Senate Session - January 25, 2010
Speakers:
Time
Action
  • 02:00:47 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATE WILL COME TO ORDER. THE CHAPLAIN, DR. BARRY BLACK, WILL LEAD…

    THE SENATE WILL COME TO ORDER. THE CHAPLAIN, DR. BARRY BLACK, WILL LEAD THE SENATE IN PRAYER.

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  • 02:01:04 PM

    THE CHAPLAIN

    PRAY. OUR LORD AND OUR GOD, SAVIOR OF HUMANITY, THANK YOU FOR COMMANDING…

    PRAY. OUR LORD AND OUR GOD, SAVIOR OF HUMANITY, THANK YOU FOR COMMANDING LIGHT OUT OF DARKNESS, FOR CREATING OUR WORLD AND CALLING IT GOOD. GREAT AND WONDERFUL ARE YOUR WORKS, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY. TODAY, BLESS OUR LAWMAKERS. GIVE THEM THE COURAGE TO HOLD ON TO WHAT IS GOOD AND TO RETURN NO ONE EVIL FOR EVIL. USE THEM TO STRENGTHEN THE FAINTHEARTED, SUPPORT THE WEAK, AND HELP THE SUFFERING. LORD, EMPOWER THEM TO LOVE AND SERVE WITH EXEMPLARY FAITHFULNESS. HELP THEM TO BE AS KIND TO OTHERS AS YOU HAVE BEEN TO THEM, AS YOU EMPOWER THEM TO TRANSFORM THEIR STRUGGLES INTO STEPPING STONES. WE PRAY IN YOUR SACRED NAME. AMEN.

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  • 02:02:35 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PLEASE JOIN ME IN RECITING THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG. I PLEDGE…

    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.

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  • 02:02:55 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL READ A COMMUNICATION TO THE SENATE.

  • 02:03:03 PM

    THE CLERK

    D.C, JANUARY 25, 2010. TO THE SENATE: UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF RULE 1,…

    D.C, JANUARY 25, 2010. TO THE SENATE: UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF RULE 1, PARAGRAPH 3, OF THE STANDING RULES OF THE SENATE, I HEREBY APPOINT THE HONORABLE AL FRANKEN, A SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF MINNESOTA, TO PERFORM THE DUTIES OF THE CHAIR. SIGNED: ROBERT C. BYRD, PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE.

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  • 02:03:23 PM

    MR. REID

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 02:04:49 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 02:04:51 PM

    MR. REID

    MORNING BUSINESS, MR. PRESIDENT, THE SENATE WILL RESUME THE RESOLUTION OF…

    MORNING BUSINESS, MR. PRESIDENT, THE SENATE WILL RESUME THE RESOLUTION OF THE STATUTORY INCREASE OF THE PUBLIC DEBT. AT 5:30, WE WILL TURN TO ROSEANNA PETERSON TO BE A DISTRICT JUDGE. AT 6:00 P.M., THE SENATE WILL VOTE ON HER CONFIRMATION.

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  • 02:05:13 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, THE LEADERSHIP TIME IS RESERVED. UNDER THE…

    UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, THE LEADERSHIP TIME IS RESERVED. UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, THERE WILL NOW BE A PERIOD FOR THE TRANSACTION OF MORNING BUSINESS UNTIL 3:00 P.M. WITH SENATORS PERMITTED TO SPEAK THEREIN FOR UP TO TEN MINUTES EACH. THE SENATOR FROM CALIFORNIA.

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  • 02:05:33 PM

    MRS. FEINSTEIN

    YOU VERY MUCH. THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR., AND I THANK THE MAJORITY LEADER…

    YOU VERY MUCH. THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR., AND I THANK THE MAJORITY LEADER AS WELL -- THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. PRESIDENT, AND I THANK THE MAJORITY LEADER AS WELL. MR. PRESIDENT, I WANT TO SAY A FEW WORDS IN FAVOR OF THE CONRAD-GREGG RESOLUTION WHICH WILL SHORTLY BE BEFORE US AND IN OPPOSITION TO THE BAUCUS AMENDMENT. I HAVE WORKED FOR SOME TIME TO TRY TO PRODUCE LEGISLATION THAT WOULD CREATE A COMMISSION WHICH COULD BE LIKE A BRAC COMMITTING AND DEAL WITH WHAT I CONSIDER TO BE THE MOST FORMIDABLE PROBLEM FACING THIS GOVERNMENT. AND EVERY WEDNESDAY DURING THE SUMMER AND SPRING, I HAVE A CONSTITUENT BREAKFAST, AND ONE OF THE THINGS I DO AT THAT BREAKFAST IS SHOW THEM WHAT DEBT AND DEFICIT REALLY MEANS. AND ONE OF THE BEST WAYS -- AND YOU LEARN THIS WHEN YOU DO A BUDGET, AND I LEARNED IT WHEN I WAS MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISCO AND FOR NINE YEARS PUT TOGETHER A BUDGET, IS LOOK AT WHAT IS ACTUALLY SPENT, TOTAL NUMBERS. AND THAT GIVES YOU THE REAL CLUE, AND IT'S CALLED OUTLAYS, FEDERAL OUTLAYS. SO WHAT HAVE FEDERAL OUTLAYS BEEN? IN 2009, 50% OF EVERYTHING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PAYS OUT GOES TO ENTITLEMENTS. NOW, WHAT ARE ENTITLEMENTS? MEDICARE, SOCIAL SECURITY, VETERANS BENEFITS, THINGS THAT CANNOT BE CONTROLLED THAT IF YOU'RE ENTITLED TO THEM, YOU GET THEM. AND YOU LOOK AT INTEREST ON THE DEBT IS WHAT -- IS 5%. IF YOU LOOK AT DISCRETIONARY DEFENSE, IT'S 18%. AND IF YOU LOOK AT EVERYTHING ELSE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOES THAT EVERYBODY TALKS ABOUT: EDUCATION, AGRICULTURE, JUSTICE, EDUCATION, THE 22 DEPARTMENTS IN HOMELAND SECURITY, IT IS JUST 16% OF WHAT IS SPENT. SO IF YOU ADD TOGETHER THE 50% AND THE 5% OF INTEREST, YOU SEE 55% OF EVERYTHING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SPENDS THIS YEAR CANNOT -- CANNOT BE CONTROLLED. YOU HAVE TO SPEND IT. AND SO ALL THE REST THAT'S DISCRETIONARY IS RATHER SMALL IN COMPARISON. IF YOU PROJECT THAT OUT TEN YEARS -- AND I MUST TELL YOU, NEW NUMBERS ARE COMING OUT TOMORROW, SO THIS IS THE LATEST NUMBER THAT I HAVE -- ENTITLEMENTS GO UP TO 56% AND INTEREST ON THE DEBT TO 14%. SO THAT IS 70% OF EVERYTHING THAT IS SPENT IN THE YEAR 2019 IF THINGS ARE PROJECTED FORWARD CANNOT BE CONTROLLED. DISCRETIONARY DEFENSE IS 16% AND NONDISCRETIONARY -- AGAIN, EVERYTHING ELSE -- 14%. SO IF YOU WANTED TO BALANCE OUT, YOU COULD ELIMINATE EVERYTHING IN DISCRETIONARY SPENDING AND YOU COULDN'T SOLVE THE PROBLEM. THAT'S WHAT'S HAPPENING. ENTITLEMENTS ARE EXPANDING TO AN INORDINATE AMOUNT OF WHAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PAYS OUT EVERY YEAR. AND IT DOESN'T MATTER WHETHER SOMETHING IS IN THE BUDGET OR NOT IN THE BUDGET. IF YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR IT AND SPEND IT, IT CONSTITUTES DEFICIT AND THAT TRANSLATES INTO DEBT. SO IT IS A VERY MAJOR PROBLEM. SO THAT'S WHY I RISE IN SUPPORT TODAY FOR THE AMENDMENT OFFERED BY SENATORS CONRAD AND GREGG TO ESTABLISH A BIPARTISAN COMMISSION TO TACKLE AND LOOK AT THIS ISSUE AND LOOK AT THESE PROGRAMS -- NAMELY, SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE -- AND MAKE SOME RECOMMENDATIONS HOW THEY CAN BE CHANGED, AMENDED, MELDED TO ESSENTIALLY BE ABLE TO MAINTAIN THEMSELVES OVER TIME. NOW, WE KNOW THAT BOTH THESE PROGRAMS ARE THE THIRD RAIL OF AMERICAN POLITICS. PAST CONGRESSES AND PAST PRESIDENTS HAVE FAILED TO TAKE THE STEPS NECESSARY TO ENSURE THEIR LONG-TERM VIABILITY. SOCIAL SECURITY WILL START RUNNING OUT OF MONEY IN 2037, AND MEDICARE WILL START TO RUN OUT OF MONEY BEFORE THE END OF THIS DECADE. IN SEVEN YEARS, IN 2017, MEDICARE WILL BEGIN TO RUN OUT OF MONEY. SO THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE A CONCEPT WHICH HAS WORKED BEFORE -- NAMELY, THE GREENSPAN COMMISSION, WHICH IN 1983 ADDED YEARS TO SOCIAL SECURITY SOLVENCY, AND HAVE A ONE-YEAR COMMISSION, WHICH IS THE CONRAD-GREGG COMMISSION, TO DEAL WITH THIS DEBT. IT WOULD BE AN OPPORTUNITY TO GET OUR NATION'S FINANCES BACK ON TRACK. IF WE COULD HAVE DONE IT, MR. PRESIDENT, WE WOULD HAVE DONE IT. IF WE COULD HAVE DONE IT, MR. PRESIDENT, WHY DIDN'T WE? WHY YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR DO WE REFUSE TO FACE THE ISSUES? NOW, THE GREENSPAN'S RECOMMENDATIONS, INCLUDING A CHANGE TO THE TRUST FUND REVENUE STRUCTURE, ACTUALLY WON BIPARTISAN SUPPORT. THOSE RECOMMENDATIONS WERE ADOPTED AND THEY WERE CREDITED FOR SAVING SOCIAL SECURITY AT THE TIME. MORE RECENTLY, THE BASE REALIGNMENT AND CLOSURE PROCESS, KNOWN AS BRAC, AND THE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMISSION FOLLOWING 9/11 MADE RECOMMENDATIONS, AND THOSE RECOMMENDATIONS WERE ACCEPTED. AND THE BRAC COMMISSION HAD A PROCESS WHICH ALL OF US SORT OF DERIDED AND DIDN'T LIKE BUT IT GOT THE JOB DONE. THEY PRESENTED RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE CONGRESS. THE CONGRESS COULD VOTE THEM UP OR DOWN. AND THAT DECIDED THE QUESTION, AND THAT'S WHAT THE CONRAD-GREGG RESOLUTION WOULD DO. WE ALL SEE THE GRAVITY OF WHAT'S HAPPENING, AND AS WE VOTE TO INCREASE THE DEBT LIMIT FOR THE NINTH TIME IN NINE YEARS, WE'RE NOT ABLE TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT THE BIGGEST CONSUMER OF DEBT, ENTITLEMENTS, BECAUSE THEY ARE SUCH VALUABLE PROGRAMS TO PEOPLE AND NO ONE WANTS THEM TOUCHED. THIS COMMISSION WOULD BE BIPARTISAN. IT WOULD BE COMPOSED OF 18 MEMBERS: 10 DEMOCRATS, EIGHT REPUBLICANS. SPECIFICALLY, 16 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS SPLIT EVENLY BETWEEN EACH PARTY AND TWO ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS. AND THEIR CHARGE WOULD BE TO COME TO GRIPS WITH THIS AND MAKE A SERIES OF RECOMMENDATIONS ON AN EXPEDITED PROCEDURE THAT WOULD COME TO THE CONGRESS AND WE WOULD EITHER VOTE IT UP OR VOTE IT DOWN. AND EVERYTHING WOULD BE ON THE TABLE. THE SCOPE OF THE COMMISSION IS BROAD ENOUGH TO INCLUDE ALL POSSIBILITIES FOR IMPROVING OUR BUDGETARY OUTLOOK. AND THE COMMISSION WOULD ISSUE THIS REPORT BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR. 14 OF THE 18 MEMBERS MUST APPROVE THE REPORT BEFORE IT COULD BE PRESENTED TO US AND CONGRESS WOULD BE REQUIRED TO VOTE ON REPORT, AS I SAID, WITH EXPEDITED CONSIDERATION BEFORE THE END OF THIS YEAR. SO THE FIRST TIME IN A MATTER OF MONTHS WE WOULD HAVE BEFORE US SOME RECOMMENDATIONS. HOW DO WE TWEAK SOCIAL SECURITY TO ENABLE IT TO GO PAST ITS DOOMSDAY? HOW DO WE HANDLE MEDICARE TO SEE THAT IT'S VIABLE THROUGHOUT THE NEXT THREE, FOUR, FIVE DECADES? IT DOESN'T CIRCUMVENT CONGRESSIONAL PROCEDURES NOR DOES IT EXCLUDE ELECTED OFFICIALS FROM SHAPING THE FINAL REPORT. NOW, THE SOCIAL SECURITY TRUST FUND RUNS OF OUT OF MONEY TO 2037. NOW, IT WILL COME FASTER, IF WE DO DO ANYTHING, IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN SOONER. TODAY, 50 MILLION PEOPLE DEPEND ON SOCIAL SECURITY, AND BY 2050, 82 MILL MILLION PEOPLE, ANOTHER 32 MILLION PEOPLE, WILL RECEIVE SOCIAL SECURITY. NOW, MOST PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE THAT ONE-HALF OF AMERICAN WORKERS TODAY HAVE NO RETIREMENT OR PENSION BENEFIT FROM THEIR COMPANY. I DIDN'T KNOW THIS. ONE-HALF OF EVERY RETIRING WORKER HAS NO RETIREMENT OR PENSION BENEFIT FROM THEIR COMPANY. SOCIAL SECURITY IS WHAT THEY WILL HAVE. AND WITH THE PROBLEMS IN THE WORKPLACE TODAY, WITH THE INCREASE IN BANKRUPTCIES, YOU CAN BE SURE THAT SOCIAL SECURITY IS ONLY GOING TO BECOME MORE IMPORTANT AS THE DECADES GO ON. IN 2007, SOCIAL SECURITY ALONE KEPT 35% OF OLDER AMERICANS OUT OF POVERTY. THAT'S HOW IMPORTANT IT IS. 35% OF OUR SENIORS WOULD BE LIVING IN POVERTY IF IT WEREN'T FOR SOCIAL SECURITY. AND FOR ALMOST AND FOR ALMOST TWO-THIRDSES OF PEOPLE, SOCIAL SECURITY MAKES UP MORE THAN HALF OF THEIR INCOME. SO SOCIAL SECURITY IS REALLY THE BREADBASKET, IT IS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR SENIORS AND PENSIONERS AND RETIREES TO CONTINUE TO LIVE AND STAY OUT OF POVERTY. NOW, MEDICARE IS EVEN IN WORSE SHAPE. IT'S EXPERIENCING TRUST FUND DEFICITS. BY 2017, THE HOSPITAL INSURANCE TRUST FUND WILL BE GONE, DEPLETED, BUSTED -- GONE. AND LAST YEAR'S TRUSTEE REPORT, INSOLVES IS PROJECTED IN 2019. THIS MEANS MEDICARE IS UNSUSTAINABLE OVER TIME, AS IT IS TODAY. NOW, THAT'S SOMETHING THAT NORTHERN US WANT TO ADMIT -- THAT NONE OF US WANT TO ADMIT, NONE OF US WANT TO FACE, AND THE RECORD IS CLEAR. NONE OF US HAVE FACED IT. NONE OF US HAVE DONE ANYTHING ABOUT IT. AND YET THE TIME IS RATCHETED SOONER AND SOONER. SO ONCE THE HOSPITAL TRUST FUND IS EXHAUSTED, IT WILL BE NECESSARY TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF BENEFITS PAYABLE. SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? THAT MEANS, AFTER 2017, ONLY 81% OF BENEFITS WILL ACTUALLY BE PAID. THINK OF THAT. IS IT ALL RIGHT JUST TO LET THAT HAPPEN? IS IT ALL RIGHT JUST TO DO NOTHING? IS IT ALL RIGHT TO SAY, OKAY, WE KNOW THAT COME 2017 ONLY 81% OF THE BENEFIT AN INDIVIDUAL SHOULD GET WILL BE PAID? AND IT'S BECAUSE WE'RE NOT WILLING TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. THAT'S WHAT WE'RE SAYING IF WE VOTE "NO" ON THE CONRAD-GREGG RESOLUTION. MEDICARE PART-B AND PART-D PRESCRIPTION DRUG COVERAGE WILL INCREASINGLY OUTPACE BENEFICIARY INCOME OVER TIME. SO FUNDS WON'T BE THERE TO PAY FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFITS. THAT'S THE SIMPLE RESULT. SO, WITHOUT FINDING AN ADEQUATE WAY TO FUN THESE OBLIGATIONS, THESE -- TO FUND THESE OBLIGATIONS, THOSE FUNDS WILL HAVE TO BE BORROWED OR WILL BE NONE EXISTENT, AND THIS FURTHER ADDS TO THE DEBT THAT WE SEE COMING DOWN THE PIKE. AND ALL OF IT ADDS TOGETHER TO THE FINANCIAL INSOLVENCY OF BOTH SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE. SO THAT'S WHY A COMMISSION IS NEEDED, BECAUSE WE HAVEN'T DONE WHAT WE SHOULD HAVE DONE. WE HAVEN'T MADE THE TWEAKS, THE CHANGES, THE ADJUSTMENTS. WE HAVEN'T LOOKED AT MEANS TESTING. THESE PROGRAMS WERE FOUNDED ON THE BELIEF THAT NO MATTER HOW WEALTHY YOU ARE, YOU SHOULD GET THESE BENEFITS. MY OWN VIEW IS THAT SHOULD CHANGE. THEY SHOULD BE LOOKED AT MORE AS INSURANCE PROGRAMS. IF YOU DON'T NEED THEM, IF YOU'RE A MILLIONAIRE, WHY SHOULD YOU HAVE THESE BENEFITS? IF YOU NEED THEM, IF YOU'RE PART OF THE HALF OF AMERICA THAT HAS NO PENSION OR RETIREMENT BENEFIT, IF YOU EARN UNDER, LET'S SAY, $250,000 A YEAR AS A RETIREE, MAYBE YOU SHOULD STILL GET THEM. BUT IF YOU EARN MORE THAN $250,000 WITH THIS PICTURE FACING US, MAYBE YOU SHOULD PAY YOUR OWN WAY. AND THESE ARE SOME OF THE DECISIONS THAT HAVE GOT TO BE MADE. AND YOU CAN'T KEEP PUTTING THEM OFF BECAUSE THEY'RE UNPLEASANT. BECAUSE THE MORE YOU PUT THEM OFF, THE BIGGER THE TROUBLES GET. AND THAT'S BEEN THE CASE IN THE 17 YEARS I'VE BEEN HERE. I HAVE WATCHED THIS AND IT KEEPS GOING UP AND YOU WERE AND UP. -- GOING UP AND UP AND UP. SO THE PROBLEM IS APPARENT, BUT IT'S BEEN IGNORED. IT'S BEEN SHUFFLED UNDER THE RUG. IT'S NEVER BEEN ADDRESSED. AND THAT'S WHY WE NEED A COMMISSION. IRCOSPONSORED A BILL -- I COSPONSORED A BILL TWO CONGRESSES AGO WITH SENATOR DOMENICI, AND I COSPONSORED A BILL THIS CONGRESS WITH SENATOR CORNYN TO CREATE A SOCIAL SECURITY-MEDICARE COMMISSION. MINE WERE NOT OF MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. BUT THERE WAS OPPOSITION TO THEM. PEOPLE FELT, WELL, IF THIS BODY IS GOING TO HAVE THE ABILITY TO MAKE A RECOMMENDATION THAT MAY RESULT IN HAVING TO PUT MORE MONEY INTO THE SYSTEM, EITHER BY INCREASING THE PAYROLL TAX OR ANY OTHER WAY, THEN IT OUGHT TO BE THE MEMBER OF THE CONGRESS OR THE SENATE THAT MAKES THAT RECOMMENDATION. SO SENATOR CONRAD AND SENATOR GREGG TOOK THAT AS A KIND OF MANDATE AND SAID, ALL RIGHT, WE WILL DO THAT, AND HERE'S WHAT WE PROPOSE. AND THE STRONG BELIEF -- AND I'M VERY GLAD THE SENATOR FROM FLORIDA IS ON THE FLOOR; WE HAVE WORKED AS PART OF THIS GROUP TOGETHER, COME TO SEVERAL MEETINGS. I GUESS, IT WOULD BE FAIR TO SAY, THERE ARE ABOUT 16-17 OF US THAT HAVE WORKED TOGETHER WITH SENATOR CONRAD ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE ON THIS. AND WE DO SO BECAUSE WE RECOGNIZE THAT DOING NOTHING DOESN'T SAVE MEDICARE AND DOING NOTHING DOESN'T SAVE SOCIAL SECURITY. BUT DOING SOMETHING JUST MAY. SO THAT'S WHY WE NEED A COMMISSION. AND THIS WILL NEVER GET DONE IF WE JUST FOLLOW REGULAR ORDER IN THE CONGRESS. FOR 17 YEARS I'VE WATCHED THAT REGULAR ORDER YEAR IN, YEAR OUT AND NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. I REMEMBER FRITZ HOLLINGS STANDING RIGHT THERE ON THE FLOOR TALKING ABOUT KEEPING MONEY FROM GOING INTO THE TRUST FUNDS AND, AS YOU KNOW, NOW IT'S JUST AN ACCOUNTING JUDGMENT. EVERYTHING GOES INTO ONE FUND, BUT THERE'S JUST AN ACCOUNTING JUDGMENT. HE ADVOCATED SEPARATING IT OUT, SO IT COULDN'T BE USED TO BALANCE THE BUDGET. RIGHT NOW THE TRUST FUNDS ARE USED TO BALANCE THE BUDGET. THEY'RE NOT SET ASIDE FOR A SPECIAL FUND TO SEE THAT THESE -- THAT SOCIAL SECURITY REMAINS SECURE. IT'S A GOOD -- IT'S THE GOOD FAITH AND CREDIT OF THE GOVERNMENT THAT DOES THAT. WELL, I SAY THAT REALCY ISN'T ENOUGH. SO WE HAVE TO -- WELL, I SAY THAT REALLY ISN'T ENOUGH. SO WE HAVE TO FACE THE CONSEQUENCES, BITE THE BULLET. FIND TO FIND AWE HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO SEE THAT OUR NATIONAL CREDIT CARD IS FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE. SO I UNDERSTAND MY TIME IS UP. I JUST WANT TO INDICATE MY VERY SINCERE SUPPORT AND MY THANKS TO BOTH SENATOR CONRAD AND SENATOR GREGG FOR THEIR WORK ON THIS, FOR THEIR LEADERSHIP, AND FOR THEIR REAL STRONG ADVOCACY. THEY HAVE FRIENDS. WE WILL SUPPORT THEM. AND I VERY MUCH SUPPORT THIS BODY WILL AS WELL. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 02:22:42 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM FLORIDA.

  • 02:22:44 PM

    MR. NELSON

    I'M SPEAKING TODAY IN FAVOR OF THE CONRAD-GREGG AMENDMENT OF WHICH I AM A…

    I'M SPEAKING TODAY IN FAVOR OF THE CONRAD-GREGG AMENDMENT OF WHICH I AM A COSPONSOR ALSO. AND WHILE THE SENATOR FROM CALIFORNIA IS HERE, I WANT TO GO BACK 27 YEARS AGO, AND ONE OF THE TIMES IN WHICH GOVERNMENT CAME TOGETHER AND WORKED BEST ON A CRISIS, AND IT WAS 1983. I HAD COME TO CONGRESS A FEW YEARS BEFORE, AND WE WERE SUDDENLY AT THE POINT AT WHICH SOCIAL SECURITY WAS GOING TO RUN OUT OF MONEY WITHIN SIX MONTHS. AND, OBVIOUSLY, SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE. THE GOOD NEWS WAS, THERE WERE TWO WILEY OLD IRISHMEN THAT WERE LEADING THE GOVERNMENT. ONE WAS IN THE WHITE HOUSE. HIS NAME WAS REAGAN. AND THE OTHER ONE WAS THE SPEAKER, AND HIS NAME WAS O'NEILL. THOSE ARE THE TWO THAT WERE GREAT EXAMPLES THAT THEY COULD FIGHT LIKE CATS AND DOGS DURING THE DAY, BUT THEY WALK OUT THE DOOR, AND THEY WERE PERSONAL FRIENDS. THEY HAD A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH WHICH WHEN IT CAME TIME TO CUTTING A DEAL, TO GET THE PERFORMANCE OF THE GOVERNMENT, THEY COULD DO IT. SO REALIZING THAT SOCIAL SECURITY WAS ABOUT TO BE IN FINANCIAL CARDIAC ARREST, THEY SAID, WE'RE GOING TO DO THIS. AND THEY APPOINTED A BLUE-RIBRIBBON PANEL, MUCH LIKE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HERE IN THIS CONRAD-GREGG AMENDMENT. THE DIFFERENCE THEN AND NOW IS THAT YOU HAD LEADERS OF BOTH PARTIES THAT WERE COMMITTED TO MAKE IT WORK. AND I'M JUST NOT SURE WHAT WE'RE GOING TO SEE OUT HERE ON THE LANDSCAPE UNLESS THE AMERICAN PEOPLE RISE UP AND SAY, A POX ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES. YOU GUYS BETTER GET TOGETHER, WHICH IS WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO WITH THIS BIPARTISAN AMENDMENT. AND THE GOOD NEWS WAS THAT BECAUSE OF THE DELIBERATIONS OF THAT PANEL AND BECAUSE THOSE TWO IRISHMEN -- PRESIDENT REAGAN AND SPEAKER O'NEILL -- SAID WE'RE GOING TO TAKE THIS OFF THE TABLE AT THE NEXT ELECTION AS A CLUB, A BLUDGEON TO HIT OUR OPPONENTS OVER THE HEAD WITH, THAT BLUE-RIBBON PANEL CAME FORTH. IT WAS PRESENTED TO THE CONGRESS. IT PASSED OVERWHELMINGLY IN THE CONGRESS. AND IT MADE SOCIAL SECURITY SOLVENT FROM 1983 WELL INTO THIS CENTURY. NOW, THAT'S THE KIND OF EXAMPLE THAT WE NEED HERE OF US COMING TOGETHER IN A BIPARTISAN WAY, WITH COMMONSENSE SOLUTIONS, AND, MR. PRESIDENT, THAT'S WHAT I RISE TO TALK ABOUT TODAY. AND I THANK THE SENATOR FROM CALIFORNIA FOR BEING SO NOT ONLY ERUDITE BUT ELOQUENT IN HER PRESENTATION. MR. PRESIDENT, THERE'S A SIMPLE REASON FOR THIS, AND IT'S OUR NATION'S BUDGET IS ON A PATH TOWARD CRISIS, AND WE'VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY, JUST LIKE WE DID BACK IN 1983. OVER THE LAST DECADE, WE'VE SPENT BILLIONS TO WAGE TWO WARS, BUT WE STILL PROCEED WITH A TAX CUT FOR THE WEALTHY AND A PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT THAT GAVE TOO MUCH TO THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY AS WELL AS THE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY. AND WHAT HAPPENED WAS THAT THE DEBT DOUBLED. SO THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, ON THE TAIL END OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION, WHICH STARTED TO STEM THIS BLEEDING, THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HAD TO STOP THE BLEEDING, PUTTING A TURN TOURNIQUET ON THE PENDING NATIONWIDE ECONOMIC COLLAPSE, SO IT PUMPED MONEY INTO THE ECONOMY, AND THAT WAS PRIMARILY IN INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING, TEACHERS' SALARIES, TARGETED TAX RELIEF FOR SMALL BUSINESS, AND TARGETED TAX RELIEF FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS. AND THAT SAME ECONOMIC COLLAPSE ALSO DID WHAT YOU EXPECT RECESSIONS, NEAR DEPRESSIONS, TO DO: IT LOWERED THE TAX RECEIPTS AND, THUS, IT PUT US IN AN EVEN TIGHTER SPOT. AND SO NOW WE'VE GOT TO FACE THE REALITIES OF THIS FISCAL SITUATION. DUE TO THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN, TAX REVENUE, AS A SHARE OF THE ECONOMY, IS AT ITS LOWEST POINT IN 50 YEARS. IT'S LESS THAN 15% OF G.D.P. WHEREAS SPENDING IS NOW ABOVE -- IT'S AT 26% OF G.D.P. AND, YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU TAKE IN LESS REVENUES BUT YOU SPEND MORE, THAT DIFFERENCE THAT WE CALL THE ANNUAL DEFICIT MEANS YOU'RE HEADED FOR TROUBLE. WELL, THE ANISTS ARE TELLING US, BY 2019 -- THE ANALYSTS ARE TELLING US BY 2019, THE DEBT COULD BE 114% OF THE G.D.P. AND YOU SAW IN THE SENATOR FROM CALIFORNIA'S CHARTS HOW JUST THE INTEREST RATE IN 2019 WOULD BALLOON UP TO QUARTERS OF $1 TRILLION. AND THE RISING TREND CONTINUES AT AN ALARMING RATE, EVEN AFTER 2019. A FORMER FED CHAIRMAN SAID, THE CHALLENGE TO CONTAIN THIS THREAT IS MORE URGENT THAN AT ANY TIME IN OUR HISTORY. OUR NATION HAS NEVER BEFORE HAD TO COFORTSTO COMFORT SO FORMIDABLE A CRISIS AS IS JUST OVER THE HORIZON." SO SAID ALAN GREENSPAN. AND THIS IS NOT MENTION IN THIS ALSO AFFECTS OUR NATIONAL SECURITY. GUESS WHO IS THE BIGGEST HOLDER OF OUR FOREIGN DEBT? IT'S CHINA. WHAT HAPPENS IF THEY SUDDENLY WANT US TO PAY OFF ALL OF THOSE BONDS THAT THEY HOLD? DO YOU THINK CHINA IS AN ADVERSARY? WELL, IF YOU DON'T, DO YOU THINK THAT THEY ARE AN ECONOMIC ADVERSARY? DO YOU THINK THEY'D LIKE TO BE A MILITARY ADVERSARY? DO YOU REALIZE WHAT THEY'RE DOING IN SPACE IN ORDER TO BECOME A WORLD POWER? WELL, I CAME TO CONGRESS A LONG TIME AGO, AND I'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT BALANCED BUDGETS. BUT NOW THIS PROBLEM IS SO MASSIVE THAT IT JUST CAN'T BE SOLVED, AS THE SENATOR FROM CALIFORNIA SAID, BY REGULAR ORDER. WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT THE WHOLE PICTURE. WE NEED SOME COMMONSENSE FOLKS THAT WILL WORK TOGETHER, THAT WILL RESPECT EACH OTHER. DID YOU HEAR WHAT I SAID? RESPECT EACH OTHER, AND TO RECOMMEND THE TOUGH DECISIONS THAT MUST BE MADE IN ORDER TO GET THIS NATION'S FISCAL POLICY BACK ON TRACK. NOW, I REALIZE THAT ON THE ONE SIDE YOU'VE GOT FOLKS THAT ARE SAYING, DOES THAT CUT SOCIAL SECURITY? DOES THAT CUT MEDICARE? THEN ON THE OTHER SIDE YOU'VE GOT FOLKS THAT SAY, DOES THAT MEAN YOU WORRY ABOUT RAISING TAXES? AND THOSE ARE LEGITIMATE CONCERNS. EVERY ONE OF US -- EVERYONE, EVERY FAMILY MEMBER IN AMERICA HAS TO DEAL WITH THIS, THESE KINDS OF QUESTIONS IN THEIR OWN FAMILY'S BUDGET. WHEN WE SPEND MORE THAN WE BRING IN, WE HAVE TO MAKE CHOICES. WE HAVE TO MAKE ADJUSTMENTS. IT'S THE RESPONSIBLE THING TO DO. AND BE IT WON'T BE EASY. IT WON'T BE EASY POLITICALLY, ESPECIALLY WITH PEOPLE HOLDING THAT CLUB OF THE NEXT ELECTION OVER THEIR HEADS AND SAY I'M GOING TO BEAT YOU INTO THE GROUND AND BEAT YOU POLITICALLY TO DEATH IF YOU MAKE THESE TOUGH CHOICES. BUT IN THE END, I TRUST THAT THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ABOUT THEIR GOVERNMENT, THE UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR OWN FAMILY BUDGETS THAT THEY WILL TRUST A GROUP OF BIPARTISAN LAWMAKERS ACCOUNTABLE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WHO HAVE EXAMINED THE BUDGET, HASHED OUT THEIR DIFFERENCES AND AGREED TO A PLAN. THAT PLAN WILL MAKE US SOLVENT AGAIN. AND WITHOUT DRASTIC MEASURES, WE RISK SADDLING OUR CHILDREN WITH DEBT THAT CAN NEVER BE REPAID AND CREDIT THAT CAN'T BE RESTORED. SO WE'VE GOT THE OPPORTUNITY RIGHT NOW TO TRY TO FIX IT. MR. PRESIDENT, I URGE OUR COLLEAGUES TO SUPPORT THIS AMENDMENT. AND I YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 02:33:01 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    I LOOK FORWARD TO THE PRESIDENT'S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS. THERE IS…

    I LOOK FORWARD TO THE PRESIDENT'S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS. THERE IS TALK ABOUT HOW THE PRESIDENT MIGHT RECONNECT WITH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. THE PRESIDENT HIMSELF SAID AFTER THE ELECTION OF THE MASSACHUSETTS REPUBLICAN SENATOR, HE SAID PERHAPS HE HAD NOT BEEN TALKING TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DIRECTLY ABOUT CORE VALUES. SO IF I MAY DO THIS IN A RESPECTFUL WAY, I'D LIKE TO MAKE A SUGGESTION ABOUT WHAT THE PRESIDENT MIGHT SAY ON WEDNESDAY EVENING. TO RECONNECT WITH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, I WOULD SUGGEST THAT IN HIS STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS, THE PRESIDENT TALK FIRST ABOUT CREATING JOBS. SECOND, ABOUT REINING IN THE NATIONAL DEBT. AND MAKE TERRORISM HIS THIRD SUBJECT. THEN IT WOULDN'T HURT MY FEELINGS ONE BIT IF HE STOPPED RIGHT THERE AND FOCUSED HIS UNSWERVING ATTENTION ON JOBS, DEBT AND TERRORISM UNTIL HE HAD ALL THREE OF THEM HEADED IN A BETTER DIRECTION. AFTER ALL, IN MY VIEW, THE PRESIDENT STRUGGLED IN HIS FIRST YEAR NOT ONLY BECAUSE HIS AGENDA VEERED TOO FAR LEFT, BUT BECAUSE HE TOOK TOO MANY BIG BITES OUT OF TOO MANY APPLES AND TRIED TO SWALLOW THEM ALL AT ONCE. YEARS AGO I LEARNED AS A GOVERNOR THAT A GOVERNOR CAN, WHO THROWS HIMSELF INTO A SINGLE ISSUE WITH EVERYTHING HE'S GOT FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES CAN USUALLY WEAR ANYBODY ELSE OUT. I THINK THAT'S TRUE FOR PRESIDENTS TOO. IN 1952, PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER SAID, "I SHALL GO TO KOREA." THEN HE FOCUSED ON THAT ONE PROBLEM, ENDED THE CONFLICT, AND AMERICANS THANKED HIM FOR IT. I WOULD HOPE PRESIDENT OBAMA WOULD FOCUS WITH EISENHOWER-LIKE INTENSITY ON JOBS. IN THE 1980'S, I FOUND THAT THE BEST WAY TO DO THAT WAS NOT TO TRY TO TURN MY STATE -- TENNESSEE -- UPSIDE DOWN ALL AT ONCE -- WE WERE THEN THE THIRD-POOREST STATE IN THE COUNTRY AND MY GOAL WAS RAISING FAMILY INCOMES. I DIDN'T TRY TO TURN IT UPSIDE DOWN ALL AT ONCE, BUT I WENT STEP BY STEP, SOMETIMES LEARNING AS I WENT. AMENDING BANKING LAWS, DEFENDING RIGHT TO WORK, KEEPING DEBT AND TAXES LOW, RECRUITING JAPANESE INDUSTRY, THEN RECRUITING THE AUTO INDUSTRY BOTH FROM JAPAN AND FROM THE UNITED STATES. THEN BUILDING FOUR-LANE HIGHWAYS SO THAT THE AUTO SUPPLIERS COULD GET TO THE NEW AUTO PLANTS. AND FINALLY, A TEN-STEP BETTER SCHOOLS PROGRAM THAT INCLUDES CENTERS AND CHAIRS OF EXCELLENCE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION AND HELPING OUR STATE BECOME THE FIRST STATE TO PAY TEACHERS MORE FOR TEACHING WELL. IN MY VIEW, A STEP-BY-STEP JOBS STRATEGY FOR THE COUNTRY SHOULD INCLUDE TAX CUTS, LESS REGULATION CERTAINTY, SO PEOPLE CAN MAKE THEIR PLANS, FREE TRADE, A BALANCED LABOR CLIMATE, GOOD EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES, AND CLEAN BUT CHEAP ENERGY. UNFORTUNATELY, THE PRESIDENT HAS TOO OFTEN PROPOSED HIGHER TAXES, MORE REGULATION, UNCERTAINTY, PROTECTIONISM, EXPENSIVE LABOR POLICY, HIGHER COLLEGE TUITIONS, AS MEDICAID COSTS ARE PASSED ON TO STATES, A NATIONAL ENERGY TAX, AND NEW COSTS FOR THE BUSINESSES THAT WE COUNT ON TO CREATE JOBS. AS FOR DEBT, DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS ARE TRYING THIS WEEK TO RAISE THE NATIONAL DEBT LIMIT BY $1.9 TRILLION, AN AMOUNT THAT'S MORE THAN THE TOTAL FEDERAL BUDGET IN 1999. TO BE SURE, PRESIDENT OBAMA IN.

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  • 02:33:07 PM

    MR. ALEXANDER

    I LOOK FORWARD TO THE PRESIDENT'S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS. THERE IS…

    I LOOK FORWARD TO THE PRESIDENT'S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS. THERE IS TALK ABOUT HOW THE PRESIDENT MIGHT RECONNECT WITH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. THE PRESIDENT HIMSELF SAID AFTER THE ELECTION OF THE MASSACHUSETTS REPUBLICAN SENATOR, HE SAID PERHAPS HE HAD NOT BEEN TALKING TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DIRECTLY ABOUT CORE VALUES. SO IF I MAY DO THIS IN A RESPECTFUL WAY, I'D LIKE TO MAKE A SUGGESTION ABOUT WHAT THE PRESIDENT MIGHT SAY ON WEDNESDAY EVENING. TO RECONNECT WITH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, I WOULD SUGGEST THAT IN HIS STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS, THE PRESIDENT TALK FIRST ABOUT CREATING JOBS. SECOND, ABOUT REINING IN THE NATIONAL DEBT. AND MAKE TERRORISM HIS THIRD SUBJECT. THEN IT WOULDN'T HURT MY FEELINGS ONE BIT IF HE STOPPED RIGHT THERE AND FOCUSED HIS UNSWERVING ATTENTION ON JOBS, DEBT AND TERRORISM UNTIL HE HAD ALL THREE OF THEM HEADED IN A BETTER DIRECTION. AFTER ALL, IN MY VIEW, THE PRESIDENT STRUGGLED IN HIS FIRST YEAR NOT ONLY BECAUSE HIS AGENDA VEERED TOO FAR LEFT, BUT BECAUSE HE TOOK TOO MANY BIG BITES OUT OF TOO MANY APPLES AND TRIED TO SWALLOW THEM ALL AT ONCE. YEARS AGO I LEARNED AS A GOVERNOR THAT A GOVERNOR CAN, WHO THROWS HIMSELF INTO A SINGLE ISSUE WITH EVERYTHING HE'S GOT FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES CAN USUALLY WEAR ANYBODY ELSE OUT. I THINK THAT'S TRUE FOR PRESIDENTS TOO. IN 1952, PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER SAID, "I SHALL GO TO KOREA." THEN HE FOCUSED ON THAT ONE PROBLEM, ENDED THE CONFLICT, AND AMERICANS THANKED HIM FOR IT. I WOULD HOPE PRESIDENT OBAMA WOULD FOCUS WITH EISENHOWER-LIKE INTENSITY ON JOBS. IN THE 1980'S, I FOUND THAT THE BEST WAY TO DO THAT WAS NOT TO TRY TO TURN MY STATE -- TENNESSEE -- UPSIDE DOWN ALL AT ONCE -- WE WERE THEN THE THIRD-POOREST STATE IN THE COUNTRY AND MY GOAL WAS RAISING FAMILY INCOMES. I DIDN'T TRY TO TURN IT UPSIDE DOWN ALL AT ONCE, BUT I WENT STEP BY STEP, SOMETIMES LEARNING AS I WENT. AMENDING BANKING LAWS, DEFENDING RIGHT TO WORK, KEEPING DEBT AND TAXES LOW, RECRUITING JAPANESE INDUSTRY, THEN RECRUITING THE AUTO INDUSTRY BOTH FROM JAPAN AND FROM THE UNITED STATES. THEN BUILDING FOUR-LANE HIGHWAYS SO THAT THE AUTO SUPPLIERS COULD GET TO THE NEW AUTO PLANTS. AND FINALLY, A TEN-STEP BETTER SCHOOLS PROGRAM THAT INCLUDES CENTERS AND CHAIRS OF EXCELLENCE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION AND HELPING OUR STATE BECOME THE FIRST STATE TO PAY TEACHERS MORE FOR TEACHING WELL. IN MY VIEW, A STEP-BY-STEP JOBS STRATEGY FOR THE COUNTRY SHOULD INCLUDE TAX CUTS, LESS REGULATION CERTAINTY, SO PEOPLE CAN MAKE THEIR PLANS, FREE TRADE, A BALANCED LABOR CLIMATE, GOOD EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES, AND CLEAN BUT CHEAP ENERGY. UNFORTUNATELY, THE PRESIDENT HAS TOO OFTEN PROPOSED HIGHER TAXES, MORE REGULATION, UNCERTAINTY, PROTECTIONISM, EXPENSIVE LABOR POLICY, HIGHER COLLEGE TUITIONS, AS MEDICAID COSTS ARE PASSED ON TO STATES, A NATIONAL ENERGY TAX, AND NEW COSTS FOR THE BUSINESSES THAT WE COUNT ON TO CREATE JOBS. AS FOR DEBT, DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS ARE TRYING THIS WEEK TO RAISE THE NATIONAL DEBT LIMIT BY $1.9 TRILLION, AN AMOUNT THAT'S MORE THAN THE TOTAL FEDERAL BUDGET IN 1999. TO BE SURE, PRESIDENT OBAMA IN.

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  • 02:37:09 PM

    MR. ALEXANDER

  • 02:38:44 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM NORTH DAKOTA.

  • 02:38:46 PM

    MR. CONRAD

    WE ARE GOING TO VOTE ON THE QUESTION OF WHETHER OR NOT WE ESTABLISH A…

    WE ARE GOING TO VOTE ON THE QUESTION OF WHETHER OR NOT WE ESTABLISH A BIPARTISAN DEBT COMMISSION, A COMMISSION EMPOWERED TO COME UP WITH A PLAN, A PLAN IF 14 OF THE 18 MEMBERS COULD AGREE, THAT WOULD COME TO THE SENATE FOR A VOTE. MR. PRESIDENT, THIS STORY RAN RECENTLY IN "NEWSWEEK." THIS WAS THE ACTUAL, THE COVER OF "NEWSWEEK": "HOW GREAT POWERS FALL: STEEP DEBT, SLOW GROWTH AND HIGH SPENDING KILL EMPIRES. AND AMERICA COULD BE NEXT." INSIDE THE STORY REPORTED, "THIS IS HOW EMPIRES DECLINE. IT BEGINS WITH A DEBT EXPLOSION. IT ENDS WITH AN INEXORABLE REDUCTION IN THE RESOURCES AVAILABLE FOR THE ARMY, NAVY AND AIR FORCE. IF THE UNITED STATES DOESN'T COME UP SOON WITH A CREDIBLE PLAN TO RESTORE THE FEDERAL BUDGET TO BALANCE OVER THE NEXT FIVE TO TEN YEARS, THE DANGER IS VERY REAL THAT A DEBT CRISIS COULD LEAD TO A MAJOR WEAKENING OF AMERICAN POWER." MR. PRESIDENT, IT'S NOT HARD TO SEE HOW THAT COULD HAPPEN. SINCE 2000, THE DEBT HAS EXPLODED. IN THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION, THE DEBT DOUBLED. IT'S INCREASED AGAIN WITH THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN. AND WE ARE NOW ON A COURSE TO HAVE A GROSS DEBT THAT WILL BE 114% OF THE GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT OF THE UNITED STATES. MR. PRESIDENT, THAT'S THE SHORT TERM. WE CAN HANDLE A DEBT OF 114% OF THE GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT. WE'VE DONE IT BEFORE. WE DID IT AFTER WORLD WAR II. JAPAN HAS A DEBT RIGHT NOW OF 189% OF THEIR GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT. THE REAL CHALLENGE CONFRONTING AMERICA IS WE ARE ON COURSE, ACCORDING TO THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE, TO HAVE A DEBT THAT WILL REACH 400% OF OUR GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT OVER THE NEXT 50 YEARS. MR. PRESIDENT, NOBODY BELIEVES THAT'S A SUSTAINABLE SITUATION. NOT THE HEAD OF THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE, NOT THE HEAD OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET, NOT THE FORMER HEAD OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, NOT THE HEAD OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE, NOT THE SECRETARY OF TREASURY. ALL OF THEM HAVE SAID THAT A DEBT OF THAT MAGNITUDE POSES A SYSTEMIC THREAT TO THE ECONOMIC SECURITY OF THE UNITED STATES. THE "NATIONAL JOURNAL" IN AN ARTICLE ON NOVEMBER 7 OF 2009 REPORTED THIS: "SIMPLY PUT, EVEN ALARMISTS MAY BE UNDERESTIMATING THE SIZE OF THE DEBT PROBLEM. HOW QUICKLY IT WILL BECOME UNBEARABLE, AND HOW POORLY PREPARED OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM IS TO DEAL WITH IT." MR. PRESIDENT, THAT'S NOT JUST THE VIEW OF THE "NATIONAL JOURNAL" OR THE VIEW OF "NEWSWEEK" MAGAZINE AND THEIR COVER STORY PIECE. THIS IS THE CONSIDERED JUDGMENT OF SOME OF THE BUDGET EXPERTS IN THE COUNTRY FROM BOTH THE REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC SIDE OF THE AISLE. ALAN GREENSPAN, THE FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE, SAID THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF SENATORS CONRAD AND GREGG FOR A BIPARTISAN FISCAL TASK FORCE IS AN SKPHREPBT IDEA. I HOPE -- IS AN EXCELLENT IDEA. I HOPE YOU SUCCEED. DOUG HEGAN, POLITICAL ADVISOR TO SENATOR McCAIN IN THE LAST ELECTION SAID THIS. I AM A RELUCTANT CONVERT. I ALWAYS FELT THIS IS CONGRESS'S JOB. AND QUITE FRANKLY IT OUGHT TO JUST DO IT. THAT ATTITUDE HAS EARNED ME NO FRIENDS. SO I'VE COME AROUND IN POINT WHERE I'M IN FAVOR OF A SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE PROCEDURE TO GET THIS LEGISLATION IN FRONT OF CONGRESS AND PASSED. MR. GEITHNER, THE CURRENT SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, SAID THIS BEFORE THE SENATE BUDGET COMMITTEE ON FEBRUARY 11 OF LAST YEAR. "IT IS GOING TO REQUIRE A DIFFERENT APPROACH IF WE'RE GOING TO SOLVE THE LONG-TERM FISCAL IMBALANCE. IT'S GOING TO REQUIRE A FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN APPROACH BECAUSE I DON'T SEE REALISTICALLY HOW WE'RE GOING TO GET THERE THROUGH EXISTING MECHANISMS. AND MR. WALKER SAID I THINK THE REGULAR ORDER IS DYSFUNCTIONAL AS IT RELATES TO ALL THESE TYPES OF ISSUES AND IT IS QUITE UNDERSTANDABLE BECAUSE YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT PUTTING TOGETHER A PACKAGE THAT ACROSS MANY DIFFERENT JURISDICTIONS. THE IDEA THAT IT WOULD CROSS THE REGULAR ORDER IS TOTALLY UNREALISTIC. AND LEON PANETTA, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF OF PRESIDENT CLINTON, SAID THIS: IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. THE COMMITTEES OF JURISDICTION WILL NEVER TAKE ON THE KIND OF CHALLENGES THAT ARE INVOLVED IN THIS KIND OF EFFORT. IF YOU JUST LEAVE THEM UNDER THEIR OWN JURISDICTIONS, THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. MR. PRESIDENT, SENATOR GREGG, THE RANKING REPUBLICAN ON THE COMMITTEE, AND I CAME TO THE SAME CONCLUSION. TWO YEARS AGO WE STARTED AN EFFORT TO COME UP WITH A PROCESS THAT COULD ASSURE A VOTE ON A SERIES OF RECOMMENDATIONS TO MEET THE DEBT THREAT. ALL TASK FORCE MEMBERS ARE DIRECTLY ACCOUNTABLE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. THEY'RE ALL ELECTED MEMBERS OF THE CONGRESS OR, IN THE CASE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, THE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ADMINISTRATION. THERE ARE 18 MEMBERS: TEN DEMOCRATS, TWO FROM THE ADMINISTRATION. AND EIGHT REPUBLICANS. THEY ARE CURRENTLY SERVING IN THE CONGRESS AND THE TREASURY SECRETARY AND ONE ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL WHO I ASSUME WOULD BE THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET. MR. PRESIDENT, THE BIPARTISAN FISCAL TASK FORCE HAS BROAD COVERAGE. EVERYTHING IS ON THE TABLE. SPENDING AND REVENUES. MR. PRESIDENT, I HEAR SOME ON THE LEFT SAY, WELL, SPENDING SHOULDN'T BE CONSIDERED. AND SOME ON THE RIGHT SAYING REVENUES SHOULDN'T BE CONSIDERED. MR. PRESIDENT, BOTH HAVE TO BE CONSIDERED. I DON'T KNOW WHAT COULD BE MORE CLEAR. THE GREEN LINE SHOWS REVENUES AS A SHARE OF G.D.P. SINCE 1950. THAT'S OVER THE LAST 60 YEARS. REVENUE THE LAST TWO YEARS IS THE LOWEST IT HAS BEEN IN 60 YEARS. LET ME REPEAT THAT: REVENUE AS A SHARE OF THE GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT IS THE LOWEST IT HAS BEEN IN 60 YEARS. A PRECIPITOUS DECLINE IN REVENUE. AND LOOK AT EXPENDITURES. EXPENDITURES ARE THE HIGHEST THEY HAVE BEEN AS A SHARE OF THE GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT IN 60 YEARS. WHOEVER SAYS, WELL, YOU DON'T INCLUDE REVENUE OUR DON'T INCLUDE SPENDING, WELL, GUESS WHAT? IF YOU DON'T DEAL WITH SPENDING AND YOU DON'T DEAL WITH REVENUE, YOU DON'T DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM. MR. PRESIDENT, LET'S GET SERIOUS. AND LET'S GET HONEST WITH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. THE CURRENT STATUS OF SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE TRUST FUNDS ARE AS FOLLOWS: SOCIAL SECURITY IS CASH WILL BE PERMANENTLY CASH NEGATIVE IN 2016. IT'S ALREADY CASH NEGATIVE TODAY. LET ME REPEAT THAT. SOCIAL SECURITY IS CASH NEGATIVE TODAY. IT WILL BE PERFECTLY CASH NEGATIVE IN 2016. THAT IS SIX YEARS AWAY. IT WILL BE COMPLETELY INSOLVENT IN 2037. MEDICARE WENT CASH NEGATIVE IN 2008. IT WILL BE INSOLVENT, ACCORDING TO THE TRUSTEES IN EIGHT YEARS. ANYBODY WHO SAYS, WE DON'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING. WE CAN JUST KEEP ON DOING WHAT WE'RE DOING HAS GOT THEIR HEAD IN THE SAND. SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE ARE BOTH CASH NEGATIVE TODAY. THEY ARE BOTH HEADED FOR INSOLVENCY. THOSE WHO SAY WE DON'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING, THEY ARE GUARANTEEING A DISASTER. MR. PRESIDENT, SOME SAY, WELL, THE HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL SHOWS THAT WE CAN DO THIS THROUGH THE REGULAR ORDER. NO, THAT ISN'T WHAT IT SHOWS. IT SHOWS JUST THE OPPOSITE. IT SHOWS WE WILL NOT DO THIS THROUGH THE REGULAR ORDER BECAUSE HERE IS THE LONG-TERM DEBT TRAJECTORY THAT WE'RE ON AND WHILE THE BILL THAT PASSED THE SENATE WILL HELP A LITTLE BIT, IT IS ONLY A LITTLE BIT. IT DOES NOT FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGE THE TRA SECRETORY THAT WE ARE -- TRAJECTORY THAT WE ARE ON. THAT IS THE REALITY. THAT IS THE FACT. MR. PRESIDENT, BIPARTISAN FISCAL TASK FORCE PROMISES AN EXPEDITED PROCESS WITH RECOMMENDATIONS TO BE SUBMITTED AFTER THE 2010 ELECTION WITH FAST-TRACK CONSIDERATION IN THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE. NO AMENDMENTS. WITH A FINAL VOTE BEFORE THE 111th CONGRESS ADJOURNS, AND A REQUIREMENT BEFORE YOU EVER GET TO THAT POINT OF A SUPER MAJORITY NECESSARY OF THE 18 MEMBERS TO EVEN REPORT A PLAN. IT WOULD REQUIRE 14 OF THE 18 MEMBERS TO EVEN REPORT A PLAN. IF THE PLAN IS REPORTED, THEN IT TAKES 60 VOTES IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE. IT TAKES 60% OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE PRESIDENT RESERVES AND PRESERVES HIS ABILITY TO VETO. SO ANYBODY THAT SAYS THIS IS SOMEHOW UNCONSTITUTIONAL, IT IS FULLY CONSTITUTIONAL. ANYBODY WHO SAYS WE'RE FARMING OUT THE RESPONSIBILITY TO COME UP WITH A PLAN, THAT'S WHAT WE ALWAYS DO. WE ALWAYS HAVE COMMITTEES COME UP WITH PLANS THAT THEN COME TO A VOTE OF THE CONGRESS. AND IF YOU LOOK AT FISCAL CRISES, AS THE ONE THAT WE'RE IN TODAY AND THE ONE THAT'S RAPIDLY APPROACHING, THAT WILL BE FAR MORE SERIOUS THAN THE ONE TODAY, WE HAVE ALWAYS HAD A SPECIAL PROCESS. WHETHER IT WAS ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE IN THE 1990'S OR THE GREENSPAN COMMISSION IN THE 1980'S, WE HAVE REPEATEDLY, WHEN WE FACED A FISCAL CRISIS, RESORTED TO A SPECIAL PROCEDURE. THE BIPARTISAN FISCAL TASK FORCE, AS I'VE INDICATED, REQUIRES A BIPARTISAN OUTCOME. 14 OF THE 18 TASK FORCE MEMBERS MUST AGREE TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS. THE FINAL PASSAGE REQUIRES SUPER MAJORITIES IN BOTH THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE. MR. PRESIDENT, THIS WEEKEND THE PRESIDENT ENDORSED THE PLAN THAT WE WILL VOTE ON TOMORROW. THIS WEEKEND THE PRESIDENT RELEASED THIS STATEMENT: THE SERIOUS FISCAL SITUATION OUR COUNTRY FACES REFLECTS NOT ONLY THE SEVERE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN WE INHERITED, BUT ALSO YEARS OF FAILING TO PAY FOR NEW POLICIES INCLUDING A NEW ENTITLEMENT PROGRAM AND LARGE TAX CUTS THAT MOST BENEFITED THE WELLOFF AND WELL CONNECTED. THE RESULT WAS THAT SURPLUSES PROJECTED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE LAST ADMINISTRATION WERE TRANSFORMED INTO TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF DEFICITS THAT THREATEN FUTURE JOB CREATION AND ECONOMICS GROWTH. THESE DEFICITS DID NOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT AND THEY WON'T BE SOLVED OVERNIGHT. WE NOT ONLY NEED TO CHANGE HOW WE PAY FOR POLICIES, WE ALSO NEED TO CHANGE HOW WASHINGTON WORKS. THE ONLY WAY TO SOLVE OUR LONG-TERM FISCAL CHALLENGES TO SOLVE IT TOGETHER DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS. THAT'S WHY I, THE PRESIDENT, STRONGLY SUPPORT LEGISLATION CURRENTLY UNDER CONSIDERATION TO CREATE A BIPARTISAN FISCAL COMMISSION TO COME UP WITH A SET OF SOLUTIONS TO TACKLE OUR NATION'S FISCAL CHALLENGES AND CALL ON SENATORS FROM BOTH PARTIES TO VOTE FOR THE CREATION OF A STATUTORY BIPARTISAN FISCAL COMMISSION. WITH TOUGH CHOICES MADE TOGETHER, A COMMITMENT TO PAY FOR WHEN WE SPEND, AND RESPONSIBLE STEWARDSHIP OF OUR ECONOMY, WE WILL BE ABLE TO LAY THE FOUNDATION FOR SUSTAINABLE JOB CREATION AN ECONOMIC GROWTH -- AND ECONOMIC GROWTH WHILE RESTORING FISCAL SUSTAINABILITY TO OUR NATION. MR. PRESIDENT, THE PRESIDENT GOT IT RIGHT. AND HE IS ALSO REPRESENTING THE VIEWS OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WHEN ASKED: WOULD YOU FAVOR OR OPPOSE CREATING A BIPARTISAN COMMISSION AS A WAY OF REVIEWING AND ADDRESSING OUR FEDERAL BUDGET PROBLEMS? 70% OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SAID THEY WOULD. 25% WERE IN OPPOSITION. 5% NOT CERTAIN. THIS IS A POLL TAKEN BY PETER D. HART RESEARCH, WELL-KNOWN POLLSTER, WELL-REGARDED POLLSTER, TAKEN NOVEMBER 16 TO NOVEMBER 18 OF 2009. THERE'S NO DOUBT IN MY MIND IF THIS POLL WERE TAKEN TODAY, THESE NUMBERS WOULD BE EVEN STRONGER WITH RESPECT FOR THE NEED FOR A BIPARTISAN FISCAL COMMISSION. MR. PRESIDENT, LET ME JUST CLOSE IN THE TIME REMAINING TO ME TO THANK MY COLLEAGUE, SENATE GREGG, THE RANKING REPUBLICAN ON THE COMMITTEE. WE HAVE A GROUP OF COSPONSORS OF THIS BILL, EQUAL IN NUMBER, EQUALLY DIVIDED BETWEEN REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS. MR. PRESIDENT, SENATOR GREGG AND I HAVE NOT ALWAYS AGREED ON EVERY FISCAL ISSUE. AND WE HAVE DEBATED THOSE ISSUES SOMETIMES IN A WAY THAT'S ANIMATED AND FULL OF ENERGY. BUT THERE IS ONE PLACE THAT WE ARE IN ABSOLUTE AGREEMENT. I SERVED HERE NOW 23 YEARS. I AM ABSOLUTELY PERSUADED THAT IF WE DO NOT ADOPT A SPECIAL PROCEDURE LIKE THE ONE WE HAVE PROPOSED, THE CHANCES OF FACING UP TO THIS DEBT THREAT IN A TIMELY WAY IS REMOTE. IS REMOTE. THIS IS OUR CHANCE. TOMORROW WILL BE A DEFINING VOTE. ARE WE GOING TO TAKE ON THIS QUESTION OF THE LOOMING DEBT, THE THREAT IT POSES TO THE ECONOMIC SECURITY OF THE COUNTRY? AND LET ME BE QUICK TO SAY THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT I BELIEVE YOU RAISE TAXES OR CUT SPENDING IN THE MIDST OF AN ECONOMIC DOWNTURN. THAT WOULD BE UNWISE. BUT IT WOULD ALSO BE UNWISE ONCE RECOVERY HAS PRESENTED ITSELF AND IS FIRMLY ROOTED FOR US TO FAIL TO FACE UP TO THE GREATEST ECONOMIC THREAT THIS COUNTRY FACES, A RUNAWAY DEBT, ONE INCREASINGLY FINANCED FROM ABROAD. LAST YEAR, MR. PRESIDENT, 68% OF THE NEW DEBT WAS FINANCED BY FOREIGN ENTITIES: CHINA, JAPAN, OIL EXPORTING NATIONS. THEY HAVE TOLD US PUBLICLY AND PRIVATELY THAT WE ARE ON AN UNSUSTAINABLE COURSE AND THEY WILL NOT LONG CONTINUE TO EXTEND TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF CREDIT TO US ABSENT OUR TAKING ACTION. MR. PRESIDENT, THE WARNING IS CLEAR. THE TIME IS NOW. I URGE MY COLLEAGUES TO SUPPORT OUR EFFORT TOMORROW. I THANK THE CHAIR AND YIELD THE FLOOR. AND I WANT TO THANK, AGAIN, MY COLLEAGUE, SENATOR GREGG, THE RANKING REPUBLICAN ON THE COMMITTEE, FOR HIS LEADERSHIP IN THIS MATTER. HE HAS SPENT TWO YEARS ON THIS EFFORT. YOU COULD NOT HAVE A BETTER PARTNER. I THANK YOU.

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  • 02:54:51 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE.

  • 02:54:54 PM

    MR. GREGG

    THE ASSISTANT LEADER ON THE FLOOR, DOES THE ASSISTANT LEADER WANT TO TAKE…

    THE ASSISTANT LEADER ON THE FLOOR, DOES THE ASSISTANT LEADER WANT TO TAKE HIS 10 MINUTES? I THANK THE ASSISTANT LEADER. MR. PRESIDENT, LET ME FIRST THANK THE SENATOR FROM NORTH DAKOTA. HE HAS BEEN -- FIRST HE WAS A VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS, THAT'S WHAT WE SAY IN NEW HAMPSHIRE. THAT'S THE MOTTO OF ONE OF OUR ALCOHOL ENGS. OUR -- IN COLLEGE. NOW HE HAS BECOME THE CLARION CALL. THE SIMPLE FACT IS HIS -- HIS STATEMENT, WHICH REALLY SUMMARIZED IT ALL, THE DEBT IS THE THREAT. HE IN THE STATEMENT THAT HE JUST MADE, HE OUTLINED THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE DEBT. CAN'T DENY IT. IT'S THERE. IT'S COMING. IT EXISTS AND IT'S BEEN ADDED TO. THE NUMBERS SIMPLY CAN'T BE IGNORED ANY LONGER. WE ARE, AS A NATION ON A PATH WHERE IF WE CONTINUE TO SPEND AND RUN DEFICITS AS WE HAVE AND AS ARE PROJECTED, OUR NATION WILL NOT BE ABLE TO MAINTAIN ITS STANDARD OF LIVING. WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO FINANCE OUR DEBT, THE VALUE OF OUR CURRENCY WILL COME UNDER ACUTE THREAT. THE BURDEN OF TAXATION TO PAY FOR THE COST OF GOVERNMENT WILL OVERWHELM THE ABILITY OF PEOPLE TO LIVE PRODUCTIVE LIFESTYLES. AND, INEVITABLY, AND THIS IS NOT HYPERBOLE, UNFORTUNATELY, INEVITABLY WE, AS A NATION WILL GO INTO INSOLVENCY OF SOME FORM. WE WILL HAVE TO INFLATE OUR ECONOMY RADICALLY OR WE WILL HAVE TO BEAR A BURDEN THAT SIMPLY STIFLES THE CAPACITY OF OUR CHILDREN TO HAVE A HIGH QUALITY OF LIFE BECAUSE OF THE COST OF THE GOVERNMENT AND THE COST OF THE DEBT. THE SENATOR FROM NORTH DAKOTA CITED THE FIGURES. WE GO TO 100 -- A PUBLIC DEBT THAT IS 100% OF GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT. WE CROSS THE 60% THRESHOLD, WHICH IS THE TIPPING POINT. WE'RE LIKE A DOG, WE HAVE TROUBLE CATCHING OUR TAIL BECAUSE WE HAVE SO MUCH DEBT ON THE BOOKS. POTENTIALLY THIS YEAR, BUT CERTAINLY BY NEXT YEAR. THESE NUMBERS ARE STAGGERING. THEY'RE HARD TO UNDERSTAND. TRILLIONS AND TRILLIONS OF DEBT. AND, AS THE SENATOR FROM NORTH DAKOTA HAS ALSO POINTED OUT, THE DEBT IS OWNED NOT BY AMERICANS BUT BY FOREIGN NATIONS. TODAY CHINA OWNS ALMOST $1 TRILLION OF OUR DEBT. THE OIL-EXPORTING NATIONS OWN, AS A GROUP, ALMOST $1 TRILLION OF OUR DEBT. WE ARE SHIPPING OVERSEAS OUR -- THE DOLLARS WHICH WE SHOULD BE REINVESTING IN THE UNITED STATES TO CREATE A MORE PRODUCTIVE AND VIBRANT ECONOMY AND A BETTER LIFESTYLE FOR OUR NATION. BY THE YEAR 2017 OR 2018, THE INTEREST ON THE DEBT ALONE WILL EXCEED EVERY OTHER ACCOUNT IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. IT WILL BE APPROXIMATELY APPROXIMATELY $900 BILLION A YEAR. ALMOST $1 TRILLION A YEAR. MORE THAN WHAT WE SPEND ON NATIONAL DEFENSE. MASSIVELY MORE THAN WHAT WE SPEND ON EDUCATION, ON BUILDING ROADS, ON DOING THE THINGS THAT A GOVERNMENT IS SUPPOSED TO DO. WHERE DOES THAT INTEREST GO? IT DOESN'T STAY HERE IN THE UNITED STATES TO BENEFIT AMERICANS AND MAKE US A STRONGER NATION. IT IS GOING TO GO TO COUNTRIES LIKE CHINA -- NOT THAT I HAVE ANYTHING AGAINST CHINA. BUT, I MEAN, COUNTRIES THAT HAVE BOUGHT OUR DEBT. SO WE ARE ON AN INTOLERABLE PATH. A PATH OF UNSUSTAINABILITY. A PATH WHICH LEADS US DOWN THE ROAD TO A NATION WHICH IS LESS PROSPEROUS AND HAS A LOWER STANDARD OF LIVING THAN WHAT WE RECEIVED FROM OUR PARENTS. AND THAT'S -- THAT'S SIMPLY NOT ACCEPTABLE. SO HOW DO WE ADDRESS THIS? WELL, FOR YEARS WE SAID, LET'S DO IT BY REGULAR ORDER. LET'S COME UP WITH IDEAS AND RUN THEM THROUGH THE COMMITTEE PROCESS. RUN THEM UP THE POLITICAL FLAGPOLE. LET THE COMMUNITY OF INTEREST WHO WANT TO SPEAK OUT ON ISSUES SPEAK OUT ON IT. AND THEN WE WILL INVOLVE SOLUTIONS THAT WORK ON THESE VERY DIFFICULT PROBLEMS. MOST OF THE ISSUES, BY THE WAY, IS DRIVEN BY THE COST OF ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS. AND FOR YEARS IT -- NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. AND THERE'S A REASON FOR THAT. OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM IS INHERENTLY PRED PREJUDICE ON DOING SUBSTANTIVE ACTIVITY ON ISSUES AS BIG AS ENTITLEMENT REFORM. REHAVE A SYSTEM WHERE WHENEVER ANYBODY PUTS A POLICY ON THE TABLE, A SUBSTANTIVE, THOUGHTFUL OR -- EVEN A POLICIES THAT NOT THOUGHTFUL -- ON THE TABLE AS A PRESENTATION IS THE WAY YOU SHOULD ADDRESS THE COST AN BURDEN OF OUR GOVERNMENT, IT IS IMMEDIATELY ATTACKED EITHER FROM THE LEFT OR FROM THE RIGHT. AND THEY ALMOST NEVER EVEN MAKE TO THE STARTING LINE. WE HAVE INSTANCES AFTER INSTANCES OF SEEING THIS. AND SO SENATOR CONRAD AND I DECIDED, YOU CAN'T DO THIS BY PUTTING POLICY ON THE TABLE. THERE ARE TOO MANY INTEREST GROUPS IN THIS TOWN THAT MAKE THEIR LIVING OFF POISONING THE WELL EITHER FRER THE RIGHT OR THE LEFT BECAUSE THAT'S HOW THEY GENERATE THEIR INCOME. THEY SEND OUT THE LETTERS TO THEIR CONSTITUENT GROUPS. IF IT'S A SOCIAL SECURITY GROUP, THEY SEND IT OUT IN A SOCIAL SECURITY TYPE ENVELOPE AND SAY IF YOU DON'T SEND US MONEY SOON, TOMORROW, SOMEBODY IS GOING TO RUIN SOCIAL SECURITY FOR YOU. OR IF THEY ARE A TAX GROUP, THEY SEND OUT THE TAME TYPE OF LETTER. IT'S LIKE AN I.R.S. FORM LETTER. IF YOU DON'T SEND US MONEY TOMORROW, YOUR TAXES ARE GOING TO GO UP RADICALLY. SO AS A VERY PRACTICAL MATTER, NOTHING GETS PAST THE STARTING LINE AROUND HERE. REGULAR ORDER HAS NOT, DOES NOT, AND WILL NOT WORK ON THESE ISSUES. SO WE DECIDED RATHER THAN USING THAT PROCESS WHICH WE KNOW LEADS NOWHERE, LET'S SET UP A PROCESS THAT DOES LEAD SOMEWHERE. AND SO WE CAME UP WITH WHAT IS BASICALLY TO THUMBNAIL IT A PROCEDURE WHICH IS TOTALLY AND ABSOLUTELY BIPARTISAN AND FAIR WHERE NEITHER SIDE CAN GAIN THE OTHER THAT LEADS TO A POLICY POSITION, WHICH THEN LEADS TO A VOTE ON THAT POLICY. AND THAT'S THE TASK FORCE WE HAVE. THE KEY COMPONENTS ARE THAT IT IS TOTALLY AND ABSOLUTELY BIPARTISAN. NEITHER SIDE CAN GAIN THE OTHER. IT TAKES 14 OF 18 PEOPLE TO REPORT THE PROGRAM -- THE PROPOSALS OUT, AND THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE PROPOSALS FOR EVERYTHING, BUT THE PROPOSALS THAT ARE AGREED TO HAVE TO HAVE A SUPERMAJORITY. I THINK THAT'S 78% OF THE PEOPLE ON THIS TASK FORCE HAVE TO VOTE FOR IT, AND SINCE THE MEMBERSHIP OF THIS TASK FORCE IS APPOINTED BY THE LEADERSHIP OF THE TWO PARTIES, A MAJORITY OF THE PARTY MEMBERSHIP, OF BOTH PARTIES THAT ARE ON THIS TASK FORCE HAS TO VOTE FOR THE FINAL PROPOSAL, AND ONE PRESUMES THAT WHOEVER GOES ON THIS TASK FORCE, IF CHOSEN BY THE LEADERS OF THEIR PARTY HERE IN THE SENATE, WHETHER SENATOR REID OR SENATOR McCONNELL ARE LEADERS IN THE PARTY OR THE HOUSE, SENATOR PELOSI OR SENATOR BOEHNER, IS GOING TO REFLECT FAIRLY AGGRESSIVELY THE VIEWPOINTS AND THE PHILOSOPHIES OF THE DIFFERENT PARTIES. AND SO IT WILL BE A BIPARTISAN REPORT OR IT WON'T BE A REPORT AT ALL. AND THEN IT COMES TO THE CONGRESS AND IT HAS TO BE VOTED UP OR DOWN ON A SUPERMAJORITY VOTE. SO ONCE AGAIN, IT BASICALLY MUTES THE ABILITY TO GAME IT. ONE SIDE CAN'T GAME THE OTHER. THE PROPOSAL MUST BE BIPARTISAN AND FAIR. WHY DO WE CHOOSE THAT PATH? BECAUSE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE SHOWN VERY DIFFICULT INTIVELY THAT THEY -- VERY DEFINITIVELY THAT THEY WILL NOT ACCEPT PROPOSALS IN THESE VERY BIG AREAS, ESPECIALLY SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE, THAT ARE NOT REACHED ON A BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT. THEY WANT FAIRNESS. THEY WANT TO MAKE SURE NOBODY IS GAMING ANYBODY AROUND HERE. SO THAT'S WHY WE HAVE THESE SUPERMAJORITIES. AND THEN IT'S ON FAST TRACK. SO THE PROPOSAL HAS TO BE VOTED UP OR DOWN, AND IT CAN'T BE AMENDED. WHY IS THAT? BECAUSE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, AS WE ALL KNOW AROUND HERE, AMENDMENTS ARE FOR HIDING IN THE CORNERS. AMENDMENTS ARE OFFERED AROUND HERE NOT FOR THE PURPOSES OF ACCOMPLISHING ANYTHING, BUT FOR THE PURPTS OF -- PURPOSES OF GIVING POLITICAL COVER. IN FACT, WE'LL SEE A COUPLE OF AMENDMENTS JUST LIKE THAT ON THIS BILL, ON THIS ISSUE. ONE FROM OUR SIDE, ONE FROM THE OTHER SIDE SO THE PEOPLE WILL HAVE POLITICAL COVER IF THEY VOTE AGAINST THIS TASK FORCE APPROACH. BUT THE SIMPLE FACT IS THAT IF YOU REALLY WANT TO DO SOMETHING HERE, YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE AN UP-OR-DOWN VOTE ON A FAST TRACK. AND EVERYTHING HAS TO BE ON THE TABLE. ALL ENTITLEMENT AND TAX REFORM ISSUES. WHY IS THAT? WELL, BECAUSE THIS HAS TO BE BIPARTISAN. IT'S THAT SIMPLE. I WOULD BE HAPPY TO HAVE A COMMISSION THAT WAS JUST SPENDING REDUCTIONS OR ADJUSTMENTS TO THE MEDICAID AND MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY PROGRAMS, BUT THERE ISN'T ANYBODY ON THAT SIDE OF THE AISLE THAT IS GOING TO AGREE TO THAT. AND THEY WOULD BE HAPPY TO HAVE A PROPOSAL THAT JUST ADDRESSES TASK FORCE SUCH AS HAS BEEN PROPOSED ON OCCASION BY THE SENATOR FROM NORTH DAKOTA WHICH IS TO TRY TO COLLECT THE THE $300 BILLION OF TAXES THAT ARE OWED AND NOT PAY -- PAID IN THIS COUNTRY EVERY YEAR. BUT NOBODY ON THIS SIDE IS GOING TO ACCEPT THAT. EVERYTHING HAS TO BE ON THE TABLE. BUT THE KEY TO PROTECTING BOTH SIDES' INTEREST IN THIS EXERCISE, SO THE SOCIAL SECURITY ISN'T TREATED INAPPROPRIATELY AND SO THE TAX INCREASES AREN'T DONE INAPPROPRIATELY, IF THERE ARE TAX INCREASES, IS TO MAKE SURE THAT THE PRODUCT HAS TO BE BIPARTISAN AND THAT IT HAS TO BE REPORTED ON SUPERMAJORITIES, WHICH THIS DOES, SO THAT ISSUE IS ADDRESSED. SO WE'RE HERE AGAIN, AND I DON'T KNOW THAT WE'RE GOING TO GET THE 60 VOTES NEEDED TO PASS THIS. IT'S OBVIOUSLY BEEN ATTACKED FROM THE RIGHT, IT'S BEEN ATTACKED FROM THE LEFT, WHICH USUALLY MEANS YOU'RE ON A PRETTY GOOD COURSE. AND REGRETTABLY, THE PRESIDENT PUT OUT HIS EXECUTIVE ORDER PROPOSAL WHICH I THINK UNDERMINED IT, BUT THEN HE HAS COME TO SUPPORT IT, BUT IT MAY BE A LITTLE LATE TO THE DINNER HERE. AND ON OUR SIDE OF THE AISLE, SOME OF OUR MAJOR INTEREST GROUPS HAVE COME OUT AGAINST IT. BUT I KNOW THIS MUCH. THAT WE'RE GETTING -- GETTING TO THE POINT WHERE WE DON'T HAVE TOO MUCH ALTERNATIVES AROUND HERE. THAT IF WE DON'T DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS FAIRLY SOON, I GENUINELY BELIEVE THAT SOMEWHERE BETWEEN FIVE TO TEN YEARS FROM NOW, PROBABLY BETWEEN SEVEN AND TEN YEARS FROM NOW, WE AS A NATION WILL FIND IT VERY HARD TO SELL OUR DEBT. COUNTRIES WILL LOOK AT US AND SAY YOU CANNOT SUSTAIN YOUR SITUATION. YOU HAVE RUN A DEBT UP THAT YOU CANNOT PAY BACK, AND I AM NOT GOING TO WANT TO LEND YOU MONEY. OR IF THEY DO, IT'S GOING TO BE AT A VERY HIGH PRICE. AT THAT POINT, THE OPTIONS WILL BE VERY, VERY FEW. VERY, VERY FEW FOR US AS A COUNTRY. AND THEY WILL ALL BE HORRIFIC OPTIONS FOR OUR CHILDREN BECAUSE THEY WILL ALL LEAD TO A LOWER STANDARD OF LIVING FOR US AS A NATION, AND THEY WILL ALL MAKE OUR COUNTRY LESS COMPETITIVE THAN THE -- IN THE WORLD ECONOMIC COMPETITION WHICH IS OBVIOUSLY VERY AGGRESSIVE AND TOTALLY GLOBAL NOW. SO WE CAN WAIT. WE CAN PUNT THIS THING ONE MORE TIME AS WE HAVE DONE YEAR IN AND YEAR OUT NOW. WE CAN SAY THERE IS NOT A PROBLEM OUT THERE OR IF THERE IS A PROBLEM OUT THERE, IF YOU WANT TO ADDRESS IT THE WAY YOU WANT TO ADDRESS IT ON YOUR SIDE, WE WANT TO ADDRESS IT ON OUR SIDE, THEN WE WILL VOTE FOR IT. IN THE END, WE WILL NOT BE AS RESPONSIBLE AS PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE MANTLE OF GOVERNMENT. WE WILL NOT BE FULFILLING OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO GOVERN. INSTEAD, WE WILL BE THE POSTWAR BABY BOOM GENERATION WILL BE THE FIRST GENERATION IN HISTORY TO PASS ON TO OUR CHILDREN, A COUNTRY OF LESS PROSPERITY THAN WE HAVE RECEIVED FROM OUR PARENTS. THAT WILL NOT BE A VERY GOOD TESTAMENT TO OUR RESPONSIBILITY AS PEOPLE WHO ARE IN CHARGE OF GOVERNANCE. AND SO THIS IS THE CHANCE. THIS IS THE CLOSEST WE HAVE EVER GOTTEN TO THIS OPPORTUNITY. I DON'T BELIEVE WE'LL GET THIS CLOSE AGAIN AT ANY TIME IN THE FUTURE, AND WE CAN EITHER TAKE IT OR WE CAN ALLOW IT TO PASS. I HAVE OFTEN SAID THAT CONGRESSES ARE GOOD AT HANDLING THE NEXT ELECTION BUT THEY ARE TERRIBLE AT HANDLING THE NEXT GENERATION. UNFORTUNATELY, FOR YEARS THIS ISSUE NEEDS TO BE OVER THE HORIZON. IT'S NOT ANY LONGER. IT'S NOT ONLY ON THE HORIZON. IT'S CLOSING FAST. THE RED FLAGS ARE EVERYWHERE, EVERYWHERE. WE HAVE EVEN SEEN MOODY'S, THE RATING AGENCY, PUT THE UNITED STATES IN A SPECIAL CATEGORY WITH ENGLAND. WE'RE NOT ON A WATCH LIST BUT THEY HAVE GIVEN US NEW DEFINITION COMPARED TO THE REST OF THE INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES. THERE IS NO QUESTION BUT THE CLOCK IS TICKING AND THE HOUR IS LATE, AND IF WE DON'T PROCEED TO ACTION, THAT LEADS TO ACTUAL ACTIVITY, THAT LEADS TO ACTUAL POLICY, IN MY OPINION, WE WILL NOT BE FULFILLING OUR RESPONSIBILITY AS PEOPLE WHO ARE ELECTED TO GOVERN AND TO PASS ON TO THE NEXT GENERATION A STRONGER AMERICA RATHER THAN WEAKER AMERICA. MR. PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 03:08:47 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM ARIZONA.

  • 03:08:49 PM

    MR. KYL

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I THINK IT'S TIME FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE UNITED…

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I THINK IT'S TIME FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO BE SURE WE'RE LISTENING TO WHAT OUR CONSTITUENTS, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, ARE TELLING US. IF IT WAS UNCLEAR BEFORE, I THINK THE MASSACHUSETTS SENATE RACE SHOULD PUT TO REST ANY DOUBTS ABOUT WHAT'S REALLY FRUSTRATING AMERICANS. AMERICANS HAVE HAD IT WITH THE SOARING LEVEL OF SPENDING AND DEBT. THEY KNOW THAT ENORMOUS SPENDING AND SKYROCKETING DEFICITS TAKE A BITE OUT OF THE ECONOMY, DRAGGING DOWN OUR GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT, OUR STANDARD OF LIVING, AND MAKING INVESTORS AND JOB CREATORS VERY NERVOUS. THEY ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE UNFATHOMABLE AMOUNTS OF MONEY NOW BEING SPENT. FOR THE FIRST YEAR OF THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, THE NUMBERS ARE EYE POPPING. CONSIDER, ONE, A WASTEFUL WASTEFUL $1.2 TRILLION STIMULUS THAT WAS A FAILURE, ACCORDING TO THE ADMINISTRATION'S OWN YARDSTICK. TWO, A $410 BILLION OMNIBUS FEDERAL SPENDING BILL THAT INCREASED NONDEFENSE SPENDING BY 10%. THREE, A $2.5 TRILLION GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER OF HEALTH CARE THAT THE SENATE PASSED ON CHRISTMAS EVE. NOW, HOPEFULLY, MR. PRESIDENT, THIS WILL ACTUALLY NEVER BECOME LAW. WE HAVE HAD TWO HUGE INCREASES IN THE DEBT CEILING, WITH THE THIRD BEING DEBATED NOW. A MASSIVE DUGHT THAT DOUBLES THE DEFICIT IN FIVE YEARS AND TRIPLES IT IN TEN. THINK OF THAT. THAT DOUBLES THE DEFICIT IN FIVE YEARS AND TRIPLES IT IN TEN. IT'S NOT NECESSARY, IT'S NOT INEVITABLE. WE CAN AND WE SHOULD PREVENT IT. REMEMBER, WE HAVE TO BORROW MOST OF THIS MONEY. AMERICANS ARE VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THE AMOUNT OF MONEY WE'RE BORROWING FROM OTHER NATIONS LIKE CHINA TO HELP FINANCE OUR EXPLODING DEBT. NOW, THE ADMINISTRATION AND ITS DEFENDERS ARE STILL BLAMING PRESIDENT BUSH FOR OUT-OF-CONTROL DEFICITS AND DEBT , EVEN THOUGH THE OTHER PARTY HAS BEEN IN CONTROL OF THE CONGRESS NOW FOR THREE YEARS AND THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN OUT OF OFFICE FOR OVER A YEAR. HERE ARE SOME IMPORTANT FACTS. PRESIDENT BUSH'S DEFICITS RUN AN AVERAGE OF 3.2% OF G.D.P. WHILE PRESIDENT OBAMA'S SPENDING PLANS CALL FOR DEFICITS THAT WILL AVERAGE 4.2% OF G.D.P. OVER THE NEXT DECADE. IN OTHER WORDS, AN ENTIRE PERCENTAGE POINT HIGHER. FROM THE DAY PRESIDENT OBAMA TOOK OFFICE UNTIL THE LAST DAY OF THE FISCAL YEAR 2010, DEBT HELD BY THE PUBLIC WILL GROW BY BY $3.3 TRILLION, ACCORDING TO THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET. WE CAN'T BLAME THAT ON PRESIDENT BUSH. PRESIDENT BUSH ADDED LESS THAN THAT, ABOUT $3 TRILLION TO THE DEBT DURING THE ENTIRE EIGHT YEARS HE WAS IN OFFICE. SO IN JUST 20 MONTHS, PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL ADD AS MUCH DEBT AS PRESIDENT BUSH RAN UP IN EIGHT YEARS. THIS ADMINISTRATION NEEDS TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR ITS ACTIONS. START LISTENING TO WHAT AMERICANS ARE SAYING AND STOP TALKING ABOUT THE MESS THAT THEY INHERITED. AMERICANS WANT CONGRESS AND THE ADMINISTRATION TO STOP THEIR GRAND SPENDING PLANS AND FOCUS UPON WHAT'S REALLY NEEDED FOR AN ECONOMIC RECOVERY. DECEMBER SAW ANOTHER $85,000 -- EXCUSE ME, 85,000 JOBS LOST. THIS IS THE LAST MONTH, DECEMBER. 85,000 JOBS LOST. UNEMPLOYMENT HAS NOT GONE DOWN. IT'S HOLDING STEADY AT ABOUT 10%. IN MY STATE, IT'S OVER 11%. MORT DISUKERMAN RECENTLY WROTE IN "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL" -- ACTUALLY FRIDAY -- "THE PROBLEM IN THE JOB MARKET GOING FORWARD IS NOT SO MUCH LAYOFFS IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR WHICH ARE ABATING BUT A LACK OF HIRING." MR. PRESIDENT, THAT BRINGS ME TO CONCERNS OVER OUR TAX POLICY. AMERICANS LOOK AHEAD AND THEY SEE NEW TAXES ON THE HORIZON. UNLESS CONGRESS TAKES ACTION THIS YEAR, TAXES ARE SET TO GO UP BY $2 TRILLION OVER THE NEXT DECADE, STARTING IN 2011. THE CHILD TAX CREDIT WOULD BE CUT IN HALF. MARGINAL TAX RATES WILL GO UP. DIVIDENDS AND CAPITAL GAINS TAXES WILL INCREASE. IT'S NO WONDER THAT BUSINESSES ARE TIMID ABOUT HIRING AND INVESTING AND CONSUMERS ARE MORE CAUTIOUS THAN EVER ABOUT THEIR OWN SPENDING. EVEN IF ECONOMISTS SAY WE'RE TECHNICALLY OUT OF THE RECESSION, DOLLARS HAVE NOT BEGUN TO FLOW BECAUSE PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES ARE UNCERTAIN ABOUT WHAT THEIR TAX BURDEN WILL BE IN THE COMING YEARS. THEY ARE VERY NERVOUS THAT IT WILL BE HIGHER. WE CAN ELIMINATE SOME OF THAT UNCERTAINTY AND INSTILL SOME MUCH-NEEDED CONFIDENCE IN THE ECONOMY BY EXTENDING CURRENT TAX LAW. AGAIN, UNLESS CONGRESS ACTS, TAXES WILL INCREASE AUTOMATICALLY. AND IF THE PRESIDENT IS LOOKING FOR A JOB STIMULATOR, I SUGGEST THAT THIS IS WHERE TO START. IF HE WERE TO ANNOUNCE ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT THAT HE'S CALLING ON CONGRESS TO KEEP TAXES RIGHT WHERE THEY ARE -- IN FACT, IF WE CAN CUT THEM IN SOME AREA, THAT WOULD BE EVEN BETTER, BUT AT LEAST KEEP THEM WHERE THEY ARE, I THINK HE WOULD SEE BUSINESSES REACT IMMEDIATELY AND POSITIVELY TO THE NEWS. BUT INSTEAD OF INCREASING TAXES, WE NEED, AS DISUKERMAN SAYS, TO DRAW UP CREDIBLE PLANS TO BRING DOWNLOADED BUDGET DEFICITS WITHOUT TRIGGERING ANOTHER DOWNTURN. LET'S KEEP IN MIND SOMETHING ABOUT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. THEY KNOW YOU CAN'T SPEND WHAT YOU DON'T HAVE. THE MESSAGE THAT THIS CONGRESS AND THIS ADMINISTRATION HAVE BEEN SENDING TO AMERICANS IS THAT EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE BOUND BY LIMITS, WASHINGTON IS NOT. SO AS I SAID, MR. PRESIDENT, IT'S TIME TO START LISTENING TO OUR CONSTITUENTS AND THEN ACT ON THEIR INSTRUCTIONS. STOP SPENDING, KEEP TAXES WHERE THEY ARE, REDUCE THEM WHERE WE CAN, AND STOP RUNNING UP DEFICITS.

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  • 03:14:44 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM MONTANA.

  • 03:15:20 PM

    MR. BAUCUS

    PRESIDENT, DR. LAWRENCE PETER, THE EDUCATOR WHO CAME UP WITH THE PETER…

    PRESIDENT, DR. LAWRENCE PETER, THE EDUCATOR WHO CAME UP WITH THE PETER PRINCIPLE, ONCE SAID -- "DEMOCRACY IS A PROCESS BY WHICH THE PEOPLE ARE FREE TO CHOOSE THE PERSON WHO WILL GET THE BLAME." MR. PRESIDENT, IN A SEX, THAT'S THE PEOPLE'S RIGHT. IN A DEMOCRACY, THE PEOPLE ELECT US TO REPRESENT THEM AND IN A DEMOCRACY, THE PEOPLE LEJT US TO BE ACCOUNT -- ELECT US TO BE ACCOUNTABLE. BUT THE CHAIRMAN AND RANKING REPUBLICAN MEMBER OF THE BUDGET COMMITTEE HAVE COME UP WITH A PROCESS TO SHIFT THE BLAME. THEY HAVE COME UP WITH A PROCESS FOR CONGRESS TO PUNT OUR ACCOUNTABILITY AWAY. THEY HAVE COME UP WITH A PROCESS TO OUTSOURCE CONGRESS'S CENTRAL FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES TO A NEW BUDGET COMMISSION. I CAN SEE THAT A COMMISSION MAY BE ATTRACTIVE TO SOME. IT'S THE EASY WAY OUT. SENATORS CAN BLAME EVERYTHING ON THE COMMISSION. SENATORS CAN SAY, THE COMMISSION MADE ME DO IT. BUT WE SHOULD NOT SHIRK OUR RESPONSIBILITY. RATHER, WE SHOULD DO THE JOB THAT OUR CONSTITUENTS SENT US HERE TO DO. AND WE ALREADY HAVE A PROCESS FOR DOING SO. IT'S CALLED THE BUDGET PROCESS. THE CHAIRMAN AND RANKING REPUBLICAN MEMBER OF THE IMUGHT -- OF THE BUDGET COMMITTEE HAVE PROPOSED A NEW BUDGET PROCESS. NO ONE HAS SHOWN GREATER ZEAL IN TAKE ON THE BUDGET DEFICIT THAN THE CHAIRMAN AND RANKING REPUBLICAN MEMBER OF THE BUDGET COMMITTEE. I COMMEND HEM FOR THEIR GOOD INTENTIONS. BUT WE SHOULD REJECT THEIR NEW PROCESS, NOT THEIR INTENTIONS BUT THEIR NEW PROCESS. SENATORS CONRAD AND GREGG HAVE SAID EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE ON THE TABLE, INCLUDING SPENDING AND REVENUES. BUT WHY STOP THERE? IF CONGRESS IS GOING TO OUTSOURCE ITS CENTRAL FISCAL RESPONSIBILITIES, WHY STOP THERE? WHY NOT CEDE TO THIS COMMISSION ALL OF OUR RESPONSIBILITIES? WHY DON'T WE JUST OUTSOURCE ALL OF THIS YEAR'S WORK AND GENERAL JON FOR THE YEAR? IF WE DON'T CEDE ALL OF OUR POWERS TO THIS COMIRKS WHAT'S TO STOP THEM FROM INSERTING ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING THEY CHOOSE INTO THE COMMISSION'S ONE, NONAMENABLE OMNIBUS VEHICLE? THEY CAN INSERT ANYTHING THEY WANT. ANYTHING. THAT'S THE CATCH WITH THIS COMMISSION. IF WE WERE TO CEDE ALL OF OUR RESPONSIBILITIES TO THIS COMMISSION, IF WE WERE TO TIE OUR HANDS SO WE COULD NOT AMEND ITS RECOMMENDATIONS, THEN WE WOULD RISK SETTING IN MOTION SOME TRULY TERRIBLE POLICY. UNDER THE PROPOSED FAST-TRACK PROCEDURES, WE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO ADD THE PROPOSAL. BUT WHAT IF WE DO NOT LIKE THE RECOMMENDATIONS? WE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO REPLACE THE COMMISSION'S RECOMMENDATIONS WITH OUR OWN. IT IS CLEAR FROM THE STATEMENTS OF SENATORS CONRAD AND GREGG THAT THEY HAVE PAINTED A BIG RED TARGET AND SOCIAL SECURITY AND ON MEDICARE. THAT'S WHAT THIS COMMISSION IS ALL ABOUT. IT IS A THREAT TO SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE. AND THAT'S WHY THE FIRST AMENDMENT THAT THIS SENATOR OFFERED IS TO PROTECT SOCIAL SECURITY. SENATORS CONRAD AND GREGG HAVE PROPOSED A SYSTEM THAT WILL NOT ALLOW THE SENATORS TO OFFER AMENDMENTS TO PROTECT SOCIAL SECURITY LATER, AFTER THE COMMISSION HAS COME UP WITH ITS RECOMMENDATIONS. THAT'S WHY WE HAVE TO VOTE TO PROTECT SOCIAL SECURITY NOW WHILE WE STILL CAN OFFER AMENDMENTS. MR. PRESIDENT, WE ALREADY HAVE A PROCESS TO ADDRESS THE BUDGET. IT'S CALLED THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET PROCESS. ANY TIME THAT WE WANTED TO, WE COULD USE THIS BUDGET PROCESS TO ADDRESS THE BUDGET DEFICIT. AND SINCE THE CREATION OF THE BUDGET PROCESS, IT HAS BEEN THE PROCESS THAT CONGRESS HAS USUALLY USED TO ADDRESS FISCAL CHALLENGES. THE CHAIRMAN AND RANK #-G REPUBLICAN MEMBER OF THE BUDGET COMMITTEE SHOULD SKIP THE COMMISSION. THEY SHOULD GO STRAIGHT TO THE RECOMMENDATION THEY SHOULD BRING IT UP IN THEIR COMMITTEE. THAT'S EXACTLY WHY CONGRESS CREATED THE BUDGET COMMITTEE. THE BUDGET RESOLUTION AND THE RECONCILIATION BILL IN THE FIRST PLACE. THAT WAS THE PURPOSE. WE DON'T NEED A COMMISSION TO DO OUR WORK. WE DON'T NEED A NEW PROCESS TO SHIFT THE BLAME. RATHER, TO ADDRESS OUR FISCAL CHALLENGES, LET US JUST GET TO WORK ON IT NOW. LET US DO THE JOB THAT THE PEOPLE SENT US TO DO AND LET US REJECT THIS COMMISSION. MR. PRESIDENT, I SUGGEST THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 03:19:56 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL: QUORUM CALL: MR.

  • 03:20:13 PM

    Quorum Call

  • 03:34:06 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: THE DEMOCRATIC LEADER.

  • 03:34:08 PM

    MR. REID

    UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THE CALL OF THE QUORUM BE TERMINATED.

  • 03:34:12 PM

    MR. REID

    MR. PRESIDENT, WHAT IS THE PENDING BUSINESS?

  • 03:34:18 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    MORNING BUSINESS IS CLOSED. UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, THE SENATE WILL…

    MORNING BUSINESS IS CLOSED. UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, THE SENATE WILL RESUME CONSIDERATION OF H.J. RES., RESOLUTION 45, WHICH

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  • 03:34:34 PM

    THE CLERK

    45, JOINT RESOLUTION INCREASING THE STATUTORY LIMIT ON THE PUBLIC DEBT.

  • 03:34:41 PM

    MR. REID

    IT IS.

  • 03:34:47 PM

    MR. REID

    A CLOTURE MOTION AT THE DESK WITH RESPECT TO THAT AMENDMENT.

  • 03:34:53 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL REPORT.

  • 03:34:56 PM

    THE CLERK

    WE THE UNDERSIGNED SENATORS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF RULE 22…

    WE THE UNDERSIGNED SENATORS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF RULE 22 OF THE STANDING RULES OF THE SENATE HEREBY MOVE TO BRING TO A CLOSE DEBATE ON THE REID AMENDMENT NUMBER 3305 TO THE BAUCUS-REID SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT NUMBER 32 99 TO H.J. RES. 45 A JOINT RESOLUTION INCREASING THE STATUTORY LIMIT ON THE PUBLIC DEBT SIGNED BY 18 SENATORS AS FOLLOWS: REID, BAUCUS, LEAHY, DODD, KAUFMAN, WARNER, KIRK, UDALL OF NEW MEXICO, INOUYE, MERKLEY, MENENDEZ, DORGAN, REED OF RHODE ISLAND, STABENOW, HARKIN, BURIES, ROCK -- BURRIS, ROCKEFELLER, DURBIN. MR.

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  • 03:35:44 PM

    MR. REID

    THE CLERK TO REPORT THE SUBSTITUTE MOTION.

  • 03:35:49 PM

    THE CLERK

    WE THE UNDERSIGNED SENATORS HEREBY MOVE TO BRING TO A CLOSE THE DEBATE ON…

    WE THE UNDERSIGNED SENATORS HEREBY MOVE TO BRING TO A CLOSE THE DEBATE ON THE BAUCUS FOR REID SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT NUMBER 3299 TO H.J. RES. 45, A JOINT RESOLUTION INCREASING THE STATUTORY LIMIT ON THE PUBLIC DEBT, SIGNED BY 19 SENATORS AS FOLLOWS:

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  • 03:36:06 PM

    MR. REID

    I ASK FURTHER READING OF THE NAMES BE WAIVED.

  • 03:36:10 PM

    MR. REID

    I HAVE A CLOTURE MOTION AND JOINT RESOLUTION WHICH IS AT THE DESK.

  • 03:36:14 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: THE CLERK WILL REPORT.

  • 03:36:16 PM

    THE CLERK

    CLOTURE MOTION: WE THE UNDERSIGNED SENATORS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE…

    CLOTURE MOTION: WE THE UNDERSIGNED SENATORS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF RULE 22 OF THE STANDING RULES OF THE SENATE HEREBY MOVE TO BRING TO A CLOSE THE DEBATE ON H.J. RES. 45, A JOINT RESOLUTION INCREASING THE STATUTORY LIMIT ON THE PUBLIC DEBT. SIGNED BY 18 SENATORS AS FOLLOWS:

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  • 03:36:32 PM

    MR. REID

    MR. PRESIDENT, I WOULD ASK READING OF THE NAMES BE WAIVED.

  • 03:36:38 PM

    MR. REID

    I ALSO ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THE MANDATORY QUORUM WITH RESPECT TO…

    I ALSO ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THE MANDATORY QUORUM WITH RESPECT TO EACH CLOTURE MOTION BE WAIVED.

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  • 03:36:49 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION. THE SENATOR FROM MONTANA.

  • 03:36:56 PM

    MR. BAUCUS

    THE SENATE'S FOURTH DAY OF CONSIDERATION OF THE JOINT RESOLUTION TO…

    THE SENATE'S FOURTH DAY OF CONSIDERATION OF THE JOINT RESOLUTION TO INCREASE THE DEBT LIMIT. I REMIND MY COLLEAGUES THAT THIS IS THE LEGISLATION WHICH ALLOWS THE GOVERNMENT TO HONOR ITS COMMITMENT TO PAY ITS BILLS. FOUR AMENDMENTS REMAIN PENDING. THE SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT RAISING THE AMOUNT OF THE DEBT LIMIT, THIS SENATOR'S AMENDMENT TO PROTECT SOCIAL SECURITY, THE CONRAD-GREGG AMENDMENT TO CREATE A FAST-TRAFT PROCESS TO CONSIDER THE BUDGET COMMITTEE'S RECOMMENDATION AND THE MAJORITY LEADER'S AMENDMENT REINSTITUTING THE STATUTORY PAY-AS-YOU-GO BUDGET LAW. UP TO SEVEN OTHER AMENDMENTS REMAIN IN ORDER TO THE JOINT RESOLUTION. THE SENATOR FROM ALASKA HAS A RIGHT TO OFFER AN AMENDMENT ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY ENDANGERMENT FINDING. WE EXPECT THAT SHE WILL SEEK TO ADDRESS THIS SUBJECT MATTER THROUGH A FREE-STANDING RESOLUTION OF DISAPPROVAL RATHER THAN AN AMENDMENT. THE REMAINING SIX AMENDMENTS IN ORDER ARE A COBURN AMENDMENT PROPOSING A PACKAGE OF RESCISSIONS, A SESSIONS AMENDMENT CREATING CAPS ON APPROPRIATED SPENDING, AN AMENDMENT BY THE REPUBLICAN LEADER'S DESIGNEE RELEVANT TO ANY ON THE LIST, AN AMENDMENT BY THE MAJORITY LEADER RELEVANT TO ANY ON THE LIST AND TWO AMENDMENTS BY THIS SENATOR REGARDING THE BATON -- BUDGET RESOLUTION. EVERY SUBJECT OF THE RESOLUTION WILL BE SUBJECT TO A 60-VOTE THRESHOLD. THE SENATE WILL NOT CONDUCT ROLL CALL VOTES ON THE AMENDMENTS TODAY. UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, AT 5:30 THIS AFTERNOON THE SENATE WILL RETURN TO THE NOMINATION OF ROSANNA PETERSON TO BE DISTRICT JUDGE FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON. AT 6:00 THIS EVENING THE SENATE WILL CONDUCT A ROLL CALL VOTE ON THE CONFIRMATION OF THE PETERSON NOMINATION. UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, AT 11:30 TOMORROW MORNING THE SENATE WILL PROCEED TO A VOTE IN RELATION TO THE FOLLOWING TWO AMENDMENTS IN RELATION TO THE DEBT LIMIT. FIRST THIS SENATOR'S AMENDMENT TO PROTECT SOCIAL SECURITY. SECOND, THE CONRAD-GREGG AMENDMENT TO CREATE A FAST-TRACK PROCESS TO CONSIDER A BUDGET COMMISSION'S RECOMMENDATIONS. SO, THE SENATE IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS THIS AFTERNOON FOR SENATORS TO OFFER THEIR AMENDMENTS. WE WILL WORK TOWARD DEVELOPING AN AGREEMENT FOR THE OFFERING OF ALL AMENDMENTS BY A TIME CERTAIN, PERHAPS AS SOON AS TOMORROW AND HOPE TO CONCLUDE ACTION ON THIS ACTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE THEREAFTER. I THANK ALL SENATORS. MR. PRESIDENT, I SUGGEST THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 03:39:29 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL:

  • 03:41:38 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM NORTH DAKOTA.

  • 03:41:40 PM

    MR. DORGAN

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 03:41:44 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 03:41:45 PM

    MR. DORGAN

    MR. PRESIDENT, THIS WEEKEND THERE WAS SOME DISCUSSION AND WRITING IN THE…

    MR. PRESIDENT, THIS WEEKEND THERE WAS SOME DISCUSSION AND WRITING IN THE PAPERS AND ELSEWHERE IN JOURNALS ABOUT THE NOMINATION OF MR. BERNANKE, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD, FOR ANOTHER TERM AT THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD. "THE WASHINGTON POST" HAD AN EDITORIAL ENTITLED "SCAPEGOAT AT THE FED." TPHO -- I DON'T NORMALLY COME TO THE FLOOR TO RESPOND TO "WASHINGTON POST" HE EDITORIALS BUT I DO WANT TO RESPOND TO A PORTION THIS HAVE EDITORIAL AND DESCRIBE IN A BROADER WAY WHY I THINK THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR THE SENATE. "SCAPEGOAT AT THE FED. IS THERE MANY WAYS TO INTERPRET THE ELECTION RESULTS IN MASSACHUSETTS LAST WEEK," THE EDITORIAL BEGINS. IT SAYS, "BUT ONE THING MASSACHUSETTS DID NOT REPRESENT WAS A MANDATE TO MAKE A NATIONAL SCAPEGOAT OUT OF BEN BERNANKE, THE THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD CHAIRMAN. YET TWO SENATORS SEEKING REELECTION IN NOVEMBER PLUS ANOTHER PLANNING TO RETIRE APPEAR TO HAVE READ IT THAT WAY. THEY TOOK THE OCCASION OF LAST WEEK'S POLITICAL UFP HAOEFL TO ANNOUNCE -- UP THAOEFL ANNOUNCE THEIR -- UPHEAVAL TO ANNOUNCE THEIR OPPOSITION TO MR. BEN BERNANKE. F BY MAKING MR. BERNANKE THE FALL GUY FOR ALL THE SINS REAL AND PERCEIVED OF. THAT HAS ALREADY PRODUCED TROUBLING ATTEMPTS TO CONDUCT AUDITS OF ITS MONETARY POLICY. THAT IS A PARTIAL RECITATION OF THE EDITORIAL. I CAN CONDENSE THE EDITORIAL BY SAYING THE EDITORIAL BOARD AT THE "WASHINGTON POST," AS IS ALWAYS THE CASE, HAS TAKEN THE POSITION THAT IF ANYBODY WANTS TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD IS DOING, IT'S NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. IT'S NONE OF CONGRESS'S BUSINESS, NONE OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE'S BUSINESS. STAY OUT OF IT. KEEP YOUR NOSE OUT OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD. THAT'S KIND OF THE POSITION OF "THE WASHINGTON POST." IT IS NOT SINCE THE MASSACHUSETTS ELECTION, HOWEVER, THAT I HAVE EXPRESSED RESERVATIONS ABOUT THE THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD. IN FACT, ON SIX OCCASIONS I'VE GIVEN SPEECHES ON THE FLOOR OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE JUST SINCE DECEMBER 10, 2008, THAT DAY PLUS ON FIVE ADDITIONAL OCCASIONS I CAME TO THE FLOOR TO TALK ABOUT THE ISSUES THAT PERSUADE ME TO SAY, AS I DID LAST WEEK, I DON'T EVEN BELIEVE WE SHOULD VOTE ON MR. BERNANKE'S NOMINATION UNTIL HE HAS DECIDED TO PROVIDE THE UNITED STATES SENATE AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WITH INFORMATION THAT HE IS NOW WITHHOLDING. LET ME DESCRIBE WHAT THAT IS. THIS IS A BLOOMBERG REPORT. IT SAYS "THE U.S. HAS LENT, SPENT OR GUARANTEED $11.6 TRILLION TO BOLSTER BANKS AND TO FIGHT THE LONGEST RECESSION IN 70 YEARS." I'VE NOT COME TO THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE CRITICAL OF THE FED'S POLICIES BY WHICH THEY HAVE LENT, SPENT OR GUARANTEED $11.6 TRILLION, ALTHOUGH IT'S FAIR TO SAY THAT $11.6 TRILLION IS NOT THEIRS. THAT REPRESENTS THE THE RISKS OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. THAT'S THE FULL FAITH AND CREDIT OF THIS GREAT COUNTRY OF OURS. THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD HAS TAKEN A NUMBER OF ACTIONS TO TRY TO ADDRESS THIS ECONOMIC CRISIS, AN ECONOMIC CRISIS I WOULD SUGGEST THAT HAS BEEN CAUSED, AT LEAST IN SIGNIFICANT PART, BY THE MALFEASANCE OF THE THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD AND ITS PREVIOUS CHAIRMAN AND IN SOME RESPECTS THIS CHAIRMAN WHO ARE CONTENT TO TAKE A LONG SLUMBER, A VERY LONG NAP WHILE THE PREDATORY LENDING WAS GOING ON, THE HOUSING BUBBLE WAS GROWING, AND MASSIVE AMOUNT OF BAD SECURITIES WERE FINDING THEIR WAY THROUGH THE PAYMENT OF A LOT OF GENEROUS BONUSES AND FEES, FINDING THEIR WAY INTO THE FINANCIAL BACKGROUND OF A LOT OF FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS IN THIS COUNTRY. IT SAYS THAT THE FED LAST YEAR BEGAN EXTENDING KRED TO COMPANIES THAT AREN'T BANKS FOR THE FIRST TIME THAT IT WAS CREATED IN 1913. AND IT HAS REFUSED TO DIVULGE THE DETAILS OF THE COMPANY PARTICIPATING IN THE LENDING PROGRAM. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE COUNTRY'S HISTORY THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD, WHICH PREVIOUSLY HAS ONLY LENT MONEY DIRECTLY TO FDIC INSURED COMMERCIAL BANKS. THAT'S THE ONLY GROUP OF INTEREST THAT COULD COME TO THE FED AND GET DIRECT MONEY FROM THE FED. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE HISTORY THE FED SAID DURING THIS CRISIS, WE WILL OPEN THAT WINDOW TO ALLOW INVESTMENT BANKS TO COME AND GET HONE DIRECTLY FROM US. -- GET MONEY DIRECTLY FROM US. FIRST TIME IN HISTORY. SO I BEGAN COMING TO THE FLOOR OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE, AND I DIDN'T COME HERE CRITICIZING THE FED AT THAT POINT. BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW WHETHER -- WHAT THEY DID WAS NECESSARY OR NOT. BUT THEY DID IT AND I WASN'T CRITICAL. WE WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF A CRISIS. I BEGAN COMING TO THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE SAYING, ALL RIGHT, NOW, THAT WE SOME AMOUNT OF STABILITY, LET'S AT LEAST MAKE SURE THAT THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD TELLS THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WHO GOT THE MONEY. WHO ENDED UP WITH THE MONEY AND WHAT WERE THE TERMS OF ITS BEING MADE AVAILABLE TO THESE INVESTMENT BANKS. WELL, THE FEDERAL COURT, AS A RESULT OF A FOYA REQUEST AND A SUIT THAT THE FED WITHHELD NIFTION. THE FEDERAL RESERVE MUST FOR THE FIRST TIME IDENTIFY THE COMPANIES IN ITS EMERGENCY LENDING PROGRAMS AFTER LOSING A FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAWSUIT. THE JUDGE SAID THE CENTRAL BANK IMPROPERLY WITHHELD AGENCY RECORDS AND ESSENTIALLY SAID, YOU HAVE TO DISCLOSE. YOU GOT THE MONEY. NOW, MR. PRESIDENT, THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD SAID WE'RE GOING TO APPEAL THE JUDGE'S RULING. WEEPT DON'T INTEND TO COMPLY -- WE DON'T INTEND TO COMPLY WITH THAT. THE FEDERAL RESERVE IS REFUSING TO IDENTIFY THE RECIPIENTS OF $2 TRILLION OF EMERGENCY LOANS FROM THE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS OR TROUBLED ASSETS THE CENTRAL BANK IS ACCEPTING AS COLLATERAL. SO THE FEDERAL COURT SAYS YOU'VE GOT TO DO IT. THEY APPEALED THE COURT RULING AND GOT A STAY AND SAID WE DON'T INTEND TO DO IT. IN THE MEAN TIME I AND SENATOR GRASSLEY AUTHORED A LETTER WITH NINE OF OUR COLLEAGUES TO THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD LAST JUNE AND SAID WE WANT YOU TO DISCLOSE TO THE CONGRESS AND AMERICAN PEOPLE WHO GOT THE MONEY AND HOW MUCH AND WHAT WERE THE TERMS? AND WE GOT A LETTER BACK FROM THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD DATED SEPTEMBER 16 AND IT HAS A LOT OF PARAGRAPHS, BUT YOU CAN PRETTY MUCH SUMMARIZE IT WITH NO. NOW, IT IS INTERESTING TO ME THAT THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD HAS SAID WE BELIEVE ONE OF THE HALLMARKS OF WHAT WE'RE DOING IS TRANSPARENCY. WELL, I DON'T UNDERSTAND IF TRANSPARENCY MEANS YOU'RE GOING TO DISCLOSE THINGS AND GIVE PEOPLE THE OPPORTUNITY TO UNDERSTAND WHAT HAS HAPPENED HERE, WHY IS THERE NO TRANSPAINS HERE EVEN -- TRANSPARENCY HERE EVEN AFTER A FEDERAL COURT SAID THAT YOU IMPROPERLY WITHHELD RECORDS, EVEN AT THE UNITED STATES SENATE SAID MAKE THE INFORMATION AVAILABLE, EVEN AFTER THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, WE NEED TO KNOW WHO GOT OUR MONEY. THE FEDERAL RESERVE THAT WE DON'T INTEND TO TELL YOU. WE DON'T INTEND TO TELL YOU A THING. THERE'S A COUPLE OF TRILLION DOLLARS OUT THERE THAT THE FED MADE AVAILABLE. THERE WAS A RISK TO THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER. $2 TRILLION IS NOT A SMALL. A IT'S A VERY LARGE AMOUNT. THE FED SAYS, THAT'S OUR BUSINESS. NOT YOURS. THAT'S THE BUSINESS OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD. AND WE, IN EFFECT, HAVE A RIGHT TO OPERATE IN SECRET AND INTEND TO CONTINUE TO DO THAT. NOW, MY PROBLEM WITH MR. BERNANKE, ESPECIALLY MY PROBLEM WITH HIM AS I SAID LAST WEEK, I DON'T THINK HIS NOMINATION SHOULD BE VOTED ON THE FLOOR OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE UNTIL AND UNLESS HE DISCLOSES US TO AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THE DETAILS ABOUT THIS $2 TRILLION, WHO GOT IT. WHAT WERE THE TERMS? WE NOW SEE SOME OF THE INVESTMENT BANKS REPORTING THE LARGEST PROFITS IN THEIR HISTORY, PREPARING TO NOW PROVIDE BONUSES, WE ARE TOLD, OF OF $120 BILLION TO $140 BILLION. THESE ARE FIRMS, BY THE WAY, THAT WOULD NO LONGER EXIST WERE IT NOT FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. THESE ARE FIRMS PERCHED ON THE EDGE OF A FINANCIAL CLIFF READY TO -- TO GO UNDER EXCEPT FOR THE GUARANTEE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN ALL KINDS OF WAYS. NOW, OF COURSE, THEY ARE THE FIRST TO GET WELL. NO, IT'S NOT A COMPANY BACK ON MAIN STREET. IT'S NOT A COMPANY BACK IN MY HOMETOWN. THE FIRST TO GET WELL IN THIS NEW ECONOMY ARE THE INVESTMENT BANKS. DID THEY GET WELL BECAUSE THEY WERE ABLE TO GET A COUPLE OF TRILLION DOLLARS FROM THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD, PROBABLY AT ZERO INTEREST RATES? I DON'T KNOW. AND THEN INVEST BACK IN TO TREASURY SECURITIES AND GET PAID IN INTEREST ON IT? WERE THEY ARBITRAGING MONEY ON IT? I DON'T KNOW. I THINK WE OUGHT TO KNOW. I THINK WE HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW. AND SO, MR. PRESIDENT, THE -- THE ISSUE HERE IS, FROM MY STANDPOINT, ESPECIALLY, WE HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW AND THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD HAS A RESPONSIBILITY TO TELL US AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. I NOTICED LAST WEEKEND WHEN THESE WRITERS, INCLUDING EDITORIAL WRITERS, AND SOME OTHERS, WERE HAVING A SEIZURE OVER THIS ISSUE. OH, MY GOSH, SOMEBODY MIGHT VOTE AGAINST MR. BERNANKE. AND THEN THEY SAY, YOU KNOW WHAT IS THIS MORE THAN THAT -- MORE THAN THAT BEING WHAT THEY CALL FED BASHING -- IT IS NOT -- IT IS ALSO THE SAYS THAT THIS CONGRESS IS THINKING OF TIGHTENING THE RULES ON FINANCIAL REGULATIONS TO PREVENT THOSE THAT WERE DOING WHAT THEY DID TO CREATE THIS CRIES FRIS EVER DOING IT AGAIN. SHAME ON THEM. THAT'S ANTIBUSINESS. ISN'T IT INTERESTING HOW THIS MORPHED INTO A SITUATION WHERE IF WE WANT TO SHUT GATE, CLOSE THE GATE HERE, IF WE WANT TO CREATE RULES THAT PREVENT THE KIND OF NONUS FROM HAPPENING THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN THAT DROVE THIS COUNTRY INTO THE DITCH, THAT THAT IS SOMEHOW ANTIBUSINESS? I DON'T THINK SO. I THINK WHAT IS ANTIBUSINESS IS THIS NOTION OF ALAN GREENSPAN, AND LET ME PUT UP MR. GREENSPAN'S QUOTE -- ALAN GREENSPAN WHO CAME TO CONGRESS AFTER THE FACT, AFTER THE COLLAPSE. AND HEED SAID, WELL, I MADE A MISTAKE IN PRESUMING THAT THE SELF-INTERESTS OF ORGANIZATIONS, SPECIFICALLY BANKS AND OTHERS, WERE BEST CAPABLE OF PROTECTING THEIR OWN SHAREHOLDERS AND THEIR OWN EQUITY IN THE FIRMS. HIS POINT WAS, WE DON'T NEED TO REGULATE. WE DON'T NEED TO OVERSEE ANYTHING. SELF-REGULATION WILL WORK BEST. THEY'LL BE JUST FINE. LEAVE THEM ALONE AND THEY'LL COME HOME. WELL, WHAT AN UNBELIEVABLE TRAGIC MISTAKE BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD. I MADE A MISTAKE IN PRESUMING THAT SELF-INTEREST -- SELF-INTEREST WERE BEST CAPABLE. IT'S A SUGGESTION THAT SOMEHOW, YOU KNOW, CAPITALISM WORKS AND COUNT NEED ANY REGULATORY OVERSIGHT AT ALL BECAUSE THE FREE MARKET IS BEST LEFT TO ITS OWN DEVICES. THE FREE MARKET IS THE BEST ALLOCATOR OF GOODS AND SERVICES BY FAR. I'M A BIG SUPPORTER OF THE FREE MARKET. I ALSO UNDERSTAND LIKE ANY OTHER AREA OF COMPETITION, YOU NEED A REFEREE, SOMEONE WITH A STRIPED SHIRT TO BLOW THE WHISTLE WHEN THERE'S A FOUL. YOU NEED A REFEREE. YOU NEED REGULATION. THAT'S NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD. IT'S CALLED REGULATION. EFFECTIVE REGULATION TO MAKE SURE THAT THE FREE HFL MARKET SYSTEM WORKS THE WAY IT'S SUPPOSED TO WORK. THERE ARE A WHOLE LOT OF INTEREST THAT WANT TO CLOG THE ARTERIES OF THE FREE MARKET AND CAUSE SOME SORT OF SUBSTANTIAL MARKET IN THE FREE MARKET AS LONG AS IT EXISTS IN THEIR SELF-INTEREST TO DO SO. SO THERE'S PLENTY OF INTEREST WANTING TO DO IT. THAT'S WHY EFFECTIVE REGULATION IS SO IMPORTANT. I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT OVERREGULATION. I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT UNDERREGULATION. I'M TALKING ABOUT EFFECTIVE REGULATION THAT'S ANTICIPATED WHICH FOR ABOUT EIGHT YEARS TOOK A VACATION BY THE HIRING OF REGULATE HORS ACTUALLY BOASTED THEY WOULD BE WILLFULLY BLIND. YOU ALL COME AND DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO IN THIS SYSTEM OF OURS BECAUSE WE WON'T LOOK. MR. PRESIDENT, I BROUGHT ONCE AGAIN, AND I KNOW IT'S REPEATING AND REPEATING. HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT NOBODY LOOKED AT, OUR OWN SELF-INTEREST. THE BIGGEST MORTGAGE COMPANY IN THE COUNTRY THAT HELPED TO SETUP THE SUBPRIME SCANDAL THAT FED ITSELF INTO THE BALANCE SHEETS OF THE COMMERCIAL BANKS AND INVESTMENT BANKS AND CAUSED A MASSIVE COLLAPSE. A $15 BILLION LOSS IN VALUE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. COUNTRYWIDE, THE BIGGEST MORTGAGE BANK SAYS IN THEIR ADVERTISEMENTS TO PEOPLE. DO YOU HAVE LESS THAN PERFECT CREDIT? DO YOU HAVE LATE MORTGAGE PAYMENTS? HAVE YOU BEEN DENIED BY OTHER LENDERS? WELL, HEY, COME TO US. WHAT AN UNBELIEVABLE -- AND YOU LOOK AND THEN YOU THINK HOW ON EARTH COULD THAT BE A BUSINESS MODEL? ADVERTISING OUT THERE TO SAY, HEY, ARE YOU A BAD CREDIT RISK? WE'VE GOT SOMETHING FOR YOU. WE WANT TO DO BUSINESS WITH YOU. IF YOU MISSED PAYMENTS, COME SEE US. OR ZOOM CREDIT. ZOOM CREDIT. HERE'S THEIR ADVERTISEMENT -- AND ALL OF US HEARD THESE AN SAW THESE ON TELEVISION, RADIO, NEWSPAPERS AND WE WOULD THINK, HOUSE DOES THIS WORK? WHAT KIND OF BUSINESS MODEL IS THIS? ZOOM CREDIT SAYS THAT CREDIT APPROVAL IS SECONDS AWAY. GET ON THE FAST-TRACK AT ZOOM CREDIT. AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT WE'LL PREAPPROVE YOU FOR A CAR LOAN, HOME LOAN OR CREDIT CARD EVEN IF YOUR CREDIT IS IN THE TANK, ZOOM CREDIT IS LIKE MONEY IN THE BANK. ZOOM CREDIT SPECIALIZES IN CREDIT REPAIR AND DEBT CONSOLIDATION TOO. BANKRUPTCY, SLOW CREDIT, NO CREDIT? WHO CARES. CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT? HERE'S AN ADVERTISEMENT FROM A MORTGAGE COMPANY SAYING, YOU WERE BANKRUPT, HAVE SLOW CREDIT? NO CREDIT? WHO CARES. AND, FINALLY, MR. PRESIDENT, MILLENNIA MORTGAGE. 12 MONTHS NO MORTGAGE PAYMENT. THAT'S RIGHT. WE WILL GIVE YOU THE MONEY TO MAKE YOUR FIRST 12 PAYMENTS IF YOU CALL US IN THE NEXT SEVEN DAYS. NO PAYMENTS FOR 12 MONTHS. WE ALL SAW THESE THINGS AS THEY WERE CREATING THIS -- THIS ROT AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS SYSTEM FROM WHICH THE HOUSE OF CARDS FINALLY COLLAPSED. AND, BY THE WAY, ALL OF THIS PUT MORTGAGES OUT THERE IN THE COUNTRY AND -- AND THE RESULT WAS THOSE MORTGAGES WERE THEN WRAPPED INTO SECURITIES AND THEN SECURITIES WERE THEN SOLD FOR MORTGAGE COMPANIES UP TO HEDGE FAWNDZ THEN TO INVEST -- FUNDS, THEN TO INVESTMENT BANKS, SELLING THE RISK NORTH, SO THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE RISK ANYMORE. NO UNDERWRITING AT THE BOTTOM BECAUSE YOU DON'T HAVE TO UNDERWRITE IF YOU SELL THE RISK AHEAD. AND THEN WE SAW THE SPECTACLE OF SOME VERY LARGE COMMERCIAL BANKS WITH THEIR FINANCIAL BELLY LOADED WITH THIS ROT. I MEAN, C.D.O.'S, CREDIT DEFAULT SWAPS, YOU NAME IT, SECURITIES RATED TRIPLE A THAT WERE WORTHLESS. AND THEN WE ALL STOOD AROUND SCRATCHING OUR HEADS WONDERING, WELL, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? UNBELIEVABLE, UNPRECEDENTED GREED WHILE A LOT OF PEOPLE AT THE TOP MADE MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF MONEY. BY THE WAY, THE GUY THAT RAN COUNTRYWIDE GOT AWAY WITH, I BELIEVE, $200 MILLION NOW UNDER INVESTIGATION. BUT A WHOLE LOT OF THEM GOT AWAY WITH A LOT OF MONEY. AND THEN THIS COUNTRY AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE GOT STUCK WITH A BILL OF ABOUT $15 TRILLION AND AN ECONOMY THAT'S BEEN LIMPING EVER SINCE. AND SO ONE ASKS THE QUESTION: IS IT REALLY FED BASHING? IS IT REALLY ANTIBUSINESS? FED BASHING TO SIGH THAT THE FED OWES THE AMERICAN PEOPLE INFORMATION ABOUT WHO GOT THE $2 TRILLION AND WHAT WERE THE TERMS? IS IT REALLY ANTIBUSINESS FOR THOSE OF US WHO ARE TRYING TO PUT TOGETHER RULES AN REGULATIONS -- AND REGULATIONS THAT SAY THIS CAN'T HAPPEN AGAIN, WE WON'T ALLOW TO HAPPEN AGAIN? I WANT TO JUST CLOSE WITH ONE ADDITIONAL QUOTE AND THIS IS FROM ALMOST 10 1/2 YEARS AGO ON THE FLOOR OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE. UNITED STATES WHEN WE PASSED LEGISLATION AT THE REQUEST OF ALL OF THOSE BIG FINANCIAL INSTITUTION, THE INVESTMENT BANKS, YOU NAME IT. THEY ALL WANTED IT. STRIP AWAY THE PROTECTIONS PUT IN PLACE AFTER THE GREAT DEPRESSION. STRIP AWAY ALL OF THAT. LET'S COMPETE BETTER WITH THE JAPANESE AN ASIANS AND OTHERS IN COMMERCIAL FINANCE. ONE-STOP FINANCIAL SERVICE ARE CENTERS. PUT IT ALL TOGETHER. PUT COMMERCIAL BANKING, INVESTMENT BANKING, SECURITIES IN ONE BIG TUB, PUT UP FIRE WALLS, YOU'LL NEVER BE HURT AND WE'LL ABLE TO BETTER COMPETE. ON THE FLOOR OF THIS SENATE 10 1/2 YEARS AGO I SAID THIS -- THIS BILL WILL RAISE THE LIKELIHOOD OF MASSIVE TAXPAYER BAILOUTS. IT WILL FUEL THE CON SOL A INDICATION OF MEMBERS OF THE JURIERS IN THE BANKING INDUSTRY AT THE COST OF CUSTOMERS AND OTHERS. AND IT CERTAINLY DID THAT. AND SOME OF US DECIDED TO PUT SOME OF THE PIECES BACK TOGETHER. LET'S BEGIN TO PROVIDE PROTECTION FOR THIS COUNTRY'S ECONOMY. LET'S GET RID OF THE ORGY OF SPECULATION, THIS UNBELIEVABLE GREED. THIS BUBBLE OF INCOMPETENCE OF PEOPLE WHO WERE SUPPOSED TO BE REGULATING BUT DIDN'T? AND, YES, THAT INCLUDES THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD. AN LET'S DO THIS RIGHT. LET'S PUT IT BACK TOGETHER. THAT'S NOT ANTIBUSINESS. THAT IS PRO-BUSINESS. BECAUSE THE BUSINESS PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY WHO GO TO WORK IN THE MORNING AND PUT A KEY IN THE DOOR AND OPEN THAT DOOR AND ARE GOING TO WORK ALL DAY RISKING EVERYTHING THEY HAVE, THEY WANT AN ECONOMY THAT'S WORKING, NOT IN COLLAPSE. BUT AN ECONOMY THAT'S LIFTING AND PROVIDING OPPORTUNITY. THAT CERTAINLY CAN'T HAPPEN AND DOESN'T HAPPEN WHEN YOU ALLOW THIS KIND OF UNBELIEVABLE SPECULATION AND THE RANCID BEHAVIOR OF THE THINGS THAT HAPPENED AT THE BOTTOM WITH PREDATORY LENDING AND EXOTIC THINGS LIKE C.D.O.'S AND CREDIT DEFAULT SWAPS, INSTRUMENTS SO CLEVER AND SO COMPLICATED THAT THOSE ON BOTH ENDS OF THEM IN MANY CASES DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THEM. I THINK IT WAS WILL ROGERS WHO ONCE DESCRIBED A LONG, LONG TIME AGO THE PEOPLE WHO BOUGHT THINGS THEY WILL GET FROM PEOPLE WHO NEVER HAD IT AND BOTH SMILED BECAUSE BOTH MADE MONEY. THAT'S THE SORT OF THING THAT WAS GOING ON IN THIS COUNTRY, AND THAT DOESN'T WORK. THE REAL ECONOMIC HEALTH AND THE REAL WEALTH OF THIS COUNTRY IS WHAT WE PRODUCE, NOT TRADING PAPER, AND ESPECIALLY NOT TRADING PAPER AS A MATTER OF SPECULATION TO TRY TO BUILD THE BUBBLES THAT WE SAW IN THE LAST DECADE OR SO. SO WE HAVE GOT A LOT TO DO TO FIX WHAT'S WRONG, AND I WOULD JUST SAY TO THOSE THAT WROTE "THE WASHINGTON POST" EDITORIAL, THE SMALLEST AMOUNT OF REPORTING COULD HAVE AVOIDED THAT MISTAKE IN TERMS OF THE SIX SPEECHES I HAVE GIVEN ON THE FLOOR OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE ON THIS SUBJECT. THIS IS NOT A REVELATION SINCE THE MASSACHUSETTS ELECTION. THIS FOR ME HAS BEEN A LONG, LONG TIME COMING TO THE FLOOR, TALKING ABOUT THESE INHERENT PROBLEMS. AND LET ME JUST FINALLY SAY THAT I THINK AS WE MOVE FROM HERE TO THE ISSUE OF FINANCIAL REFORM, ASIDE FROM THE BERNANKE NOMINATION, FROM HERE TO THE ISSUE OF FINANCIAL REFORM, THE QUESTION IS ARE WE GOING TO DO THAT RIGHT? ARE WE GOING TO ALLOW THE KIND OF PRESSURES THAT HAVE BUILT FROM THE OUTSIDE TO INFLUENCE WHAT WE DO? WE SHOULD KNOW BY NOW -- WE CERTAINLY SHOULD KNOW BY NOW THAT IF YOU ARE TOO BIG TO FAIL IN THE FINANCIAL INSTRUMENT, THEN YOU ARE TOO BIG, AND WE OUGHT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. AND WE OUGHT TO KNOW BY NOW THAT PUTTING TOGETHER COMMERCIAL BANKS THAT ARE INSURED BY THE TAXPAYER WITH INVESTMENT BANKS IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER, AND THERE IS A WAY TO SEPARATE IT. MR. PRESIDENT, THAT OUGHT TO BE OUR BUSINESS AS WE TURN TO FINANCIAL REFORM IN THE YEARS AHEAD. MR. PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 04:02:44 PM

    MR. UDALL

    MR. PRESIDENT, I SPEAK RECOGNITION.

  • 04:02:47 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM NEW MEXICO.

  • 04:02:49 PM

    MR. UDALL

    YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. AND LET ME SAY TO MY GOOD FRIEND, SENATOR DORGAN,…

    YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. AND LET ME SAY TO MY GOOD FRIEND, SENATOR DORGAN, FIRST OF ALL, WE ALL KNOW THAT HE HAS SERVED HIS STATE FOR 40 YEARS, AND MANY OF US WILL BE TALKING ABOUT THAT SERVICE AND APPLAUDING HIM, BUT I -- I JUST WANT TO SAY IT'S BEEN A REAL PLEASURE TO HAVE HIM CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE INDIANA AFFAIRS COMMITTEE WHILE I'VE SERVED ON THAT COMMITTEE, AND I THINK THERE WILL BE MANY MORE THINGS THAT I WILL SAY ABOUT HIM AND HIS FINE PUBLIC SERVICE, AND I WANT TO THANK HIM BECAUSE I THINK WHAT HE HAS SAID ABOUT THE FED AND TRANSPARENCY IS SOMETHING THAT REALLY NEEDS TO BE SAID, AND I LOOK FORWARD TO DEBATING THAT WITH HIM. SO THANK YOU, SENATOR DORGAN. MR. PRESIDENT, IT IS WITH GREAT HUMILITY AND RESPECT FOR THE INSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE, REVERENCE FOR THE MANY GREAT MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE SERVED HERE, AND AFFECTION FOR MY COLLEAGUES THAT I RISE TODAY TO DISCUSS WHAT I BELIEVE IS AN ISSUE OF GREAT IMPORTANCE. REFLECTING ON MY FIRST YEAR AS A MEMBER OF THIS BODY, I HAVE COME TO BELIEVE THAT WE ARE FAILING TO REPRESENT THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. WE AS ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES HAVE A DUTY TO OUR CONSTITUENTS, BUT PARTISAN RANCOR AND THE SENATE'S OWN INCAPACITATING RULES OFTEN PREVENT US FROM FULFILLING THAT DUTY. WHILE I AM CONVINCED THAT OUR INABILITY TO FUNCTION IS OUR OWN FAULT, WE HAVE THE AUTHORITY WITHIN THE CONSTITUTION TO ACT. ARTICLE 1, SECTION 5, OF OUR CONSTITUTION STATES IN CLEAR LANGUAGE THAT -- "EACH HOUSE MAY DETERMINE THE RULES OF ITS PROCEEDINGS." THIS IS ARTICLE 1, SECTION 5, OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION." EACH HOUSE MAY DETERMINE THE RULES OF ITS PROCEEDINGS." IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, EVERY CONGRESS, THEY HAVE A VOTE ON THE RULES. IN THE SENATE, THERE ARE ONLY -- LET'S TALK ABOUT OUR MAJOR RULE THAT IS OF ISSUE HERE, THE FILIBUSTER RULE, RULE 22, THE SENATE ON RULE 22 HAS ONLY HAD -- HAS ONLY HAD THREE OF THE PRESENT SENATORS, THREE OF THE PRESENT SENATORS THAT HAVE VOTED FOR THAT BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT VOTED UNDER THE CONSTITUTION. YET, AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 111th CONGRESS, WE IMPLICITLY AQUAHE IS TO THE RULES -- WE IMPLICITLY ACQUIESCE TO THE RULES DOPPED DECADES AND SOMETIMES A CENTURY AGO, RULES THAT MOST MEMBERS OF THIS SENATE HAVE NEVER VOTED TO ADOPT. TODAY THESE RULES PUT IN PLACE GENERATIONS AGO MAKE EFFECTIVE LEGISLATING NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE. SPECIFICALLY, UNDER RULE 22, IT'S NOT POSSIBLE TO LIMIT DEBATE, END A FILIBUSTER, AND INVOKE CLOTURE WITHOUT 60 VOTES. SUCH CLOTURE VOTES USED TO OCCUR PERHAPS SEVEN OR EIGHT TIMES DURING A CONGRESSIONAL SESSION, BUT IN THE 110th CONGRESS ALONE, THERE WERE 112 CLOTURE VOTES, AND MOST OF THESE WERE OCCASIONED SIMPLY BY THE THREAT OF THE FILIBUSTER. THIS -- THIS CHART RIGHT HERE SHOWS THE RISE OF THE FILIBUSTER IN THE SENATE IN CONGRESSES STARTING BACK IN 1919 ALL THE WAY UP TO THE PRESENT, AND YOU CAN SEE BY THIS IN THE 96th CONGRESS BACK IN 1979-1980, THERE WERE ONLY 20 OF THESE FILIBUSTERS OR VOTES TO INVOKE CLOTURE. IN THE 100th CONGRESS, JUST SEVEN YEARS LATER, IT HAD DOUBLED. HERE IN 2001, ANOTHER DECADE OR MORE, IT HAD GONE UP TO 61. AND THEN IN THE 111th CONGRESS, AS I JUST SAID, IT DOUBLED AGAIN TO 121. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SPOKE LOUDLY IN THE 2008 ELECTION. THEY CLEARLY DESIRED A PRESIDENT AND A CONGRESS THAT WOULD SET A NEW DIRECTION. IT WAS NOT NECESSARILY AN ENDORSEMENT OF ONE IDEOLOGY OVER ANOTHER, BUT INSTEAD A CALL FOR US TO PUT PARTISANSHIP ASIDE AND TO TAKE CARE OF THE COUNTRY'S BUSINESS. ALTHOUGH THIS CHAMBER WAS ABLE TO PASS HISTORIC HEALTH CARE LEGISLATION LAST YEAR, WE ARE FAR FROM FINISHED. MORE THAN ANYTHING, WHAT THE HEALTH CARE DEBATE HAS DEMONSTRATED IS HOW DIFFICULT THE RULES HAVE MADE OUR LEGISLATIVE PROCESS, AND IT'S NOT JUST HEALTH CARE. OTHER IMPORTANT PIECES OF LEGISLATION STILL LANGUISH. FEDERAL JUDICIAL VACANCIES REMAIN UNFILLED, AND MANY OF THE PRESIDENT'S APPOINTEES TO KEY POSITIONS ARE STILL NOT CONFIRMED. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DESERVE BETTER. I APPLAUD LEADER REID FOR WHAT HE HAS BEEN ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH GIVEN THE WAY THIS CHAMBER'S RULES HAVE BEEN USED TO IMPEDE PROGRESS. SENATE RULES ARE DESIGNED TO ALLOW FOR SUBSTANTIVE DEBATE AND TO PROTECT THE VIEWS OF THE MINORITY AS OUR FOUNDERS INTENDED. BUT THEY HAVE BEEN USED INSTEAD TO PREVENT THE SENATE FROM BEGINNING TO EVEN DEBATE CRITICAL LEGISLATION. PROTECTING THE VIEWS OF THE MINORITY MAKES SENSE BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF THE WILL OF THE MAJORITY. INDEED, AS THE RULES ARE BEING USED TODAY, A SINGLE SENATOR CAN HOLD A BILL HOSTAGE UNTIL HIS OR HER DEMANDS ARE MET. THIS IS NOT THE SPIRIT OF COMPROMISE AND COLLEGIALITY OUR FOUNDERS ENVISIONED FOR THIS BODY. EVEN WORSE, THE RULES AS THEY EXIST TODAY MAKE ANY EFFORT TO CHANGE THEM A DAUNTING PROCESS. UNDER THE CURRENT STANDING RULES OF THE SENATE, RULE 5 STATES THAT, QUOTE -- "THE RULES OF THE SENATE SHALL CONTINUE FROM ONE CONGRESS TO THE NEXT UNLESS THEY ARE CHANGED AS PROVIDED IN THESE RULES." END QUOTE. AS ADOPTED IN 1975, RULE 22 REQUIRES TWO-THIRDS OF SENATORS PRESENT AND VOTING TO AGREE TO END DEBATE ON A CHANGE TO THE SENATE RULES. IN MOST CASES, 67 VOTES. TAKEN TOGETHER, THESE TWO RULES EFFECTIVELY DENY THE SENATE THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXERCISE ITS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO DETERMINE THE RULES OF ITS PROCEEDINGS AND SERVE TO BIND THIS BODY TO RULES ADOPTED BY ITS PREDECESSORS. MANY OF MY COLLEAGUES WILL ARGUE THAT THE SENATE IS NOT DESIGNED TO BE EFFICIENT, THAT THE USE OF FILIBUSTERS AND DELAY TACTICS WAS WHAT THE FOUNDERS INTENDED. THEY WILL QUOTE GEORGE WASHINGTON'S COMMENT TO THOMAS JEFFERSON THAT THE FRAMERS CREATED THE SENATE TO COOL HOUSE LEGISLATION JUST AS A SAUCER WAS USED TO COOL HOT TEA. WHILE I UNDERSTAND THEIR ARGUMENT, I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THE FRAMERS ENVISIONED THAT THE SENATE -- THEY DID NOT ENVISION THE SENATE AS THE GRAVEYARD FOR GOOD IDEAS. WE CAN HAVE LENGTHY DEBATE ABOUT THE MERITS OF LEGISLATION, BUT THERE SHOULD COME A TIME WHEN WE ACTUALLY VOTE ON THE BILL. WE CAN DISCUSS THE QUALIFICATIONS OF A JUDICIAL NOMINEE, BUT EACH NOMINEE DESERVES AN UP-OR-DOWN VOTE. TO QUOTE ONE OF THIS BODY'S MOST ESTEEMED MEMBERS, SENATOR HENRY CABOT LODGE, "TO VOTE WITHOUT DEBATING IS PERILOUS, BUT TO DEBATE AND NEVER VOTE IS IMBECILE." THIS IS A BIPARTISAN ISSUE. I EXPRESS MY OPINIONS TODAY AS A MEMBER OF THE MAJORITY, BUT THEY WILL NOT CHANGE IF I BECOME A MEMBER OF THE MINORITY PARTY. WE ARE ALL TOO AWARE OF THE POWER OF RULE 22. THE FILIBUSTER RULE ADOPTED IN 1975. YET, EXCEPT FOR THE DISTINGUISHED SENATORS BYRD, INAWAY, -- BYRD, INOUYE, AND LEAHY, NONE OF US, REPUBLICANS OR DEMOCRATS ALIKE, HAVE EVER VOTED TO ADOPT THIS RULE. OPPONENTS OF RULES REFORM ARGUE THAT THE SENATE IS A CONTINUING BODY, AND THEREFORE THE RULES MUST REMAIN IN EFFECT FROM ONE CONGRESS TO THE NEXT. I DISAGREE WITH THIS ASSERTION. EVEN IF THE SENATE IS DEEMED TO HAVE CONTINUED BECAUSE TWO-THIRDS OF ITS MEMBERS REMAIN IN OFFICE, THERE IS NO REASON THAT THE RULES MUST REMAIN IN EFFECT. MANY THINGS CHANGE WITH A NEW CONGRESS. IT'S GIVEN A NEW NUMBER. ALL OF THE PENDING BILLS AND NOMINATIONS FROM THE PREVIOUS CONGRESS ARE DEAD, AND EACH PARTY MAY CHOOSE ITS LEADERSHIP. IF THE PARTY IN THE MAJORITY CHANGES, THE NEW SENATE BECOMES SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE LAST. SENATORS OF BOTH PARTIES HAVE ARGUED THAT THE RULES MAY CHANGE WITH A NEW CONGRESS. AS MY ESTEEMED COLLEAGUE FROM UTAH, SENATOR HATCH, STATED IN A "NATIONAL REVIEW" ARTICLE IN 2005, AND I QUOTE -- "THE SENATE HAS BEEN CALLED A CONTINUING BODY, YET LANGUAGE REFLECTING THIS OBSERVATION WAS INCLUDED IN SENATE RULES ONLY IN 1959. THE MORE IMPORTANT AND MUCH OLDER SENSE IN WHICH THE SENATE IS A CONTINUING BODY IS ITS ONGOING CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY TO DETERMINE ITS RULES. RULINGS BY VICE PRESIDENTS OF BOTH PARTIES SITTING AS THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE CONFIRM THAT EACH SENATE MAY MAKE THAT DECISION FOR ITSELF, EITHER IMPLICITLY BY ACQUIESCENCE OR EXPLICITLY BY AMENDMENT. BOTH CONSERVATIVE AND LIBERAL LEGAL SCHOLARS, INCLUDING THOSE WHO SEE NO CONSTITUTIONAL PROBLEMS WITH THE CURRENT FILIBUSTER CAMPAIGN, AGREE THAT A SIMPLE MAJORITY CAN CHANGE SENATE RULES AT THE BEGINNING OF A NEW CONGRESS." AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT SENATOR HATCH SAID IN THE "NATIONAL REVIEW" ARTICLE. BOTH CONSERVATIVE AND LIBERAL LEGAL SCHOLARS, INCLUDING THOSE WHO SEE NO CONSTITUTIONAL PROBLEMS WITH THE CURRENT FILIBUSTER CAMPAIGN, AGREE THAT A SIMPLE MAJORITY CAN CHANGE SENATE RULES AT THE BEGINNING OF A NEW CONGRESS." I AGREE WITH SENATOR HATCH, AND I AGREE WITH OUR GOOD FRIEND SENATOR TED KENNEDY WHO SAID, AND I QUOTE -- "THE NOTION THAT A FILIBUSTER CAN BE USED TO DEFEAT AN ATTEMPT TO CHANGE THE FILIBUSTER RULE CANNOT WITHSTAND ANALYSIS. IT WOULD IMPOSE AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL PRIOR RESTRAINT ON THE PARLIAMENT PROCEDURE IN THE SENATE. IT WOULD TURN RULE 22 INTO A CATCH-22." THE EARLY HISTORY OF THIS BODY SUGGESTS THAT THE USE OF UNLIMITED DEBATE AS A TOOL OF OBSTRUCTION WAS NOT AN ISSUE. THE ORIGINAL SENATE RULES ADOPTED UNDER ARTICLE 1, SECTION 5, OF THE CONSTITUTION INCLUDED A PROVISION ALLOWING A SENATOR TO MAKE A MOTION FOR THE PREVIOUS QUESTION. IF PASSED, THE MOTION ALLOWED A SIMPLE MAJORITY OF SENATORS TO HALT DEBATE ON A PENDING ISSUE. THIS SIMPLE RULE FOR LIMITING DEBATE WAS INADVERTENTLY DROPPED IN 1806, PERHAPS FOR LACK OF NEED, AND THE SENATE ENTERED A PERIOD WITH NO MEANS TO LIMIT DEBATE. IT WASN'T UNTIL THE 1830'S THAT THE SENATE SAW THE FIRST FILIBUSTERS AS MEMBERS RECOGNIZED THAT THE LACK OF ANY RULE TO LIMIT DEBATE COULD BE USED TO EFFECTIVELY BLOCK LEGISLATION OPPOSED BY EVEN A MINORITY OF THE MINORITY. IT WAS NOT, HOWEVER, UNTIL 1917, THAT THE SENATE ADOPT ADD FORMAL CLOTURE RULE. WOODROW WILSON'S ARMED SHIPS BILL HAD JUST BEEN FILIBUSTER BY 11 SENATORS. THE PRESIDENT WAS FURIOUS, DEMANDING A CHANGE IN SENATE PROCEDURAL RULES. IN RESPONSE, MONTANA SENATOR THOMAS WALSH, CITING ARTICLE 1, SECTION 5, OF THE CONSTITUTION, INTRODUCED THE CONSTITUTIONAL OPTION. WALSH ARGUED THAT A NEWLY CONVENED SENATE WAS NOT BOUND BY THE RULES OF THE PREVIOUS SENATE AND COULD ADOPT ITS OWN RULES, INCLUDING A RULE TO LIMIT DEBATE. HE REASONED THAT EVERY NEW SENATE HAD THE RIGHT TO ADOPT RULES, SAYING THAT IT IS PREPOSTEROUS TO ASSUME THAT THE SENATE MAY DENY FUTURE MAJORITIES THE RIGHT TO CHANGE THE RULES. IN RESPONSE TO WALSH'S PROPOSAL, THE SENATE REACHED A COMPROMISE AND AMENDED RULE 22. THE COMPROMISE PERMITTED CLOTURE ON ANY PENDING MEASURE AT THE WILL OF TWO-THIRDSES OF ALL SENATORS PRESENT AND VOTING. BACK THEN, THE TOXIC PARTISANSHIP WE FACE TAD HAD NOT YET POISONED THE SYSTEM, BUT THE MANIPULATIVE USE OF THE FILIBUSTER HAD ALREADY TAKEN HOLD. IT WAS USED TO BLOCK SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT LEGISLATION OF THAT TIME: ANTILYNCHING BILLS IN 1922, 1935, AND 1938. ANTIRACE DISCRIMINATION BILLS WERE BLOCKED ALMOST A DOZEN TIMES STARTING IN 1946. BY THE 1950'S, A BIPARTISAN GROUP OF SENATORS HAD HAD ENOUGH. ON BEHALF OF HIMSELF AND 18 OTHER SENATORS, NEW MEXICO'S CLINTON ANDERSON, MY PREDECESSOR, ATTEMPTED TO LIMIT DEBATE AND CONTROL THE USE OF A FILIBUSTER BY ADOPTING THE 1917 STRATEGY OF THOMAS WALSH. JUST AS SENATOR WALSH DID ALMOST FOUR DECADES EARLIER, SENATOR ANDERSON ARGUED THAT EACH NEW CONGRESS BRINGS WITH IT A NEW SENATE ENTITLED TO CONSIDER AND ADOPT ITS OWN RULES. ON JANUARY 3, 1953, ANDERSON MOVED THAT THE SENATE IMMEDIATELY CONSIDER THE ADOPTION OF RULES FOR THE SENATE OF THE 83rd CONGRESS. ANDERSONS MOTION WAS TABLED, BUT HE INTRODUCED AGAIN AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 85th CONGRESS. IN THE COURSE OF THAT DEBATE, SENATOR HUBERT HUMPHREY PRESENT ADD PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY TO VICE PRESIDENT NIXON PRESIDING OVER THE SENATE. NIXON UNDERSTOOD THE INQUIRY TO ADDRESS THE BASIC QUESTION: DO THE RULES OF THE SENATE CONTINUE FROM ONE CONGRESS TO ANOTHER? NOTING THAT THERE HAD NEVER BEEN A DIRECT RULING ON THIS QUESTION FROM THE CHAIR, NIXON STATED THAT -- QUOTE -- "WHILE THE RULES OF THE SENATE HAVE BEEN CONTINUED FROM ONE CONGRESS TO ANOTHER, THE RIGHT OF A CURRENT MAJORITY OF THE SENATE AT THE BEGINNING OF A NEW CONGRESS TO ADOPT ITS OWN RULES STEMMING AS IT DOES FROM THE CONSTITUTION ITSELF CANNOT BE RESTRICTED OR LIMITED BY RULES ADOPTED BY A MAJORITY OF A PREVIOUS CONGRESS. ANY PROVISION OF SENATE RULES ADOPTED IN A PREVIOUS CONGRESS WHICH HAS THE EXPRESS OR PRACTICAL EFFECT OF DENYING THE MAJORITY OF THE SENATE IN A NEW CONGRESS THE RIGHT TO ADOPT THE RULES UNDER WHICH IT DESIRES TO PROCEED IS, IN THE OPINION OF THE CHAIR, UNCONSTITUTIONAL." END QUOTE. NIXON'S OPINION WAS CONSISTENT WITH THE LONG-STANDING COMMON-LAW PRINCIPLE UPHELD IN SUPREME COURT DECISIONS THAT ONE LEGISLATURE CANNOT BIND SUBSEQUENT LEGISLATURES. NIXON WENT ON TO EXPLAIN THAT UNDER THE CONSTITUTION, A NEW SENATE HAD THREE OPTIONS TO DEAL WITH THE RULES AT THE BEGINNING OF A NEW CONGRESS. NUMBER ONE, PROCEED UNDER THE RULES OF THE PREVIOUS CONGRESS AND, THEREBY, INDICATE BY ACQUIESCENCE THAT THOSE RULES CONTINUE IN EFFECT. NUMBER TWO, VOTE DOWN A MOTION TO ADOPT NEW RULES AND THEREBY INDICATE APPROVAL OF THE PREVIOUS RULES. AND, NUMBER THREE, VOTE AFFIRMATIVELY TO PROCEED WITH THE ADOPTION OF NEW RULES. DESPITE NIXON'S OPINION FROM THE CHAIR, ANDERSON'S MOTION WAS TABLED. IN 1959, ANDERSON RAISED THE CONSTITUTIONAL OPTION AT THE START OF THE 86th CONGRESS WITH THE SUPPORT OF SOME 30 OTHER SENATORS. THIS TIME HE RAISED THE IRE OF THEN-MAJORITY LEADER JOHNSON WHO REALIZED THAT A MAJORITY OF SENATORS MIGHT JOIN ANDERSON'S CAUSE. TO PREVENT ANDERSON'S MOTION FROM RECEIVING A VOTE, JOHNSON CAME FORWARD WITH HIS OWN COMPROMISE, CHANGING RULE 22 TO REDUCE THE REQUIRED VOTE FOR CLOTURE TO TWO-THIRDSES OF SENATORS PRESENT AND VOTING. CLINTON ANDERSON RELIED ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL OPTION AS THE BASIS TO EASE OR AT LEAST RECONSIDER THE CLOTURE REQUIREMENTS LAID OUT IN RULE 22. AS HE SAID IN 1959 -- QUOTE -- "MY MOTION DOES NOT PREJUDGE THE NATURE OF THE RULES, WHICH THE SENATE IN ITS WISDOM MAY ADOPT, BUT IT DOES DECLAIR IN EFFECT THAT THE SENATE -- DECLARE IN EFFECT THAT THE SENATE OF THE 85th SENATE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR AND MUST BEAR THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE RULES UNDER WHICH THE SENATE WILL OPERATE." THAT RESPONSIBILITY CANNOT BE SHIFTED BACK UPON THE SENATE OF PAST CONGRESSES." END QUOTE. TO APPEASE A SMALL GROUP OF SENATORS, JOHNSON HAD INCLUDED NEW LANGUAGE. THIS LANGUAGE STATED THAT THE RULES CONTINUED FROM ONE CONGRESS TO THE NEXT UNLESS THEY WERE CHANGED UNDER THE RULES. IT WAS A MOVE THAT WOULD EFFECTIVELY BIND ALL FUTURE SENATES. IN 1975, TWO YEARS AFTER ANDERSON LEFT OFFICE, THE SENATE ADOPTED THE RULE WE OPERATE UNDER TODAY. IT TAKES THE VOTE OF THREE-FIFTHS OF ALL SENATORS DULY CHOSEN AND SWORN TO CUT OFF DEBATE OR THE THREAT OF UNLIMITED DEBATE. AS THE JUNIOR SENATOR FROM NEW MEXICO, I HAVE THE HONOR OF SERVING IN SENATOR CLINTON ANDERSON'S FORMER SEAT. AND I HAVE THE DESIRE TO TAKE UP HIS COMMITMENT TO THE SENATE AND HIS DEDICATION TO THE PRINCIPLE THAT IN EACH NEW CONGRESS THE SENATE SHOULD EXERCISE ITS CONSTITUTIONAL POWER TO DETERMINE ITS OWN RULES. LET ME BE VERY CLEAR. I'M NOT ARGUING FOR OR AGAINST ANY SPECIFIC CHANGES TO THE RULES. BUT I DO THINK THAT EACH SENATE HAS THE RIGHT, ACCORDING TO THE CONSTITUTION, TO DETERMINE ALL OF ITS RULES BY A SIMPLE MAJORITY VOTE. AS MY DISTINGUISHED COLLEAGUE, SENATOR BYRD, THE LONGEST-SERVING MEMBER IN THE HISTORY OF CONGRESS, ONCE SAID, "THE CONSTITUTION IN ARTICLE 1, SECTION 5, SAYS THAT EACH HOUSE SHALL DETERMINE THE RULES OF ITS PROCEEDINGS. NOW WE ARE AT THE BEGINNING OF CONGRESS. THIS CONGRESS IS NOT OBLIGED TO BE BOUND BY THE DEAD HAND OF THE PAST." END QUOTE. IT IS TIME FOR REFORM. THERE ARE MANY GREAT TRADITIONS IN THIS BODY THAT SHOULD BE KEPT AND RESPECTED. BUT STUBBORNLY CLINGING TO INFECTIVELY AND UNPRODUCTIVE PROCEDURES SHOULD NOT BE ONE OF THEM. THERE IS ANOTHER WAY. THE RESOLUTION I'M INTRODUCING TODAY IS SIMPLE. IT WOULD ENABLE THE 112th CONGRESS TO CARRY OUT ITS RESPONSIBILITY TO DETERMINE THE RULES OF ITS PROCEEDINGS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONSTITUTION. THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT BETWEEN NOW AND THE BEGINNING OF THE 112th CONGRESS WE CANNOT USE OUR POLITICAL WILL TO FIND A WAY TO AVOID THE GRIDLOCK OF 2009. IT IS TO SAY THAT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 112th CONGRESS, THE SENATE CAN EXERCISE ITS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO ADOPT ITS RULES OF PROCEDURE BY A SIMPLE MAJORITY VOTE. THE SENATE MAY DHOOS ADOPT NEW RULES OR IT MAY CHOOSE TO CONTINUE WITH SOME OR ALL OF THE RULES OF THE PREVIOUS CONGRESS. THE POINT IS THAT IT IS OUR CHOICE. IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY. AS CLINTON ANDERSON SAID, IT IS A RESPONSIBILITY THAT CANNOT BE SHIFTED BACK UPON THE SENATE OF PAST CONGRESSES. AS ANDERSON SAID, "IT IS A RESPONSIBILITY THAT CANNOT BE SHIFTED BACK UPON THE SENATE OF PAST CONGRESSES." AND I WOULD ASK AT THIS TIME UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO INCLUDE MY RESOLUTION IN THE RECORD, AND I WOULD YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 04:24:47 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 04:24:55 PM

    MS. COLLINS

    MR. PRESIDENT, I RISE TODAY IN SUPPORT OF THE AMENDMENT OFFERED BY…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I RISE TODAY IN SUPPORT OF THE AMENDMENT OFFERED BY SENATORS CONRAD AND GREGG TO CREATE A BIPARTISAN BUDGET COMMISSION TO ADDRESS OUR NATION'S LONG-TERM FISCAL CRISIS. MR. PRESIDENT, THE CONRAD-GREGG AMENDMENT WOULD CREATE AN 18-MEMBER BIPARTISAN COMMISSION, WHICH WOULD BE CHARGED WITH DEVELOPING A SPECIFIC PLAN TO CORRECT OUR GOVERNMENT'S LONG-TERM FISCAL IMBALANCE. ALL OPTIONS WOULD BE ON THE TABLE. THE COMMISSION'S LEGISLATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS WOULD REQUIRE EXPEDITED CONSIDERATION BY THE CONGRESS, A SUPERMAJORITY VOTE IN BOTH CHAMBERS, AND PRESIDENTIAL APPROVAL. MR. PRESIDENT, WHILE I WOULD PREFER THAT MEMBERS OF CONGRESS HAVE THE ABILITY TO OFFER REVENUE-NEUTRAL AMENDMENTS TO THE COMMISSION'S LEGISLATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT WE MOVE FORWARD ON THIS PROPOSAL. FOR THIS REASON, I AM PLEASED TO BE A COSPONSOR OF THE LEGISLATION. MR. PRESIDENT, I WOULD NOTE THAT I HAVE NOT ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT THE CREATION OF AN INDEPENDENT COMMISSION WAS THE RIGHT APPROACH. I WAS HOPEFUL THAT CONGRESS COULD TACKLE THE ISSUES OF THE LOOMING FISCAL CATASTROPHE THAT WE FACE. BUT, MR. PRESIDENT, I HAVE CONCLUDED THAT THE ONLY WAY WE ARE GOING TO ACHIEVE URGENT ACTION ON THE VERY SERIOUS FISCAL PROBLEMS THAT WE FACE IS THROUGH THE CREATION OF THIS INDEPENDENT COMMISSION. THE FACT IS, AMERICA'S OUT-OF-CONTROL DEBT IS A GRAVE THREAT TO OUR FUTURE 0 -- TO OUR FUTURE PROSPERITY. JUST LAST MONTH THE SENATE VOTED TO INCREASE THE DEBT LIMIT TO AN ASTONISHING $12.4 TRILLION. AND YET HERE WE ARE AGAIN TODAY CONSIDERING ANOTHER INCREASE IN THE DEBT LIMIT, THIS TIME BY $1.9 TRILLION TO $14.3 TRILLION. MR. PRESIDENT, EARLIER THIS YEAR THIS BODY APPROVED THE PRESIDENT'S BUDGET, WHICH WILL DOUBLE OUR DEBT IN IN FIVE YEARS AND TRIP IT WILL IN 10 YEARS -- AND TRIPLE IT IN 10 YEARS. IN OTHER WORDS, WE ARE FACING AN EXPLOSION IN THE FEDERAL DEBT. AS BAD AS THAT SOUNDS, OUR NATION'S DEBT PROBLEM IS ACTUALLY FAR WORSE. AMERICA ALSO HAS NEARLY $60 TRILLION IN UNFUNDED LIABILITIES FOR PROGRAMS LIKE SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE. THESE UNFUNDED LIABILITIES AMOUNT TO $184,000 PER PERSON LIVING IN OUR COUNTRY OR $483,300 PER HOUSEHOLD. BY CONTRAST, THE MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME IS JUST OVER $50,000. AS DAVID WALKER, THE FORMER COMPTROLLER GENERAL AND NOW PRESIDENT OF THE PETERSON FOUNDATION PUT IT IN RECENT TESTIMONY BEFORE OUR SENATE HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE -- QUOTE -- "IT DOESN'T TAKE AN ECONOMIST OR A MATHEMATICIAN TO REALIZE THAT THIS IS UNSUSTAINABLE." WE ARE TALKING ABOUT DEBT LEVELS THAT ARE UNSUSTAINABLE AND THREATEN THE VERY FUTURE ECONOMY OF OUR COUNTRY. 0 OUR PROBLEM IN A NUTSHELL IS THAT GOVERNMENT HAS PROMISED MORE THAN OUR CITIZENS CAN AFFORD TO PAY. ONE COLUMNIST DESCRIBED THIS AS "THE COLLISION BETWEEN THE HIGH AND RISING DEMAND FOR GOVERNMENT SERVICES AND THE CAPACITY OF THE ECONOMY TO PRODUCE THE TAX REVENUES TO MEET THOSE DEMANDS." HISTORICALLY, AMERICANS HAVE PAID ABOUT 18% OF GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT IN FEDERAL TAXES. BUT WITH THE EXPLOSION IN ENTITLEMENT SPENDING TIED TO THE RETIREMENT OF THE BABY-BOOM GENERATION, PLUS INTEREST ON THE NATIONAL DEBT, AMERICANS WOULD NEED TO PAY TAXES EQUAL TO 34% OF G.D.P. TO KEEP PACE WITH SPENDING 25 YEARS FROM NOW. THAT'S RIGHT, MR. PRESIDENT. THE TAX BURDEN WOULD HAVE TO SOAR TO 34% OF OUR GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT. MR. PRESIDENT, I'M LOOK AT THE YOUNG PAGES WHO ARE ON THE FLOOR RIGHT NOW. IT IS THEIR FUTURE THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT. THEY ARE THE ONES WHO ARE GOING TO BE FACED WITH THIS ENORMOUS DEBT. EVEN IF IT WERE POSSIBLE TO RAISE TAXES IN ORDER TO FINANCE THIS RATE OF SPENDING, THAT REMEDY WOULD DO TREMENDOUS DAMAGE TO OUR ECONOMY. IT WOULD CRUSH JOB CREATION, DEVASTATE OUR ALREADY BATTERED SMALL BUSINESSES, AND DASH THE ASPIRATIONS AND CAN-DO SPIRIT OF OUR PEOPLE. THUS, OUR DECISION-MAKING MUST BEGIN BY RECONSIDERING SPENDING THAT ALTHOUGH POPULAR, SIMPLY CANNOT BE JUSTIFIED DURING THIS FISCAL CRISIS. IT IS WISHFUL THINKING TO HOPE THAT WE CAN SIMPLY GROW OUR WAY OUT OF THIS PROBLEM. ECONOMIC GROWTH HELPS. THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT. BUT IN ITSELF, IT IS ENDANGERED BY THE ENORMOUS DEBT. BECOMING MORE EFFICIENT AND PRODUCTIVE HELPS REDUCE OUR LONG-TERM FINANCIAL CHALLENGES, BUT ECONOMIC GROWTH ALONE WILL NOT RESCUE US FROM THE PREDICAMENT THAT WE FACE. IF WE FAIL TO STOP THIS APPROACHING TSUNAMI OF RED INK, THEN THE FUTURES OF OUR CHILDREN AND OUR GRANDCHILDREN WILL BE SWAMPED BY OUR NEGLIGENCE. THE AMERICAN DREAM AS WE KNOW IT, WHERE EACH SUCCEEDING GENERATION CAN ACHIEVE A HIGHER STANDARD OF LIVING AND QUALITY OF LIFE THAN THE PREVIOUS GENERATION WILL BE OVER. IT WON'T BE EASY, MR. PRESIDENT, EVEN WITH THIS COMMISSION, BUT WE MUST CONFRONT THIS CONFLICT BETWEEN WHAT WE WANT AND WHAT WE CAN AFFORD. IT IS TIME TO REASSESS OUR PRIORITIES TO MAKE THE HARD DECISIONS AND TO SET A NEW FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE COURSE FOR OUR COUNTRY. THE BUDGET REFORM COMMISSION PROPOSED BY SENATOR GREGG AND SENATOR CONRAD WOULD BEGIN TO MOVE US FORWARD AS A NATION IN FACING THESE SERIOUS FINANCIAL CHALLENGES. I KNOW THAT IT IS NOT EASY FOR MANY OF MY COLLEAGUES TO GIVE AWAY SOME AUTHORITY TO THIS COMMISSION. I WOULD REMIND THEM THAT THE COMMISSION'S RECOMMENDATIONS WOULD STILL COME BACK TO US AND COULD NOT BECOME LAW WITHOUT OUR VOTING FOR THEM AND WITHOUT THE PRESIDENT DECIDING TO SIGN THE RECOMMENDATIONS INTO LAW. BUT I HAVE CONCLUDED, MR. PRESIDENT, THAT THE ONLY WAY TO JUMP-START THE PROCESS, TO DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE, TO RIGHT THE FISCAL BOAT, TO HELP US FACE THESE CHALLENGES, TO HELP US MOVE FORWARD AS A NATION IS TO ENACT THE GREGG-CONRAD AMENDMENT. SO I URGE ALL OF MY COLLEAGUES TO SUPPORT THEIR EFFORT. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT.

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  • 04:34:33 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM MONTANA.

  • 04:34:37 PM

    MR. BAUCUS

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 04:34:56 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 04:34:58 PM

    MR. BAUCUS

    TO THE PREVIOUS ORDER, I SEND AN AMENDMENT TO THE DESK.

  • 04:35:02 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL REPORT.

  • 04:35:07 PM

    THE CLERK

    FROM MONTANA PROPOSES AN AMENDMENT NUMBERED 3306.

  • 04:35:12 PM

    MR. BAUCUS

    MR. PRESIDENT, I ASK CONSENT FURTHER READING OF THE AMENDMENT BE DISPENSED…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I ASK CONSENT FURTHER READING OF THE AMENDMENT BE DISPENSED WITH.

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  • 04:35:18 PM

    MR. BAUCUS

    BRIEFLY EXPLAIN MY AMENDMENT. THIS AMENDMENT WOULD ACHIEVE ALL THE…

    BRIEFLY EXPLAIN MY AMENDMENT. THIS AMENDMENT WOULD ACHIEVE ALL THE OBJECTIVES AS THE CONRAD-GREGG AMENDMENT WITH ONE EXCEPTION, AND THIS IS AN IMPORTANT EXCEPTION. THE AMENDMENT THAT I JUST OFFERED, THERE ARE NO FAST-TRACK PROCEDURES FOR CONSIDERATION OF THE COMMISSION'S RECOMMENDATION. THUS, FOR SENATORS WHO WANT TO HAVE A COMMISSION CONSIDER OUR FISCAL SITUATION AND REPORT BACK TO US, THIS IS YOUR ALTERNATIVE. THIS ALTERNATIVE WOULD PROTECT THE RULES OF THE SENATE AND THE PREROGATIVES OF SENATORS. I URGE MY COLLEAGUES TO SUPPORT THIS ALTERNATIVE. I YIELD THE FLOOR. A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT?

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  • 04:35:55 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM NEW MEXICO.

  • 04:35:57 PM

    MR. BINGAMAN

    MR. PRESIDENT, I WANT TO SPEAK FOR JUST A FEW MOMENTS -- FEW MINUTES HERE…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I WANT TO SPEAK FOR JUST A FEW MOMENTS -- FEW MINUTES HERE ABOUT THE UPCOMING CONFIRMATION VOTE ON CHAIRMAN BERNANKE OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD. I SHALL BEGIN BY STATING VERY CLEARLY THAT THERE IS NO WAY TO OVERESTIMATE THE SEVERITY OF THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN THAT BEGAN IN THIS COUNTRY IN 2007. TO DATE, OUR NATION HAS LOST 7.2 MILLION JOBS. IN MY HOME STATE OF NEW MEXICO, UNEMPLOYMENT IS NOW 7.8%. THAT'S MORE THAN TWICE THE RATE THAT IT WAS AT TWO YEARS AGO. BUT EVEN AT THAT, IT IS CONSIDERABLY LOWER THAN THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN MANY STATES; IN FACT, IN A MAJORITY OF STATES. AMERICAN HOUSEHOLDS LOST $12.6 TRILLION IN WEALTH, MORE THAN 5 MILLION AMERICAN FAMILIES HAVE SEEN THEIR HOMES FORECLOSED. MANY HAVE LOST THEIR BUSINESSES AND MANY HAVE LOST THEIR FARMS. IN SHORT, THERE ARE MILLIONS OF FAMILIES ACROSS OUR COUNTRY WHO ARE AND HAVE BEEN EXPERIENCING SEVERE ECONOMIC PAIN AND DISLOCATION. AND WHILE INDICATORS SUGGEST THAT THE RECESSION HAS OFFICIALLY ENDED, OUR ECONOMY IS HARDLY OUT OF THE WOODS. IN THE FACE OF SUCH PAIN, IT IS TEMPTING TO GRASP FOR WAYS TO DEMONSTRATE DISAPPROVAL OF THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN OR TO PUT DISTANCE BETWEEN OURSELVES AS ELECTED OFFICIALS AND THE POLICIES INVOLVED WITH THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN. IT'S TEMPTING, PARTICULARLY IN THIS POLITICAL CLIMATE, TO WANT TO SEIZE ON A PARTICULAR INDIVIDUAL TO TAKE THE BRUNT OF THE CRITICISM. AND I RISE TODAY TO URGE MY COLLEAGUES NOT TO USE FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN BERNANKE'S RENOMINATION FOR ANY SUCH EXERCISE. I RISE TO OFFER MY STRONG SUPPORT FOR HIS RECONFIRMATION. WITH THE BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT, IT NOW SEEMS THAT THE FED MIGHT HAVE DONE MORE TO PREVENT THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN. SOME APPOINTED TO FINANCIAL INSTITUTION BAILOUTS AND HAVE ARGUED THAT THE FED SHOULD NOT HAVE PROVIDED FINANCIAL SUPPORT OR GUARANTEES TO VULNERABLE FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS. SOME HAVE ARGUED THAT THE FED SUPPORT SHOULD HAVE BEEN STRUCTURED DIFFERENTLY. AND HISTORIANS WITH 20/20 HINDSIGHT WILL BE ABLE TO ARGUE THOSE ISSUES FOR YEARS TO COME. BUT HINDSIGHT ALSO TELLS US THAT WITHOUT THE BOLD AND AGGRESSIVE ACTIONS THAT CHAIRMAN BERNANKE IN FACT TOOK, THE OUTCOME OF THIS ECONOMIC DOWNTURN COULD HAVE BEEN CONSIDERABLY WORSE. I CAN IMAGINE NO FED CHAIRMAN SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION WHO HAS FACED SUCH A HERCULEAN TASK, IF EVER THERE WERE PRAISE FOR AVERTING A DISASTER, THEN, IN MY VIEW, CHAIRMAN BERNANKE DESERVES THAT PRAISE. HE DESERVES PRAISE FOR WORKING EFFECTIVELY WITH OTHER DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN AGENCIES TO ENSURE THE CONTINUITY OF OUR GLOBAL BANKING SYSTEM, FOR TAKING SIGNIFICANT STEPS TO BOOST BANKS' ACCESS TO FUNDING AND FOR ESTABLISHING TARGETED LENDING PROGRAMS TO RESTART THE FLOW OF CREDIT IN CRITICAL MARKETS. IT'S BECAUSE OF THIS SKILLFULNESS AND APTITUDE THAT CHAIRMAN BERNANKE DEMONSTRATED THAT HE HAS HAD THE STRONG SUPPORT OF PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR RECONFIRMATION TO HIS POSITION. PRESIDENT OBAMA SAID THE CHAIRMAN'S -- QUOTE -- "BOLD PERSISTENT EXPERIMENTATION HAS BROUGHT OUR ECONOMY BACK FROM THE BRINK." SIMILARLY, IN NOMINATING CHAIRMAN BERNANKE TO HIS FIRST TERM, PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH SAID HE WAS CHOOSING CHAIRMAN BERNANKE BECAUSE OF HIS REPUTATION FOR INTELLECTUAL RIGOR AND INTEGRITY AND THE DEEP RESPECT THAT HE ENJOYED IN THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL COMMUNITY. IT WOULD BE SHORTSIGHTED FOR THIS CONGRESS TO SECOND-GUESS THE JUDGMENT OF OUR CURRENT AND OUR FORMER PRESIDENT IN THIS REGARD. PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CALL FOR THE REAPPOINTMENT OF CHAIRMAN BERNANKE IS ECHOED BY SOME OF OUR NATION'S MOST DISTINGUISHED ECONOMIC THINKERS: OUR FORMER FED CHAIRMAN ALAN GREENSPAN, PAUL VOLCKER HAVE BOTH SAID IT WOULD BE IRRESPONSIBLE NOT TO EXTEND CHAIRMAN BERNANKE'S TERM. DOUGLAS EKEN, THE FORMER C.B.O. DIRECTOR WHO WAS SENATOR McCAIN'S ECONOMIC ADVISOR IN THE 2008 ELECTION CAMPAIGN, SAYS -- QUOTE -- "IT WOULD BE A DISASTER NOT TO CONFIRM BERNANKE. WARREN BUFFET HAS SAID THAT IF HE COULD VOTE FOR MR. BERNANKE'S CONFIRMATION HE WOULD. TWICE. MR. BUFFET EXPLAINED -- QUOTE -- "WE TALKED ABOUT THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN BEING AN ECONOMIC PEARL HARBOR, AND HE DID WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE IN RESPONSE TO THAT PEARL HARBOR." THESE RESPECTED ECONOMIC THINKERS KNOW THAT EMERGING FROM OUR NATION'S DEEPEST AND MOST PROTRACTED ECONOMIC DOWNTURN SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION WILL REQUIRE CONTINUITY OF POLICY. FINANCIAL CONDITIONS MIGHT NOW SUGGEST THAT OUR ECONOMY IS IN FACT TURNING AROUND, BUT A COMPLETE TURNAROUND WILL REQUIRE THAT FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES, INVESTORS AND FINANCIAL MARKETS SEE CONSISTENT POLICY ACTIONS. AND CENTRAL TO THAT CONSISTENCY AND THAT CONTINUITY IS LEADERSHIP AT THE HELM OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD. IF WE WERE TO CHANGE CHAIRMEN NOW, WE WOULD ADD CONSIDERABLE UNCERTAINTY TO OUR ALREADY FRAGILE BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL MARKETS AND TRIGGER A SELL-OFF OF THE DOLLAR AND A SELL-OFF OF EQUITIES. THIS COULD HAVE THE UNFORTUNATE EFFECT OF PROLONGING THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN THAT WE ARE NOW EXPERIENCING. FINALLY, WHILE I RISE TO SUPPORT CHAIRMAN BERNANKE'S RECONFIRMATION, I ALSO RENEW MY CALL FOR POLICY-MAKERS IN ALL POSITIONS -- OURSELVES INCLUDED -- TO MAKE JOB CREATION THE CENTERPIECE OF ANY ECONOMIC RECOVERY AGENDA. IF WE -- AND WE IN THE CONGRESS MUST ALSO PRESS FORWARD WITH THE URGENT TASK OF REFORMING OUR FINANCIAL REGULATORY INFRASTRUCTURE WHOSE CRACKS AND HOLES HAVE BEEN EXPOSED BY THIS RECESSION. MR. PRESIDENT, OUR NATION FACES CONSIDERABLE AND URGENT CHALLENGES, IN MY VIEW. THAT'S WHY IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT BEN BERNANKE BE CONFIRMED FOR ANOTHER TERM AS CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE BOARD. I YIELD THE FLOOR. A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT?

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  • 04:43:08 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM OHIO.

  • 04:43:12 PM

    MR. VOINOVICH

    I RISE TODAY TO URGE MY COLLEAGUES TO SUPPORT THE CONRAD-GREGG AMENDMENT.…

    I RISE TODAY TO URGE MY COLLEAGUES TO SUPPORT THE CONRAD-GREGG AMENDMENT. I BELIEVE THE ISSUES THIS AMENDMENT IS DESIGNED TO ADDRESS -- OUR NATIONAL DEBT AND DEFICITS AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE -- ARE TWO OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES CONGRESS AND OUR NATION FACE. OUR FAILURE TO ADDRESS THESE ISSUES WILL DAMAGE OUR ECONOMY, OUR NATION'S SECURITY, PEACE IN THE WORLD AND THE KIND OF FUTURE WE LEAVE TO OUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN. THE GRAVENESS OF THE ISSUE HAS RESULTED IN THE CHAIRMAN AND RANKING MEMBER OF THE SENATE BUDGET COMMITTEE -- SENATORS CONRAD AND GREGG -- COMING TOGETHER AND INTRODUCING THE BIPARTISAN TASK FORCE FOR RESPONSIBLE FISCAL ACTION -- ACT -- WHICH IS SUPPORTED BY 29 SENATORS, 14 DEMOCRATS AND 15 REPUBLICANS. AND I'M PLEASED TO SAY THAT I AM ONE OF THOSE 15 REPUBLICANS. I THINK THAT THOSE THAT FOLLOW THE RECENT OPERATIONS OF THE SENATE WILL APPRECIATE THAT IN THIS BALKANIZED SENATE, WHERE NOTHING SEEMS TO GET DONE ON A BIPARTISAN BASIS, THIS COMMISSION HAS SIGNIFICANT BIPARTISAN SUPPORT. THE CONRAD-GREGG PROPOSAL WOULD CREATE A STATUTORILY BASED COMMISSION OF 18 MEMBERS, 16 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS WHO WILL STUDY THE LONG-TERM FISCAL IMBALANCE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND SUBMIT RECOMMENDATIONS AS A LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL THAT WOULD HAVE EXPEDITED CONSIDERATION BY CONGRESS RESULTING IN AN UP-OR-DOWN VOTE. THE COMMISSION WOULD CONSIDER ALL OPTIONS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE LEDGER AND WOULD REQUIRE THE APPROVAL OF 14 OF ITS 18 MEMBERS, ENSURING A BIPARTISAN PRODUCT. I WANT TO EMPHASIZE TO MY REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES, WHO MAY BE SKEPTICAL OF THIS BIPARTISAN COMMISSION, HALF OF THE CONGRESSIONALLY APPOINTED MEMBERS WILL BE APPOINTED BY THE SENATE MINORITY LEADER AND THE HOUSE MINORITY LEADER. WHICH GUARANTEES THAT THE CONRAD-GREGG COMMISSION WILL PROTECT THE CONCERNS OF MY COLLEAGUES. FOR EXAMPLE, LARGE TAX INCREASES ARE LIKELY -- ARE UNLIKELY GIVEN THE MAKEUP AND PROCEDURES OF THE COMMISSION. AND, FINALLY, THREE-FIFTSD OF THE SENATE AND THREE-FIFTH OF THE HOUSE MUST VOTE FOR THE REPRESENTATION ENSURING STRONG BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FROM BOTH CHAMBERS. BIPARTISANSHIP IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS BECAUSE THIS IS NOT A DEMOCRATIC OR REPUBLICAN PROBLEM. IT AFFECTS EVERYONE. AND I BELIEVE THIS SPECIAL PROCESS IS THE MOST PRACTICAL AND EFFECTIVE METHOD TO DEAL WITH THE LOOMING DEBT CRISIS THAT ENDANGERS THE ECONOMIC FUTURE OF ALL OF US. A COMMISSION TO ADDRESS OUR NATION'S FISCAL ISSUES HAS BEEN RECOMMENDED BY OUTSIDE BUDGET EXPERTS FROM ACROSS THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM. THESE EXPERTS HAVE DECLARED THAT THE REGULAR PROCESS IS INCAPABLE OF DEALING WITH LONG-TERM FISCAL ISSUES. JUST ASK ME. THIS IS MY 12th YEAR IN THE SENATE AND THE REGULAR PROCESS DOESN'T WORK. IN FEBRUARY 2009, GROUPS INCLUDING BROOKINGS, THE URBAN INSTITUTE, THE PETERSON PETER FOUNDATION, CONCORDE COALITION, A.E.I., PROGRESSIVE POLICY INSTITUTE, AND THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION, ISSUED A STATEMENT CALLING FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A COMMISSION TO ADDRESS OUR FISCAL ISSUES. MR. PRESIDENT, I ASK UNANIMOUS SUPPORT TO INSERT THIS STATEMENT IN THE RECORD.

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  • 04:47:25 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 04:47:34 PM

    MR. VOINOVICH

    PBS' NIGHTLY BUSINESS PROGRAM, THE PRESIDENT OF THE COMMITTEE FOR THE…

    PBS' NIGHTLY BUSINESS PROGRAM, THE PRESIDENT OF THE COMMITTEE FOR THE RESPONSIBLE FEDERAL BUDGET -- HE'S BEEN WORKING ON THIS PROBLEM FOR A DOZEN YEARS -- MADE A STRONG STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF A COMMISSION. MR. PRESIDENT, I'D LIKE TO SUBMIT HER FULL STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD AND WOULD HIGHLIGHT THAT IN HER STATEMENT MS. MCGINNIS NOTES HER EARLY OPPOSITION TO SUCH A COMMISSION. BUT SHE HAS CHANGED HER MIND BASED ON THE URGENCY OF OUR NATION'S FISCAL SITUATION. AND I ASK THAT TO BE SUBMITTED IN THE RECORD.

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  • 04:48:09 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 04:48:12 PM

    MR. VOINOVICH

    THE SENATOR FROM WASHINGTON.

  • 05:04:39 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM WASHINGTON.

  • 05:04:43 PM

    MRS. MURRAY

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 05:04:47 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 05:04:49 PM

    MRS. MURRAY

    MR. PRESIDENT, I RISE THIS EVENING IN SUPPORT OF PRESIDENT ROSANNA MALOUF…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I RISE THIS EVENING IN SUPPORT OF PRESIDENT ROSANNA MALOUF PETERSON. -- OF PROFESSOR ROSANNA MALOUF PETERSON. SHE IS A DISTINGUISHED LAW PROFESSOR AND ATTORNEY. SHE IS A WOMAN WHO ENJOYS BROAD BIPARTISAN SUPPORT, AND SHE DESERVES A SEAT ON THE FEDERAL BENCH. MR. PRESIDENT, I WAS VERY PLEASED TO INTRODUCE PROFESSOR PETERSON BEFORE THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE LAST NOVEMBER AND MEET HER AND HER FAMILY. I THOUGHT IT WAS TELLING OF THE TYPE OF NOMINEE SHE IS THAT SO MANY OF HER CURRENT AND FORMER STUDENTS WERE THERE TO SUPPORT HER CONFIRMATION. TONIGHT, I'M HONORED TO RECOMMEND THAT THE SENATE CONFIRM PROFESSOR PETERSON AS A DISTRICT COURT JUDGE FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MY HOME STATE. PROFESSOR PETERSON HAS STRONG BIPARTISAN SUPPORT WITH GOOD REASON. SHE HAS DEVOTED HER CAREER TO SERVING THE INTERESTS OF JUSTICE AND TO INSTILLING THOSE VALUES IN A FUTURE GENERATION OF LEADERS. PROFESSOR PETERSON IS A GRADUATE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA WHERE SHE EARNED HER BACHELOR'S, MASTER'S, AND LAW DEGREES. AFTER LAW SCHOOL, SHE STARTED HER LEGAL CAREER IN THE CHAMBERS OF JUDGE FRED VANSICKLE IN SPOKANE. THIS IS THE VERY SAME SEAT THAT SHE HAS NOW BEEN NOMINATED TO FILL. DURING HER DISTINGUISHED CAREER, PROFESSOR PETERSON HAS WORKED AS AN ATTORNEY IN SPOKANE AREA LAW FIRMS FOR CORPORATE AND INDIVIDUAL CLIENTS. SHE HAS WORKED IN PRIVATE PRACTICE, OFTEN REPRESENTING TEACHERS, AND SHE HAS WORKED AS A COURT-APPOINTED REPRESENTATIVE FOR CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS IN STATE AND FEDERAL COURT. SINCE 1999, PROFESSOR PETERSON HAS BEEN A LAW PROFESSOR AT THE GONZAGA LAW SCHOOL IN SPOKANE WHERE SHE IS AN ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF LAW AND DIRECTOR OF THE LAW SCHOOL'S EXTERNSHIP PROGRAM. AT THE SAME TIME, PROFESSOR PETERSON HAS MAINTAINED HER PRIVATE PRACTICE WHERE SHE CONTINUED TO WORK WITH FEDERAL DEFENDANTS ON A PRO BONO OR REDUCED FEE BASIS. PROFESSOR PETERSON HAS ALSO PLAYED A LEADERSHIP ROLE IN THE WASHINGTON LEGAL COMMUNITY, INCLUDING SERVING AS PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL BAR ASSOCIATION OF EASTERN WASHINGTON, PRESIDENT OF THE WASHINGTON WOMEN LAWYERS BAR ASSOCIATION, AND ON THE JUDICIAL SELECTION COMMITTEE THAT HELPED RECOMMEND A MAGISTRATE JUDGE IN 2003. IN RECOGNITION OF HER SERVICE IN 2006, SHE WAS AWARDED THE SUBMIT MOORE MEYERS PROFESSIONALISM AWARD, THE SPOKANE COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION'S HIGHEST HONOR. MR. PRESIDENT, PROFESSOR PETERSON'S ACCOMPLISHMENTS STAND FOR THEMSELVES, BUT I HAVE ALSO RECEIVED NUMEROUS LETTERS AND EMAILS TESTIFYING TO HER TOUGHNESS, HER WORK ETHIC, HER UNDERSTANDING OF THE LAW, AND HER ADVOCACY ON BEHALF OF HER CLIENTS. I'VE ALSO RECEIVED MANY LETTERS FROM HER FORMER STUDENTS AND THE PEOPLE SHE HAS MEN TOWARD, TAUGHT, AND BEFRIENDED OVER THE YEARS, LETTERS THAT ALL SAY SHE HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF SO MANY IN MY STATE. SHE CLEARLY MEETS THE STANDARDS OF FAIRNESS, OF EVENHANDEDNESS, AND ADHERENCE TO THE LAW THAT WE EXPECT OF OUR FEDERAL JUDGES. OUTSIDE OF HER MANY PROFESSIONAL CREDENTIALS, I HAVE BEEN IMPRESSED BY HER PROFESSIONALISM AND HER DECENCY. I KNOW I SPEAK ON BEHALF OF A LARGE NUMBER IN THE WASHINGTON STATE LEGAL COMMUNITY IN SUPPORTING THE NOMINATION OF ROSANNA PETERSON TO BE THE NEXT DISTRICT JUDGE FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON. AND I DO THINK IT'S ALSO IMPORTANT TO NOTE FOR ALL OF MY COLLEAGUES THAT PROFESSOR PETERSON'S NOMINATION WAS THE PRODUCT OF A BIPARTISAN SELECTION COMMITTEE THAT WE USE IN MY HOME STATE OF WASHINGTON. TO GET TO WHERE WE ARE WITH THIS CONFIRMATION VOTE, THE COMMISSION WAS FORMED AND DID MUCH OF ITS WORK ON PROFESSOR PETERSON UNDER THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION. IT HAS PROVEN THAT IT WORKS AS -- EVEN AS WE HAVE MOVED FROM ONE ADMINISTRATION TO THE NEXT, SO I'M PROUD TO HAVE CREATED THAT SELECTION COMMISSION AND BELIEVE IT IS SOMETHING THAT HAS SERVED OUR STATE AND OUR FEDERAL JUDICIARY AS WELL. THEREFORE, IT'S MY PLEASURE TO RECOMMEND MY COLLEAGUES CONFIRM A GREAT LAWYER, A TEACHER, AND A MENTOR WHO I BELIEVE WILL MAKE AN EXCEPTIONAL FEDERAL JUDGE, AND I URGE MY COLLEAGUES THIS EVENING TO VOTE FOR THE CONFIRMATION OF PROFESSOR ROSANNA PETERSON AS THE NEXT DISTRICT JUDGE FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT, AND I YIELD THE FLOOR. A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT?

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  • 05:09:17 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM NEBRASKA.

  • 05:09:20 PM

    MR. NELSON

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO SPEAK IN MORNING BUSINESS FOR UP TO EIGHT…

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO SPEAK IN MORNING BUSINESS FOR UP TO EIGHT MINUTES.

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  • 05:09:26 PM

    MR. NELSON

    MR. PRESIDENT, I RISE TODAY TO DISCUSS A SERIOUS PROBLEM WITH THE WAY THAT…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I RISE TODAY TO DISCUSS A SERIOUS PROBLEM WITH THE WAY THAT WASHINGTON HAS DONE BUSINESS FOR YEARS. THE PROBLEM IS ITS HABIT OF PASSING UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATES ON TO THE STATES THAT THROW STATE BUDGETS INTO DISARRAY. EVERYONE IN CONGRESS HAS TO DECIDE HOW TO BEST LOOK OUT FOR THEIR STATE, AND A LITTLE OVER A MONTH AGO, I DECIDED TO LOOK OUT FOR ALL OF THOSE STATES AND MINE, TOO, BUT THE EFFORTS I MADE TO PROTECT MY STATE AND ALL OTHER STATES SHOULD NOT BE THE ISSUE. THE ISSUE SHOULD BE WHY WASN'T EVERYONE TAKING STEPS TO PROTECT THEIR STATES? AND WHY WEREN'T THE CRITICS REACTING TO THE REAL ISSUE RATHER THAN COINING NAMES TO DESCRIBE THIS EFFORT TO PROTECT STATE BUDGETS FROM THE EFFECTS OF YET ANOTHER UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATE? THE REASON IS THAT ALL ALONG, THEY WANTED TO DERAIL HEALTH REFORM. MISREPRESENTING THIS ISSUE WOULD HELP THAT GOAL. SO IT WAS TOO EASY, TOO CONVENIENT TO COME UP WITH A CATCHY NAME AND TO IMPUGN MOTIVES. IT WAS TOO EASY, TOO CONVENIENT TO IGNORE THE PROBLEM FACING NEBRASKA AND EVERY OTHER STATE. ANOTHER MANDATE WITHOUT MONEY. UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATES AREN'T JUST BAD FOR NEBRASKA. THEY'RE BAD FOR ALL STATES, FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA. THEY ARE A FISCAL INJUSTICE THAT I HAVE FOUGHT FOR TWO DECADES. DURING MY TENURE AS A SENATOR AND THROUGH TWO TERMS AS GOVERNOR. THEY ARE A BURDEN ON THE STATES THAT I'LL KEEP FIGHTING TO ELIMINATE AS LONG AS THEY CONTINUE. UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATES ARE REALLY PRETTY SIMPLE, BUT THEY APPEAR IN MANY UNEXPECTED AND UNWANTED WAYS. THERE ARE ORDERS THAT ARRIVE IN WASHINGTON ON STATE CAPITOL DOORSTEPS WITH TOO LITTLE OR NO MONEY TO CARRY THEM OUT. UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATES FORCE STATES ALL ACROSS OUR COUNTRY INTO NO-WIN CHOICES. CUT SPENDING ON STATE PRIORITIES OR RAISE REVENUE WITH TAX HIKES. THEY ARE A FISCAL INJUSTICE STATES THAT -- THAT STATES HAVE NO OPTION TO AVOID. AS A UNITED STATES SENATOR, I'VE SAID THAT I'LL PUT NEBRASKA FIRST, NEBRASKA ALWAYS, BUT NOT NEBRASKA ONLY. THAT REMAINS THE CASE WITH QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW THE SENATE HEALTH CARE BILL DEALT WITH AN UNDERFUNDED MANDATE FOR EXPANDING MEDICAID. FIRST, MY GOAL HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO DRAW ATTENTION TO AND FIX WITH ONE APPROACH OR ANOTHER ANY UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATE THAT WOULD BE PASSED ON TO EVERY STATE THROUGH THE SENATE'S HEALTH CARE BILL. THE BILL SOUGHT TO EXPAND MEDICAID TO PROVIDE HEALTH INSURANCE TO MILLIONS OF AMERICANS WHO DO NOT HAVE IT TODAY. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WOULD PAY 100% OF THE COSTS FOR THE FIRST THREE YEARS THROUGH 2016. 2017 AND THEREAFTER, STATES WOULD HAVE TO PICK UP A PORTION OF THE COSTS. IN OTHER WORDS, THEY WOULD PAY FOR A NEW UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATE. SO I SOUGHT AN OPT-IN OR OPT-OUT FOR ALL STATES TO EASE THE FEDERAL UNFUNDED MANDATE, BUT BECAUSE THERE WAS NO CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE ANALYSIS FOR THAT APPROACH, A PROVISION WAS PLACED INTO THE BILL FOR NEBRASKA. IT'S NOT SOMETHING I SOUGHT. IT'S SOMETHING I ACCEPTED TO LAUNCH THE LARGER BATTLE AGAINST THE UNFUNDED MANDATE AFFECTING ALL STATES. I'VE TAKEN CRITICISM OVER THIS ISSUE, AND IF I HAVE RECEIVED IT BECAUSE I DREW ATTENTION TO UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATES, FINE, BUT THE LARGER QUESTION IS HOW DO WE IN CONGRESS ELIMINATE THIS PRACTICE OF PASSING THESE MANDATES ON TO THE STATES? RATHER THAN CRITICIZE ME, OTHERS SHOULD STOP -- SHOULD JOIN IN FIGHTING THE WAR TO STOP ALL OF THESE BURDENS ON THE STATES. IT'S AN EFFORT I WOULD WELCOME THE GOVERNORS TO JOIN IN, TOO, FOR THEY HAVE A DIRECT INTEREST IN THE SUCCESS OF THIS BATTLE. THE NEBRASKA PROVISION WAS A VICTORY IN THE BATTLE AGAINST UNFUNDED MANDATES NECESSARY TO WIN THE WAR. WHAT OTHERWISE HAD GONE COMPLETELY UNADDRESSED IS NOW PART OF THE DEBATE. NOT ONLY IN THE NATION'S CAPITOL, BUT IN STATE CAPITALS ACROSS AMERICA. WE ONLY HAVE TO LOOK BACK A FEW YEARS TO SEE WHAT TROUBLE UNFUNDED MANDATES CAUSE FOR STATES. WHEN CONGRESS PASSED THE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT, IT WAS HAILED AS A LANDMARK THAT WOULD IMPROVE EDUCATION NATIONWIDE, ESTABLISH NEW STANDARDS TO MEASURE EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT IN OUR SCHOOLS, AND REQUIRED STATES TO DEVELOP ASSESSMENTS IN BASIC SKILLS TO BE GIVEN TO ALL STUDENTS IN CERTAIN GRADES. STATES HAD TO MAKE SURE THAT HAPPENED FOR THEIR SCHOOLS THAT RECEIVED FEDERAL AID, BUT THE LAW PROVIDED FAR TOO LITTLE MONEY TO MEET ITS REQUIREMENTS. THIS WAS A FACT ACKNOWLEDGED BY A CHIEF SPONSOR, THE LATE SENATOR KENNEDY. HE SAID, AND I QUOTE -- "THE TRAGEDY IS THAT THESE LONG OVERDUE REFORMS ARE FINALLY IN PLACE, BUT THE FUNDS ARE NOT." BOY, WAS THAT EVER A TRUE STATEMENT. STATES HAVE PAID AND PAID AND ARE STILL PAYING FOR THAT WHOPPER OF AN UNFUNDED MANDATE. IN FACT, NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, WHICH I OPPOSE, LARGELY BECAUSE OF ITS BEING AN UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATE HAS CAUSED -- COST MY STATE OF NEBRASKA NEBRASKA $382.7 MILLION. NATIONWIDE, IT'S COST ALL OF THE STATES A TOTAL OF $70.9 BILLION FROM 2002-2008. ACCORDING TO THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION DATA. THOSE COSTS HAVE JUST KEPT PILING UP EVER SINCE, AND THAT'S NOT RIGHT. I THOUGHT ANOTHER UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATE IN THE 2003 MAJOR TAX CUT BILL. AT THE TIME, CUTTING FEDERAL TAXES WOULD ALSO HAVE FORCED CUTS IN STATE TAXES. THAT, IN TURN, WOULD HAVE BLOWN HOLES IN STATE BUDGETS, SO I TEAMED UP ON A BIPARTISAN BASIS WITH MY COLLEAGUE, SENATOR COLLINS FROM MAINE AND SENATOR ROCKEFELLER FROM WEST VIRGINIA, TO HELP THE STATES. AND WE WON A PROVISION TO PROVIDED $25 BILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDING TO THE STATES TO MAKE UP FOR THE LOST MONEY THEY NEEDED TO PAY THEIR ONGOING MEDICAID COSTS. TODAY, HERE WE ARE AGAIN HEARING FROM FINANCIALLY STRAPPED STATES ACROSS THE COUNTRY ASKING FOR ADDITIONAL FEDERAL MONEY TO PAY FOR OTHER PREVIOUS UNFUNDED MEDICAID MANDATES. I DON'T BLAME THEM FOR ASKING. THE GOVERNMENT TELLS THEM, THEY HAVE TO PAY A SHARE OF CERTAIN SOCIAL SERVICES AND MEDICAL EXPENSES AND IN TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES LIKE THESE, THEY JUST DON'T HAVE THE MONEY. UNFORTUNATELY, NEITHER DOES WASHINGTON. THEN WHILE STATES ARE CURRENTLY SEEKING AID FROM CONGRESS, WE'RE BUSY CREATING THIS NEW UNFUNDED MANDATE SET TO HIT STATES BEGINNING IN 2017 AND WHEN WOULD THAT ONE BE ADDRESSED? 2018, 2019, SOMETIMES LATER? TALK ABOUT THE LEFT HAND NOT KNOWING WHAT THE RIGHT HAND IS DOING? NOW, I'VE BEEN ASKING, WHY NOT NOW DEAL WITH THAT IN THIS HEALTH REFORM LEGISLATION AND CHANGE THE PARADIGM FROM UNFUNDED MANDATES AND DO IT IN A DIFFERENT WAY? JUST LAST WEEK WE LEARNED HOW BIG THIS UNFUNDED MANDATE WOULD BE. THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE ESTIMATED THAT COVERING THE MEDICAID EXPANSION COSTS FOR ALL STATES WOULD COST THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT $35 BILLION. THAT MEANS THE CONGRESS WAS ABOUT TO PASS A $35 BILLION UNFUNDED FEDERAL MANDATE ONTO THE STATES, UNTIL I GOT RID OF T LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN. CONGRESS WAS ABOUT TO SEND A $35 BILLION BILL TO THE STATES UNTIL I BLEW THE WHISTLE. WE NEED TO STOP THIS MADNESS OF PASSING THESE FISCAL TIME BOMBS ONTO THE STATES, AND I'D HOPE MY COLLEAGUES ON THE BIPARTISAN AND A BICAMERAL BASIS WOULD WORK WITH ME TO MAKE SURE THAT CONGRESS STOPS PASSING UNFUNDED MANDATES OF ANY KIND ONTO THE STATES. AND THAT THE GOVERNORS WILL JOIN IN ALSO. THEY CERTAINLY DON'T LIKE WASHINGTON TELLING THEM HOW TO SPEND STATE MONEY. NOW I WOULD HOPE PEOPLE WOULD PUT ASIDE THE SPIN, THE PARTISAN TALKING POINTS, AND MISREPRESENTATION THEY'VE HEARD IN THIS ISSUE, INCLUDING THE MEDIA. I HOPE PEOPLE WOULD STOP CITING THE INACCURATE INTERPRETATION OF IT AS AN EXCUSE TO AVOID WORKING FOR HEALTH REFORM THAT PROVIDES COVERAGE TO MILLIONS OF AMERICANS WHO TODAY DON'T HAVE INSURANCE AND LOWER COSTS TO ALL OTHER AMERICANS WHO PAY EVER-RISING COSTS FOR HEALTH CARE. I ALSO HOPE WE COULD STOP THE PARAGRAPH WASHINGTON -- WHICH ARE TRULY BAD FOR EVERY SINGLE STATE, NOT JUST MINE, FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA. MR. PRESIDENT, WITH THAT, I'D YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 05:18:31 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM MONTANA.

  • 05:18:34 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL: QUORUM CALL: QUORUM CALL:…

    THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL: QUORUM CALL: QUORUM CALL: QUORUM CALL: A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT?

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  • 05:18:50 PM

    Quorum Call

  • 05:52:55 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM ALABAMA. A SENATOR: I ASK THAT THE QUORUM CALL…

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM ALABAMA. A SENATOR: I ASK THAT THE QUORUM CALL BE DISPENSED WITH.

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  • 05:53:00 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    NOMINATION, THE JUDICIARY, ROSANNA PETERSON OF WASHINGTON TO BE UNITED…

    NOMINATION, THE JUDICIARY, ROSANNA PETERSON OF WASHINGTON TO BE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE OF THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON.

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  • 05:53:09 PM

    THE CLERK

    THE JUDICIARY, ROSANNA PETERSON OF WASHINGTON TO BE UNITED STATES DISTRICT…

    THE JUDICIARY, ROSANNA PETERSON OF WASHINGTON TO BE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE OF THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON.

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  • 05:53:17 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE PREVIOUS THE TIME UNTIL 6:00 WILL BE EQUALLY DIVIDED BETWEEN THE…

    THE PREVIOUS THE TIME UNTIL 6:00 WILL BE EQUALLY DIVIDED BETWEEN THE SENATOR FROM VERMONT, MR. LEAHY, AND THE SENATOR FROM ALABAMA, MR. SESSIONS.

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  • 05:53:33 PM

    MR. SESSIONS

    MR. PRESIDENT, WE'RE ABOUT TO VOTE ON THE NOMINATION OF ROSANNA PETERSON…

    MR. PRESIDENT, WE'RE ABOUT TO VOTE ON THE NOMINATION OF ROSANNA PETERSON TO THE EASTERN -- TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON. I'M PLEASED TO BE ABLE TO SUPPORT THAT NOMINATION AS I HAVE FOR MOST OF THE NOMINATIONS THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS SUBMITTED. I THINK THAT WE'RE MOVING IN A RATHER EXPEDITIOUS WAY FOR THE JUDGE CONFIRMATION PROCESS FOR FEDERAL JUDGES. LESS THAN A WEEK AGO WE CONFIRMED BEVERLY MARTIN TO SERVE ON THE FEDERAL COURT OF APPEALS. AND, FRANKLY, THE FAILURE TO CONFIRM HER BEFORE CHRISTMAS WAS THE DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP, FOR SOME REASON, WOULD NOT BRING HER NOMINATION UP. AND I CLEARED IT ON OUR SIDE ON SEVERAL DIFFERENT OCCASION TO MAKE SURE THAT THERE WERE NO OBJECTIONS. BUT AT ANY RATE SHE WAS CONFIRMED AND SHE'S NOW ON THAT BENCH. AND BEFORE THE RECESS, WE CONFIRMED TWO JUDGES, 70 UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS, AND FIVE U.S. MARSHALS. WE ARE MOVING FASTER THAN PREVIOUSLY AS -- OR AT LEAST IN -- IN COMPARATIVE -- IN COMPARED TO PRESIDENT BUSH'S TENURE. THIS CHART WOULD SHOW WHERE WE ARE ON AVERAGE DAYS TO CONFIRM. PRESIDENT BUSH'S CIRCUIT COURT NOMINEES WAITED AN AVERAGE OF 350 DAYS TO CONFIRMATION. PRESIDENT OBAMA'S NOMINATIONS ARE BEING CONFIRMED IN ABOUT 4 1/2 MONTHS FASTER. A GOOD BIT FASTER. IN ADDITION THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HAS HELD HEARINGS FOR EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE NOMINEES. I WOULD SHOW THIS CHART. IT SHOWS THAT DURING PRESIDENT BUSH'S TENURE, IT WAS 350 DAYS. PRESIDENT OBAMA'S, A LITTLE OVER 200 DAYS. THAT'S -- PRESIDENT CLINTON'S WAS -- WAS PUSHING 250. UNDER 250. AND THE OTHERS IN THE PAST WERE QUICKER. BUT THESE ARE LIFETIME APPOINTMENTS. WE'VE HAD SOME MORE INTENSE SCRUTINY OF NOMINEES, WHICH I THINK IS PROIVMENT BUT MOST OF THE MOM -- APPROPRIATE. BUT MOST OF THE NOMINEES ARE COMING THROUGH WELL AND SHOULD MOVE ON TO CONFIRMATION AT A REASONABLE PACE. AND I THINK WE ARE MEETING THAT AND WE HOPE TO CONTINUE TO DO SO. BUT I WOULD JUST NOTE THAT IF A JUDGE WHO'S ABOUT TO OBTAIN A LIFETIME APPOINTMENT FAILS TO CONVINCE MEMBERS OF THE SENATE THAT THEY ARE COMMITTED TO FAITHFULLY FOLLOWING THE LAW, BEING A NEW -- NEUTRAL UMPIRE, NOT FAVORING ONE SIDE IN THE BALLGAME OVER THE OTHER. IF -- IF THEY FAIL TO DO THAT, THEN THEY SHOULDN'T BE CONFIRMED. OR IF THEY HAVE OTHER WEAKNESSES SUCH AS LACK OF SKILL, DEMONSTRATED BIAS OR LACK OF BACKGROUND AND ABILITY, THEN I THINK THEY SHOULD BE EXAMINED CLOSELY AND NOT CONFIRMED. ON THE DISTRICT COURT NOMINEES, YOU CAN SEE THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA'S DISTRICT COURT NOMINEES COMING IN -- ARE COMING IN A LITTLE OVER 100 DAYS PER NOMINEE. WHEREAS PRESIDENT BUSH'S WAS AT 180. AND PRESIDENT CLINTON WAS ABOUT 130. SO PRESIDENT OBAMA IS DOING WELL THERE. PRETTY CLOSE TO PRESIDENT BUSH 1 NOMINATIONS WERE MOVING FORWARD. SO I JUST SAY, MR. PRESIDENT, I'M PLEASED WITH THIS NOMINEE. I THINK SHE DOES HAVE THE SKILLS AN GIFTS NECESSARY TO -- AND GIFTS NECESSARY TO BE A GOOD FEDERAL JUDGE. I HOPE SO. AND SHE HAS THE SUPPORT OF HER SENATORS. AND THE -- HAS BEEN MOVED THROUGH COMMITTEE. AND I BELIEVE SHE WILL BE CONFIRMED WHEN WE VOTE IN A FEW MOMENTS, AND I WOULD URGE MY COLLEAGUES TO SUPPORT HER NOMINATION. I WOULD YIELD THE FLOOR. AND NOTE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM. QUORUM CALL:

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  • 06:00:46 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM MONTANA.

  • 06:00:49 PM

    MR. BAUCUS

    FURTHER PROCEEDINGS ON THE QUORUM CALL BE DISPENSED WITH.

  • 06:00:52 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION. THE QUESTION OCCURS ON THE NOMINATION.

  • 06:00:59 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM MONTANA.

  • 06:01:01 PM

    MR. BAUCUS

    I SUGGEST THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

  • 06:01:03 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL:

  • 06:04:02 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: THE MAJORITY LEADER.

  • 06:04:04 PM

    MR. REID

    UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE QUORUM CALL BE TERMINATED.

  • 06:04:12 PM

    MR. REID

    OUT OF EXECUTIVE SESSION AND I BE ALLOWED TO SPEAK FOR UP TO THREE MINUTES.

  • 06:04:17 PM

    MR. REID

    MADAM PRESIDENT, IN JUST A FEW MINUTES, AS SOON AS I FINISH MY REMARKS,…

    MADAM PRESIDENT, IN JUST A FEW MINUTES, AS SOON AS I FINISH MY REMARKS, WE'LL MOVE TO VOTE ON THE JUDGE. THIS WILL BE THE 10,000th VOTE OF ARLEN SPECTER. I CONGRATULATE OUR DISTINGUISHED COLLEAGUE, SENATOR SPECTER, AS HE IS ABOUT TO CAST HIS 10 THOUth VOTE AS A SENATOR. HE IS ONLY THE 30th SENATOR TO REACH THIS NUMBER, FIVE DIGITS. I HAVE KNOWN SENATOR SPECTER FOR MORE THAN A QUARTER OF A CENTURY. I HAVE READ HIS BOOK. THE BOOK ON HIS LIFE IS REALLY A REMARKABLY IMPRESSIVE TRAVEL THROUGH HIS POLITICAL CAREER. HE WAS A CRIME FIGHTER AS A DISTRICT ATTORNEY, BUT AS FAR AS LAWYERS GO, IT'S -- THE SPECTER GENES ARE PRETTY GOOD. THE LARGEST JUDGMENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE STATE OF NEVADA WAS BY --

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  • 06:05:14 PM

    MR. REID

    THE STATE OF NEVADA WAS A JUDGMENT THAT HIS SON RECEIVED. HIS SON IS…

    THE STATE OF NEVADA WAS A JUDGMENT THAT HIS SON RECEIVED. HIS SON IS REALLY A PROMINENT TRIAL LAWYER. NEVADA KNOWS THE SPECTER NAME FOR MORE THAN ARLEN. ARLEN HAS ALWAYS BEEN A MAN OF HONOR AND INTEGRITY AND A TREMENDOUS PUBLIC SERVANT. THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, OF COURSE, IS HOME TO SOME OF OUR NATION'S MOST SIGNIFICANT POLITICAL HISTORY -- THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, THE CONSTITUTION WAS DRAFTED IN SENATOR SPECTER'S HOMETOWN IN PHILADELPHIA. NO ONE HAS SERVED THAT STATE IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE LONGER THAN SENATOR SPECTER. SO I CONGRATULATE MY FRIEND ARLEN SPECTER ON MAKING THIS HISTORIC MILESTONE, AND IT WILL MAKE PENNSYLVANIA PROUD. HE HAS -- NO ONE THAT I SERVED WITH IN THE SENATE HAS A BETTER LEGAL MIND THAN ARLEN SPECTER. WE ALWAYS LOOK TO HIM WHEN THERE IS A COMPLEX LEGAL ISSUE TO COME AND GIVE ONE OF HIS RENOWNED STATEMENTS, AND SO I -- I'M SORRY TO HOLD EVERYBODY HERE, BUT I WANTED THIS NIGHT NOT TO GO FORWARD WITHOUT SAYING ABOUT OUR FRIEND, ARLEN SPECTER.

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  • 06:06:22 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE QUESTION OCCURS ON THE NOMINATION. IS THERE A SUFFICIENT SECOND? THERE…

    THE QUESTION OCCURS ON THE NOMINATION. IS THERE A SUFFICIENT SECOND? THERE APPEARS TO BE. THERE IS. THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. VOTE: VOTE: QUORUM CALL: QUORUM CALL: QUORUM CALL: VOTE: VOTE:

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  • 06:06:23 PM
  • 06:30:33 PM

    Quorum Call

  • 07:16:06 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: ARE THERE ANY SENATORS IN THE CHAMBER WISHING TO VOTE…

    PRESIDING OFFICER: ARE THERE ANY SENATORS IN THE CHAMBER WISHING TO VOTE OR CHANGE THEIR VOTE? IF NOT, THE NOMINATION IS CONFIRMED. UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, THE MOTION IS RECONSIDER IS CONSIDERED MADE AND LAID UPON THE TABLE, THE PRESIDENT SHALL BE IMMEDIATELY NOTIFIED OF THE SENATE'S ACTION, AND THE SENATE WILL RESUME LEGISLATIVE SESSION.

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  • 07:16:35 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM PENNSYLVANIA.

  • 07:16:37 PM

    MR. CASEY

    PRESIDENT, I RISE TONIGHT TO SPEAK OF MY COLLEAGUE, SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER,…

    PRESIDENT, I RISE TONIGHT TO SPEAK OF MY COLLEAGUE, SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER, WHO TONIGHT PASSED HIS 10,000th VOTE AS A MEMBER OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE. SO WE WATCHED HISTORY TONIGHT. AND SOMETIMES WHEN WE HAVE A CHANCE TO WITNESS HISTORY, OF COURSE, WE LOOK FORWARD TO HIS MANY MORE VOTES BUT ALSO TO LOOK -- LOOK BEHIND US AT SOME OF HIS OWN PERSONAL POLITICAL HISTORY BUT AS WELL AS HIS SERVICE HERE IN THE U.S. SENATE. I'LL OFFER A FEW REMARKS TONIGHT ABOUT HIS SERVICE. I CAN SAY THAT AFTER KNOWING HIM FOR MANY, MANY YEARS -- AND ESPECIALLY AFTER SERVING WITH HIM FOR NOW MORE THAN THREE YEARS -- I CAN SAY, IF YOU GO DOWN THAT LIST OF VOTES, ALL THOSE ROLL CALL VOTES OVER MANY YEARS SERVE THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA, HE'S HAD ONE PRIORITY WITH THOSE VOTES: THOSE VOTES WERE CAST ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA. HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN INDEPENDENT VOICE FOR THE PEOPLE OF OUR STATE. HE'S FOUGHT A LOT OF BATTLES FOR THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA. AND I KNOW THE PEOPLE OF OUR COMMONWEALTH ARE PROUD OF HIS SERVICE. HIS PUBLIC SERVICE BEGAN AFTER HE BECAME A LAWYER. HE WENT TO THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA AND THEN TO YALE LAW SCHOOL AND THEN EVENTUALLY JOINED THE DISTRICT ATTORNEYS' OFFICE IN PHILADELPHIA. HE ROSE THROUGH THAT OFFICE AND BECAME THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF PHILADELPHIA, ELECTED TWICE AND SERVED EIGHT YEARS. HE WAS ELECTED TO THE UNITED STATES SENATE IN 1980 AND WAS REELECTED FIVE TIMES -- OR FOUR TIME, AIM SORRY, AFTER THAT. SO THOSE YEARS OF SERVICE AS A UNITED STATES SENATOR. AND OF COURSE IT IS MORE THAN ABOUT YEARS AND ABOUT VOTES. IT'S CERTAINLY ABOUT THE SUBSTANCE OF THOSE VOTES, FIGHTING THOSE BATTLES, WHETHER IT WAS FOR THE VETERANS OF PENNSYLVANIA. WE'VE HAD A MILLION OR MORE VETERANS FOR MANY, MANY YEARS IN OUR STATE. THOSE WHO FOUGHT OUR WARS, THOSE WHO WORKED IN OUR FACTORIES, THOSE WHO WENT ON TO BUILD PENNSYLVANIA, GAVE THEIR FIRST MEASURE OF DEVOTION TO THE COUNTRY FIGHTING ON BATTLE FELTEDS. HE'S ALWAYS FOUGHT FOR THEM, CHAIRED THE VETERANS' COMMITTEE HERE IN THE SENATE, AND CONTINUES THOSE BATTLES ON BEHALF OF THE VETERANS OF PENNSYLVANIA. ON HEALTH CARE, WE COULD TALK FOR A LONG TIME ABOUT THE BATTLES HE'S FOUGHT OVER AND OVER AGAIN, NOT ONLY THE BATTLES HE FOUGHT IN THE LAST YEAR OR TWO AS THE ISSUE WAS BEING DEBATED HERE IN THE SENATE, BUT ESPECIALLY BATTLES HE FOUGHT OVER MANY YEARS, BATTLES ON BEHALF OF CHILDREN AND WOMEN, BATTLES FOR HEALTH CARE FOR THE VULNERABLE, THOSE WHO WERE POOR, AND MAY NOT HAVE A STRONG ADVOCATE OTHER THAN THEIR SENATOR OR MEMBER OF CONGRESS. SO HE'S FOUGHT BATTLES ON HEALTH CARE. YOU COULD ISOLATE A LOT OF DIFFERENT ISSUES UNDER THAT GENERAL HEADING, BUT ONE THAT COMES TO MIND FOR ME IS THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH. NO ONE THAT I KNOW OF IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE HAS FOUGHT MORE BATTLES FOR THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH -- AND ALL OF THEIR RESEARCH THAT COMES FROM THE GREAT WORK DONE THERE AND ALL THE CURES, ALL OF THE WAYS THAT PEOPLE ARE SAVED BECAUSE OF THAT RESEARCH AT ANY. -- AT N.I.H. THE BATTLES THAT HE'S FOUGHT ON JOB CREERKS NOT ONLY TO PRESERVE AND -- ON JOB CREATION, NOT ONLY TO PRESERVE AND PROTECT THE JOBS DURING THE RECESSION, LIKE THE ONE WE HAVE BEEN SUFFERING THROUGH, BUT BATTLES OVER MANY YEARS, BATTLES FOR THE RIGHTS OF WORKERS TO ORGANIZE AND COLLECTIVELY BARGAIN, BATTLES TO MAKE SURE THAT JOBS ARE KEPT IN PENNSYLVANIA INSTEAD OF GOING OVERSEAS OR SOMEWHERE ELSE. HE'S FOUGHT THOSE BATTLES TO PROTECT OUR WORKERS AND OUR JOBS. BATTLES ABOUT NATIONAL DEFENSE, MAKING SURE THAT WE'RE DOING EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO KEEP THE PEOPLE OF OUR COMMONWEALTH AND OUR COUNTRY SAFE FROM FOREIGN ENEMIES, SAFE FROM TERRORISTS, AND SAFE FROM THOSE WHO SEEK TO DO US HARM. OVER MANY YEARS, ARLEN SPECTER HAS CAST THOSE VOTES AS WELL, KEEPING US SAFE AND KEEPING US STRONG. HIS INDEPENDENCE A SOMETHING THAT IS CRITICALLY -- HIS INDEPENDENCE IS SOMETHING THAT IS CRITLY IMPORTANT TO ANY STATE, ESPECIALLY A STATE LIKE PENNSYLVANIA. WE HAVE A STATE OF OVER 12 MILLION PEOPLE. WE HAVE A LOT OF DIFFERENT REGIONS IN OUR STATE, A LOT OF DIFFERENT CONSTITUENCIES AND A LOT OF DIFFERENT CHALLENGES ALL ACROSS THE STATE. WHAT THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA EXPECT THEIR SENATOR OR SENATORS TO DO IS TO TRY TO FIGHT THEIR BEST, TO REMAIN AN INDEPENDENT VOICE FOR THEM, NOT FOR SOME SPECIAL INTEREST IN WASHINGTON. AND ARLEN SPECTER HAS DONE THAT FOR YEARS, BEING THAT STRONG, CONSISTENT, INDEPENDENT VOICE FOR THE PEOPLE OF OUR STATE. HE HAS HAD A STRONG SENSE OF JUSTICE FROM THE TIME THAT HE WAS A YOUNG LAWYER THROUGH HIS SERVICE AS A PROSECUTOR, MAKING SURE THAT OUR STREETS WERE SAFE IN PHILADELPHIA, AND REALLY WHAT HE'S DONE HERE IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE, FIGHTING BATTLES FOR JUSTICE EVERY DAY OF HIS SERVICE HERE IN THE SENATE. AND FINALLY, IN A VERY BROAD SENSE, BUT A VERY IMPORTANT SENSE, NOT ONLY WHEN TIMES WERE TOUGH -- LIKE THEY ARE NOW ECONOMICALLY -- BUT EVEN WHEN TIMES SEEMED GOOD, EVEN WHEN THE BUDGETS ARE BETTER AND PEOPLE DON'T SEEM TO BE AS CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN DO TO HELP THEM THROUGH A DIFFICULT PERIOD, EVEN IN THOSE TIMES OF PROSPERITY, HE HAS ALWAYS FOUGHT FOR OUR WORKERS AND FOR OUR FAMILIES. SO IT'S VERY EASY FOR ME TO STAND HERE AS SOMEONE WHO HAS WATCHED HIM OVER THE YEARS IN HIS SERVICE IN THE SENATE AND NOW AS SOMEONE WHO HAS SERVED WITH HIM FOR MORE THAN THREE YEARS, IT IS VERY EASY FOR ME TO SAY WITHOUT ANY EFFORT AT ALL THAT THOSE 10,000 VOTES THAT HE HAS CAST HAVE BEEN VOTES ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA, AND I BELIEVE FOR THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE PEOPLE OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. SO I WANT TO COMMEND ARLEN ON THAT TREMENDOUS VOTE TOTAL. I WANT TO COMMEND HIM ALSO FOR HIS PUBLIC SERVICE, HIS ENDURING PUBLIC SERVICE FOR THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA, AND I ALSO WANT TO COMMEND HIS FAMILY, WHO I KNOW HAS SUPPORTED HIM, HIS WIFE JOAN AND HIS PIEF FOR MANY, MANY YEARS -- AND HIS FAMILY FOR MANY, MANY YEARS TO MAKE SURE HE COULD SERVE THE PENNSYLVANIA.

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  • 07:23:26 PM

    MR. SPECTER

    I THANK MY DISTINGUISHED COLLEAGUE, SENATOR CASE CIRCUMSTANCE FOR THOSE…

    I THANK MY DISTINGUISHED COLLEAGUE, SENATOR CASE CIRCUMSTANCE FOR THOSE VERY GENEROUS -- SENATOR CASEY, FOR THOSE VERY GENEROUS REMARKS. HE AND I HAVE WORKED TOGETHER FOR THE PAST THREE-PLUS YEARS, BUT BEYOND THAT, WE HAVE WORKED DURING HIS TENURE AS A STATEWIDE OFFICEHOLDER AS AUDITOR GENERAL AND TREASURER OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AND I HAVE NOT ONLY WORKED WITH ROBERT CASEY JR., BUT I WORKED WITH ROBERT CASEY SR., HIS DISTINGUISHED FATHER, WHO WAS GOVERNOR OF THE STATE. AND WHILE WE WERE WAITING FOR THE TRAIN TO ARRIVE, THIS IS AN UNUSUAL EVENING IN THE SENATE BECAUSE THE ACELA WAS LATE AND HAD A NUMBER OF SENATORS COMING FROM NEW YORK AND POINTS NORTH. AND THE TRAIN WAS ABOUT AN HOUR LATE, SO THE VOTE WAS KEPT OPEN FOR THEIR ARRIVAL, AND WE HAD A CHANCE TO REMINISCE ABOUT SOME OF OUR EXPERIENCES IN THE PAST WHEN I FIRST MET HIS FATHER AS A YOUNG STATE SENATOR, A CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR, WHEN I WAS DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF PHILADELPHIA, AND REMINISCING ABOUT A CONTROVERSIAL REPORT THAT HIS FATHER, AS AUDITOR GENERAL, MADE IN 1970 ON WELFARE PROBLEMS, AND IT WAS VERY CONTROVERSIAL. AND ALTHOUGH WE WERE IN DIFFERENT PARTIES AT THAT TIME, I BACKED UP AUDITOR GENERAL CASEY BECAUSE I WAS D.A., AND I KNEW THAT HE WAS RIGHT. AND WHEN HIS FATHER WAS GOVERNOR, I WAS A FREQUENT RECIPIENT OF CALLS ON THE NEED FOR SOME ASSISTANCE FOR PENNSYLVANIA, AND THE ANSWER WAS ALWAYS "YES." SO I'M DELIGHTED TO BE HIS COLLEAGUE IN THE SENATE, AND I THANK HIM FOR THOSE REMARKS. WHILE WAITING FOR THE PAST HOUR, I HAVE BEEN REFLECTING ON THE 10,000 VOTES THAT I HAVE CAST. I JUST SAID TO SENATOR CASEY, GAVE ME A UNIQUE TIME WHERE I HAD NOTHING ELSE TO DO EXCEPT TO WAIT FOR SOME SENATORS TO ARRIVE TO VOTE ON THE LATE TRAIN. AND I HAVE MADE SOME NOTES ABOUT THOSE REFLECTIONS, AND SINCE THERE -- SENATOR MENENDEZ ARRIVED ON THE TRAIN AND HAS SOME COMMENTS TO MAKE, AND I TOLD HIM I WOULD YIELD TO HIM. AND WHEN HE HAS FINISHED HIS STATEMENT, IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY OTHER SENATOR SEEKING RECOGNITION, I INTEND TO REFLECT ON THOSE 10,000 VOTES. SO PEOPLE WHO THINK C-SPAN IS ABOUT TO GO OFF, IF YOU'RE INTERESTED, WAIT. I AGAIN THANK SENATOR CASEY AND DEFER TO MY COLLEAGUE, THE SENATOR FROM -- THE DISTINGUISHED SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY.

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  • 07:26:37 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY.

  • 07:26:39 PM

    MR. MENENDEZ

    PRESIDENT, LET ME FIRST OF ALL THANK MY DISTINGUISHED COLLEAGUE FROM…

    PRESIDENT, LET ME FIRST OF ALL THANK MY DISTINGUISHED COLLEAGUE FROM PENNSYLVANIA FOR YIELDING BEFORE HE REFLECTS ON THE HISTORY OF HIS 10,000 VOTES AND I'M SURE THEY ARE MANY OF GREAT, GREAT CONSEQUENCE THAT HE CAST THAT HE'S GOING TO REFLECT UPON. I WANT TO ECHO MY COLLEAGUE FROM PENNSYLVANIA AS WELL, SENATOR CASEY'S COMMENTS COMMENTS ABOUT SENATOR SPECTER. AIL ONLY FOCUSED ON TWO POINTS OF THE MANY HE MENTIONED. ONE IS THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH. THE REALITY IS, ARLEN ARLEN SPECTER'S ADVOCACY AND PASSION, PARTLY FROM HIS OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WHERE HE'S HAD TO OVERCOME SOME OF HIS OWN PERSONAL HEALTH CHALLENGES, HAS GIVEN HIM A REAL UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH ARE ALL ABOUT AND WHAT IT MEANS. AND HIS ADVOCACY AND WORK IN HAS MADE A HUGE DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF LITERALLY MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ACROSS IN COUNTRY, BASED ON THE RESEARCH THAT'S DONE THERE THAT ULTIMATELY CAN SAVE A LIFE OR ENHANCE A LIFE. THAT'S A LEGACY THAT ANY ONE OF US IN THE UNITED STATES WOULD WANT TO GIVE. AND SECONDLY, THE OTHER THING I RESPECT ABOUT SENATOR SPECTER IS THAT WHEN HE HAS HAD TO CROSS THE AISLE IN ORDER TO MAKE SURE THAT HE STOOD ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA AND THE NATION'S BEST INTERESTS, HE DID THAT. AND NOWADAYS THAT'S A LOT MORE DIFFICULT TO FIND. AND SENATOR SPECTER HAS A HISTORY OF CROSSING THE AISLE WHEN IT IS NECESSARY ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA TO STAND BY THEIR SIDE, AND THAT DID NOT IMPEDE HIM FROM MOVING TO WHOMEVER HE COULD, WITH WHOMEVER HE COULD IN THIS BODY AND WITH ADMINISTRATIONS, BOTH PRESENT AND PAST, IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE THOSE GOALS. AND I WANT TO SALUTE ANYMORE THAT RESPECT. -- AND I WANT TO SALUTE HIM IN THAT RESPECT. MR. PRESIDENT, I APPRECIATE SENATOR SPECTER LETTING ME HAVE A FEW MINUTES HERE ON AN INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT ISSUE. I RISE IN SUPPORT OF THE NOMINATION TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT A DISTINGUISHED JURIS FROM NEW JERSEY GEORGE JOSEPH A. GREENAWAY JR., WHO SEEMS TO BE BLOCKED BY SOME PEOPLE IN THIS CHAMBER, YET UNKNOWN. I KNOW IT IS NOT FROM MY SIDE OF THE IECIALTION BECAUSE I'VE CHECKED. SO IT'S ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE OF THE AISLE. YET JUDGE GREENAWAY FULLY EMBODIES THE RESPECT FOR JUSTICE AND THE RULE OF LAW THAT WE DEMAND OF ALL OF OUR JUDGES. HE HAS STRONG BIPARTISAN SUPPORT AND HIS NOMINATION COULD EASILY HAVE BEEN TAKEN CARE OF THIS EVENING BUT FOR A FEW REPUBLICANS BLOCKING THE VOTE. SO I SAY TO MY FRIENDS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE, END THE OBSTRUCTIONISM. DO WHAT'S RIGHT. LET US HAVE A VOTE ON THIS EMINENTLY QUALIFIED, NONCONTROVERSIAL NOMINEE. IT IS CLEAR THAT THE OBSTRUCTION OF THIS NOMINATION IS NOT ABOUT THIS NOMINEE. HE'S EMINENTLY QUALIFIED. I WILL A TALK ABOUT THAT IN A MOMENT. AND IT'S NOT ABOUT WHAT'S RIGHT FOR THIS NATION. IT'S CERTAINLY NOT ABOUT ACTING IN THE BEST INTEREST OF A BADLY OVERBURDENED FEDERAL JUDICIAL SYSTEM. IN FACT, ODDLY ENOUGH, IT IS TBHOT IDEOLOGY. IT IS NOT -- IT IS NOT ABOUT IDEOLOGY. IT IS NOT EVEN ABOUT JUDGE GREENACONVEYAWAY OR THE OTHER SEVEN NOMINEES THAT OUR FRIENDS ARE BLOCKING. IT IS ABOUT THE POLITICS OF HAVING THIS PRESIDENT AND THIS CONGRESS FAIL, THE POLITICS OF "NO," THE POLITICS OF OBSTRUCTION, OF STOPPING ANY PROGRESS ON ANY ISSUE AND ALMOST EVERY NOMINEE. MR. PRESIDENT, OUR FRIENDS ON THE OTHER SIDE CAME TO THE FLOOR IN THE LAST ADMINISTRATION, THE ADMINISTRATION OF PRESIDENT BUSH, ON COUNTLESS OCCASIONS TO ARGUE FOR AN UP-OR-DOWN VOTE. I HEARD THAT MANY TIMES. "GIVE US AN UP-OR-DOWN VOTE." DEMANDING THAT A SIMPLE MAJORITY OF THE PRESIDENT'S -- ON THE PRESIDENT'S NOMINEES IS ALL THAT'S NEEDED; A SIMPLE MAJORITY OF THIS CHAMBER. THIS IS A POSITION DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED TO THEIR POSITION TODAY. IN FACT, THEY WENT SO FAR AT THAT TIME TO PROCLAIM THAT FILIBUSTERS OF THE PRESIDENT'S NOMINATIONS WERE UNCONSTITUTIONAL, AND THEY THREATENED WHAT BECAME KNOWN THEN AS THE NUCLEAR OPTION, TO UNDO THE RIGHT OF SENATORS TO FILIBUSTER A NOMINEE. WELL, WHICH IS IT? WHAT DO MY FRIENDS ON THE OTHER SIDE BELIEVE IS RIGHT? OR IS THE QUESTION: WHAT DO THEY BELIEVE WILL WORK? WHERE IS THE CALL FOR AN UP-OR-DOWN VOTE NOW FROM OUR REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES? WHERE IS THE ARGUMENT ON THE UNCONSTUTIONALITY OF FILIBUSTERS NOW? YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. WE CAN AGREE TO DISAGREE ON SOME NOMINEES ON PRINCIPLE -- AND WE HAVE -- OVER THE YEARS. BUT THE NUMBERS THIS YEAR BELIE ANY NOTION THAT THE OBSTRUCTION OF JUDGE GREENEAWAY AND ALL OF THE PENDING NOMINEES ARE PURELY A MATTER OF PRINCIPLE. IN THIS PAST YEAR, OUR REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES HAVE OBSTRUCTED VIRTUALLY ALL OF THE PRESIDENT'S NOMINEES, CONFIRMING ONLY 12 FEDERAL CIRCUIT AND DISTRICT COURT NOMINEES, THE LOWEST NUMBER IN A HALF-CENTURY. LET ME REPEAT THAT AGAIN: THE LOWEST NUMBER IN A HALF-CENTURY. CONTRAST THAT TO THE 100 JUDICIAL NOMINEES CONFIRMED IN THE 17 MONTHS THAT CHAIRMAN LEAHY CHAIRED THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE DURING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION. AS CHAIRMAN LEAHY HAS POINTED OUT ON THIS FLOOR, IN DECEMBER OF 2001, THE FIRST YEAR OF GEORGE W. BUSH'S ADMINISTRATION, SENATE DEMOCRATS CONFIRMED 10 OF PRESIDENT BUSH'S NOMINEES IN DECEMBER ALONE, LEAVING ONLY FOUR NOMINATIONS ON THE CALENDAR. IN THE FIRST YEAR. AND ALL FOUR OF THOSE NOMINEES WERE CONFIRMED SOON AFTER THE SENATE RETURNED THE FOLLOWING YEAR, IN 2002. IN STARK CONTRAST, THIS PAST DECEMBER OUR REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES LEFT -- LEFT -- 10 JUDICIAL NOMINEES WITHOUT SENATE ACTION AND INSISTED ON RETURNING TWO OF THEM TO THE PRESIDENT FOR RENOMINATION. I URGE MY COLLEAGUES TO RECONSIDER, TO END THIS OBSTRUCTIONISM AND ALLOW THIS BODY TO EXERCISE ITS CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY OF ADVICE AND CONSENT AND CONFIRM THE NOMINATION OF JOSEPH A. GREENAWAY TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT. HE'S EMINENTLY QUALIFIED AND DESERVES CONSIDERATION. LET ME CLOSE ON THAT. AT THE AGE OF 40, JUSTICE GREENAWAY WAS APPOINTED BY THEN PRESIDENT CLINTON TO THE FEDERAL BENCH WHERE HE SERVED FOR OVER A DOZEN YEAR WITH DISTINCTION. BY THE WAY, HE GOT PUT THROUGH BY UNANIMOUS CONSENT. IT WASN'T EVEN -- THERE WAS A UNANIMOUS CONSENT OF THE CHAMBER WHEN HE WAS PUT ON THE FEDERAL BENCH. HE GOT THROUGH UNANIMOUSLY OUT OF THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE FOR THIS POSITION ON THE APPELLATE DIVISION. UNANIMOUS OUT OF THE COMMITTEE. JOEGREEN AWAY EARNED A BACHELORS OF ARTS IN COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY WHERE HE WAS AWARDED WITH THE JOHN J. AWARD IN 2003. HE WAS AN EARL WARREN LEGAL SCHOLAR AT HARVARD UNIVERSITY. HE CLERKED FOR THE LATE HOFPB RABBLE VINCENT PWROD RICK FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK. HE BECAME AN ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY IN NEW YORK AND RECEIVED A PROMOTION TO BECOME CHIEF OF THE NARCOTICS BUREAU. IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR HE WAS AN ASSOCIATE WITH THE FIRM OF CRAMER, LEVIN, NESSEN AND KONKEL. HE'S GOT INCREDIBLE BACKGROUND. HE'S CHAIR EMERITUS OF THE COLUMBIA COLLEGE BLACK ALUMNI COUNCIL. CURRENTLY HE IS AN ADJUNCT PROFESSOR AT THE CARDOZO SCHOOL OF LAW AND AT COLUMBIA COLLEGE WHERE HE TEACHES COURSES ON TRIAL PRACTICE AND A SEMINAR ON THE SUPREME COURT. THIS IS MERELY JUDGE GREENEAWAY'S RESUME IN ONE WAY, A DISTINGUISHED RESUME TO SAY THE LEAST BUT IT DOES NOT DO JUSTICE TO THE MAN. THERE IS AN INSCRIPTION OVER THE TENTH STREET ENTRANCE TO THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. IT READS THIS WAY. JUSTICE IN THE LIFE AND CONDUCT OF THE STATE IS IS POSSIBLE ONLY AS IT FIRST RESIDES IN THE HEARTS AND SOULS OF MEN. THE TWO QUALITIES OF JUSTICE DO INDEED RESIDE IN THE HEART AND SOUL OF JUDGE GREENEAWAY, AND HE DESERVES A VOTE. HE GREW UP IN HARLEM IN THE NORTHEAST BRONX. HE IS ACCOMPLISHED AND SUCCESSFUL. HE'S ALSO GIVEN MUCH BACK. HE'S BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN MENTORING STUDENTS AND GRADUATES OFTEN TAKING THEM UNDER HIS WING AS LAW CLERKS AND FELLOWS. HE ONCE SAID -- AND I QUOTE -- "I TELL MY STUDENTS TO WORK HARD AND SMART. OUR PROFESSION REQUIRES A DRIVE TO SEARCH FOR PERFECTION. WITHOUT THAT GOAL MEDIOCRITY BECOMES THE NORM." HE'S ALWAYS STRIVED FOR EXCELLENCE AND TAUGHT YOUNG LAWYERS TO DO THE SAME. JUDGE GREENEAWAY RESPECTS THE LAW. ALL THAT JOE GREENAWAY FOR JUSTICE SERVED, FOR HONOR AND DECENCY, THE QUALITIES AND QUALIFICATIONS THAT BROUGHT HIM TO THIS PLACE IN HIS CAREER, FOR HIS YEARS OF SERVICE AND HIS JUDICIAL TEMPERAMENT, FOR HIS RESPECT FOR THE CONSTITUTION AND PRECEDENCE. FOR THE FACT THAT JUSTICE DOES INDEED RESIDE IN THE HEART AND SOUL OF THIS MAN. FOR THE FACT THAT HE WAS MANUAL PASSED OUT OF THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE AND PREVIOUSLY TO BECOME A DISTRICT COURT JUDGE GOT THE UNANIMOUS CONSENT OF THIS BODY. AND SOMEHOW, DESPITE ALL OF THAT HISTORY AND ALL OF THAT QUALIFICATION, THERE ARE COLLEAGUES ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE OF THE AISLE HOLDING UP THIS NOMINEE. I URGE MY COLLEAGUES TO END THE OBSTRUCTIONISM AND TO GIVE US A VOTE UP AND DOWN. AND I KNOW WHEN WE GET THAT VOTE THAT JUDGE JOSEPH A. GREENAWAY WILL BE CONFIRMED TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT. AND I WILL CONTINUE TO COME TO THE FLOOR TO DRAMATIZE THIS CHALLENGE. WE CANNOT HAVE A SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THE JUDICIARY BE LABORS ESPECIALLY WITH EMINENTLY QUALIFIED BIPARTISAN CANDIDATES BECAUSE THERE ARE THOSE WHO WANT TO SEE THIS PRESIDENT OR THIS CONGRESS FAIL. IT'S ABOUT THE NATION, NOT FAILING. IT'S ABOUT OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM NOT FAILING. NOT ABOUT THE POLITICS OF OBSTRUCTIONISM. WITH THAT, MR. PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 07:38:02 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM PENNSYLVANIA.

  • 07:38:04 PM

    MR. SPECTER

    MR. PRESIDENT, AS I HAD COMMENTED A FEW MOMENTS AGO, I THANKED SENATOR…

    MR. PRESIDENT, AS I HAD COMMENTED A FEW MOMENTS AGO, I THANKED SENATOR CASEY FOR THE COMMENTS HE MADE ABOUT MY 10,000th VOTE AND SAID THAT I WOULD BE SPEAKING AT THE CONCLUSION. BUT I YIELDED TO THE SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY BECAUSE MY SPEECH WILL BE SOMEWHAT LONGER. AND SENATOR LAUTENBERG HAS COME TO THE FLOOR. I DON'T WANT TO KEEP HIM FOR A LENGTHY SPEECH. I WILL BE GLAD TO YIELD. IF I MAY INQUIRE HOW LONG THE SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY WILL TAKE?

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  • 07:38:41 PM

    MR. LAUTENBERG

    TEN MINUTES. TEN MINUTES WOULD BE, I THINK, MORE THAN ADEQUATE. MR.

  • 07:38:49 PM

    MR. SPECTER

    YIELD TO THE SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY. I CALLED SOME FAMILY, TO BE VERY…

    YIELD TO THE SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY. I CALLED SOME FAMILY, TO BE VERY PERSONAL ABOUT IT: WIFE, SISTER, AUNT. I DON'T WANT THEM TO THINK I'M NOT GOING TO SPEAK. BUT FOR TEN MINUTES I'LL YIELD. MR.

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  • 07:39:07 PM

    MR. LAUTENBERG

    I THANK MY COLLEAGUE FROM PENNSYLVANIA. I CONGRATULATE HIM FOR HAVING CAST…

    I THANK MY COLLEAGUE FROM PENNSYLVANIA. I CONGRATULATE HIM FOR HAVING CAST 10,000 VOTES. WE ALL KNOW SENATOR SPECTER SO WELL THAT WE KNOW THAT 10,000 VOTES CAST BY HIM CARRIED 10,000 THOUGHTFUL DECISIONS. HE'S A LAWYER OF DISTINCTION AND CAME TO THIS SENATE AND WAS ACCORDED RESPECT FOR HIS VIEWS. WE HAVE OFTEN LISTENED TO DEBATES WHERE SENATOR SPECTER PARTICIPATED, AND HIS VIEWS WERE ALWAYS, ALWAYS RESPECTED BY OTHERS AND CARRIED MUCH WEIGHT. HE AND I HAVE GOTTEN ALONG OVER THE YEARS VERY, VERY WELL. AND I WAS PLEASED TO SEE HIM HAVE THE COURAGE TO SWITCH PARTIES BECAUSE OF HIS BELIEF IN HIS -- HOW THIS BODY OUGHT TO FUNCTION AND WE CONGRATULATE HIM FOR THAT AS WELL. THE ONLY DISAGREEMENT WE HAD IS WHETHER OR NOT THE FOOTBALL TEAM -- PHILADELPHIA, THE EAGLES -- ARE MORE LOVED BY PEOPLE IN THE SOUTHERN PART OF OUR STATE OF NEW JERSEY OR WHETHER THEIR LOYALTY IS BETTER APPRECIATED BY THOSE FROM PENNSYLVANIA. IT DEPENDS WITH ME ON WHAT THE RECORD IS. I'M SORRY. EXCUSE ME. BUT WE -- IT'S A PLEASURE TO BE SERVE WITH SENATOR SPECTER. I AM SOMEWHAT BEHIND HIM FOR THE NUMBER OF VOTES CAST, BUT IT ISN'T EASY, AND PARTICULARLY WHEN I'M ASKED: WHAT WAS THE VOTE 8,003 THAT YOU CAST? I SAID, WELL, I'LL HAVE TO CHECK THE RECORD. THOUSANDS OF VOTES ARE A LOT OF VOTES, REQUIRE A LOT OF DECISION MAKING. ONCE AGAIN I CONGRATULATE SENATOR SPECTER FOR HIS GOOD DECISION-MAKING. TONIGHT I WANT TO HIGHLIGHT SOMETHING THAT MY COLLEAGUE, SENATOR MENENDEZ, TALKED ABOUT AND GET ON WITH THE BUSINESS OF THIS SENATE. DEFINING WHAT TAKES PLACE IN THIS BODY, THIS PLACE OF THE PEOPLE THAT SAYS THAT WE SHOULDN'T MOVE QUICKLY. WE SHOULDN'T MOVE, PERIOD, ON DECISIONS OF MATTER BECAUSE POLITICALLY OUR COLLEAGUES ON THE OTHER SIDE ARE DETERMINED TO DO WHATEVER THEY CAN TO BRING DOWN THIS ADMINISTRATION'S ABILITY TO FUNCTION, AND INCLUDING THE MAJORITY ABILITY TO FUNCTION. I RISE TO TALK ABOUT A TARGET THAT THE REPUBLICAN FRIENDS HERE HAVE IN THEIR SIGHT, AND THAT'S JOSEPH -- JUDGE JOSEPH A. GREENAWAY JR. OF NEW JERSEY. HE EXEMPLIFIES THE DREAMS THAT SO MANY HAVE ABOUT WHAT CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED IN LIFE. HE'S THE SON OF A NURSE AND A CARPENTER. HE ROSE FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS TO ATTEND COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY AND HARVARD LAW SCHOOL. JUDGE GREENEAWAY IS A WELL-QUALIFIED JUDGE, SERVED ON OUR DISTRICT COURT FOR OVER A DECADE WITH DISTINCTION. HIS CREDIT -- HIS CREDENTIALS AND QUALIFICATIONS ARE BEYOND REPROACH, AND THERE IS NO OPPOSITION TO HIS NOMINATION TO THE THIRD CIRCUIT COURT. AND YET, THE REPUBLICANS BLOCKED THE THE VOTE -- NOT CAST THE VOTE -- BLOCKED A VOTE ON HIS CONFIRMATION TONIGHT. IT'S UNCONSCIONABLE. LET THE SENATE MAKE ITS DECISION. THOSE ON THE OTHER SIDE WHO DON'T WANT TO VOTE FOR HIM, LET THEM SAY SO. LET THEM SAY IT IN A VOTE. BUT, NO, THEY INSIST ON TYING THINGS UP, THAT'S BEEN THE MATTER OF THINGS HERE FOR SOMETIME SINCE PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS TAKEN OVER. AND THIS MAN IN OUR COUNTRY DESERVES BETTER THAN THE WE'RE SEEING. SOME OF US IN THIS CHAMBER WAEUPL TO CONGRESS TO MOVE -- CAME TO CONGRESS TO MOVE THE COUNTRY FORWARD, TO SAY THAT WE'RE SO GRATEFUL TO THIS NATION OF OURS THAT WE WANT TO MAKE SURE -- AND I SPEAK FOR MYSELF, I'M NOT SURE I SPEAK FOR OTHERS -- THAT WE'RE SO GRATEFUL THAT THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT BEFELL US AND OUR FAMILIES AND -- I SPEAK FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, FROM PARENTS WHO WERE BROUGHT AS IMMIGRANTS WHEN THEY WERE INFANTS AND HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO WELL IN BUSINESS FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS AND COME HERE AND BE HERE 25 YEARS. I WANT TO DO THIS JOB BECAUSE I WANT TO HELP PEOPLE. I KNOW WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE DEPRIVED RESOURCE, AND IT'S PAINFUL. I SAW IT THROUGH MY ENTIRE CHILDHOOD. MY FATHER DIED WHEN HE WAS 43, WITHOUT ANY INSURANCE, WITHOUT ANY HELP FROM THE GOVERNMENT TO HELP MY MOTHER CARRY ON WHILE I WAS IN THE ARMY. UNFORTUNATELY, REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES HAVE A DIFFERENT AGENDA. THEY'RE FOCUSED ON BRINGING THIS CHAMBER TO A STANDSTILL. THEY'RE FOCUSED ON DELAYING AND STOPPING PROGRESS ON NEARLY EVERY ISSUE. THE FILIBUSTER USED TO BE RESERVED FOR THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES AND WAS MEANT TO ALLOW ENOUGH TIME FOR DEBATE. AND NOW IT IS BEING ABUSED. HIJACKED BY REPUBLICANS WHO ARE MORE INTERESTED IN POLITICAL AND PROCEDURAL GAMES THAN IN LEGISLATING. WE'VE SEEN IT IN THE HEALTH CARE BILL WHEN WOWRCH COLLEAGUES ON THE OTHER -- WHEN ONE OF OUR COLLEAGUES ON THE OTHER SIDE WHO SAID IF THEY CAN DEFEAT THE HEALTH CARE BILL THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA PRODUCED WITH A -- WITH THE CONGRESS, THAT THEY WILL HAVE PRESENTED THE WATERLOO TO PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CAREER. TERRIBLE TO HAVE THAT KIND OF ATTITUDE. SERVE THE PEOPLE. FORGET ABOUT STOPPING THINGS. TALK ABOUT THEM. COME OUT HERE ON THE FLOOR AND SAY WHY YOU DON'T WANT TO HELP PEOPLE. THAT'S WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT. TODAY WE SEE AN EXAMPLE OF THE SIMPLEST FORM. REPUBLICANS HAVE USED THE FILIBUSTER OVER 100 TIMES SINCE THE START OF THE CONGRESS. THEY USED TO BLOCK LEGISLATION INCLUDING HEALTH CARE REFORM, FUNDING FOR OUR TROOPS AND EVEN HELP FOR OUR SURRENDERS. THEY'RE USING IT TO BLOCK WELL-QUALIFIED JUDGES FROM SERVING ON THE FEDERAL BENCH. FILIBUSTERING LED TO THE LOWEST CONFIRMATION OF JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS IN 50 YEARS. THE REPUBLICANS ARE SITTING ON THEIR HANDS TO BLOCK THE SENATE FROM CONSIDERING QUALIFIED NOMINEES FOR MONTHS ON END. LAST WEEK WE HAD A VOTE ON THE CONFIRMATION OF BEVERLY MARTIN TO SERVE ON THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS SHE WAS UNANIMOUSLY SUPPORTED IN THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE AND FORCED TO WAIT OVER FOUR MONTHS ON THE SENATE CALENDAR FOR NO GOOD REASON EXCEPT TO CHALK UP ANOTHER VICTORY OVER PROGRESS. WHAT WAS THE FINAL VOTE ON HER CONFIRMATION, MR. PRESIDENT? 97-0. WOULDN'T LET US VOTE, BUT THERE WAS A WILLINGNESS TO HAVE EVERYONE IN THE CHAMBER VOTE FOR HER. NO OPPOSITION. NOT A SINGLE DISSENTER. ONCE AGAIN WE'RE WITNESSING A JUDGE BEING CAUGHT IN THE CROSS HAIRS OF THE PARTY OF NO. THE JUDGE GREENAWAY WAS NOMINATED TO SERVE ON THE THIRD CIRCUIT AND VOTED UNANIMOUSLY OUT OF THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE. HAINSD NOMINATION HAS LANG -- AND HIS NOMINATION HAS LANGUISHED FOR NEARLY FOUR MONTHS. HE IS AN EXCEPTIONAL PUBLIC SERVANT AND WILL BE AN EXCELLENT ADDITION TO THE BENCH. JUDGE GREENAWAY STARTED IN PUBLIC SOLVES AS -- AS AN ASSISTANT ATTORNEY NEWARK, NEW JERSEY. HE DISTINGUISHED FOR PROSECUTING BANK FRAUD BEFORE BEING PICKED TO HEAD THE NARCOTICS DIVISION. SINCE 1996, HE SERVED ON THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT IN NEWARK. AN IN HIS TENURE, HE'S DEMONSTRATED HIS FIRM COMMITMENT THAT WE WANT TO SEE IN OUR JUDGES, FAIRNESS, ECTY, JUSTICE. AND THESE ARE THE SAME VALUES THAT WILL MAKE HIM A SUCCESS ON THE THIRD CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS. JUDGE GREENAWAY HAS SPENT HIS CAREER PROTECTING NEW JERSEYIANS AND THEIR RIGHTS. THAT'S WHY THE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION, HIS PEERS, RATED HIM UNANIMOUSLY WELL QUALIFIED FOR THIS POSITION MUCH THAT'S WHY IT IS SO INCOMPREHENSIBLE TO UNDERSTAND WHY THEY INSIST ON NOT PERMITTING US A VOTE. LET US VOTE. MAYBE -- MAYBE HE WON'T -- WON'T BE ACCEPTED BY THE SENATE. LET US VOTE. MY GOSH. AND SO WE OUGHT TO CONFIRM HIM WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY. ED THIRD CIRCUIT COURT HAS A VACANCY THAT NEEDS TO BE FILLED. THERE IS A NONCOULDN'T VERSAL, WELL-QUALIFIED JUDGE WAITING AND ANXIOUS TO SERVE. I CALL ON MY COLLEAGUES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE, STOP THEIR OBSTRUCTIONISM AND LET THIS VOTE MOVE FORWARD. I THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT, AND I THANK MY COLLEAGUE FROM PENNSYLVANIA. AND I YIELD THE FLOOR. A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT?

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  • 07:49:39 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM PENNSYLVANIA.

  • 07:49:41 PM

    MR. SPECTER

    MR. PRESIDENT, AS I HAD SAID EARLIER I INTENDED TO MAKE SOME COMMENTS…

    MR. PRESIDENT, AS I HAD SAID EARLIER I INTENDED TO MAKE SOME COMMENTS FOLLOWING THE SPEECH BY SENATOR CASEY ON MY 10,000TH VOTE AND I HAVE SINCE DEFERRED TO SENATOR MENENDEZ AND SENATOR LAUTENBERG. I HAVE BEEN ASKED BY THE ADMINISTRATORS TO MAKE SOME UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUESTS BEFORE I SPEAK INSTEAD OF AFTER SO THAT THE CLERKS CAN GO ABOUT THEIR BUSINESS AND GO HOME. SO, AS I MENTIONED, I TOLD SOME FAMILY MEMBERS THAT I WAS GOING TO SPEAK, WIFE, SISTER, PAT. SO IT'S COMING, BUT, FIRST, SOME OTHER BUSINESS OF THE SENATE. ON BEHALF OF THE LEADER, I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE SENATE PROCEED TO A PERIOD OF MORNING BUSINESS WITH SENATORS PERMITTED TO SPEAK UP TO 10 MINUTES EACH. I THINK THIS ONE IS OUTDATED. I WITHDRAW THAT REQUEST. I CERTAINLY DON'T WANT TO BE LIMITED TO 10 MINUTES AFTER WAITING THIS LONG. ON BEHALF OF THE LEADER, MR. PRESIDENT, I ASK CONSENT THAT THE SENATE PROCEED TO THE CONSIDERATION OF S.2949 INTRODUCED EARLIER TODAY.

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  • 07:51:06 PM

    THE CLERK

    BILL TO AMEND SECTION 1113 OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT AND SO FORTH AND FOR…

    BILL TO AMEND SECTION 1113 OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT AND SO FORTH AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

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  • 07:51:14 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: IF THERE IS NO OBJECTION, THE SENATE WILL PROCEED TO THE MEASURE.

  • 07:51:26 PM

    MR. SPECTER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 07:51:40 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 07:51:42 PM

    MR. SPECTER

    MR. PRESIDENT, ON BEHALF OF THE LEADER I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE SENATE…

    MR. PRESIDENT, ON BEHALF OF THE LEADER I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE SENATE PROCEED TO S. 2950.

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  • 07:51:54 PM

    THE CLERK

    TO EXTEND THE PILOT PROGRAM FOR VOLUNTEER GROUPS TO OBTAIN CRIMINAL…

    TO EXTEND THE PILOT PROGRAM FOR VOLUNTEER GROUPS TO OBTAIN CRIMINAL HISTORY BACKGROUND CHECKS.

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  • 07:52:01 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION, THE SENATE WILL PROCEED TO THE MEASURE.

  • 07:52:05 PM

    MR. SPECTER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 07:52:16 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 07:52:19 PM

    MR. SPECTER

    THE LEADER, I ASK CONSENT THAT THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE BE DISCHARGED FROM…

    THE LEADER, I ASK CONSENT THAT THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE BE DISCHARGED FROM FURTHER CONSIDERATION AND THE SENATE NOW PROCEED TO S. RES. 373.

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  • 07:52:32 PM

    THE CLERK

    RESOLUTION 373, DESIGNATING THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY 2010 AS NATIONAL TEEN…

    RESOLUTION 373, DESIGNATING THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY 2010 AS NATIONAL TEEN DATING VIOLENCE AWARENESS AND PREVENTION MONTH.

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  • 07:52:42 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION, THE COMMITTEE IS DISCHARGED AND THE SENATE WILL PROCEED…

    WITHOUT OBJECTION, THE COMMITTEE IS DISCHARGED AND THE SENATE WILL PROCEED TO THE MEASURE.

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  • 07:52:47 PM

    MR. SPECTER

    ASK CONSENT THAT THE RESOLUTION BE AGREED TO, THE AMENDMENT TO THE…

    ASK CONSENT THAT THE RESOLUTION BE AGREED TO, THE AMENDMENT TO THE PREAMBLE BE AGREED TO, THE MOTION TO RECONSIDER BE LAID ON THE TABLE.

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  • 07:52:57 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 07:53:01 PM

    MR. SPECTER

    THE LEADER, I ASK CONSENT THAT THE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES BE…

    THE LEADER, I ASK CONSENT THAT THE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES BE DISCHARGED FROM S. RES. 395.

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  • 07:53:07 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE CLERK WILL REPORT.

  • 07:53:11 PM

    THE CLERK

    395, RESOLUTION COMMEMORATING THE 150th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDING OF THE…

    395, RESOLUTION COMMEMORATING THE 150th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDING OF THE COLORADO NATIONAL GUARD.

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  • 07:53:19 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION, THE COMMITTEE IS DISCHARGED. AND THE SENATE WILL…

    WITHOUT OBJECTION, THE COMMITTEE IS DISCHARGED. AND THE SENATE WILL PROCEED TO THE MEASURE.

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  • 07:53:26 PM

    MR. SPECTER

    I ASK CONSENT THAT THE RESOLUTION BE AGREED TO, THE PREAMBLE BE AGREED TO,…

    I ASK CONSENT THAT THE RESOLUTION BE AGREED TO, THE PREAMBLE BE AGREED TO, THE MOTION TO RECONSIDER BE LAID ON THE TABLE, NO INTERVENING ACTION OR DEBATE AND STATEMENTS RELATING TO THE RESOLUTION BE PLACED IN THE RECORD.

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  • 07:53:45 PM

    MR. DURBIN

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 07:53:55 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 07:53:57 PM

    MR. DURBIN

    TO CONGRATULATE HIM ON HIS 10,000TH VOTE IN THE UNITED STATES. HE'S BEEN A…

    TO CONGRATULATE HIM ON HIS 10,000TH VOTE IN THE UNITED STATES. HE'S BEEN A COLLEAGUE OF MINE NOW FOR MY 13 YEARS THAT I SERVED IN THE SENATE AND I'VE ENJOYED WORKING WITH HIM. OCCASIONALLY WE HAVE BEEN ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF AN ISSUE AND AT TIMES WE'VE BEEN ON THE SAME SIDE. I MUCH PREFER THE LATTER. HE'S AN ABLE ATTORNEY. A THOUGHTFUL AND REFLECTIVE MEMBER OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE. I'VE ENJOYED MY SERVICE WITH HIM. I CONGRATULATE HIM ON HIS 10,000TH VOTE AND I AM PARTICULARLY PLEASED THAT HE CAST HIS VOTE FROM THIS SIDE OF THE SENATE. I LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH SENATOR SPECTER. I THANK THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA FOR GIVING US AN OPPORTUNITY TO WORK WITH HIM AND TO SERVE IN THIS PUBLIC SERVICE FOR MANY YEARS.

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  • 07:54:47 PM

    MR. SPECTER

    THE DISTINGUISHED SENATOR FROM ILLINOIS FOR THOSE KIND REMARKS. WE HAVE…

    THE DISTINGUISHED SENATOR FROM ILLINOIS FOR THOSE KIND REMARKS. WE HAVE WORKED TOGETHER I THINK VERY HARMONIOUSLY. ON OCCASIONS WHERE WE VOTED DIFFERENTLY, IT WAS FALLS THE SPIRIT OF COLLEGIALITY. ONE PERSONAL NOTE, HE AND I ARE FREQUENTERS OF THE SENATE GYM. I ARRIVE AT 6:30 A.M., AND HE'S ALREADY BEEN THERE FOR A WHILE. HE'S A ROBUST ATHLETE IN ADDITION TO BEING A GREAT ASSISTANT MAJORITY LEADER.

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  • 07:55:20 PM

    MR. DURBIN

    SENATOR WOULD YIELD. I TELL PEOPLE I GO TO THE SENATE GYM FOR NO APPARENT…

    SENATOR WOULD YIELD. I TELL PEOPLE I GO TO THE SENATE GYM FOR NO APPARENT REASON. BUT I THANK HIM FOR HIS KIND WORDS.

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  • 07:55:31 PM

    MR. SPECTER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 07:55:38 PM

    MR. SPECTER

    AND NOW, MR. PRESIDENT, I'VE COME TO THE POINT WHERE NO OTHER SENATOR IS…

    AND NOW, MR. PRESIDENT, I'VE COME TO THE POINT WHERE NO OTHER SENATOR IS SEEKING RECOGNITION. AND WE'VE EXPEDITED THE WORK OF THE CLERK. AND I'M GOING TO MAKE A STATEMENT REFLECTING ON THE 10,000TH VOTE. THE CIRCUMSTANCES ARE SOMEWHAT UNUSUAL. I CAST THE VOTE AND EXPECT TO DEPART THE CHAMBER, BUT I FOUND MY DISTINGUISHED COLLEAGUE, SENATOR CASEY, PREPARED TO MAKE SOME COMMENTS ABOUT MY 10,000TH VOTE. BUT HE COULD NOT MAKE THOSE COMMENTS FOR ABOUT AN HOUR BECAUSE THE TRAIN WAS LATE. AND SOME SENATORS HADN'T ARRIVED. THE VOTE WAS KEPT OPEN. SO IN A VERY UNUSUAL SITUATION FOR ME, PERSONALLY, I HAD NOTHING TO DO BUT TO SIT AND THINK. AND I WAS REFLECTING UPON THE 10,000 VOTES, AND THAT'S WHAT I'M GOING TO TALK ABOUT NOW. AND I WOULD NOT EXPECT THE SENATOR FROM ILLINOIS TO STAY TO LISTEN TO THIS BECAUSE IT MIGHT DELAY HIS ARRIVAL AT THE GYM, WHICH IS VERY EARLY TOMORROW MORNING. I WILL BE THERE AT ABOUT 6:30 A.M., AND I DON'T KNOW HOW LONG HE WILL HAVE BEEN THERE, BUT FOR QUITE A WHILE. THANK YOU, SENATOR DURBIN. THE OCCASION OF REFLECTING ON 10,000 VOTES IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE IS SOMETHING I'VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT FOR THE PAST HOUR PLUS AS WE AWAITED SENATORS TO ARRIVE TO VOTE AND THEN HAVING YIELDED TO TWO OTHER SENATORS. AND I THOUGHT ABOUT WHY I GOT INTO PUBLIC LIFE. WHY I DECIDED TO RUN FOR OFFICE. AND THAT'S HARD TO SAY. BUT I BELIEVE IT WAS AT THE INSPIRATION OF MY PARENTS. MY STORY IS A COMMON ONE. IMMIGRANT PARENTS. A FATHER -- MY FATHER SERVED IN WORLD WAR I, WAS WOUNDED IN ACTION IN THE ARGON FORCE, CARRIED SHRAPNEL IN HIS LEGS UNTIL THE DAY HE DIED AND ONE OF THE VETERANS PROMISED A $500 BONUS AND THE GOVERNMENT RENEGED ON THE PROMISE. DID NOT PAY THE VETERANS' BONUS AS THE GOVERNMENT RENEGES ON MANY PROMISES TO THE VETERANS MUCH THERE WAS A FAMOUS MARCH ON WASHINGTON DURING THE HOOVER ADMINISTRATION WHEN I WAS A CHILD. AND PRESIDENT HOOVER CALLED OUT THE ARMY AND THEY FIRED ON VETERANS AND KILLED VETERANS. ONE OF THE BLACKEST DAYS IN AMERICAN HISTORY. AND I THINK THAT EVENT AS A YOUNG CHILD WAS EMBLAZED IN MY MIND AND I SAW HOW THE DEEP ANGUISH OF MY FATHER AND MOTHER, TOO -- THIS WAS IN THE DEPRESSION. AND MY FATHER HAD ALWAYS HAD A VERY DEEP CONCERN ABOUT GOVERNMENT BECAUSE HE LIVED UNDER THE TYRANNY OF THE CZAR. AND THE CZAR WANTED TO SEND HIM TO SIBERIA WHEN HE WAS 18 YEARS OLD IN 1911 AND HE IMMIGRATED TO THE UNITED STATES. AND I THINK THAT EXPERIENCE MOTIVATED ME TO WANT TO GO INTO PUBLIC LIFE. AND I ALWAYS HAD A VERY DEEP CONCERN ABOUT CIVIL LIBERTIES AS A MEMBER OF A MINORITY GROUP, MYSELF, TO BE ABLE TO DEAL WITH THAT ISSUE IN A GOVERNMENTAL CAPACITY. THE 10,000 VOTES HAVE COME AND GONE IN A -- IN A HURRY. AND I WAS REFLECTING ON THE REAGAN YEARS. I WAS ELECTED IN 1980, THE SAME DAY THAT PRESIDENT REAGAN WAS ELECTED. AND THERE ARE MANY HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TENURE DURING HIS EIGHT YEARS. BUT I THINK ESPECIALLY ABOUT SEPTEMBER 17, 1987. AND THAT'S AN EASY DAY TO REMEMBER BECAUSE IT MARKED THE 200th ANNIVERSARY OF THE SIGNING OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES. AND TO COMMEMORATE THE 200TH ANNIVERSARY, THERE WAS A CEREMONY IN PHILADELPHIA. AND PRESIDENT REAGAN WENT TO PHILADELPHIA TO PARTICIPATE IN THE CEREMONY. AND HE INVITED ME TO GO WITH HIM. HE INVITED SENATOR H HE EIN -- SENATOR HEINZ AS WELL. BUT HE HAD OTHER COMMITMENTS THAT DAY AND DID NOT GO AND IT WAS A FASCINATING EXPERIENCE TO TRAVEL ALONE WITH THE PRESIDENT, TALK TO HIM ON AIR FORCE ONE, TALK TO HIM IN THE PRESIDENTIAL LIMOUSINE. AND WHEN WE ARRIVED AT INDEPENDENCE HALL, THEY HAD A GREAT WHEEL. AND THE WHEEL STARTED WITH GEORGE WASHINGTON, THE FIRST PRESIDENT, AND THEN JOHN ADAMS AND ALL THE WAY AROUND UNTIL IT CAME TO RONALD REAGAN RIGHT NEXT TO GEORGE WASHINGTON. AND HE AND I TALKED ABOUT THE DRAMA THAT HE EXPERIENCED ON THE WHEEL RIGHT NEXT TO PRESIDENT WASHINGTON. ON THAT PARTICULAR WEEK, WE HAD THE CONFIRMATION HEARINGS OF JUDGE BORK FOR THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, AND SEPTEMBER 17 WHEN I TRAVELED TO PHILADELPHIA WITH THE PRESIDENT, IT WAS A THURSDAY AND I MISSED MY OPPORTUNITY TO QUESTION JUDGE BORK. AND I GOT THAT OPPORTUNITY ON SATURDAY MORNING, AND I WAS THE ONLY ONE THERE AND HAD -- AT LEAST THERE WERE ONLY A FEW PEOPLE THERE AND HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO QUESTION JUDGE BORK FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF. AND ULTIMATELY, PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN THE REJECTION OF THE NOMINATION OF JUDGE BORK WHO BELIEVED IN ORIGINAL INTENT AND HAD A VERY, VERY DIFFERENT VIEW OF THE CONSTITUTION. DID NOT BELIEVE IN DUE PROCESS OF LAW. THAT WAS NOT PART OF THE CONSTITUTION, AND HE DISAGREED WITH THE INCORPORATION OF THE TEN AMENDMENTS THROUGH THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE TO APPLY TO THE STATES. AND THAT WAS A MOMENTOUS SUPREME COURT HEARING. DURING THE YEARS OF PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH, THERE WERE MANY MATTERS OF NOTE. ONE THAT STANDS OUT WAS THE CONFIRMATION PROCEEDING AS TO JUSTICE SOUTER, AND WHEN JUSTICE SOUTER WAS UP FOR CONFIRMATION AND I PARTICIPATED IN THAT AS A MEMBER OF THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE AS I HAVE PARTICIPATED IN THE CONFIRMATION OF JUDGE BORK, THE PRO-CHOICE GROUPS WERE APPREHENSIVE ABOUT JUSTICE -- ABOUT JUDGE SOUTER BECOMING JUSTICE SOUTER. AND I EXAMINED HIS RECORD VERY CAREFULLY AND THOUGHT THAT HE WOULD READ THE PRECEDENCE OF ROE V. WADE IN A FAVORABLE LIGHT AND SUPPORTED HIS CONFIRMATION. AND THEN HE BECAME A STALWART FOR A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO CHOOSE AND A STALWART FOR CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES INVOLVING CIVIL RIGHTS AND INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM. DURING THE YEARS OF PRESIDENT CLINTON, I CHAIRED THE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON LABOR, HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND AT THAT TIME HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE THE LEAD IN INCREASING EDUCATION FUNDING VERY SUBSTANTIALLY. PELL GRANTS WERE RAISED VERY MATERIALLY. THEY HAD BEEN $2,400, AND THE COMMITTEE THEN MOVED THEM UP AND NOW THEY ARE IN EXCESS OF OF $5,000. ALSO TOOK THE LEAD IN HELPING THE WORKING MEN AND WOMEN THROUGH FUNDING FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND FOR THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD AND FOR MINE SAFETY, OSHA AND MENSHA. AND ON THE FUNDING FOR HEALTH AS HAS ALREADY BEEN NOTED TOOK THE LEAD WITH THE CONCURRENCE OF SENATOR HARKIN WHO WAS THEN MINORITY RANKING MEMBER TO INCREASE FUNDING FOR THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH FROM $12 BILLION TO $30 BILLION. AND DURING THE DECADE I CHAIRED THE COMMITTEE, THAT ENORMOUSLY INCREASED THE AVAILABILITY OF GRANTS, SOME YEARS AS MUCH AS AS $3.5 BILLION WERE ADDED TO THE FUNDING OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH. AND THEN WHEN THE STIMULUS PACKAGE CAME UP, I OFFERED THE AMENDMENT AND LED THE BATTLE TO ADD AN ADDITIONAL $10 BILLION. N.I.H. HAD SLIPPED BACK BECAUSE OF ACROSS-THE-BOARD CUTS AND FAILURE TO HAVE COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENTS, BUT THE $10 BILLION IN THE STIMULUS PACKAGE HAS PROVIDED 15,000 GRANTS AND HAS STIMULATED THE INTEREST IN A WHOLE GENERATION OF SCIENCES. SENATOR MENENDEZ COMMENTED A FEW MOMENTS AGO, TALKING ABOUT MY 10,000 VOTES, HOW THOSE RESEARCH GRANTS HAVE LED TO ENORMOUS SAVINGS OF PROLONGING OF LIVES AND SAVING OF LIVES ON MANY STRAINS OF CANCER AND RESEARCH INTO HEART DISEASE AND AUTISM AND PARKINSON'S AND ALZHEIMER'S, WITH EE MORM US STRIDES BEING MADE. DURING THE ADMINISTRATION OF GEORGE W. BUSH AGAIN, MANY MOMENTOUS EVENTS. JUST TO MENTION ONE BECAUSE TIME IS RUNNING, I LED THE FIGHT FOR EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH, THE SPECTER-HARKIN BILL TO USE FEDERAL FUNDS TO USE STEM CELLS WHICH HAD ENORMOUS POTENTIAL FOR CURING THE MALADIES OF THE WORLD. A VERITABLE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH BY INJECTING STEM CELLS INTO DISEASED CELLS. PRESIDENT BUSH VETOED THE SPECTER-HARKIN BILL, VETOED IT TWICE, BUT NOW WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA, THERE HAS BEEN AN EXECUTIVE ORDER AND SENATOR HARKIN AND I ARE CONTINUING TO PUSH FOR LEGISLATION BECAUSE LEGISLATION HAS MORE PHARMACY THAN AN EXECUTIVE ORDER. AN EXECUTIVE ORDER CAN BE CHANGED BY THE NEXT PRESIDENT. AND THEN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION -- ADMINISTRATION OF PRESIDENT OBAMA. GOT TO KNOW SENATOR BARACK OBAMA, HAD HIS OFFICE DOWN THE CORRIDOR FROM MINE ON THE SEVENTH FLOOR OF THE HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING. AND WHEN HE CAME FORWARD WITH HIS PROPOSAL FOR A STIMULUS AND I TOOK A LOOK AT WHAT WAS HAPPENING ON THE ECONOMY, I WAS CONCERNED THAT WE WOULD SLIP BACK INTO A 1929 DEPRESSION IF WE DID NOT PASS THE STIMULUS BILL, AND I VOTED FOR THE STIMULUS BILL ON THIS FLOOR AND COMMENTED ABOUT THE POLITICAL PERIL THAT IT -- THAT HAS HAD A PROFOUND EFFECT ON MY POLITICAL LIFE, WHICH I WILL NOT DISCUSS HERE, BUT HAD THE STIMULUS PACKAGE NOT BEEN PASSED, I THINK WE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN IN THE GREAT RECESSION WHICH WE ARE IN, BUT WE WOULD HAVE BEEN IN ANOTHER GREAT DEPREGNANCY. AND MY OWN STATE, PENNSYLVANIA, HAS RECEIVED $16 BILLION. WITHOUT THAT FUNDING FROM THE STIMULUS PACKAGE, THERE WOULDN'T BE UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION PAID TODAY. THERE WOULDN'T BE MEDICAID PAID TODAY. IT HAS THE POTENTIAL FOR 143,000 NEW JOBS. IT'S ONLY HALFWAY THROUGH THE CYCLE OF TWO YEARS. PASSED IN MID FEBRUARY, NOT EVEN A YEAR OLD. WE SEE THE FINANCIAL PROBLEMS OF CALIFORNIA. WELL, WHERE WOULD CALIFORNIA BE WITHOUT THE STIMULUS? WHERE WOULD ANY OF THE STATES WITHOUT THE STIMULUS? AND THE STIMULUS PACKAGE AND OTHER PROPOSED FEDERAL EXPENDITURES HAS CAUSED QUITE A PUBLIC REACTION SO THAT THERE IS GREAT -- A GREAT CONCERN IN AMERICA TODAY WITH WHAT IS GOING ON IN WASHINGTON, AND PEOPLE ARE VERY CONCERNED, AS MANY -- AS AM I, ABOUT THE DEFICIT AND ABOUT THE NATIONAL DEBT, AND WE'RE GOING TO BE CALLED UPON TO RAISE THE NATIONAL DEBT AGAIN. WHEN I WAS ELECTED TO THE SENATE, THE NATIONAL DEBT WAS WAS $1 TRILLION. DURING THE TENURE OF PRESIDENT REAGAN, THOSE EIGHT YEARS, IT INCREASED TO $3 TRILLION. PRESIDENT REAGAN WAS THE GREAT ECONOMIZER. ON HIS FISCAL POLICIES. BUT WE HAVE NO CHOICE WHEN IT COMES TO RAISING THE DEBT BECAUSE IF WE DON'T RAISE THE NATIONAL DEBT, WE WILL BE IN DEFAULT, AND THE DEBT IS BEING PAID FOR, MANY, MANY OBLIGATIONS, INCLUDING THE SUPPORT OF OUR TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN WHICH I WILL COMMENT ABOUT IN A FEW MOMENTS. AND IN THE SPRING OF THIS YEAR, APRIL, MAY, JUNE, JULY, THERE WAS TREMENDOUS WORRY ABOUT WHAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WAS TALKING ABOUT SPENDING. $1 TRILLION ON HEALTH CARE REFORM, $1 TRILLION ON CAP-AND-TRADE ON CLIMATE CONTROL, AND GREAT PUBLIC OPPOSITION AROSE TO WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN WASHINGTON, AND IT WAS PROMOTED BY THE GRIDLOCK WHICH IS PRESENT IN THIS CHAMBER, SPOKEN ABOUT BY SENATOR MENENDEZ AND SENATOR LAUTENBERG A FEW MOMENTS AGO, BY THE FILIBUSTERS WHICH WERE BEING CARRIED ON BY REPUBLICANS. WELL, A FEW YEARS AGO, FILIBUSTERS WERE BEING CARRIED ON BY DEMOCRATS, AND PRESIDENT BUSH'S JUDICIAL NOMINEES WERE THE SUBJECT OF FILIBUSTERS. THE BUSINESS ABOUT FILIBUSTERS AND ABOUT GRIDLOCK IS A PROBLEM ON BOTH PARTIES. IT ISN'T A MATTER OF BIPARTISAN BLAME -- IT'S A MATTER OF BIPARTISAN BLAME. SENATOR MENENDEZ COMMENTED ABOUT MY WILLINGNESS TO REACH ACROSS THE AISLE. I DID THAT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE, AND DO I THAT ON THIS SIDE OF THE AISLE. WHEN I CAME TO THE UNITED STATES SENATE IN 1980, THERE WERE MANY MODERATE REPUBLICAN SENATORS WHO REACHED ACROSS THE AISLE. WE HAD SENATOR HATFIELD FROM OREGON JUST DISCUSSING THE DISTINGUISHED PRESIDING OFFICER BROUGHT ME GREETINGS FROM SENATOR HATFIELD, THE SENATOR FROM OREGON, AND SENATOR PACKWOOD, ALSO A MODERATE FROM OREGON. SENATOR DANFORTH FROM MISSOURI, SENATOR WYKER FROM CONNECTICUT, SENATOR CHAFEE FROM RHODE ISLAND, SENATOR STAFFORD FROM VERMONT, SENATOR WARNER FROM VIRGINIA, SENATOR HEINZ FROM PENCE, SENATOR MATHIAS FROM MARYLAND. I COULD GO ON AND ON AND ON. WELL, TODAY THE MODERATES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE WITH MY DEPARTURE CAN FIT IN A TELEPHONE BOOTH. AND IT'S NOT GOOD FOR THE SENATE AND IT'S NOT GOOD FOR THE COUNTRY. AND WHEN I UNDERTOOK THE TOWN MEETINGS THIS YEAR, I MADE IT A PRACTICE IN MY TENURE IN THE SENATE, 30 YEARS, TO VISIT ALMOST EVERY COUNTY ALMOST EVERY YEAR, AND THE FIRST COUNTY I WENT TO IN AUGUST, FIRST DAY I HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO TRAVEL WHEN THE SENATE WAS NOT IN SESSION. USUALLY WHEN I GOT TO LEBANON COUNTY, THERE WERE 85, 100 PEOPLE. ON THIS OCCASION, THERE WERE 1,200 PEOPLE. THEY HAD LIVE TELEVISION TRANSMISSION UNITS FROM MSNBC AND FOX AND CNN, AND THERE WAS ENORMOUS ANGER ABOUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN AMERICA WITH THE SPENDING, WHAT WAS HAPPENING WITH THE DEFICIT, WHAT WAS HAPPENING WITH THE NATIONAL DEBT. AND THOSE WERE PROBLEMS WHICH WE YET HAVE TO FACE. I GET THE QUESTION IN MY CANDIDACY FOR RE-ELECTION. I'M SEEKING A SIXTH TERM. I WANT TO FOLLOW THEN-SENATOR BIDEN, THE MOST RECENT SIX-TERM SENATOR. WELL, PEOPLE SAY WHY -- WHY RUN NOW? WHY AFTER SERVING FOR 30 YEARS, BEING THE LONGEST SERVING PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR? PEOPLE NOTICE I HAVE A BIG BIRTHDAY COMING UP. I WAS BORN ON FEBRUARY 12, THE SAME DAY AS LINCOLN'S BIRTHDAY. I WAS BORN 121 YEARS AFTER ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS BORN. THAT'S AS CLOSE AS I'LL COME TO TALKING ABOUT AGE. I BELIEVE WITH SATCHEL PAIGE, THE GREAT BASEBALL PITCHER WHO WAS AGELESS AND SATCHEL PAIGE MADE MANY FAMOUS STATEMENTS. ONE OF HIS MOST FAMOUS STATEMENTS WAS "IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW YOUR AGE, HOW OLD WOULD YOU THINK YOU WERE?" I CHOOSE 37. I CHOOSE 37 BECAUSE NOBODY WOULD BELIEVE 17. THAT WAS A HAPPY YEAR IN MY LIFE THERE IS A PSYCHOLOGICAL TERM CALLED ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. THAT MAY HAVE OCCURRED TO ME AT 17. BUT WHY RUN NOW? WELL, BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS TO BE DONE. THERE ARE SO MANY IMPORTANT PROBLEMS, AND THE EXPERIENCE AND THE SENIORITY AND THE KNOWLEDGE I THINK CAN BE PUT TO GOOD USE FOR THE 12 MILLION CONSTITUENTS I HAVE, AND THERE IS A GREAT FACET ON TERM LIMITS. IT'S CALLED LOSING AT THE POLLS. AND THE PEOPLE CAN SAY YES OR NO TO CANDIDACY FOR RE-ELECTION. BUT I'M FULL OF VICTIM, VIGOR -- I'M FULL OF VIM, VIGOR AND VITALITY AND THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS I WANT TO DO, AND THE FOUR GRANDDAUGHTERS ARE VERY MUCH ON MY MIND AS WILL THEIR CHILDREN AND THEIR GRANDCHILDREN BE. AND WE HAVE HEALTH CARE REFORM WHICH IS STILL PENDING IN THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, AND IT HAS BEEN A VERY, VERY DIFFICULT MATTER WHICH HAS CONSUMED THIS BODY AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FOR MONTHS. THE HOUSE CAN PASS IT MORE QUICKLY THAN CAN THE SENATE, AND WE WORKED TON FOR THE BETTER PART OF SIX MONTHS. WE PASSED HERE AND IT'S WELL-DOCUMENTED THAT IT TOOK 60 VOTES BECAUSE THERE WASN'T A SINGLE REPUBLICAN WHO WOULD SUPPORT CLOTURE. THERE HAD TO BE 60 DEMOCRATS WHO WOULD AGREE, AND THAT LED TO A LOT OF CONCESSIONS BEING MADE TO GET THE 60 VOTES. SOME SENATORS INSISTED ON SPECIAL CONSIDERATION FOR THEIR STATES, AND I THINK THAT WAS WRONG. SO WHY DID I VOTE FOR THE PACKAGE? BECAUSE THE GOOD VASTLY OUTWEIGHED THE BAD. AND I WAS ASKED IN PENNSYLVANIA WHY DIDN'T I GET SOME SPECIAL CONSIDERATION FOR PENNSYLVANIA? WELL, I DIDN'T BECAUSE I THOUGHT IT WAS THE WRONG THING TO DO. I WAS ON A RADIO PROGRAM LAST WEEK, AND CRITICAL RADIO PROGRAM FOR WHAT'S GOING ON IN WASHINGTON, BUT I GOT A COMPLIMENT FOR NOT ASKING FOR SPECIAL CONSIDERATION. WELL, WE HAVE A NEW SENATOR-ELECT IN MASSACHUSETTS, AND WE OUGHT NOT TO DO ANYTHING IN THE INTERIM UNTIL HE IS SEATED. THEN THERE WILL BE 59. SO NOT ENOUGH TO SHUT OFF A FILIBUSTER BY THE REPUBLICANS. SO THE QUESTION IS, WHERE DO WE -- WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS TALKED ABOUT A NUMBER OF ALTERNATIVES. THE DAY -- A WEEK AGO LAST WEDNESDAY AFTER THE MASSACHUSETTS ELECTION, HE WAS TALKING ABOUT A PARED DOWN BILL. I DOUBT THAT THAT COULD PASS -- COULD PASS THE SENATE. IT WOULD BE UNFORTUNATE IF ALL THE WORK THAT HAS BEEN DONE ON THE HISTORIC HEALTH CARE REFORM WERE TO BE NULLIFIED. THE HEALTH CARE BILL RAN INTO GREAT PROBLEMS BECAUSE OF MISREPRESENTATIONS. THERE ARE NO DEATH PANELS IN THE HEALTH CARE BILL. ON MY TOWN MEETINGS, PEOPLE WERE TALKING ABOUT DEATH PANELS AND I TOLD THEM AUTHORITATIVELY AND ACCURATELY, THERE WERE NO DEATH PANELS. THERE WAS A WORRY ABOUT GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER OF HEALTH CARE. THAT WASN'T THE BILL. THERE WAS A GOVERNMENT OPTION. I WAS FOR A ROBUST GOVERNMENT OPTION. BUT LEAVING THE PRIVATE SECTOR IN PLACE BUT TAKING STEPS TO GIVE A CHOICE TO PEOPLE WHO WANTED TO BUY INSURANCE, BUT TO GET INSURANCE REFORM, TO ELIMINATE PREEXISTING CONDITIONS AS A WAY FOR INSURANCE COMPANIES TO MANEUVER AND DECLINE TO PAY CLAIMS OR THE CANCELLATION OF INSURANCE WHEN SOMEBODY GOT SICK OR NOT COVERING CHILDREN. SO MANY OF THE INSURANCE LIES. AND I THINK IT WOULD BE UNFORTUNATE IF ALL WE DID WAS NULLIFIED. ONE WAY TO APPROACH IT WOULD BE FOR THE HOUSE TO PASS THE SENATE BILL. THAT WOULD BE MY RECOMMENDATION, AND THEN TO HAVE IMMEDIATE CORRECTIVE LEGISLATION ON A NUMBER OF THE POINTS WHICH WENT TOO FAR, ON THE SPECIAL FAVORS FOR CERTAIN STATES. I BELIEVE THERE WOULD BE SUPPORT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE THAT WE COULD CORRECT THE ABUSIVE PRACTICES, IF THE HOUSE WAS TO ADOPT THE SENATE BILL. BUT I RESPECT THE HOUSE. I'VE READ WHAT THE SPEAKER HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE DISINCLINATION TO ADOPT THE SENATE BILL, BUT IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME IN COMING TO GET REFORM, AND LEGISLATION WHICH IS ENACTED IS SUCH TO MODIFICATION. AND IT HAS TO MOVE IN STEPS. WE COULD ONLY GET TO THE 1965 VOTING RIGHTS ACT BECAUSE YOU HAD THE 1964 LEGISLATION, SO THAT THERE ARE OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHANGES. AND THE ABUSIVE FACETS AND THE WRONGFUL REVISIONS OF THE SENATE BILL, IF TAKEN BY THE HOUSE, COULD BE CORRECTED, AND I THINK THERE WOULD BE SUPPORT ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE FOR THAT. THERE ARE A GREAT MANY ITEMS ON MY AGENDA. ONE OF THE CONCERNS I HAVE IS THE ISSUE OF IMPORTS ILLUSTRATIVELY FROM CHINA WHERE THERE ARE SUBSIDIZED AND TAKE UNFAIR ADVANTAGE OF THE TRADE LAWS. AND I'VE APPEARED MANY TIMES BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION, SOMETHING I HAD DONE IN PRIVATE PRACTICE AS A LAWYER ON APPELLATE ARGUMENTS IN COURT. I WON A BIG CASE PRESERVING A LOT OF JOBS SEVERAL MONTHS AGO ON THE TIRE INDUSTRY, STOPPING CHINA FROM SENDING TIRES INTO THE UNITED STATES WHICH WERE SUBSIDIZED. WON A BIG CASE IN THE I.T.C. THAT I WAS THE LEAD ADVOCATE ON ON THE STEEL INDUSTRY TO STOP CHINA FROM SELLING STEEL IN THE UNITED STATES. BEEN WORKING ON A PROJECT TO DEEPEN THE PORT OF PHILADELPHIA FROM 40 TO 45 FEET. SENATOR HEINZ AND I GOT AUTHORIZING LEGISLATION IN 1983. TOOK UNTIL 1992 TO GET THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS TO SAY THAT IT WAS ECONOMICALLY SUSTAINABLE. THEN I WORKED ON THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE WITH MY SENIORITY TO GET MORE THAN $77 MILLION APPROPRIATED. IT'S BEEN CONTESTED BY THE STATE OF DELAWARE ON ENVIRONMENT AT CONCERNS, WHICH HAVE BEEN ANSWERED TOTALLY BY ENVIRONMENT AT IMPACT STUDIES. AND RECENTLY WE WERE SUCCESSFUL IN GETTING THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY TO INVOKE THE SUPREMACY CLAUSE. BUT THERE'S STILL -- STILL MORE WORK TO BE DONE ON THAT. WORKING HARD FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH MEDICAL CENTER, WORKING ON MANUFACTURING A VACCINE. WE'VE BEEN SHORT OF VACCINES, AND WE CAN'T RELY UPON IMPORTANT SOURCES. THAT IS A MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR PROJECT WORKING AND HAS THE PROMISE OF THOUSANDS OF JOBS FOR THAT AREA. WORKING ON NORTHEAST PENNSYLVANIA, TO GET A TRAIN FROM SCRANTON TO HOBEK, WORKING FOURWORKINGFOR THE FARMERS AND FOR GENERAL ELECTRIC AND WORKING ON MY POSITION ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND PUCK WORKS COMMITTEE ON CLIMATE CONTROL, WORKING ON IMMIGRATION REFORM. AS CHAIRMAN, I MANAGED THE BILL THROUGH THE SENATE IN 2006. WORKING ON THE ISSUE OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM. THE SUPREME COURT LAST WEEK CAME DOWN WITH THE DECISION TO ALLOW CORPORATIONS TO ENGAGE IN POLITICAL ADVERTISING, TO ELECT OR DEFEAT CANDIDATES, WHICH WILL, AS JUSTICE STEVENS IN DISSENT POINTED OUT, OPEN THE DOOR FOR WIDE-SPREAD CORRUPTION. AND IN CONSIDERING THE ISSUE OF A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT WHICH WOULD REVERSE THAT DECISION AND ALLOW CONGRESS AND STATES TO SET LIMITS ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE. I'VE BEEN WORKING FOR A DECADE TO TRY TO GET THE SUPREME COURT TELEVISED FOR TRANSPARENCY. THEY MAKE ALL OF THE CUTTING-EDGE DECISIONS. BEEN VERY ACTIVE ON FOREIGN POLICY. MANY THINGS I AM WORKING ON AT THE PRESENT TIME. WITHIN THE LAST MONTH I MADE A TRIP TO AFGHANISTAN AND SYRIA AND INDIA. AND MY STUDY OF THE SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN LEADS ME TO OPPOSE THE PRESIDENT'S PLAN TO SEND 30,000 ADDITIONAL TROOPS. I THINK WE HAVE TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO FIGHT AL QAEDA BECAUSE THEY'RE OUT TO ANNIHILATE US. BUT WHY FIGHT THEM IN AFGHANISTAN WHEN THEY CAN JUST AS EASILY ORGANIZE IN YEMEN OR IN SOMALIA OR ELSEWHERE? EFFORTS TO GET HELP FROM THE PAKISTANIS IS NOT BEING VERY SUCCESSFUL. IN INDIA, OUR CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION MET WITH PRIME MINISTER SINGH. I PUT THE QUESTION TO HIM, WOULD HE BE WILLING TO HAVE A LEM TAKES WITH THE NUMBER OF TROOPS ONED BORDER WHICH WOULD ELIMINATE PAKISTANI TROOPS TO HELP US FIGHT. PRIME MINISTER SINGH SAID HE WOULD IF THE TERRORISTS WOULD BE STOPPED FROM COMING INTO INDIA AS THEY BLEW UP THE HOTEL IN MUMBAI MORE THAN A YEAR AGO. SO THERE ARE MANY THINGS TO BE DONE. OUR CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION VISITED IN SYRIA. I HAVE VISITED THE MIDEAST ALMOST EVERY YEAR DURING MY TEN YOUR IN -- DURING MY TENURE IN THE SENATE. VERY MUCH CONCERNED ABOUT THE SECURITY OF ISRAEL ANDS. AND IN THE VISITS THAT I'VE HAD TO SYRIA, I'VE GOTTEN TO KNOW BASHIR ASSAD AND HIS PRESIDENT HAFEZ EL-ASSAD. I HAVE MADE MANY TRIPS TO SYRIA BECAUSE I BELIEVE THAT SYRIA IS THE KEY TO THE PEACE PROCESS THERE. SYRIA WANTS THE RETURN OF THE GOLAH AND ONLY ISRAEL COULD DECIDE WHETHER ISRAEL WANTS TO GIVE BACK THE GOLAH. BUT IT IS A DIFFERENT ERA TODAY THAN IT WAS IN 1967 WHEN THE GVMENT OLGOLAN. ONLY ISRAEL CAN DECIDE THAT FOR ITSELF. IF ISRAEL COULD GET CONCESSIONS FOR SYRIA TO STOP DESTABILIZING LEBANON, TO STOP SUPPORTING HAMAS, THAT IS AN ISSUE WHICH OUGHT TO BE CONSIDERED. WELL, THE HOUR IS GROWING LATE. WE'RE KEEPING STAFF HERE. BUT I THOUGHT THIS OCCASION ON THE 10,000th VOTE, AS I SAID, I SAT HERE FOR ABOUT AN HOUR WAITING FOR THE VOTE TO END BEFORE SENATOR CASEY COULD MAKE HIS COMMENTS. IT GAVE ME A FEW MOMENTS TO REFLECT ON WHY I WAS INTERESTED IN RUNNING FOR PUBLIC OFFICE ORIGINALLY, WHAT THOSE 10,000 VOTES HAVE MEANT TO ME, WITH A VERY BRIEF STATEMENT AS TO SOME OF THOSE VOTES DURING THE ADMINISTRATIONS OF PRESIDENT REAGAN, THE FIRST PRESIDENT BUSH, PRESIDENT CLINTON, THE SECOND PRESIDENT BUSH, AND PRESIDENT OBAMA, AND WHAT I'D LIKE TO SEE DONE IN THE FUTURE. AND THERE IS -- THERE IS MUCH TO BE DONE ON SO MANY, MANY LINES. I SAID TO SENATOR CASEY, WHO'S BEEN HERE ONLY THREE YEARS, I'D LIKE TO BE HERE TO SPEAK OF HIM ON HIS 10,000th VOTE. I DON'T ENTERTAIN THAT SERIOUSLY, BUT THE ISSUES THAT I TALKED ABOUT ARE ONES THAT ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO ME, AND I THINK TO THE FUTURE OF MY STATE AND THE FUTURE OF MY NATION. AND NOW THE ADMINISTRATORS HAVE HANDED ME THE CLOSING SCRIPT. WHICH I THINK ALL THOSE IN THE CHAMBER WOULD BE GLAD TO READ. THOSE WATCHING ON C-SPAN, IF ANY, HAVE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY, ON BEHALF OF THE LEADER, I ASK CONSENT THAT WHEN THE SENATE COMPLETES ITS BUSINESS TODAY, IT ADJOURN UNTIL 10:00 A.M. TUESDAY, JANUARY 26. THAT FOLLOWING THE PRAYER AND PLEDGE, THE JOURNAL OF PROCEEDINGS BE APPROVED TO DATE, THE MORNING HOUR BE DEEMED EXPIRED, THE TIME FOR THE TWO LEADERS BE RESERVED, AND THE SENATE RESUME CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 45, THE DEBT LIMIT, AS PROVIDED UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER. FINALLY, I ASK THE SENATE RECESS FROM 12:30 UNTIL 2:15 FOR THE WEEKLY CAUCUS LUNCHEONS.

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  • 08:28:17 PM

    MR. SPECTER

    ASKED ON BEHALF OF THE LEADER TO ADVISE SENATORS TO EXPECT A SERIES OF TWO…

    ASKED ON BEHALF OF THE LEADER TO ADVISE SENATORS TO EXPECT A SERIES OF TWO ROLL CALL VOTES TO BEGIN AT 11:30 A.M. TOMORROW. THOSE VOTES WILL BE IN RELATION TO THE BAUCUS AMENDMENT, NUMBER 3300, REGARDING SOCIAL SECURITY EXEMPTION, TO BE FOLLOWED BY A VOTE IN RELATION TO THE CONRAD-GREGG AMENDMENT, REGARDING A FISCAL TASK FORCE. SINCE THERE IS NO FURTHER BUSINESS TO COME BEFORE THE SENATE, I ASK THAT WE ADJOURN UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER.

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  • 08:28:49 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATE STANDEDS ADJOURNED

Briefings for January 25, 2010

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Statistics

115th Congress - Senate
Total Hours: 2039 (After 659 days)
  • Debate1175 Hours
  • Quorum Calls474 Hours
  • Votes333 Hours

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Source: Resume of Congressional Activity (senate.gov)