Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  July 9, 2014 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

10:00 am
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 spirit, we rejoice in the hope we receive from your mercies. fill our lawmakers with strength for today and faith for tomorr tomorrow. show them your unfailing love,
10:01 am
as you provide them with your wisdom to meet the challenges they face. may they trust you completely, whether in the sunshine or storm. help them to remember the many times you have helped them when they had no solutions for their problems. lord, lead them to be such true stewards of our national trust that they will transmit this nation to our decendants far greater than it is today. we pray in your strong name. amen.
10:02 am
the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., july 9, 2014. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable edward j. markey, a senator from the commonwealth of massachusetts, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. mr. reid: mr. president, following my remarks and those of the republican leerksd the senate will be in a period of morning business until 12:00 noon today. during that period of time, senators will be permitted to
10:03 am
speak up to ten minutes each. the time will be equally divided and controlled between the leaders or their designees. at noon shall th, the senate wio executive session and provide to votes on three nominations: julian castro, mayor of san antonio, texas, to be the secretary of house being and urban development, darci vert, and william adams to be chairperson for the national endowment of the humanities. there will be roll caught votes on the nomination of the castro nomination and we expect voice votes on the vetter and adams nominations. following that there will be a motion to proceed to s. 2363. we expect that vote to be by voice also. senators should expect one roll call vote today at about noon.
10:04 am
mr. president, s. 2569 is due for its second reading i'm told. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bill for secondary time. the clerk: s. 2569, a bill to provide an incentive for businesses to bring jobs back to america. mr. reid: mr. president, this legislation is sponsored by senator walsh from montana. i would object to any further proceedings at this time and look forward to workin to workim in the future on this legislation. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will be placed on the calendar. mr. reid: mr. president, yesterday i mentioned to the senate that i've been reading a book by carolyn kennedy called "a patriot's handbook." it was given to my wife for mother's day a number of years ago, and i mentioned that i had
10:05 am
read about one of john mccain's experiences in the vietnam prison kafn. it will take me just a minute and a half or so to read this. but here's what i paraphrased today that i'll read today. "my christian story" by senator john mccain in his book "faith of our fathers." "mike was a navy bomb navigator who had been shot down about six months before i arrived. he had grown up in sell marks alabama. he had not worn shoes until 13 years old. they were good, right yows worker and raised mike to be hardwork and loyal. he was 17 when he enlisted in the navy. as a young sailor, he showed promise as a superior and impressed his superiors enough to be offered a commission. what packages we were allowed to receive from our families when he was in prison often contained
10:06 am
handkerchiefs, scarves and other clothing items. for sometime mike had been taking little strips of red and white cloth with a needle he had fashioned from a piece of bamboo. he labor quo'sly sewed an american flag to the inside of his prison shirt. every afternoon we would hang mike's shirt on the wall of our cell and recite the pledge of alley gangs. the guards discovered mike's flag one afternoon during a routine inspection and confiscated it. they returned that evening and took mike outside. for our benefit as much as mike's, they beat him severely, just outside our cell, puncturing his eardrum, breaking several of his ribs. we helped him crawl to his place on the sleeping platform. after things quieted down, we all laid down to sleep. before drifting off, i happened to look toward a cornering of
10:07 am
the room where one of the four naked light bulbs that always illuminated our cell cast a dim light on mike. he had crawled there when he had thought the rest of us were sleeping. with his eyes nearly swollen shut from the beating, he i qu quietly picked up his needle and thread and began sewing a new flag. i witnessed many acts of heroism in prison but none braver than that. " mr. president, i mentioned this yesterday because i had this in my mind when we saluted the flag. what i said yesterday, i just paraphrase today. when we salute the flag, we should remember the mike christians of the world, who sacrificed so much so we can salute the flag.
10:08 am
i ask, mr. president, that the statement i now make appear in a separate place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, i love baseball season. i've never had the good fortune of having a team that i grew up with like my colleague, the senior senator from illinois, a white sox fan, but i have loved baseball since i have a little boy. i love baseball season. i don't go to games. i think genetic to one this saturday, unless something comes up. but i do go home at night and i've spoken with the republican leader about the pleasure we get from watching a little bit of the baseball games every eveni evening. and i do enjoy that, and i,
10:09 am
mr. president, have watched over the years these managers. i spend so much time in southern nevada and las vegas. the baseball team that most everyone in las vegas watched and listened to were the brooklyn -- i'm sorry, the los angeles dodgers. the manager for many of that time until i came back here and even after i came back here was tommy lasorda. and he was, like so many managers, a character. he was a showman. and i assume he picked some of the times to pick a fight with the umyo umpire because he was t with the call. but i think his idea was that the team needed a something little extra. tommy was famous for kicking dirt and yelling loudly at the umpire and making sure he didn't
10:10 am
use a lot of swear words, and that was the manager's -- he wasn't the only one, but tommy lasorda cams t comes to mind. and on occasion he got thrown out of the game. why did he do this? was he upset with the call? at times it got real ugly, chest-bumping, as indicated kicking dirt. lou pa necessarily la was famous for that. he would kick dirt on the umpire and usually that got him kicked out of the game. and kaitsd as indicated, tried p it clean. but baseball players and managers sometimes have a vocabulary meant for the locker room. certainly what they said wasn't suitable for children. mr. president, a lot of times they exited the game after being
10:11 am
told they were ejected to divert attention from what was going on with their team. it was a gimmick many times, a distraction meant to sidetrack other side and rally the other. in the house of representatives, the republican leadership in the house are trying a similar tactic by threatening to bring a lawsuit against the president of the united states. they're searching desperately for something, anything, to keep the radicals within their own caucus over there, keep them happy. that's hard to do, as we've seen. and they want to do this to divert the american people's attention from that i remember r very own inaction. you don't have to take my word for it. no one has to. because conservative pundits are falling over themselves to criticize this ploy.
10:12 am
even last night sarah palin -- what did sarah palin say? she said, you don't bring a lawsuit to a gunfight. there's no room for lawyers on our front lines. that's sarah palin. that's what she thinks of the action by the republican leadership in the house. she wants to go even further, whatever that is. one republican pundit said it was political theater, another called the lawsuit "feckless." however they choose to labor it, mr. president, there's one thipg that conservatives, liberals, and moderate moderates -- this s nothing more than a political stunt, nothing more than kicking dirt at the umpire. this is intended to draw attention away from the house lack of inertia on issues important to the american peop
10:13 am
people. like immigration, mr. president. more than a year ago we passed immigration. the house has refused to do anything but creating lots of problems and causing this great country of ours to go further in debt. $1 trillion would be the cost of reducing our debt if we could pass that legislation. we did it. the house should do it. all we're asking, mr. president, is that the middle class get a fair shot, whether it's raising the minimum wage, whether it's student debt, which is stunningly high, highest debt that we have in america today is student debt, $1.3 trillion. we need to do something about fair pay for women, that they get the same money that men get for doing the very same work. a fair shot. that's what the middle class
10:14 am
deserves, mr. president, and the house republicans are refusing to give them any shot at fairness. mr. president, instead of concerning all these important legislative issues -- i mentioned only a few -- the tea party house is content to put on a show, to kick a little dirt, a big expensive show, though, in many instances. who will pay nor this charade that they're talking about over there? the american taxpayers. let me give you one example. benghazi. mr. president, benghazi was a tragedy, but there's no political conspiracy. here's what they have done mostly in the house. 13 public hearings, 50 member and staff briefings, over 25,000 pages of documents from the white house.
10:15 am
now they're using taxpayer money on a large-scale stunt. this isn't new for them. they have a number of stunts, like the supposed lawsuit. but they now set up a 12-member benghazi panel that they're creating. they intend to spend $3.3 million this year. this year has just a few months left in it. $3.3 million to try once again to turn a real tragedy into some kind of conspiracy. to put that number in perspective, think about this. benghazi panel, the house committee on veterans' affairs has 25 members of congress and it's about 30 members, staff members. the benghazi little program
10:16 am
they're putting on over there will spend more money than the entire veterans' affairs committee in the house. we're still waiting for the house to come together with us to do something about the veterans emergency we have. they have forgotten about what's going on around the country. we need thousands of new personnel, the veterans administration committee, and the house refuses to complete the conference with chairman sanders. much like the other sideshows put on by the republican-controlled house of representatives, the so-called lawsuit is baseless. when sarah palin thinks you're going too far, you better take a look at it, by the tea party-driven house over there. and the house has a lawsuit,
10:17 am
people keep asking the house leadership what are you going to sue him on? they don't know but they're working on that. but they're going to have a lawsuit, going to kick around a little dirt. i'm in no position to offer legal guidance, but i've been to court a few times. you know your case is in big trouble when you can't specify the reason you're filing the lawsuit. so leadership in the house of representatives should put aside this ill-fated venture and leave the chest-bumping and dirt-kicking charade to baseball managers. president obama is doing something to solve problems, and republicans are suing him because they want to do nothing, and that's sad. the republicans in the house will be better served spending their efforts and resources passing legislation giving the middle east class -- giving the middle class a fair shot.
10:18 am
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: earlier this week i hosted a tele-town hall with people from across western kentucky from places like lyon county and webster county. these constituents shared their thoughts on a range of issues from obamacare to taxes. but one issue kept coming up over and over again. the kentuckians i spoke with were truly worried about the obama administration's war on
10:19 am
coal jobs. they've seen the devastation in eastern kentucky and they know what the president's newest regulations will likely mean for middle-class families like theirs. skyrocketing utility bills, higher prices, fewer jobs. they know that the administration's war is an elitist crusade that threatens to ship good, well-paying jobs overseas, splinter our manufacturing base and throw yet another load on to the backs of middle-class kentuckians who have already struggled so much. the hardworking people i represent are worried enough just about making their mortgage payments and paying for car repairs and coping with energy bills and summer vacations. these are the people that president obama and his washington democratic allies should be listening to. not the liberal elites that have been begging the president to go after the coal industry and the
10:20 am
people whose livelihoods depend on it. but president obama doesn't seem terribly interested in these folks or their problems. once again, he'll be off campaigning this week. he'll huddle with more left-wing ideologues, the kind of folks that love to make a buck off of coal and then attack coal families with ego-driven political crusades like the idealogue the president rolled out the red carpet for just a few weeks ago down at the white house. meanwhile, here in the senate the democratic majority will continue to block and tackle for the president and his anti-coal offensive. senate democrats block basically every attempt -- every attempt, however small -- to inject congressional oversight into the administration's energy regulations. they shut down votes. they obstruct the committee process that should be at the heart of our work here. they even gag their own members.
10:21 am
and they block commonsense legislation like the coal country protection act. what that bill -- my bill -- would do is require the administration to certify that jobs will not be lost and utility rates won't go up as a result of the president's energy regulations. that's not too much to ask. but washington democrats are blocking my bill because they know that the president's regulation will cost jobs and will raise utility rates. and they're more interested in protecting the president's ideological agenda than jobs. in other words, senate democrats block and tackle and obstruct all to defend the president's war on coal jobs. it's a clear case of extreme devotion, and it makes sense because the democratic majority really only has one mission these days: protect the president and the left at all
10:22 am
costs. that's why the average democratic senator has almost no power anymore. our friends on the other side of the aisle don't ever get to do anything. they're just another back bencher fortifying president obama's senate moat, the place where good ideas go to die. it's a shame. the senate used to be a place where big ideas were debated and serious solutions were explored. committees operated and amendments were offered. i remember a time not too long ago when there was even such a thing as an independent-minded senate democrat. but today's democratic leadership put an end to all of that. it's about time our washington democratic friends opened their eyes to the true cost of the president's policies both in my state and in theirs. and it's time for these washington democrats to stop pretending that they're not complicit in the administration's war on coal jobs or in the harm that it's
10:23 am
causing to our constituents. because there's real pain out there beyond the democratic echo chamber, there's real pain out there, out in the real world in places like hyde county. washington democrats need to understand that kentuckians are more than just some statistic on a bureaucrat balance sheet. these are real americans who are hurting, and they deserve to have their voices heard. one way to do that, as i've suggested, is for the administration to hold some listening sessions on its new energy regulations in the areas that stand to suffer the most from them in places like eastern and western kentucky. i've already issued multiple invitations for the president's people to visit places in my home state. now i'm issuing one again today. the sad truth is officials in washington don't want to come anywhere near coal country. they just want to impose their
10:24 am
regulations, hear some -- quote unquote -- feedback from the echo chamber in order to check a box and then move right along to the next front in their wear on coal. they -- in their war on coal. they don't even want to talk to the very people they intend to put out of work. several tele-town hall participants want to know why the president won't come down to see the mines and the coal families himself. i'm wondering too. mr. president, the campaign trips can wait. you recently expressed an interest in hanging around middle-class americans for a change. what i'm saying is here's your perfect chance. come on down to kentucky and talk to some coal miners. mr. president, on another matter entirely, ... today i want to
10:25 am
honor the life of one soldier from kentucky, who gave his life and service to our country, specialist kevin j. graham of benton was killed in kandahar, afghanistan, on september 26, 2009. when the enemy attacked his vehicle with an i.e.d. he was 27 years old. for his service, in uniform specialist graham received many medals, awards and decorations, including the bronze star medal, the purple heart, the army good conduct medal, the combat infantryman badge, the national defense service medal. the afghanistan campaign medal with bronze service star, the
10:26 am
global war on terrorism service medal, the army service ribbon, the overseas service ribbon, the nato medal, the expert marksmanship badge, the national defense service medal and the army service ribbon. soldiering was not simply a vocation to specialist graham. it was a way of life, and it was a calling. from a young age, friends and family recall his strong desire to become a soldier. before he went into the army, he would see guys in uniform and say he needed to be doing something like that, says the reverend jonathan goodman, kevin's pastor from benton's calvary baptist church. he felt like it was his life pores work and was honored to serve his country.
10:27 am
kevin was born in 1982 in illinois and raised in wisconsin. he moved with his parents to marshal county, kentucky, about five years before his death. as a child, kevin received his education through christian liberty academy as a home schooler. he was a member of cabot lake baptist church in wisconsin where he was involved with the youth group and assisted the youth pastor. as a young boy, kevin and his best friend used to dress up in army if fatigues and patrol the neighborhood. neighbors would say they felt safe because they knew someone was watching out for them. kevin's interest in the military also included a love of military history. he would read endlessly about the civil war and world war ii and talk often with his father, grandfather and others who had served about their experiences. kevin collected memorabilia from different conflicts including
10:28 am
some given to him bivens. his interest in military aviation led him to send his summers at an airfield in kenosha, wisconsin, to see hundreds of world war ii planes gather in formation. kevin learned to shoot at an early age. by the time he was 16 he earned a job overseeing a skeet range. he earned many badges for marksmanship including one for hitting his target 73 out of 75 times. kevin also had a love for old cars. he bought a 1965 pontiac le mans and rebuilt it from the ground up. he attended car shows and won several trophies. in july of 2007, kevin fulfilled a life long goal and honored the service of his father daniel who earned a purple heart for his service in vietnam, by enlisting in the u.s. army.
10:29 am
he completed basic training that november. one of kevin's closest friends, christian miller joined the army within months of kevin. kevin was enlisting at a time of war, and he chose to enlist as an infantryman, christian recalls. kevin knew what he was going into. this was something he volunteered to do. kevin knew something was wrong out there, and he was going to take a stand about it. kevin was later based in fort lewis, washington, where he met the woman who would become his wife, crystal, in the fall of 2008. on march 22, 2009, they were married just a few days before kevin's 27th birthday. kevin also grew very close to crystal's son, brian, and enjoyed spending time as a dad. then in july kevin was deployed to afghanistan, his first deployment. he deployed as part of fourth
10:30 am
platoon alpha company first battalion 17th infantry regiment fifth stryker brigade combat team second infantry division based out of fort lewis. he was promoted to specialist and assigned to be a mortar carrier driver, a responsibility given to those soldiers among the best able to remain calm in the face of a crisis. no doubt kevin's lifetime of preparation going back to his boyhood neighborhood patrols served him well for his greatest and final role. it was an honor to be his parents, says sandra graham, kevin's mother. truly an honor. we are thinking of kevin's family and friends today, including his wife crystal, his stepson bryan, his mother san drarks his brothers daniel, sean, and scott, and many other
10:31 am
beloved family members and friends. kevin's father daniel graham, a hero in his own right, has sadly passed on. so, madam president, i know my u.s. senate colleagues join me in expressing our deepest condolences to the families of specialist kevin j. graham and great gratitude for his life of honorable service and his enormous sacrifice in uniform. without heroes like specialist graham, our country could not be free. i hope that it is some small measure of comfort to his family that the life of specialist graham has been remembered and appropriately honored here in the united states senate. those of us in this body must never forget the men and women like specialist graham who built the foundation upon which our democracy stands. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved.
10:32 am
under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 12:00 noon with time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees and with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes. mr. durbin: madam president? the presiding officer: the assistant majority leader. mr. durbin: madam president, 14 dead, 82 wounded. that grim statistic was reported this weekend. it was not from baghdad. it was not from damascus. it wasn't in gaza. no, it wasn't from the middle east. it was from the midwest. it was in the city of chicago. 14 dead, 82 wounded over the 4th of july weekend. this morning "the chicago tribune" headline read, "two dead, nine wounded in shootings
10:33 am
on the south and west side last night." last night. "a 17-year-old boy who would have started college orientation thursday was shot to death tuesday night in the brainard neighborhood. one of at least 11 people shot across the city since tuesday afternoon. a boy was struck in the chest and back, died on the scene. four minutes later on the west side, a 23-year-old man fatally shot as he rode his bike icl hin the humble park neighborhood." the story goes ton recount each and every incident. these numbers cloak the grief that families are now going through, as someone that they loved is either gone or seriously injured. when you listen to their voices,
10:34 am
you understand what life is like and the mean streets on the south and west sides of chicago. gregg barron, a 20-year-old from chicago's south side. he's already been a victim of gun violence once. he spoke to "the chicago tribune" yesterday and he said, "i have to watch my back every day because i don't want to get killed or shot again." marcia lee, a chicago mother, she's already lost one son to gun violence. she recently described how she had to teach her three little girls how to take care of themselves when it came to the gun gunfire. she told national public radio, "you have to get down low, get down on the ground and stay on the ground until it's over. and when it's oarvetion you havs o.e.f., you havover,you have to" life in chicago, life in ameri
10:35 am
america. i agree with mayor rahm emanuel in chicago, this is unacceptable. while the number of murders in chicago is statistically down compared to last year, there are still too many deaths from gun violence and too many people living in fear. who pays the price? the families do. but all of us do. the university of chicago crime lab calculates the total cost of gun violence in america at around $100 billion a year. $100 billion. it's a staggering number. cook county, that of course contains the chicago of chicago, estimates that trauma care for each shooting victim costs $52,000, on average. so for last weekend, with 80 wounded chicagoans, weigh just e
10:36 am
just added $4 million in health costs, assuming they can be treated and released at some point in the near future. well, it's time to do something about it. i.t. timit's time to stop talkit it. i do some polls across our state and even more important, as i visit the state, i ask questions. we're quite a diverse state. southern illinois is the south. as the late-paul sigh son used to say, "southern illinois is the land of grits and gospel music. it is small-town america, rural. it is where my family roots are. i know what they think about guns. guns are part of culture, part of family experience. father taking his son or even his daughter out to hunt is an important moment in each of their lives. they value the ownership of guns and over overwhelmingly use them
10:37 am
responsiblely for hunting, for target practice. and still when you speak to these people about gun violence in the cities and ask them a very basic question, these proud gun owners respond in a way that i'm proud of. they agree that no convicted felon and no person mentally unstable should be able to buy a gun, period. we considered that on the floor of the senate. the manchin-toomey amendment closed the gun show loophole, asked the question, have you been convicted of a felony? is there your background that suggests a mental instability that should prohibit you from owning a gun? we couldn't pass that measure. but i offered another measure as well. it's one that relates to this basic issue. if we want to keep guns out of the hands of those who would misuse them, if we want to protect the rights of
10:38 am
law-abiding, respectful citizens who own firearms and follow the law, then we should take care and make sure we do everything in our power to keep guns out of the hands of folks who will use them to hurt and kill innocent people. the superintendent of police in chicago is garry mccarthy. i like garry a lot. he came to chicago from new york, hired by mayor emanuel. and he really has rolled up his sleeves and gone out on the streets and tried to tackle this terrible issue of gun violence. and they asked him about this weekend, with 14 dead and 82 wounds in chicago, and he said, i quote him, "something has to happen to slow down the straw purchasing that happens in this state." let me explain that. here's what the superintendent meant. the law says if you're a convicted felon, you can't buy a gun. so how do they get their hands
10:39 am
on guns? many of them send someone else to buy the gun who doesn't have a history of criminal convictions. that so-called straw purchaser, a third-party purchaser, purchases the firearm, walks out the door, and either gives it or sells to the person who is going to use it in the commission of a crime. superintendent mccarthy identifies that as one of the key problems in the city of shirks and it is chicago, and im across america. mayor manue emanuel pointed outt we need tough gun laws so the guns are not just flowing out into the streets. we have a bill before you pending before us in the u.s. senate. it's not technically a bill about guns and firearms. it is about sportsmen. and a lot of provisions in there are good provisions. some i may question, but by and large it is all about sportsmen.
10:40 am
and now we're being told that cheetion are goincolleagues aree forward and offer amendments related to firearms and guns. i think may be an exception, but i welcome this debate. i want this debate. i want an opportunity to raise important issues about gun violence and gun safety in america. and i'm going to offer an amendment, madam president, an amendment which stiffens the penalties for those who purchase guns to give them to another person or sell them to another person to commit a crime. what i said in chicago, i'll say on the floor of the senate. girlfriends, wake up when that thug sends new to buy a gun, under this amendment, you spend the -- you run the spisk of spending 15 -- you run the risk of spending 15 yier years of yor life in a federal prison? are you willing to take that risk and give away 15 years of your life so that some gang
10:41 am
member or thug can have a gun and go out on the street and kill an innocent person, so another 15-year-old kid can be gunned down, killed on the streets of chicago or any other city and see their dreams absolutely disappear in the blood on the sidewalk? i want to offer this amendment. and i hope my colleagues, whatever their views on guns, will agree with me. this is no violation of a basic right under the second amendment to the constitution. this just says, if you're going to buy a gun to give it to a thug to commit a crime, we're going to put new jail for 15 years. think about it. it's the only twhai we can address this -- it's the only way that we can address it in a manner that will start to shut down this pipeline of guns flowing in chicago and cities across america. some of my friends in illinois see this issue a lot differently. they think if everybody carried a gun, then good people would
10:42 am
shoot down the bad people. i'm skeptical. history tells us that most of the time the guns that good people carry aren't used as effectively as they'd hoped they would be used, and sometimes they even injure th injure the t carries them. i still trust law enforcement as the first line of defense. law enforcement has told us loud and clear, stop wasting that you are time iwasting -- stopwastin. start making a difference in the lives of people. maiblg thimake this a safer nat. 14 dead, 8 2 2 wounded. the question to be answered by this senate: do we care? will we do anything? this senator is going to offer this amendment. i hope i get nig my chance. i hope the filibusters don't
10:43 am
stop me . is there acth a guarantee that this will become law? no. it is a guarantee that this week will not go by without an effort from this senator and i hope from others to address this issue of gun violence. and i hope it is evidence that many of us believe the senate is still an important part of american government that can address the problems that threaten goods, decent, law-abiding families all across america. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. walsh: madam president, i rise today regarding the indian coal production tax credit that is being held up in the house of representatives and this body. i have supported this important provision from my first days in the senate. chairman wyden and ranking member hatch did commendable work to bring the tax extenders
10:44 am
bill to the floor in may, but since then political brinksmanship has won out at the expense of good-paying jobs and certainty for millions of american businesses and taxpayers. this particular provision not only helps tribes responsibly develop their natural resources, but it also creates and sustains jobs and economic development in indian country to support self-sufficiency and self-determination for several american tribes. this tax credit will help to employ more people at a good wage and continue a policy that has a track record of working for montanans. the crow nation in southeast montana relies on this tax credit to drive their economy. like many of our tribal nations, the crow nation suffers from a much higher unemployment rate than the rest of the country. unemployment for the crow nation is around 50%.
10:45 am
that is unacceptable. i was proud to work with chairman wyden to have this provision added to the expire act. the political games being played to bring down that important piece of bipartisan legislation are a clear example of why washington is broken. congress must take action now. this vital provision will keep tribal jobs and revenue intact. extending this provision also means more money for our schools and public infrastructure in indian country. when i travel to montana's tribal nation as my first week as a united states senator, crow leaders including tribal leader darrin coyote shared with me how important this provision is for the future of the crow nation. i urge my colleagues to set partisan differences aside and support the tax extender legislation put forward by senators wyden and hatch. the bill they put forward
10:46 am
contains some provisions that i would not support as stand-alone measures, but overall the bill will be a driver of economic development for small businesses. this bill contains many provisions that are essential for job creation, and the two-year time frame helps give individuals and businesses the certainty they need to move our economy forward. small businesses across montana rely on many of the provisions in this bill to keep their companies going. from the new markets tax credit which spurs development in economically distress and underserved communities to the work opportunity tax credit which creates incentives for hiring veterans, these provisions are driving montana's economy. it is irresponsible for congress to continue to keep these businesses in a state of uncertainty. we must move forward with a real
10:47 am
plan to encourage business investment and innovation. so today i urge my colleagues in both chambers to put aside their political gamesmanship and show the courage our constituents expect and deserve. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. schumer: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: first let me commend my colleague from montana. since he's been here, he's been one of the strongest and most stalwart voices in defending the rights of native americans, and i know they populate his state in large numbers and i know he's made it a passion and he's been extremely effective here. and i want to compliment him for that. madam president, i rise today to dispel a dangerous notion, one that i have seen too frequently
10:48 am
in newspapers, heard on tv and just among people, commentators and others in the wake of the violence in israel. the dangerous notion is that there is a moral equivalence between the actions and reactions of israel and the palestinian state to the violence and response in the middle east or the palestinian people really more so than the state. madam president, it must be said there is no moral equivalence between the actions and reactions of israel and hamas and the palestinian authority to the violence that has occurred there. two instances make that very, very clear. we all witnessed terrible tragedies occurring in that tortured region of the world.
10:49 am
we are now all familiar with both, the kidnapping and cold-blooded murder of three israeli boys and in what seems to be payback, the killing of a young palestinian teenager. both were abhorrent. both were abhorrent. and the losses of the families on both sides cannot be understated. but i think what we ought to focus on -- we all know, by the way, madam president, that each side has its fanatics. each side experiences tragedy of the highest order. and what i am saying does not apply to all the people on either side, particularly the palestinian side, but the reaction -- the reaction -- is what counts. what was the reaction among too many palestinians to the murder of these three boys?
10:50 am
they were almost exultant. they were treated as heroes. the mother of one of the supposed murderers, people who were suspected of the murder of the israelis, abu aisha, said if my son truly did it, i'll be proud of him until my final day. that's what she said. i'll be proud. those who were purported to kill the three israelis were regarded as heroes not just among a small segment in the west bank and in gaza, but among large numbers of people. there were parades. they were honored. that was the reaction. now let's compare that to israel's reaction when a group of israeli fanatics killed a palestinian teenager. the israeli people in large part were aghast. they said we have to find who
10:51 am
did it and bring them to justice. prime minister netanyahu called them terrorists, those who might have killed that palestinian, equal to the terrorism on the other side of the three who killed the israelis. and israel made every effort to find those and have now made arrests while the leader of the palestinian authority condemned the killing of the three israeli boys, there was no such effort on the palestinian side to find those who did it to, bring them to justice. there was no calls of universal condemnation. how can we compare the two sides? how can people say, oh, the israelis, oh the palestinians, it's one big fight, they're all the same? it is not. again, regretfully, there are fanatics on both sides, and i abhor the israeli fanatics. they make things bad for the
10:52 am
vast majority of israelis who want to live in peace in a two-state solution. but the vast majority of israelis condemn the jewish fanatics. the vast majority of palestinians seem to praise the palestinian terrorists, and hamas -- one of the two main governing organizations in gaza and the west bank -- loudly praises the kidnapping and killing of the three israeli boys. is there a moral equivalency here? are both sides sort of acting the same? and, by the way, when you read palestinian textbooks and go to schools and read about what the children are taught, vitriolic hatred not only of israel but of the jewish people, you sometimes understand maybe why not
10:53 am
support, but condemn, but sort of gain some inkling of understanding why so many are so filled with hatred. but who is putting out those textbooks? not just hamas. palestinian authority and many palestinian governing units. so the reaction. the reaction of israel, its government and its society to the killing of an innocent palestinian youth and the reaction of the palestinian authorities and people in large part to the killing of three israeli youth show that there is no moral equivalency, because the reaction was totally different. and then let's take what happened yesterday. it's the same thing. you read all the headlines. israel and palestinians fighting with each other, rockets sent on both sides, air raids sent on both sides. but let's look at what happened.
10:54 am
hamas sent rockets into the heart of israel to kill innocent civilians. no warnings, not in response to anything israel did. they just decided to send these rockets. some commentators say it's because they're weak now, that egypt will no longer let them get all those supplies through the tunnels. what is israel's response? of course they have to eliminate the rockets and rocket launchers. but what other society sends leaflets to the houses that have these rocket launchers and say please vacate? what other society tries to call people on cell phones and say leave. we have to get rid of the rocket launchers. we don't want to kill innocent people. that's what israel did. did hamas send any warnings to the people of de row or ber
10:55 am
shava? no. did hamas do this in response to israel? no. so this idea, again, in the papers, both sides are fighting, what we can do, they're both sort of equally wrong, is morally abhorrent to me and to many others. there is, madam president, in conclusion, no moral equivalency, no moral equivalency to weigh these two states, and frankly in large part, with some exceptions, two societies react. the horrible murders of young people: israel, sad, condemning the israelis who did it. too many palestinians praising the palestinians who did it. and in response to rockets sent into civilian areas, israel tries to limit its response to
10:56 am
military targets and let civilians who might be near those targets know that they should evacuate. we all pray for peace in the middle east, madam president. i certainly do. there have been too much death, too much anguish, too much insecurity. but we are not going to achieve peace by equating the two sides and saying they are equivalent morally or in any other way. the steps that the beleagured nation of israel takes to try and protect itself are far different than so many of the aggressive actions of too many on the palestinian side with too much support from too many of the palestinian people. there is no moral equivalency. i yield the floor.
10:57 am
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. ms. murkowski: madam president, i would request that floor privileges for the balance of the month be afforded to my interns, anika graham, rebecca carney braveman, evan esess, isabellle powerson fearson. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. murkowski: thank you, madam president. madam president, i come to the floor this morning to speem on the bipartisan sportsmen's act of 2014. i have been working on this bill
10:58 am
with my colleague from north carolina, senator hagan. we've been working on this bill together now for about a year. our package is really very reflective of its name. it is a bipartisan sportsmen's package. we have, as of this morning we've got 46 members signed on in support of this legislation. i think most would agree that at this time to have 46 members across the aisle reaching together on any issue is really quite extraordinary, and one would think that we would have a clear path forward insofar as how we can advance a measure that has really brought together a very diverse group of senators, diverse from different parts of the country. but i think it speaks to how
10:59 am
important and how widely accepted and supported these issues are. and i think this is in no small part to the fact that america's sponsorsmen and sports women come -- america's sportsmen and sportswomen come from all over the country. they're not just in the rural areas out in the country, but they're in the big cities. they're in urban centers. they're in the north. they're in the south. for so many of us, outdoor activities and traditions really define who we are. i don't know how it is in north dakota, but september 1 in our household, i recognize that that is labor day for us around the country, but for most alaskans i know, it's opening day. it's opening day, and it's when everybody is getting ready to go out duck hunting. and then you've got moose season. you've got caribou season.
11:00 am
we define our seasons not by the calendar, but by really what is happening with hunting. right now in my state, all that anyone is talking about is fishing. the reds are running on the kenai. that's where i'm going to be this weekend with my husband. last week it was all about the kings omnushack. this morning the article in the newspaper around the state is about an angler who caught a 42-pownt halibut off of gustavus. it described the individual, the fisherman as a 77-year-old man who came up to the state, this is his third visit to gustavus because he likes going after the
11:01 am
halibut. for a small community like gustavus to have fishermen come into their town and bring the dollars that they do, this is big for us. this helps our economy. it is not only fun, it is really an economic driver in so many parts of my state. so whether it is hunting or whether it is fishing, these are issues that alaskans care about. i think they are also issues that people in north dakota care about, people in virginia and maryland and all over the country. so what we have done in this very bipartisan bill is combined a host of measures that speak to some of the regulatory reforms that will provide for greater access for our sportsmen and women, whether on the water or on the land, whether it is the hunting and fishing and recreational shooting protection act, the target practice and marksmanship training support act, which provides for revenues and dollars to help with hunting
11:02 am
education programs, very important for us around the country, electronic dutc duck s, hunting heritage opportunities act -- again, all provisions and measures that senator hagan and i have worked to kind of build these initiatives into one package to focus on how we can do more to provide for greater access for our sportsmen and women around the country. but we also provide for some very important conservation principles. we include the north american wetlands conservation act and the national fish and wildlife foundation reauthorization, some very important measures. we have a provision that we've included from senator heinrich, the land reauthorization. it's not just on the access side. but it is also focused on the conservation side as well.
11:03 am
so very strong support not only within this body but also within sports organizations all over the country, some 42 different organizations have come together to sign a letter in support of advancing this measure through the senate. we spend a lot of time here on the senate floor talking about, well, we mitt be aibl might be o advance something here in the senate but we don't know how it will fare on the house side. some legislation sponsored by the congresswoman from ohio passed the house on february 5 of this year by over 100-vote margin. so, clearly, the support is not only bipartisan, it's bicameral. so what we have done working together with senator layin hagd
11:04 am
her good staff, we've worked hard to coordinate these efforts that the house and senate bills are closely aligned so that when we move something out of here, we don't have to guess as to what might happen; we know that we're going to have good, strong support. so, madam president, i am obviously very, very hopeful that we can complete our work on this bill. but before we complete the work on the bill, we've got to be able to start work on the bill. but i also recognize that unless we can agree to an open and a fair amendment process where we actually take some votes around here on amendments offered by folks on both sides, that we're -- we're probably unlikely to make progress on this bill. and i think that that is very unfortunate because i know that there are a lot of folks in my state that are hoping that we're going to move on this, that are saying, you know, if the senate
11:05 am
can't come together on something like a bipartisan sportsmen's package where you've got 46 members coming together to do this, wow ... how are they going to do anything? we need to be able to demonstrate that we can work together on some of these initiatives where there is a good level of consensus. so i hate to be in the place where we are right now about arguing about whether or not we're going to be able to take up any relevant amendments. i want us to take up these relevant amendments. like the bill that senator hagan and i worked on. if i didn't like it, i wouldn't be standing here trying to advance and encourage my colleagues to we move forward to t but i also know that as good as senator hagan and i are on representing these issues, we don't have all the monopoly on the good ideas. we don't have a monopoly on the
11:06 am
different things that are coming from the country. we need to have input from our colleagues. and i will remind that you that the measure before us is not a measure that has gone through the full committee process. this is a measure that has advanced to the floor through a process known as rule 14, where it hasn't had the benefit of members advancing their amendments through the committee process. so i want to have an amendment process. i want to have the debate on some of the measures that we have in front of us. i want to stand and tell people why i think it's important that we provide for additional access for our sportsmen and women on our public lands and what we can be doing more to help incent that. but twoaf hav we have to have tt
11:07 am
amendment process. and many of my colleagues know, we've been here before. we have been here before as recently as 2012. it was a very highly frustrating experience. we had a similar sportsmen's bill that was bogged down in -- basically it was political posturing late last congress and it didn't go anywhere as a result. so with that history in mind and knowing what we went through in 2012, i decided last july in 12013, decided to introduce my own sportsmen's package. and what i really wanted to do is, i figured, okay, let's see if we can't take some of the politics out of this measure, try to be very bipartisan, try to be nonpolitical. i felt that as the ranking member of the committee with jurisdiction on this and as one who wasn't up for election at this point in time, it was -- i was perhaps a good spot to maybe
11:08 am
lead this thing forward. and so we put the ideas out there in november. senator hagan introduced her own bill, the sport act, and what became very apparent to both of us is that if we continued down this two-track path, we would not be successful in passage. and so senator hagan and i agreed, we know what the mind. and then we went out and we re-cruited our cosponsors. we secured the time for floor consideration and now we're here caught in the same argument about whether or not relevant amendments from our caucuses should be allowed.
11:09 am
and my answer on this is pretty simple. it's just flat out "yes." yes, of course, relevant amendments should be allowed. yes, we should actually be doing our job here in the united states senate, as taking good ideas from both sides and advancing a package that again hasn't gone through the traditional path of a committee process. senator hagan and i have again built this and many of our colleagues agree with us, otherwise they would not have signed on os cosponsors -- we greatly appreciate their support. but again i think it is important to get their perspectives on this initiative before we take a final vote on the bill. and i do want to be very clear, because i heard some comments this morning that republicans are somehow or another filibustering this bill. i just find that kind of stunning, i guess. the republican kfns is -- the
11:10 am
republican conference is absolutely prepared to vote on all relevant amendments. last evening when i left, there was a list of 13 that had been filed. this morning that list has grown. it's doubled. it's probably growing as we speak. but, madam president, let's get moving on these relevant amendments, these amendments that are tied to the bill itself. we -- and i.t and it's not just republican amendments esm we have a good handful of them that i would like to see advanced. there are amendments on both sides. and some of these are amendments are very, very relevant to specific states. i know that senator landrieu has an amendment louisiana. it's the can dear deer huntingt
11:11 am
of we were trying to do a broader, more comprehensive national in scope. but if senator landrieu feels that this is an important piece to have, she should have an opportunity to weigh in on that. senator cardin and senator crapo have introducedduced an amendme, the national fish habitat conservation act. again, a bipartisan amendment led by senator cardin, clearly relevant to this measure. why -- why would we not want to have the opportunity to advance some of these provisions that members feel will enhance a bill that already has good, strong support? so i -- i want to make sure that members know that i am fully
11:12 am
committed to a full and open amendment process, that republicans would like to see a full and open amendment process, and that we get moving. instead of talking about getting moving, we're actually going to make that happen. so i thank those who have come forward and offered their support for this measure. a lost work has gone into crafting the bill, but i'm fearful, madam president, that once again we're at risk of basically being cast aside because of political keynes. -- because of political concerns. so i would ask the majority leader to reconsider his view that relevant amendments are too difficult to vote on. we have to return to regular order. we have to have a fair and healthy git o debate on legisla, especially legislation like this
11:13 am
that has not gone through the committee process, has strong support but needs input from members all over the kufnlt i -e country. i appreciate the concern of the body here in trying to advance a measure that will help us not only when it comes to access for our fishermen and our sportsmen and women. it provides for further conservation measures, but also, madam president, helps us advance a process in this body that at this time is so desperately lacking. with that, madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. wicker: i understand we are in morning business until
11:14 am
noon? the presiding officer: that's correct. mr. wicker: i rise to speak about a very troubling issue, to speak about the innocent lives being stolen from communities and neighborhoods across our country and around the globe, and i speak of the issue of human trafficking. last month in more than 100 u.s. cities -- last month -- 168 children were rescued from sex trafficking, and 281 pimps were arrested on federal and state charges. the week-long campaign known as "operation cross-country" was conducted by the f.b.i., law enforcement officials and the national center for missing and exploited children. it underscores a heartbreaking relatey: human traffic something not a faraway problem, madam president. it is happening right here in america in all 50 states. each year thousands of men,
11:15 am
women, and children are robbed of their basic freedom to live as they choose. they become victims of a rampant and evil crime coerced through intimidation and even through violence to work as laborers or processty substitutes. according to estimates from the polaris project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking, there were more than 5,000 potential trafficking cases in america last year. however, the precise number of domestic victims is unknown. it should be noted that sex trafficking affects individuals of all background and races, but it disproportionately impacts women both domestically and internationally. according to the polaris project, 85% of sex trafficking victims in the united states are women. although news headlines often
11:16 am
glibly refer to a war on women in political terms, we as policy-makers might well devote more of our energy to the issue of sex trafficking, a real war, a daily war, a nightmarish war faced by the most vulnerable among us: young women who are bought and sold for sex against their will. i stand with colleagues from both political parties in calling for an end to this nightmare. we must not ignore the horror stories on our doorsteps. earlier this year children ranging in age from 13 to 17-year olds were rescued in a sex trafficking operation at the super bowl, one of our most celebrated events was the scenario for this horror for
11:17 am
these 13- to 17-year olds. these young americans deserve both justice and they deserve rehabilitation. our friends in the house of representatives have recently passed a package of bills on antitrafficking, and i hope we will soon consider similar efforts in the senate. to highlight a few, senator rubio has introduced a bill to help protect children in foster care from becoming victims of trafficking. senator cornyn has introduced legislation for increasing federal resources available to trafficking victims. and senator klobuchar has introduced legislation to help ensure that minors who are sold for sex are not prosecuted as perpetrators but properly treated as the victims they really are. this week i have introduced the end trafficking act of 2014.
11:18 am
like the legislation put forward by my colleagues, my bill would help ensure victims of trafficking receive the treatment they need to lead healthy, free and productive lives. one proposal in my bill would be a court-based pilot program modeled after hawaii's girls courts. and similar to the federal drug court system. rather than being correctly treated as victims, trafficking -- trafficked juveniles are often charged with a delinquency offense and detained. many do not receive the counseling or support they need while in detention and some even return to the trafficker who abused them. my bill supports a specialized court docket and integrated judicial supervision that would put the well-being of the victim first.
11:19 am
detention does not amount to rescue, and these victims need to be rescued. they should have an opportunity to return home and receive treatment. human trafficking is a complex problem that demands multifaceted solutions. supporting the victims is only one part of the equation. we must also target those who perpetuate these atroashes crimes. -- atrocious crimes. so the legislation i introduced seeks to punish those responsible for trafficking: the providers and the buyers, the pimps and the johns. first, there should be strict enforcement of laws already on the books that prohibit the purchase of sex with minors. second, child victims should have a longer statute of limitations period, during which to file civil lawsuits against their traffickers. finally, those who distribute or
11:20 am
benefit financially from commercial advertising that promotes prostitution should face criminal charges also. my bill would do all three. we've seen the value of coordination among local, state and federal agencies to fight trafficking. this was certainly true in operation cross country. in working together, agencies and law enforcement partners can improve the ways they target traffickers to help victims. we all need to realize that in the united states, the freest, most prosperous nation in the world, traffickers still find and transit victims. our efforts to fight trafficking within our borders are important to fight against trafficking worldwide. there are some 21 million people around the world who endured this cruel form of modern-day slavery.
11:21 am
there is no other way to put it, madam president. although the united states cannot single-handedly eradicate the problem, we can serve as a moadle for other countries to follow by preventing trafficking and supporting its victims here at home. again, madam president, the title of the bill is the end trafficking act of 2014, introduced this week. i'm looking for cosponsors. i'm looking for republicans, democrats, and independents to come forward and say with a unified voice that this senate, this congress, this federal government intends to put the full weight of our efforts toward combatting this serious national and international problem. and seeing no other speakers, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
11:22 am
a senator: i think i need to ask unanimous consent that the time be equally divided. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. wicker: following procedure, madam president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated for a moment. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wicker: and now i ask that the time be equally divided among republicans and democrats for the remaining period of morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wicker: thank you. and looking around, i note that there still is not a quorum, madam president. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
11:23 am
11:24 am
11:25 am
11:26 am
11:27 am
11:28 am
11:29 am
11:30 am
11:31 am
11:32 am
11:33 am
quorum call:
11:34 am
mr. barrasso: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, today i rise in support of an amendment, the barrasso amendment 3453, to the underlying bill. this actually has 36 cosponsors, 36 of my fellow colleagues have cosponsored legislation called the protecting water and property rights act of 2014. and this amendment, this legislation is identical to the amendment that we have on the floor today. the amendment restricts the expansion of federal authority by this administration's e.p.a. to encompass all the wet areas on farms, on ranches, and
11:35 am
suburban homes all across america. more specifically, the amendment eliminates the administration's proposed rule, a rule to implement this expansion of federal authority, an expansion which i don't think the federal government should have or does have. but we do have a recently proposed rule. and through this proposed rule, federal agencies are attempting to expand the definition of "waters of the united states." and they want to expand the definition -- it is a specific term, "waters of the united states." they want to expand the definition to now include ditches, other dry areas where water does flow but only flows during a short duration; basically, after a rainfall. federal regulations have never defined ditches and other up land drainage features as waters of the united states. so this is an expansion of the way we viewed waters of the united states.
11:36 am
this proposed rule does and will have a huge impact on farmers, ranchers and small businesses that need to put a shovel into the ground to make a living. the ruling in a sense amounts to a user's fee, a user's fee for farmers and ranchers to use their own land after it rains. it forces suburban homeowners to pay the e.p.a. and the army corps of engineers to use their back yards after a storm. to me, this is one of the worst things that i would think that we would ever do to americans let alone during this poor economy. that is why the protecting water and private property rights act is endorsed by the american farm bureau, the national cattleman's beef association. it is endorsed by the national federation of independent business and by the american land rights association. they have endorsed this bill, this amendment because they know
11:37 am
how devastating the rule is to farmers, to ranchers, to small business owners and even to homeowners. this administration claims that they are providing flexibility for farmers and for ranchers in the proposed rule. mr. president, farmers and ranchers across the country who read this, they are not deceived. bob stallman, the president of the american farm bureau released a statement on june 11 of this year stating that the e.p.a. rule would micromanage farming via newly mandated procedures for fencing, spraying, weeding and more. he said permitting meanwhile could delay time-sensitive tasks for months, potentially ruining crops in the process. well, according to the june edition of the publication "national cattlemen," an article entitled" e.p.a. ag exemptions for watus," the article states
11:38 am
that while agricultural exemptions are briefly included, they don't come close to meeting the needs of the cattlemen across the country. bob mccann stated in an article that -- quote -- for example, wet spots are areas napas tour that standing water under this rule could potentially be affected. we now need permission to travel and move cattle across these types of areas. the article lists some of the major areas of agriculture not exempted by the e.p.a.'s proposed rule. when the article says activities not covered, not covered by the exemptions include introduction of new cultivation techniques, planting different crops, changing crops to pasture, changing pasture to crops, changing crop land to vineyards or orchards and changing crop land to nurseries. so those things aren't included. the rule also provides no flexibility for investments by small businesses across the
11:39 am
country. according to the national federation of independent businesses, they say unfortunately despite claims by the agencies, the e.p.a., the proposed rule will only increase uncertainty. the proposed rule still requires the agencies to determine on a case-by-case basis whether many common land formations fall under federal jurisdiction. often this determination, they say, does not occur until after substantial investments in planning by a small business have taken place, thus chilling investment and expansion. small businesses can't be speculative with their resources and capital. private property owners, mr. president, would also face no flexibility. my own constituent, mr. andy johnson, he has been threatened by e.p.a. with penalties calculated to reach an estimated $187,000 a day, a day, for
11:40 am
building what he believes is a stock pond on his property. in a month's time, he could be liable for more than $5 million in penalties. so what are homeowners to do when faced with this kind of threat? they can choose to fight city hall with their limited resources or give had to strongarming by the federal government. given the agency's plans toax panned the jurisdictional limits of the clean water act, e.p.a. to usely use the rule to bankrupt small landowners for something as simple as building a pond or a ditch anywhere near a wetland or stream. mr. president, congress never intended for the clean water act to be used this way. to me, it defies logic to think that this proposed rule will benefit anybody but bureaucrats in washington who are far removed from the communities between the coasts. i think it's time for the e.p.a. and the army corps of engineers
11:41 am
to really keep out of the lives of our constituents' back yards, and it's time to do it by opposing the proposed rule. and i'd like to end with a -- with a broader point, mr. president, about how the senate operates these days. today "the washington post" had an editorial specifically about the legislation and it's entitled "clear rules for clean water," which is the proposal that i have here today. clear rules for clean water. so the board writes, the editorial board of "the washington post" writes if lawmakers don't like the call that the e.p.a. is making -- and i don't like the call the e.p.a. is making -- if lawmakers don't like the call the e.p.a. is making, the post says they should clarify the terminology themselves. well, in an ideal world, i agree with him, mr. president. if we don't like something, we should be able to propose a
11:42 am
better idea, and then in the united states senate, we should be allowed to vote on it. the reality is that the majority leader, senator reid, has essentially shut down the senate and refuses to allow us to vote on new ideas that would actually solve challenges like this one. in fact, republicans and democrats have proposed hundreds and hundreds of amendments. we have been only able to vote on a very small number of those, and very select ones at that. the truth is the majority leader, harry reid, refuses to allow any votes on almost any amendment and is enforcing a gag order, a gag order on real debate, discussion and most importantly on votes. a gag order on important issues that impact the lives of all americans. now, to prove my point, mr. president, i put together a chart, and i'd like to take a moment now to just review the voting record over the past full year of this body in the united states senate. on this calendar, you will see
11:43 am
under the headline "reid blocks votes," the republican votes in red, days over the last full year, 12 calendar months, and then the 13th month being july down here because we start last year on july 1. so the red x's are days where republicans had votes on republican amendments. votes on democrat amendments are in blue. so through the past 12 months, july of 2013, july of 2014, majority leader reid has allowed republicans to vote on their amendments a total of eight days, eight days out of the entire 12 months there have been votes on republican amendments, a total of 11 amendments during that time republicans have had a chance to offer and be voted on over the fact that we have introduced hundreds of amendments. but it's interesting, mr. president, harry reid has actually been tougher on his own party, more restrictive, more limited. if you look at this calendar, you will see the days in blue.
11:44 am
harry reid has only allowed democrats to vote one, two, three, four, five days in the year that democrats have had votes on their own amendments on the floor of the united states senate, and over that time, democrats have proposed hundreds and hundreds, over 500 amendments and only on five days have there been amendments. only seven democrat amendments have been voted on in a full year. democrats haven't had a vote on an amendment on this floor on an amendment proposed by a democrat senator since march, march 27. it's been 103 days and counting since the democrats have had an amendment that they -- one of them have proposed offered here in the united states senate for a vote. it's so interesting, mr. president, because i look at you and see of the democrats newly elected to the senate since -- in 2012, members of your class, that entire class,
11:45 am
not one, not a single one has had a roll call vote on one of their own amendments on the floor of the united states senate ever. it's an astonishing display of what a majority leader has done to muzzle an entire legislative body, both parties. mr. president, i will tell you, i think it's an embarrassing record. it's an embarrassing record for the majority leader and i think it's an embarrassing record for the democrats who control the united states senate to tolerate it. mr. president, i think it's important for americans to pay close attention to what -- not just what senators say when they go home but actually what happens, what they do, what they stand for, what they vote on. so i would say the next time democrats go home and tell their constituents that there they are
11:46 am
introducing legislation to solve a problem, the constituents ought to ask, "when's the vote?" that's what i want to know, "when's the vote?" when's the vote, mr. president? when's the vote, the senate democrats? when's the vote, majority leader reid? when is the vote? like usual, when the question is asked, silence. that's all you get in return. so i actually believe we have a majority of senators, republicans and democrats, that would actually vote to pass my amendment, this amendment that i have on to this bill on the floor, a majority of senators, republicans and democrats, bipartisan, to pass this amendment to stop the e.p.a.'s extreme takeover of waters across america. but under senator reid's command-and-control style of leadership, i don't think we'll ever know. i don't think we'll have that vote and i think that senator
11:47 am
reid will block it. so i would say, if you agree with the editorial board of the "washington post," "clear rules for clean water," today's "washington post" editorial, then you should be able to stand up and be counted. democrats should demand it. in the recent history of the united states, if that history is any indication, as you can see by this vote calendar, this embarrassing calendar, i'm not at all confident that this body will ever be given the opportunity to stand and be counted and the reason is because majority leader reid won't allow republicans or democrats to vote on my amendment or hardly anyone else's amendment as well. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
11:48 am
mr. barrasso: mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
11:49 am
11:50 am
11:51 am
mr. levin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan.
11:52 am
mr. levin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: mr. president, i have four unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders, and i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: and, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the republicans control the time from 2:00 until 3:00 p.m. and the majority leader control the time from 3:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. today. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: mr. president, i just returned from afghanistan, where i met with the two presidential candidates, dr. ashrav ghani and dr. abdullah, abdullah. both are impressive men who have committed to reformist agendas and campaigned throughout the country. afghanistan is fortunate to have two such capable presidential candidates. in the course of my meetings with the two candidates last
11:53 am
sunday and, indeed, during many meetings over the years, each has told me that he appreciates the support that the united states has provided so their country and each will sign a bilateral security agreement with the united states as soon as possible after the next president is inaugurated. now, this is a particularly sensitive time for afghanistan which has not had a peaceful transition of power since the 50 years since zahir shah was overthrone in a coup. more than 7 million ballots were cast in the first round of the presidential election back in april and more than 8 million ballots were recorded in the runoff election last month. all agree that there was an impressive turnout in a country where the taliban has repeatedly threatened violence against those who vote there. have been dramatic improvements in afghanistan over the last decade in the number of schools and universities, in the number
11:54 am
of students and teachers, particular the female students and female teachers. and afghan life expectancy and average income and in many other areas. the afghan army and the afghan national police, who have taken over security responsibility from united states and coalition forces, have shown great capability by successfully securing two rounds of elections and repelling a concerted taliban attack in the helman region of the country. if the ongoing dispute about the outcome of the afghan presidential election is not resolved in a fair and credible manner, however, these achievements would be at risk. the taliban does not have the ability to defeat the afghan army or to take over afghan cities and population centers. however, if a disputed elections were to lead to infighting or to the establishment of parallel governments, the army could be severely weakened and divided,
11:55 am
providing new opportunities for the taliban. the united states and our coalition allies would be much less likely to provide the continued military and economic assistance that afghanistan needs if that country's leaders cannot pull together and resolve their disputes through the existing election process. as the state department stated on monday -- quote -- "the continued support of the united states for afghanistan requires that afghanistan remains united and that the result of this election is deemed credible." both candidates told me personally on sunday that they believe that a comprehensive audit of the election results is necessary and appropriate and that they will abide by the results of such an audit. they also stated that they understand that the outcome of the election will not be final and will not be credible until
11:56 am
such an audit has been completed. the two campaign teams have been working with the united nations and other international elections experts over the last few days to develop an appropriate audit scope to troam the elections commission. i had hoped that an agreement on this review could be announced at the same time that a preliminary vote count was released on monday. while that did not happen, the head of the independent election commission said the following, that the election -- excuse me, that the announcement of preliminary results does not mean the winner has been announced. and he continued, "the investigation of votes could have impacts on the final results." the two campaigns have already agreed on audit triggers that will result in the review of nearly half of the ballots cast, but they have not yet reached
11:57 am
full agreement on the measures to be taken. i hope that they'll be able to do so in the very near future, but this is the bottom line. whether or not they are able to reach agreement in full, the electoral complaint commission, working with the independent election commission, has a responsibility to decide how many ballots to audit and they have that responsibility on their own initiative. the independent election commission must then announce a winner. the path to resolution of the matter is not unclear. on the contrary, the afghan constitution and election law are very clear. there's no uncertainty about this path. the independent election commission and the electoral complaints commission have the responsibility to proceed on
11:58 am
their own to determine how many ballots need to be audited and to conduct an audit with or without the agreement of the candidates. indeed, the united nations assistance commission in afghanistan has already called on the election commissions to do just that. i said to the two candidates on sunday that the afghan people and the afghan security forces have shown great bravery in standing up for their country and that it is now time for the country's leaders to do the sa same. it would be truly unfortunate if the great progress made in afghanistan at the expense of so much afghan, american, and coalition blood and treasure were to be jeopardized by political infighting and the failure of political leadership. mr. president, i yield the floor.
11:59 am
i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
12:00 pm
quorum call:

22 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on