation on the floor to avoid this tough vote in the light of day so people can see what's occurred. moreover, there is a little understood danger in this
legislation that goes beyond spending, it really does. this bill can allow legislation that would carry measures that are disproportionately policy heavy with very little budgetary effect. we believe, as we have analyzed the bill, that it could allow reserve funds to be used to increase the minimum wage, to change voter registration laws, to extend unemployment insurance and offset it with some tax increase somewhere, regulate greenhouse gas emissions and more. so there is little that can be done in the congress to stop that, what could have been done previously. this will allow this to go forward in a way heretofore not known. so i urge my colleagues not to sit idly by and watch the rights of the senate get pounded into
the dirt. and as senators have their individual authority from whatever state and whatever party they come, to be able to highlight these problems. so i will ask unanimous consent today to offer an amendment that would strike the reserve funds from this legislation before us, and i encourage my colleagues to support that effort. if you care about this senate as an institution, if you care about the right of free debate and the ability to actually amend legislation, if you care about the heritage of the senate and the importance of constraining spending, then i would urge support of my unanimous consent request. so, mr. president, i would formally ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending motion so that i may offer a motion to concur with the amendment
numbered 2573, which is filed at the desk, which would accomplish what i have described. the presiding officer: is there objection? mrs. murray: mr. president, reserving the right to object. i want to first note that every one of the reserve funds included in this bipartisan bill was also included and voted on as part of the senate-passed 2014 budget resolution. none of this material is new. my colleagues have seen and voted on every one of these reserve funds. in the nine months since the senate passed the budget, i can't recall, frankly, a single time that a member came up to me and raised an issue regarding one of these reserve funds. i similarly would like to point out that reserve funds are not new. the senate has actually relied on reserve funds to help it carry out its priorities under the annual budget process for nearly 30 years.
the authority to include them is specifically authorized in law by section 301-b-7 of the congressional budget act. in fact, mr. president, reserve funds are so common and accepted by republicans and democrats alike that senators actually filed more than 300 of them during the debate on the 2014 budget resolution. let me repeat that for everyone. senators filed more than 300 reserve funds this year, including, by the way, a few from my friend, the senator from alabama. now, if there is anything that should be noncontroversial here, it should be including some of these reserve funds that were debated and agreed to last spring. and more fundamentally, the bipartisan agreement now before the senate will ensure that the senate once again has a budget. and, mr. president, that's a good thing. having a budget and the discipline of enforceable spending levels will strengthen
enforcement, not weaken it. if you don't have a budget, you don't have a spending level you can enforce, you lose discipline and the ability to raise certain points of order. we fix that, actually, in this agreement. so, mr. president, i object to the unanimous consent. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama is recognized. mr. sessions: these provisions that allow the objections to the abuse of reserve funds have been in law since 1985, 30 years almost. this has been the law that we have. i raised objections to the tax-and-spend point of order, and it has been sustained on the floor of the senate. the senate budget resolution that senator murray referred to is the one that would increase spending a trillion dollars over what was agreed to in 2011,
august of 2011, and would add a trillion dollars in taxes, and then they changed this rule. so the point of which is that this legislation alters that from the past, and if it passed and the budget resolution she referred to did pass the senate with democrat votes only and it was a simple majority. but this is legislation that changes the budget act controls. anyway, i just feel real strongly we have to absolutely understand what has happened here. the rule has been changed. powers that senators had to block tax-and-spend legislation and break spending limits has been eroded significantly, and it should not have been a part
of any legislation that purports to be legislation that puts this nation on a financial path of soundness. in fact, it does the opposite. it weakens the ability of senators who want to hold this congress to its own spending limits agreed to in law and it weakens their ability to stop breaking those spending limits. there is just no doubt about that. so i'm -- i am really upset about it. i think it's historic. i understand that the house maybe didn't fully understand what was meant here. maybe we can somehow revive this, but in truth we should do it now. we should not pass this bill that contains this legislation. and had we had a normal conference committee and i had been a member of it and other senators had been a member of that conference committee and had a chance to talk about it, it would not have been in there. maybe that's why they chose not
to have a public, open discussion of it. they wanted to slip this through in the dead of night, up next to christmas, oh, you have to pass this bill just like it is, there can be no amendment, the government will shut down and we'll all have to stay here until christmas eve, like we had to try to stop obamacare that they passed on christmas eve. so this is the kind of thing that's not healthy for america. it's not healthy for the senate. reserve funds are a function of our policy, and there is no common policy between the house and the senate on budget resolutions. budget resolutions are passed by each house, but we don't have common policies there about how it's processed. never have we adopted the volume of reserve funds that would hereafter be long-standing parts of our law. mr. president, i believe we have time to wrap -- begin our wrapup
now. senator murray -- let me just say senator murray is a good, strong advocate. she is effective in her leadership roles. i respect her and enjoy working with her. we sometimes disagree, but i wanted to say as we move to the conclusion of this legislation that it's -- i respect you and we move forward. a senator: mr. president? mrs. sessions: i would ask u.c. to be equally divided. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i believe the unanimous consent that was previously entered allowed me the last ten minutes and the senator from alabama the prior ten minutes, so most of that time has been used. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama has about two minutes remaining. the senator from washington state has ten. mr. sessions: what time is the vote? the presiding officer: 4:27.
mr. sessions: how did it get to be 4:27 instead of 4:30? i would ask unanimous consent the vote be held at 4:30, and i will wrap up in the time remaining. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: mr. president, reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: the president pro tempore. mr. leahy: i will not object. if i could have one minute now on a matter of some importance. the presiding officer: is there objection? mrs. murray: mr. president, i'm not sure -- i do not object to the president pro tem's request for one minute. mr. sessions: i would object if it's counting against my time. mrs. murray: maybe i can help us out here. the senator from alabama has been speaking about 25 minutes. i am more than happy to give the senator from alabama four minutes, the senator from -- the senate pro tem one minute and i will take the final. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. sessions: mr. president, i thought we were voting at 4:30 and that would be at least five minutes left for me. the presiding officer: postcloture time expires at
4:27. mr. sessions: i'll accept the kind and generous offer of the senator. the presiding officer: who yields time? mr. sessions: mr. president, i was concerned about senator leahy. if i would have four minutes, i would consent to --. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama is recognized for four minutes. mr. sessions: i have four minutes until senator leahy has one minute. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: the bill before us today is a perfect example of why it's dangerous to produce a deal in secret and rush it through the full of congress in a panic as we've done time and time again. this bill is example -- a perfect example i have we need
regular order, why the senate is supposed to be a deliberated that debates and amends legislation. there's no amendment being allowed to this legislation. and why each senator is supposed to have a chance to have their say and offer amendments to a bill. each senator in this chamber, republican, democrat, is being diminished if they're not allowed to have an amendment on an ort piece of legislation -- important piece of legislation like this. i was astonished to hear earlier that we have no choice but to pass this bill exactly as it is, that there's no other alternative. how about letting the senate work its will, i suggest. could we not find 51 senators who can agree on a better way to save money than to cut retired military personnel, a cut that was used to increase spending in other areas, some of which is clearly not more significant than the cuts falling on military retired personnel.
so we learn after the house has passed the bill that also includes a cut to the pensions of wounded warriors and i suspect most house members didn't realize that, as my friend from mississippi has pointed out. so we were blocked yesterday from having a vote on this, and looks likes we will continue to be blocked. we'll move to final passage and there will be no opportunity to amend this bill and the big $500 billion defense bill, authorization bill, will be on the floor next, immediately thereafter, will be voted on tomorrow and there will be no amendments to it. this is unprecedented, to the defense bill on the floor, we often have 30 or more amendments. zero. we don't have time. we've wasted our time on all kinds of things. we had a whole week in which there were two measly votes conducted when 30 or more could have been conducted easily that
week. and it wouldn't have been that many votes on the senate bill. so i would just say that i do not believe this legislation is sound legislation. i believe it does damage to the ability of this senate to protect the treasury of the united states of america. i think it takes us down the road to eroding the power of individual senators to constrain spending and stay within the limits we agreed to, that we put in law. so i'm not happy about it. i wish i had more time to talk about it. i don't, i appreciate the opportunity to work with senator murray and i respect congressman ryan so greatly, but there are some problems with this legislation and we should not pass it and there's plenty of time for the house of representatives to respond to any changes we were to make in it. i thank the chair and yield the
floor. the presiding officer: the senator from -- the senate pro tem is recognized. mr. leahy: the white house has released a group, the message is very clear, the message of the n.s.a. is now coming from every branch of government, from every corner of our nation. n.s.a., you've gone too far. the bulk collection of americans' data by the u.s. government has to end. review group came to the same conclusion that i have about the utility of the section 215 phone records program, the same conclusion that judge leon found just the other day calling it unconstitutional. they said section 215 was not essential to preventing attacks and could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional section 215 orders. they say what many of us have been saying, that just because we can collect massive amounts
of data doesn't mean we should do so. and they say -- quote -- "although we might be safer if the government had ready access to a massive storehouse of information about every detail of our lives, the impact of such a program on the quality of life and individual premium freem would simply be too great." senator lee and i and others have legislation to curtail this. i think for the sake of our nation and the sake of our constitution, we should. i ask my full statement be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. the senior senator from washington state is recognized. mrs. murray: mr. president, the american people are sick and tired of the constant crises that we have seen in washington, d.c. over the past few years. they want us to work together. they want us to solve problems and they want us to focus on jobs and families and
broad-based economic growth. that is why i am so glad we are now headed to a final vote on the budget agreement that chairman ryan and i reached that breaks through this partisanship and gridlock and shows that congress can function when democrats and republicans work together to make some compromises for the good of the country. mr. president, the bipartisan budget act puts jobs and economic growth first by rolling back those automatic and harmful cuts to education and medical research and infrastructure investments and defense jobs for the next two years. if we didn't get a deal, we would have faced another continuing resolution that would have locked in those damaging automatic cuts, or worse, a potential government shutdown in just a few short weeks. this bill that we are about to
vote on replaces almost two-thirds of this year's cuts to domestic discretionary investments, and importantly, it prevents the next round of defense cuts that are scheduled to hit in january. it is not going to solve every problem the automatic cuts have caused but it is a step in the right direction and a dramatic improvement over the status quo. this bill builds on the $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction we have done since 2011 with an additional $23 billion in responsible savings across the federal budget. and crucially, mr. president, we protected the fragile economic recovery by spreading the savings out responsibly over the next ten years and maintain the key precedent that sequestration cannot be replaced with spending cuts alone. mr. president, this bill isn't
exactly what i would have written on my own, and i'm pretty sure it's not what chairman ryan would have written on his own. but it is what the american people have called for, a compromise, and that means neither side got everything they wanted, and both sides had to give a bit. but i'm hopeful, mr. president, that this deal can be a foundation for continued bipartisan work because we do have a lot of big challenges that we have ahead of us for our families and communities that we all represent. mr. president, as we wind this down and go to a vote in just a minute, i especially want to thank my colleague from across the capitol, chairman ryan, for his work with me on this over the past two months. he stood up with courage, he was an honest broker, a tough negotiator, but in the end we were able to come to an agreement and i really want to commend him for that.
i want to thank our ranking member, chris van hollen, who worked steadfastly with us, i want to thank leader reid and all of our leadership for their support throughout this budget process as we worked to negotiate this deal and move it through the senate. i also, mr. president, particularly want to thank the members of the senate budget committee who worked so hard to pass a budget, start a conference, and reach this bipartisan deal. senators ron wyden, bill nelson, debbie stabenow, bernie steanders, sheldon whitehouse, jeff merkley, chris coons, tammy baldwin, tim kaine and angus king. they were great members of our committee and i thank them for their diligent work as well as all the republicans on our committee who worked so hard with us. finally, mr. president, i really want to thank all of our staffs who have spent so many hours on putting this together.
from my office, my budget committee staff director, evan schatz, our deputy director, john wright riter, my chief of staff, mike spawn, and all of our staff members, too numerous to mention right now but i want each and every one of them to know how much i appreciate the intense amount of work they put into this. i will insert all of their names in the record. i also want to thank chairman ryan's office, budget committee staff director austin smythe, and many more who really helped us be successful. i also want to thank david coon from leader reid's office and chris sari with the office of management and budget and doug elmendorf and all of the staff at the congressional budget office for their innumerable hard work and support. mr. president, we are at the end of the time for this and i urge all of our colleagues now
to support this bipartisan budget act of 2013. we are about to put jobs and economic growth first, and most importantly, we are going to give the american people back some certainty that they do deserve. mr. president, has all postcloture time expired on the motion to concur with respect to h.j. res. 59? the presiding officer: it has. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent the motion to concur with an amendment be withdrawn. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i would note this is the way the process -- the train that runs through this body and denies amendments to be allowed occurs. so at this point there will be a move to in effect clear the tree so this can be passed and it's just an unhealthy trend we're in, and i'm disappointed that we're heading in this direction.
but it points out the actual legislative steps that are required to get to final passage after the leader has filled the tree. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mrs. murray: i ask for the yeas and nays on the motion. the presiding officer: the motion to concur with amendment 2547 is withdrawn. the question is on the motion to concur. mrs. murray: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
the presiding officer: on this vote, the yeas are 64, the nays are 36. the motion to concur in the house amendment to the senate amendment to house -- h.j. res. 59 is agreed to. mrs. murray: to have to reconsider. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: lay on the table. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. 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, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to concur in the house amendment to the senate amendment to h.r. 3304, the department of defense authorization act for fiscal year 2014, signed by 17 senators. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i move to waive the quorum. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the mandatory quorum has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the motion to concur in the house amendment to the senate amendment to h.r. 33 40* shall be brought to -- 3304 shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: