Mr. REID. Madam President, I thought it was important that the clerk read those names. Sometimes they are hard to read.
AMENDMENT NO. 3326
I move to concur in the House amendment with an amendment, which is at the desk.
Mr. REID. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the mandatory quorum be waived with respect to the cloture motion.
Mr. REID. Madam President, I say for the benefit of Members, under the rules, this cloture motion will ripen Friday morning. I do not think there is going to be a lot of talk during the next 2 days on this matter, and I would certainly be happy to move up this time and have the vote earlier. But we will wait until we hear from the Republicans.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
Mr. REED. Madam President, we have today taken a very strong, positive step forward in terms of responding to the No. 1 crisis in our economy, and that is jobs for all of our people. Under Leader Reid's leadership, we were able to get a bill through, with a huge majority, and it signals, I hope, not only attention to jobs but also the willingness and the ability to find common ground to serve the people of our country.
We are now on the travel promotion bill, which is another piece of legislation designed to encourage job creation in the travel industry. All of this is good news. The legislation we propose this morning combines elements of tax breaks for small businesses so they can expense their items, increase their cashflow, and hire more people with credits for hiring people. There is a huge investment in our infrastructure, which will put people to work in the building industry and in industries that supply
all these infrastructure projects, and there is also a significant commitment to Build America Bonds. These are good programs, and they are fully paid for.
We are now taking up the challenge to put people to work, to do it in a responsible way, and to do so in a way that we can attract bipartisan support. But there is much more to do. There is the recognition that we have to not only create jobs but for the foreseeable future deal with those people who have been looking unsuccessfully for jobs and who are unemployed. In my home State of Rhode Island, the unemployment rate is 12.9 percent. That is the official rate. Unofficially, it is much higher,
as many people have dropped out of the workforce.
If you look at sectors in terms of ethnicity or age, the numbers are even more startling. The bill we passed this morning is a good first step forward, but we have to do much more.
I think one of the first jobs we have to address is the extension of unemployment benefits. They will expire this Sunday. We have to recognize that, despite many efforts here, there are millions of Americans who are looking every day and not finding work. They need support.
All of the economists who have looked at these programs indicated that not only do they support individuals and families, they provide a tremendous multiplier of economic activity for every dollar we commit to the program. There is, as they say, a big bang for the buck. People who are without a job will take their benefits and invariably they will have to support themselves in terms of going to the grocery store--doing the things you have to do just to get by day by day. They are not typically
saving this money. That helps in the sense of increasing demand in the economy overall, increasing our economic growth.
If Congress fails to act swiftly, 1,200 Rhode Islanders will start losing their benefits each week. It is a small State [Page: S727]
and that is a big number. We have never before in our history, at least postwar history, ever terminated extended unemployment and emergency unemployment benefits until unemployment was at least 7.4 percent. At that point it appears, in most cases, that there is a self-sustaining economic growth that will itself begin to continue to
lower the unemployment rate. We are far from 7.4 percent. As I said, in my State it is 12.9. The national average is hovering around 10.
We have to do this. Congress has acted eight times--1958, 1961, 1971, 1974, 1982, 1991, 2002, 2008--to establish temporary federal unemployment benefit programs beyond regular unemployment compensation and extended benefits. Not to extend these benefits would essentially reject the consistent record of this Congress of helping Americans when the unemployment rate has reached such extraordinary proportions as it is today, whether the majority is Republican or Democrat. Last November, we did approve,
without opposition, an expansion of up to 20 weeks, but now we need to pass a further extension.
As I said before, this is not just about helping families and individuals, it is also about helping the economy. For every $1 we invest in our unemployment benefits, we see $1.90 in economic activity overall throughout the economy.
One of the reasons I heard to oppose this morning's legislation: There is not enough demand to justify these tax incentives; they will not be used.
One of the things that does generate demand, consumer demand particularly, is the unemployment compensation program. It is not the way we want to do it. What we would like to see is a productive economy with jobs where the demand comes not only from people working but their being compensated and also being able, with discretionary income, to make consumption choices that today they cannot.
As I said before, we have to think about an agenda for jobs. We passed one piece of legislation today. We are discussing the travel legislation at this moment. We have to then move to the legislation with respect to unemployment compensation. We also have to think about supporting the States with additional FMAP, that is, the funds for Medicaid, because, again, not only will that help our States, but without it you are going to see a contraction in our health care industry in terms of hospitals
being able to hire or willing to hire. So we have many steps to go forward.
One aspect of this issue, which I would like to mention is that many of these programs we have talked about--for example, the tax credits for hiring--are nationwide and they miss the point that there are some areas that are much more affected by unemployment than other areas. We have States--and their good fortune is something we should be proud of--that have rates as low as 4.7 percent for unemployment. Yet they will qualify for these general, generic programs.
As we go forward and start thinking about additional steps, I think we also have to think about how we can target those programs to areas that have critical unemployment situations. Rhode Island, at 12.9 percent, is one, but there are many others. If you look within States, there are regions that have significant unemployment problems. Again, we have taken steps to extend our benefits, but as we go forward, as we consider additional legislation, let's also think seriously about how to make it
more effective, more efficient, more targeted.
I again urge all my colleagues to continue the effort and spirit which resulted today in an overwhelming vote for a program that will help Americans and move our country and our economy forward.
Madam President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, the legislation on the floor of the Senate at this point includes legislation that I have worked on with my colleagues for about 3 years. It is a bipartisan piece of legislation called the Travel Promotion Act. I wish to talk just a bit about it today, but before I do, let me describe the reasons for its importance.
When we began to put this together--as I said, 3 years ago last month, working with a good number of sectors in our economy to try to evaluate how do we promote international tourism to the United States--we were not in a very deep recession. We were in a period of economic growth. In the intervening period, our country has fallen into a very significant and deep recession. It makes the urgency all that much greater to create new jobs and to do so as soon as possible.
Somewhere around 15 million to 17 million people, according to official estimates, woke up this morning in this country of ours without a job. They want a job. They want work. They have looked for work, but they can't find a job in the United States of America.
Now, that number of 15 million to 17 million is ominous enough. Just think of one person this morning who woke up not able to work because they can't find a job, and then think of 15 million or 17 million, and then fast-forward and think of perhaps 25 million to 26 million, which is what is estimated to be the total population of people who are unemployed in America, many of whom have stopped looking for work because they couldn't find work at all. This is a very big problem, and it affects our
country in many ways. It affects the economy in a devastating way. It is very hard on American families when they are not able to find work to be able to take care of themselves. It results in more Federal spending for unemployment insurance and the other things. So we are trying to find ways to put people back to work.
Earlier this week we passed, with the leadership of Senator Reid and many others--work that I and Senator Durbin, Senator Schumer, and many others have done--a jobs bill that will begin putting people back to work when it is signed by the President. The legislation that Senator Reid brought to the floor today includes the Travel Promotion Act, which will also put people back to work. I wish to talk through this and explain why this is important.
Let me begin by saying that on 9/11/2001, we were the victims of a devastating terrorist attack on our country. Thousands of Americans were killed that day. As a result, since that period of time we have been engaged in an effort to prevent terrorism, to track down the terrorists and destroy the terrorist networks that would visit that kind of tragedy upon our country. But also during that period and following, it became clear to the rest of the world that our country was clamping down on visitation
to our country. Many people believed: The United States doesn't want us to visit them anymore. It is harder to get a visa to come to the United States. We are not welcome in the United States. So what happened was, there was a dramatic reduction in visitation to our country by overseas travelers.
Why is that important? When you have millions of people who are traveling around the world to go experience and see the sights and take vacations and so on, they are spending a fair amount of money on those trips. They are creating jobs in many areas, not just hotels and cars and restaurants and so on but in many other areas as well. Our country, for the last 6 to 8 years, has had the experience in which the rest of the world has said: We are going to visit Italy, France, Japan, and India. But
fewer of us are going to visit the United States of America.
In fact, we have seen a circumstance where after 9/11, we had fewer and fewer visitors coming to our country; that is, fewer than came before, and last year, in 2009, we had 2.4 million fewer people visit our country than visited our country in the year 2000. Let me say that again because I think it is important. We had 2.4 million fewer people come to the United States of America to visit as overseas travelers than visited in the year 2000.
The Presiding Officer is from the State of New Mexico. It is a wonderful State, and I know it is a State that attracts a lot of visitation not only from people in our country but from people [Page: S728]
who come from outside of America to see the wonders of New Mexico. But it doesn't matter whether it is the wonders of New Mexico or Old Faithful in Yellowstone or Niagara Falls or you name it--the cities or the wonders of our country, the great national parks--2.4
million fewer people showed up last year to visit our country.
Let me explain why that has happened. Here are some headlines. The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, headline: ``Coming to America Isn't Easy.'' It describes the difficulty of getting visas and coming to America.
The Guardian in England says: ``America: More Hassle Than it's Worth?'' Again, difficulty coming to America.
The Sunday Times in London: ``Travel to America? No Thanks,'' says the headline.
The newspaper says:
It is already a nightmare, but now they want to make entry into the U.S. tougher, so let's not go.
Well, let me describe what is happening in other countries at the same time we are taking leave on this issue. Other countries are very busy advertising to the world to say: Are you traveling? Are you taking a vacation? Are you seeing the world? Come to our country. Come to see what is happening.
The poster says: Looking for an experience to remember? Be part of an adventure you will never forget. Come and see Australia. See the wonders. It is true what they say: To find yourself sometimes you need to lose yourself. In Australia they call this ``going walkabout.'' So a big campaign: If you are traveling, come to Australia. Come and see what we have to offer.
A campaign for the Emerald Isle: Go where Ireland takes you. If you are taking a trip, be sure and visit Ireland. Come to Ireland, it says. It is an international campaign.
Japan says: Sweet secrets from Japan. With its many unique culinary arts, they entice travelers; a stunning array of specialties, and on and on. Come to Japan. Thinking of traveling? Show up in Japan.
Are you taking a trip with your family? How about coming to the Eiffel Tower. Come to France in 2009. Vive la France. So France and Japan and India and Ireland say: Come and see us.
Belgium's national campaign says: If you are traveling with your family, come to Belgium where fun is always in fashion.
Brussels, sophisticated simplicity, the capital of cool.
I think you get the point. This one says:
One special reason to visit India in 2009. Any time is a good time to visit the land of Taj, but there is no time like now.
So we have millions of people traveling around the world. On average, overseas travelers spend over $4,000. All of these countries are saying to those overseas travelers: Come to our country. See our country and the wonders of what we have to offer the world.
In the United States of America, we have not done that. That is why, in my judgment, at least in part, we had 2.4 million fewer visitors last year than we had in 2000. That is pretty unbelievable.
This proposition is simple. There is a problem. The number of people between the years 2000 and 2009 visiting other countries--overseas travel--has increased by 31 percent. During the same period the number of overseas travelers coming to the United States has decreased nearly 10 percent. So overseas travel is up, but travel to America is down.
There is another important point here. There has been a lot of polling done, and it is clear that to visit America is to have great respect for and love for this country. There is almost no one who comes to this country and tours and travels and visits our country who doesn't leave America with a special understanding of the wonders of this great place. At a time when we want people to understand more about our country, we ought to be inviting them here and saying: Come to America, see what we
have to offer.
We ought to be engaged in this process, but we are not. This legislation we are bringing to the floor of the Senate is legislation that will actually increase jobs, we think, by close to 40,000 jobs, according to the estimates. So you will increase 40,000 jobs and, in addition to that, the CBO says this will reduce the Federal budget deficit by nearly $ 1/2 billion. How many pieces of legislation come to the floor of the Senate that will both create jobs and reduce the budget deficit and also
give us the opportunity to tell the rest of the world what a wonderful and great place this country is?
That is the reason for this legislation. As we build, one step at a time, opportunities to create additional jobs, this is part of it. The Congressional Budget Office has said that enacting S. 1023 would reduce the budget deficit. I think it will do that and help our country.
The specifics of this legislation will encourage international travel to all parts of this country. I think it will provide economic growth to all parts of our country. This creates a corporation for travel promotion. That is what we create--an independent, nonprofit corporation to be governed by an 11-member board of directors appointed by the Secretary of Commerce, and it creates the Office of Travel Promotion in the Department of Commerce--one that used to exist but no longer does, and it
hasn't for a long while.
The purpose of this is to engage in the kind of campaign that exists in most other countries in the world and to say to those traveling around the world: Come here. You are welcome here. We want you here. Come and understand and experience this country called the United States of America.
Let me pay special attention to the work Senator Reid has done, and Senator Ensign who is a cosponsor and worked on this in the Commerce Committee with me, Senator Inouye, Senator Vitter, and Senator Klobuchar. Let me say that Senator Klobuchar, in the Commerce Committee working on tourism following my chairmanship of the tourism subcommittee, has taken on this issue with gusto and is a very important part of getting this done. My hope is
that when we finish this, when the President signs this bill, all of us will understand that at a time when there is so much partisanship, and when it appears to the American people that so little can be agreed upon and that so little gets done--there is all that notion out there--the fact is, this is bipartisan, good for the country, will reduce the budget deficit, and it will increase jobs and put people back to work.
If ever something had all of the things that are necessary to have merit and to be worthy, this legislation surely does that.
My colleague from Minnesota, Senator Klobuchar, as I indicated, has done yeoman's work with me and others to put this together. We hope, of course, those who would come to our country would especially visit North Dakota and Minnesota and stay for a very long period of time--yes, we all have parochial interests--and perhaps North Dakota even more than Minnesota, I might say from my own perspective. I do think it is seldom that we can come to the floor and say here is a piece of legislation
that Republicans and Democrats support.
We had one vote on it already. It had 79 votes in support in the Senate. Seldom can we say here is a bill that is bipartisan that does a lot of good things for our country.
Thanks to the majority leader for putting this back on the floor. I congratulate him for his work on it and my colleague Senator Klobuchar as well.
I yield the floor.
Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I thank Senator Dorgan for his great leadership. For so long, he has been working on this. I have a feeling this is finally going to get done. It is true and we invite the Presiding Officer to visit North Dakota and Minnesota. I think he thinks the State of New Mexico is pretty cool, but he has never been to Teddy Roosevelt Park in North Dakota.
So often marketing campaigns for our country are done by specific cities such as Las Vegas and New York, which is important. But when you look [Page: S729]
at this country, marketing our country as a whole is going to mean something. We are competing against countries the world over that do this all the time. That is why we have seen a 20-percent decrease in international visitors.
When I held a hearing on this issue, along with former Senator Martinez, this past year, there was a story in the Washington Post, in good humor, about all the Senators hawking their own States and the deals you could get--whether it was Senator Begich's $99 cruise in Alaska or the stuff I talked about with Duluth, MN. We were doing that because people need to know about the opportunities in America. Doing it at a Commerce Committee hearing is not going to be anything compared to what
France, Indonesia, and other countries are doing. They are bringing in visitors. They spend thousands and thousands of dollars.
We are doing this jobs bill this week, and an important part of that is the travel industry because it employs one out of eight Americans.
What will this bill do? One, as Senator Dorgan mentioned, it will give us the ability to market our country. Second, it will give us the funds we need to better process the visas because it is expected to bring in--and this is the estimate of the nonpartisan organization--1.6 million new international visitors each year. They spend $4,500 on average when they come here. You can do the math--1.6 million new visitors times $4,500 every single year. There is some expectation that the bill
could generate $4 billion in new spending and $321 million in Federal tax revenue. In addition, the bill is estimated to create 41,000 new jobs.
What is the cost to the taxpayer? I have been pushing on deficit reduction, but what is the cost to the taxpayer? Zero. I think that is a great thing about this bill. We are doing something to create jobs. We are doing it at zero cost. As you know, there is a small fee on foreign visitors to our country, like other countries do to our people when they visit--with Canada exempted.
What I found out is that the people who care about this bill are not just in the Halls of Congress and in our major cities. When I was in Grand Marais, International Falls, Bemidji, and the Brainerd Lakes area--home of the statue of Paul Bunion and Babe the Blue Ox--they were excited about this because they have seen a decrease in visitors from Canada. They want to be able to market our country.
We have gotten so far behind. A lot of people living in, say, France are deciding where to go on their summer
vacation. They are thinking: Am I going to go to America, where maybe it will take months to process my visa, or am I going to spend my vacation in England, just across the channel or maybe I will go to Mexico. That is what is happening. That is where we have lost 20 percent of the overseas travel.
Look at this chart. There were 48 million more global overseas travelers in 2008 than in 2000. More people are traveling. We have seen the marketing power across this world. There were 633,000 fewer who have visited the United States than in 2000. So world travel is going up. You can see the big increase globally. But the number of people coming to the United States has gone down. That means less jobs in this country.
Mr. President, I believe we need to be on an equal playing field with the rest of the world. If we want to compete in our goods that we want to produce and send overseas, we also have to compete in the tourism market. In Duluth, MN, it was hard times in the 1980s. It was so bad that they put up a billboard that said:
Will the last person to leave turn off the lights.
They rebuilt because they were smart; the businesses were smart about tourism. They have beautiful Lake Superior right there. When we did a tourism hearing--a field hearing there--they were talking about, obviously, how in many areas of the country, with the recession, business in convention centers had gone down nationally, and someone whispered, ``Ours has gone up.'' People are looking for different things, and maybe we will have our convention in Duluth, which is a little less expensive. They
can look at Lake Superior instead of looking at the Pacific Ocean.
We are proud of this country, and we want other people to visit. We want them to spend their money in America and help create 41,000 new jobs. That is what this bill is about. I am very hopeful that we are going to finally get this bill passed and support the tourism part of our economy, which employs one in eight Americans. Let's keep it strong and going.
I see that Senator Dorgan is back. I thank him so much for his tremendous leadership. I am proud that I got the opportunity to take over the subcommittee that deals with tourism. A lot of the work had been done on this bill.
I yield the floor.
Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, I mentioned that there are incremental ways to create jobs, which is important. Senator Reid has taken the lead to bring bills to the floor to do that with, earlier this week, the jobs bill that was passed and, in addition, the Travel Promotion Act.
I want to mention as well that the majority leader indicated he intends to bring the FAA Preauthorization Act to the floor of the Senate, probably during this work period. It is also going to be job creating. I chaired the Aviation Subcommittee in the Senate. It is very important that we reauthorize the FAA and pass the legislation called NextGen, to do the next generation of air traffic control systems. We have an archaic system of ground-based radar that controls the airplanes in the American
Most people are walking around with cell phones that have a much more sophisticated way of tracking anything--a GPS. Most kids have the opportunity to be able to track--if their friends want them to--the location of their friends at any moment. They can track up to 20 friends.
Teenage kids can track their friends, but we cannot track an airplane in the sky with a GPS. More commercial airliners are not equipped. We don't have the NextGen system that would modernize our air traffic control system and allow them to fly more direct routes from place to place, with less spacing, using less fuel, better for the environment. All of those things will be capable when we modernize the air traffic control system and go from a ground-based system to a GPS system for aviation flights.
That is so very important. It is very job creating.
I appreciate the majority leader saying that needs to be a priority to bring to the floor, get to a conference with the House, and get a bill passed and signed by the President.
There are also safety issues we have to deal with in the FAA Reauthorization Act. Tomorrow I will be chairing a hearing in the Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation on the Colgan crash in Buffalo, NY, the tragedy that occurred on that winter icy evening, in which the Dash 8 crashed and took the lives of so many wonderful people and took the life of the pilot and copilot as well.
There are so many questions about that flight and the circumstances that led to the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board will be testifying tomorrow at my subcommittee. I will not go into all of the issues, but the issue of pilot fatigue, the issue of training--so many different issues--the icing issue that occurred that evening. It will be a very important hearing tomorrow.
The reason I raise it is the safety issue is so important. Yes, we have a system in which we fly people all over this country and the world. We have not had fatal accidents, by and large, in commercial aviation. It has been enormously safe. The most recent accidents have been accidents that have been very substantially investigated. The Colgan crash in Buffalo, NY, has been investigated now at great length, and we will have the results of that and a discussion of that at our subcommittee hearing
tomorrow. That will also give us a roadmap of what we might need to address in the FAA reauthorization bill on the safety issues.
Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I wish to speak just briefly about today's vote. Today, this body, in a rare but very welcome moment of at least partial bipartisanship, voted to pass Leader Reid's jobs bill. While that bill does not include every provision I would like to see, it is certainly an important step, and I commend my colleagues from both parties for supporting these provisions to put people back to work.
As a Senator from Rhode Island, which currently faces one of the highest unemployment rates in the Nation, at near 13 percent--I know the help contained in this bill, which builds on the programs we passed last year in the Recovery Act, cannot come soon enough. I hope the vote is a watershed.
Over the past few months, I have heard from hundreds of Rhode Islanders who are struggling just to find work. I have heard from Carole in North Providence, RI, who had worked all her life but was laid off 2 years ago from her position as a construction project manager. Carole has a bachelor's degree in business administration and an associate's degree in architecture and she has plenty of experience as a construction project manager. But for 2 years, she has been unable to find any work--talented,
hard working, and unemployed.
I also heard from Nathaniel in Coventry, RI, who recently graduated from law school. That is a wonderful achievement and is ordinarily a benchmark that kids pass through on the way to success--certainly to employment. But Nathaniel is carrying $100,000 in student loans and cannot find a job.
I heard from Brian in Saunderstown, an unemployed construction worker who has been unable to find a job for more than a year. He has been receiving unemployment benefits, but he is justifiably concerned that those, too, might soon run out. He loves to work. He doesn't want to be on unemployment. But right now, in this economy, there is no other option for Brian and for his family.
Leader Reid's jobs bill--the HIRE Act--will help put Rhode Islanders back to work. The bill provides a payroll tax holiday for businesses to encourage hiring, increased cashflow for small businesses that can be used for investments and payroll expansion, and an expansion of the Build America Bonds program to subsidize and encourage local infrastructure projects. In addition, the HIRE Act extends Federal highway funding through the end of the year, which will make a $225 million difference
for Rhode Island alone in 2010.
This legislation will be a big help for my home State, but it is only a first step toward restoring economic growth. It is certainly not the last step we need to take in this work session. As I said, I hope the vote yesterday and today is a watershed. Outside in Washington, the heavy snows of February are melting away. Perhaps--just perhaps--the blockade that has stifled the Senate is melting away a little also.
We must now act to extend unemployment insurance and COBRA subsidies to make sure unemployed workers, such as Brian, and their families continue to be able to pay their bills and to maintain their family health insurance coverage. I hope we will soon thereafter turn to new investments in our failing transportation, water, and school infrastructure.
We had a hearing in the Budget Committee this morning with Transportation Secretary LaHood, and he agreed very strongly that where you have decrepit infrastructure--and everyone knows the United States of America has an enormous deficit of decrepit infrastructure--we are going to need to repair that sooner or later.
If we need to repair it sooner or later, why not do it now, while we need the jobs? If we need to repair it sooner or later, repairing it now does not add anything to our Nation's long-term liabilities. Indeed, under the old Yankee principle that a stitch in time saves nine, under the commonsense principle that when you get to maintenance and repair earlier rather than later, it costs less to do the maintenance and repair, there is actually a very strong case to be made that there are net savings
from moving the repair of our decrepit infrastructure forward. So it is really a win-win, as Secretary LaHood acknowledged.
I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues as we go forward past today's watershed votes and into the following votes to help restore our economy and meet the needs of Carole and Nathaniel and Brian and millions of Americans who are unemployed and need help now.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.