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tv   U.S. Senate Debates Jay Claytons Nomination to the SEC  CSPAN  May 1, 2017 2:59pm-6:50pm EDT

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is struggling for survival. >> otherwise we have the same old democrats, romania and other countries in the east. nato, they are not a solution. nato itself is already. >> host: george, before we get into a nato discussion i want to get an morrissey on your thoughts on the caller said donald trump could execute in washington and who he blames for that. >> first, i would again caution that we are at just 100 days in the presidency, there's at least, >> washington journal is live every day at 7 am, you can watch this segment and all the program at c-span.org. heading to the senate floor momentarily tobegin the week , we will pick up the nomination of jay clayton to join the securities and
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exchange commission with a vote to move forward on the nomination scheduled for 5:30 eastern this afternoon, off the floor with a deal has been reached to fund the federal government and related agencies from the end of the fiscal year, we expect measure on the house and senate floors this week. read that budget by the way on our website as well, there's a link at the top of the homepage, after words any two. now life to the senate floor here on c-span. >> the president pro tempore: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. god of our fathers and mothers, continue to lead us with the power of your wisdom and might. empower our senators to live
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this day with honor. increase their faith, hope, and love that they may receive your promises and claim them to accomplish your purposes for our world. lord, inspire our senators today with the music of your wisdom that through their labors they may bring hope from despair and joy from sadness. teach them to celebrate, even in the darkness, because you are the god who gives us strength to accomplish more than we can ask or imagine. we pray in your mericful name. amen.
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the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: the funding
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bill announced last night will allow us to make critical advances to he radio build our -- to rebuild our military, strengthen our border, and continue providing relief to communities that have struggled for too long against the opioid epidemic. these are important priorities for congress and for the president. they reflect a lot of hard work. they promise to positively and meaningfully impact the lives of the men and women we represent. the funding bill also includes another critical priority i've long fought for -- protecting health care for thousands of retired coal miners. this legislation will allow us to take the initial step needed to begin rebuilding our military. it contains a down payment on defense that will support forward-deployed forces in places like the korean peninsula and eastern europe and operations against adversaries like isil and the taliban as we work to secure the funds that
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will be necessary to improve readiness and restore munitions. -- and munition. we know that more must be done to meet our global commitments and by providing some of the resources that will be necessary for a sustained rebuilding campaign, one we can hope will earn bipartisan support, we can take an important step forward. this legislation will also allow us to substantially strengthen the border. it contains the largest increase in border security resources in a decade, allowing us to address high-priority security needs, crack down on illegal border crossings, and strengthen the border with everything from upgraded physical infrastructure to high-tech biometric and surveillance technology. we know more must be done to secure the border, and by finally delivering more of the resources and tools necessary to secure it, we can take an important step forward.
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this legislation will also allow us to fight back against the opioid and heroin crisis while bolstering medical innovation and treatments at the same time. it contains funding for programs congress authorized last year in the comprehensive addiction and recovery act, continued funding for the 21st century cures act, also passed last year a tack opioid -- attack opioid abuse alsos funds to address the opioid and prescription drug crisis across the nation. we know more must be done to heal the communities that are hurting by funding the fight against today's epidemic against the fight for tomorrow's medical solutions. we can take an important step in the right direction. my home state of kentucky has been particularly hard hit by this epidemic. helping our families and communities overcome this assault remains a top priority for me.
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now, on another priority of mine addressed in the funding bill, i am particularly proud announce that through this legislation we've secured a permanent -- permanent -- extension of health care benefits for thousands of retired coal miners and their families in states like kentucky. over the past few years, i've met with numerous kentucky minors about this important issue, and i've been proud to lead efforts to help these families keep their health care. now i'm pleased to report that this spending legislation incorporates language from a bill i introduced earlier this year and will enact a permanent extension of miner health care benefits. i'm proud to have secured this important provision, as we put together the final package. and i'll continue to fight to provide relief for coal communities going forward. moreover, this funding bill also includes additional assistance for troubled coal mining communities and dislocated coal workers and it promotes an all-of-the-above energy program
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that prioritizes natural gas and research. it is disappointing that our democratic colleagues blocked last year's effort to move regular appropriations bills. i am pleased that we have now agreed to a solution that will advance many of the priorities of the american people, congress, and the president. the funding legislation announced last night which incorporates the 11 regular appropriations bills remaining from last year is the product of a great deal of work in committee last year and subsequent bipartisan, bicameral discussions this year. i want to thank all of those who put in long hours and continued to negotiate in good faith so we can arrive at this strong agreement. in particular, i want to recognize chairman cochran, the leadership of the senate and house appropriations committees, and their staffs. they worked to ensure that the process was bipartisan and bicameral every step of the way. because of their efforts, we now have an agreement that both sides should support. before we take up the bill later this week, i would encourage all
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senators to review the full text, which includes more information on the priorities i just menged. -- mentioned. then let's just keep working together to pass it later this week. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to executive session for the consideration of calendar number 39 -- 39-51 and all nominations placed on the secretary's desk in the air force, a.m., marine corps, and navy, that the nominations be confirmed, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate, that no further motions be in order, that any statements related to the nominations be printed in the record, and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. morning business is closed.
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under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the clayton nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, secretaries and exchange commission, jay clayton of new york to be a member. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president? last wednesday the trump administration unveiled the outlines of a tax reform plan and pre-dickively the plan has met with both praise and scorn from the usual sectors. regardless of where the people might come down and on the specific of the president's plan, those who have been proponents of tax reform hopefully those from both parties should be pleased to see the president of the united states fully engaged in this effort. for six years now, i have been
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beating the drum on tax reform. i have sought to make the case here on the floor in public forums and events and in private conversations. i haven't been alone. indeed, members from both parties have acknowledged the need to fix our broken tax system and have sought to move the ball forward on reform. one thing of a. said throughout this endeavor is that tax reform, if it's going to be successful, will require president of the united statesdential leadership and that was not a political statement on my part. with those statements, i want simply calling for the election of a republican president. i repeatedly implored president obama to engage with congress on tax reform. but really to know avail. as of know, we finally have a president who is ready t to lead in this effort, and once again regardless of where anyone stands with regard to this precedent or the specifics of his tax plan, the fact that he
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is willing to meaningfully engage with congress and the public on these issues should be viewed as a welcome sign for all tax reform advocates, regardless of their party affiliation. with regard to the specifics of the outline, i believe the president has laid out a set of critical core principles that should hopefully serve as guideposts as the effort moves forward. most importantly, the plan is designed first and foremost to grow the economy and it would certainly do that. in addition, the plan would greatly simplify the tax plan and make it fairer, particularly for individuals and families, which has been a shared goal of tax reformers from both sides of the aisle. over two-thirds of taxpayers take the standard deduction. those taxpayers tend to be concentrated in the middle and lower-income brackets. under the president's plan,
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married couples would see the standard deduction doubled so that they would not pay tax on the first $24,000 of income. it would reduce rates for both large and small businesses and job creators, which is also something both republicans and democrats have sought a ccomplish in tax reform. overall, the president's tax plan would make our country more competitive in the international marketplace and reduce the tax rate on millions of middle-class families. clearly, as the effort moves forward, congress and the administration will have to fill in the specifics. we'll need to see how the numbers work out and where the votes are for any particular reform proposal. this is going to take some time, but as the chairman of the senate's finance -- or tax write being committee, i believe we can be ready to move in
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relatively short order, and i opinion is -- and i intend to work closely with my colleagues here in the senate and in the house and of course the administration to finalize the reform package and get it across the finish line. the last major tax overhaul in the u.s. was more than 30 years ago, so we have a once-in-a-lifetime, or once-in-a-generation opportunity in front of you and i intend to do all i can to make sure we make the most of it. when i say "we," i'm not simply referring to republicans in congress. -- and the white house. i'm referring to anyone who recognizes the problems in our current tax system and is willing to do the necessary work to fix those problems. my hope is that this will be a bipartisan exercise. by and large, republicans appear ready and willing to work with the president to get tax reform done. and i am working to find some
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willing partners among my friends on the other side of the aisle. i've said many times that tax reform should not have to be a partisan exercise. our current tax system imposes undue burdens, undue hardships on republican and democratic voters alike. therefore, both republicans and democrats in congress should be willing to relieve these hardships and, as i've stated here on the floor on numerous occasions, i am willing to work with thin, republican or -- with anyone, republican or democrat, to make this effort successful. that said, i haven't been all that encouraged by the rhetoric we're hearing from our friends on the other side of the aisle on these issues. setting aside statements we've heard about the policies in the president's plan or elsewhere, the senate democratic leadership at times seems bound and
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determined to ensure that no member of their party engages on these issues. most recently the senate minority leader has insisted on two conditions before he will agree to work with republicans on tax reform. the first condition that republicans commit to not moving tax reforms through the budget reconciliation process. now, this is an odd demand, one that is, quite frankly, unprecedented in the modern history of tax policy. certainly the reconciliation process makes it easier to move reform through congress on a partisan basis, but historically speaking, most major tax bills that have moved through reconciliation have had bipartisan support. there is no reason why if agreements are reached on policy democrats could not agree to support a tax reform package moved through reconciliation.
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so taking it categorically off the table before discussions even begin seems at best counterintuitive. history tells us that reconciliation need not be partisan. in fact, when republicans have had control of both bodies of congress and the white house, we have enacted tax reconciliation bills that have enjoyed some senate democratic support. it's also worth noting that at various points in the recent past, republicans have stayed at the negotiating table, participating in former and informer discussions on major policy matters with wilings instructions in place and without any assurances that reconciliation would not be used. are democrats going to be more amenable to compromising on policy if reconciliation is not on the table? it is hard to see why that would be the case. taking reconciliation off the
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table would really only make it easier for democrats to prevent tax reform or any kind of tax reform from passing. so essentially what some of my democratic colleagues are saying is that before they will even enter talks on tax reform, they want us to ensure up front that they will have the ability to block the bill once it is brought up. like i said, that's an odd demand, not one you would expect to hear from someone who is willing to negotiate a good thing. my colleagues' second precondition for working with us on tax reform is that president trump release his tax returns. like the first demand, this one makes me doubt whether the senate democratic leadership really wants to be constructive on tax reform. this is a political demand, pure and simple. likely poll tested and focus grouped to please the democrats' base. i don't imagine this demand is really about uncovering conflicts of interest in tax
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reform. if it is, it's horribly misguided. it's a horribly misguided strategy. after all, if tax reform were to succeed, the president is only one small part of the equation. there are 435 members of the house of representatives and 100 senators, all of whom would be called upon to vote either for or against the tax reform bill, and whether a member of congress supports or opposes a particular bill, a conflict of interest could potentially influence that decision, just as one could theoretically advance a president's decision to sign or veto a bill. yet, i don't hear anyone from the other side of the aisle demanding the release of every member of congress' tax returns before it can even start working on a bill. that's never been a prerequisite for working on tax legislation
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in the past, and it certainly should not be a prerequisite for the future. in any event, despite these unreasonable demands, i will once again state that i am more than willing to work with my democratic colleagues on tax reform, and i sincerely hope that at least some of them will be willing to do so. i have been in the senate for quite a while now. i think we have -- i think i have more than sufficiently demonstrated my willingness to put partisan differences aside and to reach across the aisle. make no mistake, i believe republicans can move a tax reform package on a purely partisan basis. we have the procedural mechanism in place that would allow us to do that, but my strong preference would be to find a bipartisan pathway forward, and i hope that that can be achieved. speaking more broadly, whether we move forward on a partisan or bipartisan basis, being
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successful on tax reform is going to require that we practice the art of the doable. there are a lot of ideas out there on tax reform, and no shortage of competing interests. i have my own ideas and proposals that i have been working on for a number of years that i'd like to see included in the final package. however, no idea should be considered more important than the broader goals of tax reform. that goes for my ideas and those of anyone else in the congress or in the administration. there is a great deal of consensus among republicans on the most important tax reform policies and principles. in fact, i'd say that we agree on roughly 80% of the key issues, which is a good starting point. now, i will not go into specifics today, but there are some high-profile items in the remaining 20%, and there are
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some differences of opinion regarding most of those items. bridging that gap and finding the path forward is going to take some serious negotiation and compromise. my hope is that people will be willing to adjust their expectations and bend on their preferences in order to achieve success in this very important endeavor. speaking for myself, i can say that i will be willing to do so and i have confidence in my colleagues who will also be playing leadership roles in this effort are similarly willing. and perhaps most importantly, i believe the president and his advisors in the administration are willing to make the necessary compromises to finally make tax reform a success. mr. president, this is the closest we have been to success in tax reform in the past three decades. i hope that all of us, both parties, both chambers, both
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sides of pennsylvania avenue are up to that challenge. and with that, mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. schumer: mr. president. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorumming dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: now, mr. president, late last night, due to the hard work and diligence of the staffs of the appropriations committees on both sides of the aisle in both houses and the staft of the leadership and so many others, we were able to come to a bipartisan agreement on a bill to fund the government through september. most importantly, this agreement takes the threat of a government
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shutdown off the table. it's also a good agreement for the american people. the bill ensures taxpayer dollars are not used to fund an ineffective border wall. it excludes over 160 poison pill riders, and it increases investments in programs that the middle class relies on, education, infrastructure, medical research. it includes a permanent extension of health benefits for miners. and here i want to just praise over and -- can't get enough praise, the senator from west virginia, joe manchin, who was relentless, even after disappointment after disappointment, at holding the senate's feet to the fire and making sure this was done, and many miners can rest easy tonight, these people who have worked so hard for their lives and had so much disappointment because of joe manchin's work and what we put in the bill. there is also funding to shore
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up puerto rico's medicaid program, and $2 billion to help states like california, west virginia, louisiana, north carolina recover from recent natural disasters. the bill also includes a significant increase in n.i.h. funding which deals with cancer research and the cancer moonshot that both president obama and vice president biden pushed for continues onward. a restoration of year-round pell grants which will benefit about a million students, colleges often are the ladder up for a lot of students and this will help them stay on that ladder. and it includes significant increase funding for infrastructure as well as funding to combat the scourge of opioid abuse which affects all parts of the country, urban areas, suburban areas, rural areas. it affects the poor, the middle class and the rich. good news. it protects 99% of the
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environmental protection agency's budget, so their quest to keep our water and air clean will be able to continue. and it increases funding for clean energy research as well, and that's one of the great hopes for jobs in this country as our senator from washington, maria cantwell, constantly reminds us. for my home state of new york, i was particularly pleased that the agreement supports critical programs that are very needed and very popular in my state. the community development block grant program which so many smaller cities depend on. the great lakes restoration initiative to get pollution out of all the great lakes, lake ontario and lake erie being on the shores of new york. and the vital tiger grant program which has done so much to support infrastructure, building, road building and
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highways throughout my state and throughout america. and as i said, the bill explicitly, explicitly precludes the use of any funding for a border wall. and this was an idea that both parties rejected. a load of congressmen and senators on the republican side of the wall doesn't make sense. in fact, you couldn't find one republican on the border in the states of california, arizona, new mexico and texas who supported that wall. why? well, unlike the president's promise, mexico's not paying for it. there's no plan for the wall. we don't even know where we would build it. the secretary of interior, president trump's appointee, said well, we can't build it on the u.s. side because it cuts us off from the river. mexico won't build it on its side. where are we going to build it? in the middle of the river? and mainly because it's not really effective. you can tunnel under a wall. and drugs, which we all want to
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prevent the scourge of drugs from coming across our borders, so many of them come in little planes and in boats. and when they come by land, they are often hidden in parts of cars, in the carburetor or the exhaust tank. hidden. and they will be able to come through because the wall obviously is going to have for tallies in it where -- going to have portals in it where trucks and cars request go through. so no money for the border wall, not one plug nickel, but we do have money, of course, for border protection which both parties have always supported and comprehensive immigration reform. senator mccain and i, bipartisan bill, supported by 68 members of this body made sure that we had very strong border protection, but it's got to be smart, it's got to be cost-effective, it's got to work. now, early on in this debate, mr. president, early on in this debate, democrats clearly laid out our principles, insisted there be no poison pill riders
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in the bill. we were able to knock out more than 160 poison pill riders from the final agreement, including the border wall, antilabor measures that hurt the working people of america, efforts to defund planned parenthood, so many women's health -- so many women depend on these clinics for their health, and we were able to achieve significant investments in domestic programs that help the middle class and those struggling to get to the middle class. of course this bill doesn't include all the things we wanted, but that's the nature of compromise. and at the end of the day, this is an agreement that reflects our basic principles, something both democrats and republicans can support. it took a few extra days, but we got a very good agreement. i want to thank my friend, the majority leader, senator mcconnell. he worked very hard to get a good bill. i want to thank the chairman and
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ranking members of the house-senate appropriations committee, particularly senator leahy from vermont, in our chamber. i want to thank speaker ryan and leader pelosi and all of the staffs for working so hard last week and over the weekend to forge an agreement. and i must tell you, mr. president, and i must tell my colleagues, the negotiations between our two sides were consistently productive and always respectful. throughout the process, both republican and democratic members and staff negotiated in good faith because we all wanted to get something done. i believe this experience bodes well for the 2018 budget and future negotiations between our two parties on appropriations. if we can show the same desire to get things done, the same mutual respect, the same ability to compromise, we can get a darned good budget for the year 2018 without the specter of
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government shutdown hanging over the country's head. and i would say one final thing. it shows that when our republican colleagues are willing to work with us, we can get things done. all too often, particularly from the white house, this attitude is just do it our way. my way or the highway. that's what happened on the health care bill. no consultation with democrats. that's what's happened on this little tax plan. when you don't do things in a bipartisan way, it's much harder to pass things. it's much harder to get a product that's at the consensus of where america is. so i hope that not only will this successful negotiation on the 2017 appropriations bill be a model for the 2018 bill, but a broader model that we can all work together to get things done for the country we love. i expect we'll vote later on this bill this week, and i believe it will receive
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overwhelming support in this chamber. i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from idaho. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. crapo: i rise in support of jay clayton. in the interest of time i will save my longer remarks for later. but as was demonstrated at the banking hearing, mr. clayton is eminently qualified to serve on
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the securities and exchange commission. he impressed republicans and democrats and voted out of committee on a bipartisan vote of 15-8. his extensive expertise in our financial markets will be a benefit to the commission and the american people. his testimony about the need to make our capital markets more effective will help to grow and create jobs. additionally, he pledged to members of this committee and the american people that he will show no favoritism to anyone. while some have raised issues about his previous work potentially creating conflicts, mr. clayton is not new in this regard, nor will he be less vigilant to ensure that he acts appropriately and ethically. i will be supporting his nomination and look forward to having him at the s.e.c. where he can help to promote the success of our security markets
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and our investments. thank you, mr. president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call: mr. barrasso: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. all time is expired.
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the question is on the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: 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 nomination of jay clayton to be a member of the securities and exchange commission, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the nomination of jay clayton of new york to be a member of the securities and exchange commission shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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quorum call:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or to change their vote? if not the yeas are 60. the nays are 36. the motion is agreed to. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant majority leader. mr. cornyn: i'd ask unanimous consent that the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: i further ask unanimous consent that the armed services committee be discharged from further consideration and the senate now proceed to s. res. 135. the presiding officer: the clerk will report.
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the clerk: senate resolution 135 expressing support for the designation of may 1, 2017, as silver star service banner day. the presiding officer: without objection the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the committee on foreign relations be discharged from further consideration of s. 371 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 371 a bill to make technical changes and other improvements to the department of state authorities act fiscal year 2017. the presiding officer: without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed to the measure.
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mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the corker amendment at the desk be agreed to, the bill as amended be considered read a third time and passed, and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of s. res. 148 submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 148 congratulating the students, parents, teachers and leaders of charter schools across the united states and so forth. the presiding officer: without objection. the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. cornyn: i ask unanimous consent that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: finally, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 10:00 a.m.
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tuesday, may 2. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their later use, and the morning business be closed. further, following the leader remarks, the senate proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the clayton nomination with the time from 12:30 p.m. equally divided in the usual form. further, that the senate recess from 12:30 p.m. until 2:15 p.m. toll allow for the weekly conference meetings. finally, that all time during recess, adjournment, morning business and leader remarks count postcloture on the clayton nomination. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: if there's no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it stands adjourned under the previous order following the remarks of the senator from florida, senator nelson. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president?
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the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, there has been a long-standing question of whether or not there would be drilling for oil in the eastern gulf of mexico off of the state of florida. this has been settled in la lawn years ago, then my colleague senator martinez, mel martinez and i, passed a portion of a legislation called gomesa. that portion of the legislation put the drilling off of florida in the eastern gulf everything east of a north/south line called the military mission line which is a line running south of approximately fort walton beach.
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everything east of that is off limits in law to any kind of oil drilling activity along with the remainder of the coast of florida 125 miles from the coast going all the way over to pensacola and to the perdido river which is the alabam alabama/florida line. the reason for this, there are many reasons but not the least of which it's called the military mission line. that area of the gulf off of florida is the largest testing and training area for the united states military in the world. it compared to other testing ranges, such as the nevada test site, it dwarfs that site because you can see from north
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to south. you have ranges as far as 300 miles from east to west. for example, off of naples, florida, all the way west to the military mission line is approximately 250 miles. and that has been needed by our u.s. military because of the testing and training. now, it has been doubted over the years as the relentless pursuit of oil drilling by the oil industry has tried to erode into that and that's why in a bipartisan way senator martinez and i put in law for that period of years up through 2022 from when we passed this back in 20 2006. off limits. the question is what's coming
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afterwards? well, of course, if it's up to the department of defense, there will be no oil drilling activity. and that's what i wanted to bring to the attention of the senate today. two previous secretaries of defense in republican administrations, including secretary rumsfeld, have written letters to state the policy that any oil-related activity in that testing and training range would be incompatible with the mission of the testing and training of the u.s. military. the reason i'm bringing this to the attention of the senate today, it has just come into my possession a letter signed by the acting under secretary of
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defense for personnel and readiness, a gentleman, mr. a.m.kurta who is writing, and i quote, i have been asked to respond to your letter -- this is to congressman matt gates on behalf of the secretary of defense. and this is regarding the maintaining of the moratorium on oil and gas activities in the gulf of mexico beyond the year 2022. and the letter states, and i quote, the department of defense cannot overstate the vital importance of maintaining this moratorium. now, why is that? the letter goes on to explain not only the necessity of which so many of our bases in the ar
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area, tender air force base in panama city, all the testing and training of the f-22, the training of our pilots there, egegland air force base, the training of the pilots of the f-35. remember, the f-35 is being sold to many foreign nations, the testing and training of those pilots as well. but now with new technologies, and i quote from the letter, emerging technologies, such as high per sonics, autonomous systems, and advanced subsurface systems will be requiring in large testing and training footprints and increased d.o.d. reliance on the gulf of mexico energy security act's moratorium
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beyond 2022. the moratorium is essential for developing and sustaining our nation's future combat capabilities. end of quote. so i think it's pretty clear. there is one other issue, and this all follows, mr. president, the fact that this senator filed a bill last january to extend this moratorium. just recently, i point out that a bipartisan delegation of florida, a good number of -- a majority of the members of the florida delegation, bipartisan, signed a letter to the department of interior and the department of the defense
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requesting the extension of this moratorium in law past the year 2022. the response from the department of defense has come today, so there is one further issue, and that is if it's off-limits to oil drilling in law, is there any question about it ought to be off-limits to seismic testing? that to the author of the original legislation ten years ago should be clear, but therefore we ought to clarify it. and the request of the department of defense is that a question arose whether congress intended the moratorium to prohibit even geological and geophysical survey activities in
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the eastern gulf. we would welcome clarification from congress concerning this matter, end of quote. and so it will be this senator's intent, joining in a bipartisan way with colleagues from florida, to get that clarification in extending the moratorium. mr. president, i would ask consent that the letter be inserted in the record as a part of the congressional record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: and i would just say in conclusion, mr. president, we can't have oil drilling not only for our national security and our testing and training of our motion sophisticated weapons systems in the gulf off of florida, but also we can't stand it if we had another oil spill that would do to us what the
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last one did, a spill way far west off of louisiana but it drifted to the east and it blackened the sugary white sands of pensacola beach, destin beach and tar balls as far east as panama city beach, and because of that, we lost an entire season of our guests, our tourists coming to the gulf coast of florida, not just in the florida panhandle but all the way south down the gulf to naples and to marco island, and therefore a $60 billion a year tourism industry to florida's economy, we can't suffer that kind of shock again. so whether it be the degradation of the environment, the messing up of the training and testing of our u.s. military in their
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largest testing and training range or the economic devastating loss to florida of its tourism industry, for all of those reasons, we need to pass this legislation. it will be becoming forth it will be coming forth in a bipartisan fashion. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands adjourned until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.

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