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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  May 12, 2011 9:00am-12:00pm EDT

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will talk a good game and then be very deficient in doing anything to mitigate sex trafficking, and it's often the police, it's often the judiciary, untrained judges and a, really, a culture of impunity. so if you could answer that one. secondly, today if a woman does report a concern over her safety, i mean today, right now, what absolutely happens in that case? is she redeployed? is there an assessment done as to the validity of her concerns? is she in any way penalized for coming forward and causing some aggravation on the part of somebody higher up in the chain of command? is there immediate redeployment, and is there, another question, an assessment of places where these instances have occurred? do you keep track, for example, in bangladesh there may have been five attacks. do we have any idea in terms of tracking whether or not there's
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been a pattern in any particular area? and once an allegation has been made and it seems to me that there would be no credible reason why an allegation wouldn't be given full faith, that that woman is concerned about something about to or that actually happened, is that area then put on a, you know, do not send or deploy a peace corps volunteer to that area, you know, so that there's a zero tolerance when it comes to that particular area? and finally, in 2010 the agency's inspector general found that between peace corps and state department there was an unclear responsibility that could, quote, compromise volunteers' safety and hinder response to crimes against volunteers, closed quote. ..
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>> let me answer your first question regarding the pursuit of criminals. we've been very successful we believe in working with our partners in host countries to bring perpetrators to justice. in 2009 and 2010, arrests were made in 61% of the rape and attempted rape cases in which the victim elected to file report with local police. and so we see strong support of the other thing, these cases are high profile cases in small developing countries as you know, our ambassadors are determined to pursue justice for our volunteers. and so, we believe we've got
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good cooperation and we continue to pursue. >> from the 61 arrests, could you break and maybe for the record exactly how many that turns out to be? and whether or not they were convicted and whether or not they served time. >> i don't have those stats with me but i will get them for you and submit them for the record, and i'll be happy to do that. >> the rest -- >> your point about the m.o.u. with the department of state, we are currently in discussion with the department of state about the clarification of responsibility for the ig's recommendation. we hope to have a resolution of that very soon. it is way overdue. we need to get it done, and my colleagues at the state department stand ready to do that. >> does your office work with and do you have anybody that works with on a regular basis with the tip office? i know you work with the interagency council, but is
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there a regular dialogue, for example, ambassador? again, there are many instances where countries where especially peace corps women volunteers are being deployed where they happen to a tier three country, a country on the watchlist that could be tier three soon. but if you could just, do you work with the tip off? >> i don't know to what extent we have frequent conversation with the tip office but we worked very closely with diplomatic security. this is an excellent idea. i will talk to her safety and security people to make sure we stepped that up. >> thank you, mr. williams. we look forward, our committee looks for to working with you, with rainn, with victims and survivors of sexual assault, with peace corps volunteers, former and current, who are undergoing difficulties and drafting legislation that will improve their reporting of crime and improve your ability to
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respond to what is a serious crime, and change the culture to a victimless and not blame -- not blame the victims mentality, but blame the perpetrators and the person who is causing the crime and not the victim. so thank you, mr. williams. we appreciate it. >> thank you, madam chair. thank you and mayors of the committee for your support of the peace corps, and for looking for ways to help make the peace corps stronger for another 50 years. i sincerely appreciate that. >> finally i would like to introduce kathy buller, inspector general of the peace corps. ms. buller was named by the director to be inspector general of the peace corps on may 25, 2008, with over 20 years experience in the inspector general community. as a member of the council for inspector general on integrity and efficiency, ms. buller is also co-chair of the inspections and evaluations committee, and a
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member of the legislation committee. thank you, ms. buller, for appearing before us today. your full statement will be made a part of the record, and would ask that you summarize it in five minutes. thank you and welcome. >> thank you. thank you, madam chair, ranking member berman, and distinguished members of the committee, i thank you for inviting me to appear before you and i meet you summarize my prepared statement. i would also like to acknowledged they courage and the strength that a returned peace corps volunteers and the lois puzey family showed today. i am charged with independent oversight of the agencies. i began my tenure as ig in 2008, and sends them a office has reviewed key safety and security functions at headquarters and our post on its and in a program evaluations. we have issued many recommendations for improvement. by the agency has made strides to improve safety and secrecy
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program, several problems continue to surface. we continue to report a lack of management oversight and inconsistencies in safety and security staff qualifications and training. peace corps is a highly decentralized agency with headquarters staff primarily relying on country directors and their staff to run the programs in the field. this model is only successful when there are clear lines of fumigation, well established policies and procedures, and adequate oversight functions at headquarters. the peace corps office of safety and security was created in response to the 2002 gao report. to go, foster and improve communications, ordination, oversight and accountability for all peace corps efforts. however, those are not accountable to the office of safety and security. instead, regional offices provide guidance to country directors and these offices are responsible for monitoring compliance which results in uneven implementation of
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policies and procedures across posts. peace corps must ensure that safety and security managers at headquarters had the authority to ensure safety and security functions at the posts are carried out. the safety and security office must function as the office it was intended to be rather than merely consultative office for overseas posts. peace corps is approach to safety and security is built on a model, acceptance model. fundamental tenets of this model include building relationship, sharing information, training, site development, incident reporting, and response, emergency communication and planning. our 2010 audit agency could indicate that peace corps overseas safety and security staff are not consistently qualified to support volunteers in achieving the goals of this acceptance model. volunteers serving 77 countries, and i acknowledge that what might be required in one country may not be applicable in
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another, but they should be a baseline of what is acceptable and agency management needs to hold all posts accountable to this standard. insecurity situation such as violent crimes, kidnapping and acts of terrorism, every second is final and strong coordination between peace corps and the department of state is essential. there needs to be a memorandum of understanding that would define each agency's role and responsibilities. i have recommended that the agency formalize and m.o.u. with the department of state on safety and security related issue. this m.o.u. is a critical step in improving the agency's capacity to effectively respond to security situations. volunteers safety and security is also compromised by the agency failed to implement all wedgies implementations. since 2000 or ig has found that 44% of posts i did were not in compliance with the requirement to obtain a background check of post staff. after the policy was revised in
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september 2009, to include short-term contractors, oig found 73% of post odds were not compliant. we identified a timely and effective remediation of oig recommendations as the management challenge in the agency's 2011 performance accountability report. also the agency left the chief compliance officer position vacant for a year and seven much. sensitive chief compliance officer arrived, more than 300 recommendations have been closed. however, as of today, 205 recommendations remain open. something back to early 2008. for example, in our 2008 devaluation and a volunteer safety and security, there are still open recommendations about training for volunteers and staff, bollinger housing standards, emergency preparedness and crime reporting. peace corps has made progress in addressing the agency safety and security issues since gao issued its concerns in 2000 do. my office will continue to
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assist the agency in improving the safety and security of volunteers. we have commenced a review of the agency's implementation of guidelines and protocols related to bollinger victims of sexual assault and also plan to follow-up on our previous work. would also like to express our gratitude to the survivors for the cooperation as we conduct our review. i believe that as peace corps celebrates its 50th anniversary, the agency has the opportunity to renew its dedication to volunteer safety and security, and ensure the sustainability of the agency's mission for another 50 years. thank you for this opportunity, and i'm prepared to answer any question. >> thank you very much for your testimony. i wanted to ask about kate cousy's murder as you know in march 2009, kate, a peace corps volunteer serving as a teacher in africa was murdered shortly before that terrible crime. she sent an e-mail to the
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country director identifying her accused killer, a teacher. and as engaging in inappropriate relationships with and sexually harassing students. kate request e-mail remained anonymous. however, the agency's inspector general found that this e-mail was mishandled. and i have some questions about that. can you tell us what happened. did the peace corps tournament the employment of those responsible? and suppose that this exact same center repeat itself, a peace corps volunteer reported to the peace corps officials about an individual who could pose a risk to the volunteer safety and requesting anonymity, i've figured out would peace corps today protect that volunteer? and lastly come onto any legislative measures that we can take to strengthen safety and security and the support of
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prosecutions in foreign countries? >> my office did conduct a review, an administrative review of the information flow that occurred prior to the death of kate puzey. what we did find was that the e-mail that she said confidentially to the country director and additionally another person, was compromised, that this information was inappropriately disclosed. >> what happened to the employment of those responsible for the e-mail and the outing of the person who sent that e-mail, kate? >> none of those individuals are with the peace corps anymore. >> are they no longer in the peace corps because of this, or if they just for other recent? >> they are no longer in the peace corps because of the. >> they are no longer in the peace corps because of this. suppose that a volunteer would
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send a communication or, and somehow communicate to a peace corps official about a problem that that volunteer is entering and asking for anonymity, how with the peace corps protect that volunteer today? what has changed the? today, there's a protocol in place, our policy in place that mandates that any allegation by a volunteer or a trainee that is made in confidence be kept in confidence, held in the closest discretion by peace corps staff receiving that allegation. the volunteer of the training is also advise if they can, come to the ig and actually encouraged to come to the ig since we had confidential allegations all the time and actually have a statutory mandate to keep our allegations confidential. >> thank you. and understanding a difficult it is to get the prosecutions in foreign countries. before you enter into agreement
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to send volunteers to the countries, is the peace corps being aggressive with the host country in, say, these cases must be handled it in a serious manner that they merit? >> i believe that the drug was probably in the best position to answer that question. from our perspective, there's a some things that just can't, won't be prosecuted overseas. it would be helpful if we have the ability to prosecute them here. that could be a legislative change that would allow the u.s. to have jurisdiction over some violent crimes committed against peace or volunteered. for example, if you consider to be a place of the united states government for purposes of that type of a prosecution, they are currently considered employees, so the along those similar lines. >> thank you. and has the peace corps implemented, i know you spoke about it in your testimony, all
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of your audit recommendations regarding safety and security? if not, which once remain open? and what is the most important change that the agency can take to improve safety and security? >> they have -- i just want to clarify your question, madam chairman, if i can pick are we talking about odd or the evaluation? >> either one. >> it was about odd about the evaluation is good, too. >> i would like to address the evaluation in particular since those recommendations, the ones that occur in the open have been open since 2008. the recommendations we made in the evaluation that are continuing to be opened concerned the accuracy of the incident reporting volunteer incident reporting. we would like the agency to have a country director review, those incidents reports before their submitted to headquarters, that is still open. we also would like the office of
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safety and security to provide pre-service and training to volunteers and how they can effectively respond to a violent attack in a culturally appropriate way, given the country that they are in. that has not happened. we also would like the regional directors to establish housing criteria, and make sure that housing criteria is implemented across the board. that remains open. we also would like the office of safety and security to make sure that all of its staff is trained in making certain that all of the safety and security recommendations are complied with. there's an open recommendation concerning the emergency action plan. we made a recommendation that they be tested yearly, and in a variety of situations, not just a single situation. that remains open. and that the staff, when they're conducting site development, fill out the site locator forms that currently the peace corps volunteers do on their own.
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instead of having peace corps volunteers fill them out. we continually find in our program country devaluations that these forms are often not accurate. our evaluators taken to go locate the volunteers, and it's very difficult to find them. >> thank you very much. mr. berman. >> thank you. elaborate on this evaluation of peace corps response to sexual assault. what's the scope of your sexual assault review? and what's the method by which you will incorporate video of survivors and currently serving volunteers? >> the scope of the review, we've tried to limit it to more recent, like the past two years or so, with the hopes of being able to identify individuals who were with the peace corps, who are still with the peace corps,
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who may have been involved in the response to a sexual assault. >> you are talking about staff of the peace corps? >> yes, staff. given the five year rule -- >> this is about staff response? >> yes, sir. we are reaching out to various organizations. we have reached out to first respondent asked them to reach out to its member to allow them to come in and speak with us about their circumstances. we, of course, don't want to just call sexual assault victims out of the cold and start asking them questions and make them relive the trauma. so we are soliciting input through organizations to have contact with those individuals. >> so in this case, your evaluation isn't just focused on your examination of what the staff tells you they responded, but you are trying to get a base of data from the victims about
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their views of how the staff responded? >> exactly, congressman. we're trying to get their view about staff respond and try to marry it up with what we find in the records that the peace corps has. >> okay. in your 2010 audit, you stated that the peace corps didn't have an adequate process to ensure potential volunteers were fully informed of the security risks before being sent overseas. do you feel the peace corps has sufficiently addressed this issue that was disclosed in your 2010 audit? >> that particular recommendation remains open at this time. we are currently working with the agency to try to address it, but as of this time and has not been addressed you. >> that is fully disclosing the security risk of the place where
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the person is going to be based before the leaf washington? >> yes, sir. we recommend that be done at station when they bring all of the trainees into washington, or whatever other city. >> not in country? >> not in country. >> and you've done pottage relating to the medical office of the peace corps, as well as the safety and security office. how do you think a victims advocate logically would fit into structure in terms of dealing with the medical office and the safety and security office? >> i think the position -- were they place the position early in peace corps is probably the best place for it. they placed it directly under the director so that person is not, does a report to anybody but the director. and will have communications between both the medical staff and the office of safety. >> those offices, the medical office and safety as hud office
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will have obligations to provide information that the victims advocate request. >> that's my understanding of how it works, yes, sir. >> so you think they are placed right to get this information? >> i think a person who would seek that information got it would be required that they report directly to the director to have hammer i guess is what you call it, to make people responsive. >> thank you, madam chairman. i yield back my 50 seconds. >> thank you mr. berman. mr. schmidt. >> thank you. let me ask him you heard mr. williams said earlier that in response to my question come in 2009 there were 61% of those widows and allegation made, resulted in an arrest. do we know what happened before in '08, '07, what's happened in
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2010? does your office have any information about what happened after those arrests in terms of convictions and people actually serving time in prison before that? >> no. my office doesn't have the information. i can get information for you from the previous years, and supply that for the record. >> is that something you could look into? >> yes. >> i'm talking about the conviction rates and the incarceration and for how many years. because obviously the crime and the punishment should be commensurate with the crime, i should say. >> that is something we could look at the. >> that will give us a better barometer i would suggest respectively as to whether or not a country series. they may give us a lot of rhetoric but it does lie in whether these men go to prison. let me just ask if i could about when it comes to safety versus mission i would argue that safety trumps everything. issue is important but there is not an acceptable risk for a peace corps volunteer really. some people in the state department choose hazardous
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deployments. they get hazard pay. very often ago other, their spouse and family because of it. are there places that ought to be deemed off limits where there has been a pattern of abuse? and not just countries but some divisions within those countries where the area to be put off limits of? >> that's a very good question, congressman. that's really a management decision that should be made by the agency. my office can review those decisions and make an assessment as to whether or not they've apply the criteria that they develop in order to make those places, as a management decision. >> is it something you might include in your recommendations? it seems to me that in response to the ig you provided the blueprint for the peace corps to act, so perhaps you could incorporate that into your general recommendations. it seems to me to send a woman, you might say, this country is fine, but not that part of the country and she walks right into harm's way. let me ask you, you testified
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that many of your recommendations remain and acted upon. are the incidences where the peace corps has gone beyond and above what the ig has recommended lex had been proactive in areas that even your office did not anticipate? are they reacted? >> they are primarily reactive. i can't think of a situation off the top of my head. if i do, however, i will provide it to you for the record. >> i think it's unfortunate. they should be exceeding, once he brought the attention back in the early part of this decade, they should've been working on this night and day to ensure that those women are in the most safest environment imaginable, and to think that year in and year out they might, some women might be going back to where, two years ago, the same program director like in nepal where carol clark as you testified, as you are testified, the peace
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corps director was telling her and other women that in order to get their checks they had to have sex with them. and the volunteer, country director said that they ought to get a thicker skin to do with that kind of harassment and threat. so, the next question would be, what happens to people -- is it any record of what is happened when allegation is made against a superior, whether be indigenous to that country or an american serving abroad, our charges brought against them? and how do we -- seems to me that this program director because he did rape her eventually as she testified, this director found a place where he would have an ongoing group of women coming in, would wait for the opportunity if you couldn't coerce them to begin with, in this case, she was partying and couldn't stop them
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from an emmy times did he do it before and after? i'm not sure she was the only one that he raped. and i'm wondering what happens to somebody like that. you know, we have found, madam chair, in the area peacekeeping, because i have held hearings on the deployment of peacekeepers in the congo and elsewhere, raped a 13 year olds and then they find them selves on another redeployment somewhere else under these are tolerance policy of the united nations. so if you could speak to that, please. >> there are processes in place for getting rid of local staff, whether they are pfcs or hires, direct hires. i think the better provision would be not to hire people like that. and we have made recommendations concerning the lack of security background checks for host
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countries, staff and contracto contractors. there's been, as i said in my testimony, 44% of countries that we went into do not comply with that. and it's gone up since they changed the requirement to include short-term contractors. so there is a real need for compliance, and if they did comply with it, situations like that would be prevented. >> i would hope, and i hope the peace corps takes it to heart, is that if there's one instance of an allegation being made, that's enough to trigger a significant investigation so we don't wait until that woman herself is raped, or other store in a similarly vulnerable position. thank you. thank you so much, mr. smith. 90, translated were all highly supportive of the great nation nation and the work of the peace corps. we want to make sure that it is a polished jewel, and that we will make the recommendations
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that we hope that the peace corps will implement to secure the safety of all of the volunteers, and change the culture from blaming the victim to supporting the victim, and holding the perpetrators of this violence accountable for the acts. and with that our committee is adjourned. thank you. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> it's thursday, may 12 and the u.s. senate is about to gavel in to start the day. general speeches are the order of business for the first several hours. lawmakers will turn to a judicial nomination. that will be at 1 p.m. eastern. a vote on that nomination is scheduled for 2:00. 2:00. now live senate coverage here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. today's opening prayer will be offered by father boes, national executive director of boys town in boys town, nebraska. the chaplain: let us pray. creator god, we ask your blessing upon the men and women of the united
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states senate. give them the wisdom of fr. edward flanagan, the founder of boys town, who taught america that, "there are no bad boys; only bad environment, bad training, bad example." help us as a nation to save children by healing families so that they can provide the good environment, training, and example our young people need to be healthy, productive citizens. please inspire our senators to work together to strengthen our families and communities so that our children can become stronger in body, mind, and spirit.
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amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., may 12, 2011. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable mark begich, a senator from the state of alaska, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska.
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mr. nelson: mr. president, i would like to rise today to thank father stevens boes for delivering the opening prayer this morning. father boes has been a priest of the arch diocese of omaha since 1985, he has more than 20 years of experience as a counselor and youth advocate in nebraska. he served eight years in the saint augustine school. he established programs to help winnow children -- preparing thr higher education. in 2005 father boes was named the executive director of boys town, one of the largest child care organizations in america. boys town provides compassionate research-proven treatment for children with behavioral, emotional, and physical problems. father boes is the fourth priest to succeed father edward
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flanagan, the founder of boys town. father flanagan had grown discouraged in his work with transient men. he borrowed $90 to rent a drafty downton boarding house and opened his first home for boys in 1917. youngsters from all over omaha soon began showing up at the doorstep of father flanagan's home for boys. when the idea of a boys home grew in my mind, i never thought anything remarkable about taking in all of the races and all of the creeds, father flanagan said. to me, they're all god's children. they are my brothers. they are children of god. i must protect them to the best of my ability. in 1921, father flanagan moved his boys home to a farm just outside of omaha and it soon became known as the village of boys town. by the 1930's hundreds of i boys lived there. the world learned that of father
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flanagan's success in 1938 when he was played by spencer tracy in the "boys town" hollywood movie. boys town began admitting girls in 1979 and established programs of more than one dozen sites across the country in the mid-1980's. ed up the leader -- under the leadership of father boes, boys town strengthens the child's mind, body, and spirit. father boes is also expanding boys town role in advocating changes to our child care system, which is often fragmented, expensive and ineffective. he has called for smarter investments in earlier innovations for at-risk children which can prevent much more expensive expenses for society if those children fall through the cracks. keeping a 14-year-old from dropping out of high school will end up saving taxpayers abou
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about $500,000 over that child's lifetime. keeping him from becoming a carry rear criminal will -- keeping him from becoming a criminal will save almost $5thousand. father flanagan said that there is nothing wrong with -- father boes continues to carry out that vision of healing today. i thank father boes. i know we all do for his devotion to building healthy, positive lives for children. and i thank father boes for his words and prayer this morning. may they indeed guide us to do what is right for america and the world. thank you, mr. president. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i appreciate the comments my friend from nebraska, the senior senator from nebraska. following any leader remarks, the senate will be in morning business until 1:00 p.m. today. the republicans will control the first 30 minutes. the majority will control the next 30 minutes. following morning business, the
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senate will be in executive session to consider the nomination of michael urbanski to be united states district judge of the western district of virginia. there will be one hour of debate on that. at approximately 2:00 p.m. there will be a roll call vote on confirmation of the urbanski amendment. i'm also told that s. 953 is at the desk and due for a second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 953, a bill to authorize the conduct of certain lease sells in the outer continental shelf and so forth and for other purposes. mr. reid: mr. president, i object to any further proceedings with respect to this bill. the presiding officer: objection is heard. it will be placed on the calendar. mr. reid: mr. president, as i speak, the heads of the five largest oil and gas companies in the world are testifying across the street. with the country watching these extremely wealthy c.e.o.'s and extremely profitable corporations, they're trying to
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explain to the senate why they still need taxpayer handouts. i don't envy them because it's an impossible position to defend. think about this, in just the first three months of this year the oil industry mad made $36 billion in profits alone. not revenues, profits. that's $12 billion a month, that's $3 billion a week. in anyone's book, that's pretty good money. meanwhile the american taxpayer is giving the same successful companies $4 billion a year. so when you take these companies' profits and add them a handout, you, me, an every taxpayer gives them, america's saying to big oil you make $52 billion a week and we'll give you the 53 week for free. even in the strongest economies that seems unnecessary. in this recovering economy it is
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downright indefensible. basically these tax breaks are such a hard thing to do that the big oil bosses, trying to defend them, is such a hard thing to do, mr. president, that they called for backup. most of our republican colleagues eager i will answered the call publicly already. -- eager i will answered the call publicly already. there's something i learned in the courtroom a long time ago, when you try to defend the indefensible, you're left with not much of a case. that's why the republican defenders of big oil have resorted to making things up. they'll tell you without the taxpayer-funded bonus, gas prices will go up. they say that because they though it's a scary thought. gas prices are already high. but there's a big problem with argument. it's falls. it's not true. -- it's falls, it's true true. big oil subsidies don't have a thing to do with the prices at the pump.
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a report released by the nonpartisan independent agency says as much. experts at the congressional research service who wrote this report don't mention it just once, they write it over and over and over again. here's one way c.r.s. says it -- quote --"there's little reason to believe that the price of oil or gasoline consumers face will increase." here's another and i quote -- "available output in prices should be unaffected." here's one more -- quote -- "taking away big oil's tax break an independent report says -- quote -- "we'll have no effect on the price of gasoline." little reason to believe prices will increase, prices should be unaffected, no affect on the price of gasoline. their words, not mine. so the american people should know this, every time you hear someone defend taxpayer gifts to
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oil companies by scaring you about gas prices, they're not telling you the truth. every time you hear someone say we need to find better uses for taxpayer money, but we also need to keep giving billions and billions of dollars of that same money to oil companies, how is it possible that both are true? i'm pleased to see some of my republican colleagues are coming around. the speaker of the house said these companies should pay their fair share. yesterday the senior senator from arizona admitted that subsidies are likely unnecessary. even the former head of shell agrees. if we're serious about reducing the deficit, this is an easy place to start. it's, in effect, a no brainer, mr. president. taxpayer giveaways are the epitome of wasteful spending. so this is the democrats idea. let's use the savings from the
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taxpayer giveaways to drive down the deficit, not drive up the oil company profits. there are no gimmicks in this legislation. it says let's apply this money to the deficit. the c.e.o.'s and their companies are free to make as much money as they ethically can. they just don't need the taxpayer -- our country -- they don't need our help and the country can sure use those extra $4 billion a year. it's such an obvious solution that should have happened years ago. but here we are, with one sign saying that black is black and the other side still insisting that black is blue. this debate would be a lot easier if republicans just came out and said what they really mean. they should simply say openly that they want to protect their friends in big oil. i don't agree with it, but that's their right. instead they're peddling
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misinformation and scare tactics much the americans people should admit it and let the american people decide who is representing their best interest. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: anyone who cares about the future of our country should pay attention to the debate we're having in washington. the outcome of this debate will determine if america goes the way of debt-ridden countries in europe where unemployment is permanently high and expectations are permanently low or whether we reclaim our role as a place where people are rewarded for hard work and for taking risks. this debate is important for other reasons too. last month one of the major ratings agencies gave the u.s. a negative outlook. it said that because of our debt we stand a one in three chance of being downgraded. the consequences of that would be truly devastating. and so would the impact on our ability to govern. if we allow it to happen, we'll
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be admitting that america can't solve its problems and i won't accept that. the fact that we have a crisis is not in doubt. right now america is taking in about $2.2 trillion each year in tax revenues and each year we're spending about $2.2 trillion on mandatory spending and net interest on our debt. now, what that means, mr. president, is that all of the other spending, every single discretion theiry dollar we spend right now on roads, schools, defense, food safety, environmental protection, all of it, every single penny, is borrowed money. we don't have a dime to spend above and beyond the dimes we have to spend by law. if that's not a fiscal crisis, i don't know what is. the democrat solution to this crisis is simple, just raise the debt limit, raise the debt limit so we can maintain the status quo. in fact, the chairman of the president's counsel of economic
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advisers said in a speech yesterday that it would be -- quote -- "quite insane to do anything about the deficit while increasing the debt ceiling." that, the chairman of the president's council of economic advisers yesterday. the problem with that is that it isn't a solution. it's the avoidance of a solution. and that's not what the american people want. the american people spoke loud and clear in november. they want to see changes around here. washington is mortgaging their future and their children's future by spending too much. they didn't speak out last november because they expected republicans to come here and raise taxes. they sent republicans here to get our fiscal house in order and that's just what we intend to do. americans are still operating that washington didn't do something to prevent the last financial crisis. a crisis most people didn't see coming. failing to prevent one that every one of us knows is coming
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is, of course, totally inexcusable. so my message has been clear, failing to do something about the debt would be far worse in the long run than failing to raise the debt limit. and that's why i'm repeating my plea to the democrats this morning. the time to avert this crisis is right now. the window is closing and we cannot raise the debt ceiling, as the president has requested, without major spending cuts now. some have suggested that we use triggers. well, mr. president, the triggers have already been pulled. what good is a fire alarm that goes off after the building burns down? agreeing to a trigger is to deny this crisis. we need to face this problem now, not tomorrow, not after the president leaves office, not after the markets collapse, not after hell breaks loose, not after we lose another three million jobs and the housing market collapses again. now, right now. anything less would be a
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dereliction of duty and a signal to the world that america doesn't have the will to fix its problems. republicans refuse to accept that. that's my message all along. it's a message we'll be taking down to the white house later this morning. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business for debate until 1:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each with the first hour equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, with republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the majority controlling the next 30 minutes. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: i ask unanimous consent to be recognized for the duration of my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: the successful end of the ten-year manhunt to bring osama bin laden to justice has appropriately heightened the nation's appreciation for the diligence, patriotism and courage of our armed forces and our intelligence community.
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they are a great credit, an inspiration to the country that has asked so much of them, and like all americans, i'm in their debt. but their success has also reignited debate over whether the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques of enemy prisoners, including waterboarding, were instrumental in locating bin laden and whether they are necessary and justifiable means for securing valuable information that might help prevent future terrorist attacks against us and our allies and lead to the capture or killing of those who would perpetrate them, or are they and should they be prohibited by our conscience and laws astor tour or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment? i believe some of these practices, especially waterboarding, which is a mock execution and thus to me
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indisputably torture, are and should be prohibited in a nation that is septional -- exceptional in its defense and advocacy of human rights. i believe they are a violation of the detainee treatment act of 2005, the military commissions act of 2006, and common article 3 of the geneva conventions, all of which forbid cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of all captured combatants, whether they wear the uniform of a country or are essentially stateless. i opposed waterboarding and similar so-called enhanced interrogation techniques before osama bin laden was brought to justice, and i oppose them now. i do not believe they are necessary to our success in our war against terrorists, as the advocates of these techniques claim they are. even more importantly, i believe that if america uses torture, it could someday result in the
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torture of american combatants. yeah, i know that al qaeda and other terrorist organizations don't share our scruples about the treatment of enemy combatants and have and will continue to subject american soldiers and anyone they capture to the cruelest treatment imaginable, but we must bear in mind the likelihood that someday we will be involved in a more conventional war against a state and not a terrorist movement or insurgency and be careful that we do not set a standard that another country could use to justify their mistreatment of our prisoners. and lastly, it's difficult to overstate the damage that any practice of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by americans does to our national character and historical reputation, to our standing as an exceptional nation among the countries of the world. it is too grave to justify the
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use of these interrogation techniques. america has made its progress in the world not only by avidly pursuing our geopolitical interests but persuading and inspiring other nations to embrace the political values that distinguish us. as i've said many times before and still maintain, this is not about the terrorists. it's about us. i understand the reasons that govern the decision to approve these interrogation methods, and i know that those who approve them -- approved them and those who employed them in the interrogation of captured terrorists were dedicated to protecting the american people from harm. i know they were determined to keep faith with the victims of terrorism and to prove to our enemies that the united states would pursue justice tirelessly, relentlessly and successfully, no matter how long it took.
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i know their responsibilities were grave and urgent, the strain of their duty was considerable. i admire their dedication and love of country. but i dispute that it was right to use these methods which i do not believe were in the best interests of justice to -- or our security are the ideals that define us and which we have sacrificed much to defend. i don't believe anyone should be prosecuted for having used these techniques in the past, and i agree that the administration should state definitively that no one will be. as one of the authors of the military commissions act, which i believe prohibits waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques, we wrote into the language of the law that no one who used them before the enactment of the law should be prosecuted, and i don't think it's helpful or wise to revisit that policy.
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many advocates of these techniques have asserted their use on terrorists in our custody, particularly khalid sheikh sheikh muhammed. a trail which leads to his destruction. the former attorney general of the ?iets, michael mckoski recently claimed, and i quote -- "the intelligence which led to bin laden began with the disclosure of khalid sheikh muhammed which began under the interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. he released a torrent of information, including eventually the nickname of a trusted currier of bin laden." that is false. there is so much misinformation being fed into such an essential public debate as this one, i asked the director of central
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intelligence leon patent for the facts -- leon panetta for the following facts. the trail did not begin with the disclosure of khalid sheikh muhammed who was waterboarded 183 times. we did not learn from muhammed the real name of bin laden's career or his alias, al-kuwaiti, the man who first allowed us to find bin laden. the man who mentioned al-kuwaiti as an important member of al qaeda came from a detainee in another country. the united states did not conduct this detainee's interrogation, nor did we render into that country for the purpose of interrogation. we did not american his real name as a result of waterboarding or any enhanced interrogation technique used on a detainee in u.s. custody. none of the three detainees who
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were waterboarded gave his real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al qaeda. in fact, not only did the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on khalid sheikh muhammed did not provide us with key leads on bin laden's currier, abu akman. it actually produced false and misleading information. khalid sheikh muhammed specifically told his interrogators that abu akman had moved to pashawar, got married and ceased his role as an al qaeda facilitator, which was not true, as we now know. all we learned about abu akman al-kuwaiti through the use of waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques against khalid sheikh muhammed was a confirmation of the already
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known fact that the currier existed and used an alias. i have sought further information from the staff of the senate intelligence committee, and they confirmed for me that, in fact, the best intelligence came from a c.i.a. detainee, information describing al-kuwaiti's real role in al qaeda and his true relationship to osama bin laden was obtained through standard, noncoercive means, not through any enhanced interrogation technique. in short, it was not torture or cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment of detainees that got us the major leads that ultimately enabled our intelligence community to find osama bin laden. i hope former attorney general mukasey will correct his misstatement. it's important that he do so because we're again engaged in this important debate. with much at stake for america's security and reputation.
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each side should make its own case, but do so without making up its own facts. for my part, i would oppose any legislation if any should be proposed that is intended to authorize the administration to return to the use of waterboarding or other methods of interrogation that i sincerely believe are torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading and as such unworthy and injurious to our country. this debate is ongoing, but i don't believe it will lead to a change in current policy prohibiting these methods. so perhaps this is just a debate for the history books, but it is still important because americans in a future age as well as their leaders might face these same questions. we should do our best to provide them a record of our debates and decisions that is notable, not just for its passion but for its
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deliberativeness and for opinions that were informed by facts, informed with scrupulous care by both sides for the security of the american people and the success of the ideals we cherish. we have a duty to leave future american generations with a history that will offer them not confusion but instruction as they face their crease east and challenges and try to lead america safely and honorably through them. both sides can't be right, of course, but both sides can be honest, diligent and sincere. let me briefly elaborate my reasons for opposing the return to these interrogation policies. obviously, to defeat our enemies, we need intelligence, but intelligence that is reliable. we should not torture or treat inhumanely terrorists we have captured. i believe the abuse of prisoners harms, not helps, our war
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effort. in my personal experience, the abuse of prisoners sometimes produces good intelligence but often produces bad intelligence. because under torture, a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear, whether it is true or false, if he believes it will relieve his suffering. often, information provided to stop the torture is deliberately misleading. and what the advocates of cruel and harsh interrogation techniques can never prove is that we could not have gathered the same intelligence through other more humane means, as a review of the facts provides solid reason to be confident that we can. the costs of assuming otherwise can be hugely detrimental. it has been reported in the staff of the senate intelligence committee confirms for me that a man named iban asheik al-ribi,
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where we believe he was tortured and providing false information about saddam hussein's weapons of mass destruction programs. that false information was ultimately included in secretary of state colin powell's statement to the u.n. security council and i assume helped influence the bush administration's decision to invade iraq. furthermore i think it's supremely unfair to the men and women in our intelligence community who labored for a decade to locate bin laden bin laden to claim followsly that they only succeeded because we succeeded because we used torture to extract intelligence from a few detainees several years ago. i have not found evidence to suggest that torture, interrogation methods that i
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believe are torture, which i believe are prohibited by u.s. law and international treaty obligations, we're not just a party to, but leading advocates of, played an important part in finding and killing bin laden. rather, i think his death at the hands of the united states argues quite the contrary, that we can succeed without resort to these methods. it's also the case of the mistreatment of enemy prisoners endangers our own troops who might some day be held captive. while some enemies in a al qaeda will never have reciprocity, we should be concerned by those of more conventional enemies, if not in this war, then the next. until 1970 north korea ignored its obligations not to mistreat the americans they held prisoner claiming we were engaged in an
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unlawful war against them and thus not entitled to the protections of the geneva conventions. when their abuses became widely known, they subsequently decreased their mistreatment of our p.o.w.'s. some have argued if it is right to kill bin laden, it should also be right to torture him had he been captured rather than killed. i disagree. first, the americans who killed bin laden were on a military mission against the leader of a terrorist organization with which we are at war. it was not a law enforcement operation or primarily an intelligence operation. they could not be certain that bin laden, even though he was unarmed, did not possess some means of harming them, a suicide vest, for instance, and they were correctly instructed to take no unnecessary chances in the completion of their mission. second, bin laden was a mass
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murder. had we captured him we would -- he would have eventually received the ultimate sanctions for his terrible crimes. as captured war criminals in previous wars have. but war criminals captured, tried, and executed in world war ii, for instance, were not tortured in advance of their execution either in retaliation for their crimes or to illicit -- elicit information that might have helped us locate, apprehend and convict other war criminals. this was not done because civilized nations have long made a distinction between killing and injuring in the heat of combat on the one hand and the deliberate infliction of torture on an encompass titted fighter on -- encompass tated fighter on the other. this is not only longstanding american values an practices, but also in the geneva
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conventions that provide legal protections for our own fighting men and women. all of these arguments have the force of right, but ultimately even they are beside the most important point. there are many arguments to be made against torture on practical grounds. as i have said, i believe torture produces unreliable information, hinders our fight against global terrorism and harms our national interest and reputation. but, ultimately, this debate is about far more than technical or practical issues. it's about far more than whether torture works or does not work. it is about far more than utilitarian matters. ultimately this is about morality. what is at stake here is the very idea of america. the america whose values have inspired the world and instilled in the hearts of its citizens
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the certainty that no matter how hard we fight, no matter how dangerous our adversary, in the course of advantag vanquishing r enemies we do not compromise our greater values. we are america. we hold ourselves to a higher standard. that's what's really at stake. though bin laden bin laden is dead, america remains at war. to prevail in war, we need more than victories on the battlefield. this is a war of ideas as well. a struggle to advance freedom in the place of terror in places where oppressive rule is bread to m -- prisoner abuses, exact a terrible toll on us in this war of ideas. they inevitably become public. and when they do, they threaten our moral standard and expose us to false, but widely
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disseminated charges that democracies are no more inherently idealistic and moral than other regimes. i understand that islamic extremists who resort to terror would destroy us utterly if they could up train the weapons to do so. to defeat them we must have the universal values that ultimately have the greatest power to eradicate this evil ideology. though it took a decade to find him, there's one constellation for bin laden's 10-year evasion of justice. he lived long enough to see what some are calling the arab spring, the complete reputatio n of bin laden's world view and the cruel disregard for innocent life and human dignity he used to advance it. in egypt and tunisia arabs
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rightfully proclaimed their rights to determine their own destiny without resorting to violence or destruction of innocent lives. now they are trying sa to do the same in syria and elsewhere. as the united states discusses and debates what role we should play to influence the course of the arab spring, can we not all agree that the first and most obvious thing we can do is stand as an example of just government and equal justice under the law? as a champion of the idea that an individual's human rights are superior to the will of the majority or the wishes of the government. individuals might forfeit their life and liberty as pup for breaking laws -- punishment for breaking laws, but even then as recognized in our constitution's prohibition of cruel and unusual
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punishment, they are still entitled to respect for their basic human dignity even if they have denied that respect to others. i don't mourn the loss of any terrorist's life nor do i care if in the course of serving their cause they suffered great harm. they earned their terrible punishment in this life and the next. what i do mourn is what we lose when by official policy or official neglect -- neglect we allow confuse or encourage those who fight this war for us to forget that -- that sense of ourselves which is our greatest strength that when we fight to defend our security, we also fight for an idea, not a tribe, not a land, not a king, not a twisted interpretation of an ancient religion, but for an idea that all men are endowed by
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their creator with inai inaliene rights. it is indispensable to our success in this war that those we ask to fight it know in the discharge of their dangerous responsibilities to our country, they are never expected to forget that they are americans. the valiant defenders of a sacred idea of how nations should be governed and conduct their relations with others. even our enemies. and those of us who have given them this onerous duty are obliged by our history and the many terrible sacrifices that have been made in our defense to make clear to them that they need not risk our country's honor to prevail. that there are always, through the violence, chaos, and heartache of war, through deprivation of cruelty and loss, that there are always, -- they
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are always, always americans and different, stronger, and better than those who would destroy us. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. reid: mr. president, in 1982, i was elected to the united states house of representatives. i was elected along with the now senior senator from the state of arizona, john mccain. we were both part of that class of 192. -- 1982. mr. president, i've given a lot of speeches on this senate floor, so has my friend from arizona, and so have all of us. but, frankly, most of the speeches we give may have a little bite for a day or two. but the speech just given by my friend, the senior senator from arizona, will be forever remembered in our country and in this body.
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senator mccain and i have had our differences over the years. that doesn't take away from the fact that we're friends. we love prize fighting and we love our states. they're our neighbors, arizona and nevada. he has an admirable record of representing his party and running for president of the united states, a member of many committees here. we came here to the senate together from the house of representatives. i want the record today to reflect my admiration and respect, as i believe the whole senate, respects the speech given by this fine man from arizona. no one in the senate, no one, without any qualification, could have given the speech that was given today. why? because he speaks with knowledge. personal knowledge that i'm sure he still remembers in those dark nights when he was trying to
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rest about his having been tortured. here's a man who after having been tortured brutally, solitary confinement, not for a week, a month, for years was given permission by north koreans, go home. we'll let you go home. he said, i'm not going home unless i go home with my colleagues who are in prison with me. think about that. that concentration camp basically. so i wish i had the ability to express in words my admiration for what he's just said because the things we do when it comes to our evil enemy to say that all holds are barred doesn't work. the easy thing to do is to say that we should treat them as
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poorly as they treat us. but it takes a resume and courage to stand, as my friend from arizona did today, and speak. mr. mccain: could i just thank my very, very honorable friend and adversary for his kind remarks. i will always remember them. i thank you. mr. reid: mr. president, i will end my remarks here today. -- today by reading three paragraphs from an op-ed running all over the country today in newspapers all over america. an op-ed written by senator john mccain and i quote -- "as we debate how the united states can best influence the course of an arab spring, it can we agree that the most obvious thing we can do is stand as a nation who holds an individual's human rights as superior to the will of the majority and the wishes
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of the government. individuals might forfeit their lives for breaking laws, it is recognized in our constitution they are entitled to respect for their basic human dignity even if they denied that respect to others. all of these arguments have the force of right but they are beside the most important point. ultimately this is more than a utilitarian debate. this is a moral debate. it's about who we are. i don't mourn the loss of any terrorist life. what i do mourn is what we lose when by official policy or official neglect we confuse or encourage those who fight this war for us to forget the best sense of ourselves. through the violence, chaos and heartache of war, through deprivation and cruelty and loss we're always americans in different -- and different, stronger and better than those who would destroy us."
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the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island is recognized. mr. reed: mr. president, i want to proceed in morning business, but before that, let me associate myself to the remarks of the senator from nevada paying tribute to the senior senator from arizona. senator mccain's words were both eloquent and profound and they reflect not only his strong beliefs, but his own personal experience. and they also reflect something else that has been consistent in everything that he has done in the senate and that is his respect and deep regard for the men and women of the military services. and his reflections today remind us of what they've done and also remind us of the high standards of conduct that they expect of themselves and that we have to recognize also. and let me again join senator reid in saluting senator mccain not only for his words today but for as he does in so many times being in effect the
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conscience of the senate on so many important topics. mr. president, i would also like today to support and talk about the provisions that my colleagues have introduced to ensure that the large oil companies of this nation who are receiving great tax subsidies contributed to deficit reduction, which is one of the great tasks before us. we're seeing an extraordinary runup in gas prices. in rhode island, it's touching or exceeding $4 a gallon. these high gas prices threaten our economic recovery, and they also put a brake on the expansion and job growth so necessary for all of our citizens. in fact, it's been estimated that because of these extraordinary gas prices, u.s. households will pay about $825 a month -- excuse me -- a year more in 2011 for gasoline than previously. that's a big, big bite out of the discretionary spending available to moderate income
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families across this country. one aspect of this runup in prices, speculation. i'm so pleased that the president responded to a letter that i participated in suggesting the appointment of a task force to look into this. he has gone ahead and created the oil and gas price fraud working group under the leadership of eric holder, and they're looking seriously at speculative aspects of the runup in gas prices. there are some economists that estimate that this speculation to drive -- could drive up prices by as much as $1 a gallon. in fact, the huge retreat last week from the commodities markets for gasoline suggests that much more than simple supply and demand is responsible for these huge price increases, and we have to look carefully and clearly at this. but i'm also pleased to be a cosponsor along with senator menendez of the closed big oil tax loopholes act. it is extraordinarily ironic -- and that's a mild term -- to see
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the oil industry receiving huge subsidies at a time when market prices are producing what you would think would be the major incentive an oil and gas company needs to explore and develop. that incentive is rather substantial prices at the pump and throughout the nation. in fact, these prices have transformed and turned themselves into huge profits for the industry. exxonmobil, for example, it posted its biggest first quarter profit in eight years with net income rising to $10.7 billion. in fact, the combined profits of the big five oil companies were more than $30 billion for the third quarter. those are the kind of rewards in the marketplace which would suggest very strongly to everyone that the need for subsidies from the government is nonexistent. indeed, what we have seen,
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rather than using the subsidies to go out and these excess profits to go out and intensify the search for new oil is that most of this is going to either provide dividends or stock buybacks to their stockholders. now, that's a legitimate use of corporate money, but once again, it really undercuts this notion that these subsidies are so essential for the companies to be competitive. they are certainly highly competitive, and also necessary for the kind of activity they are undertaking to search for and develop new oil resources. now, there are so many aspects of the bill that i think are positive, and they have been in part or in whole debated before. the bill ends the subsidy for
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the production of oil that was for american manufacturers, not producers, but american manufacturers. there are some who suggest that the companies themselves, the oil companies only discovered this tax loophole after the fact but exploited it very aggressively. that it was intended for small companies that are producing physical products that can be shipped around the country, not bringing oil in, reprocessing it, refining it, selling it and getting a tax break. there are so many other irrational aspects of these subsidies that again the subsidies themselves i think call for a serious review, evaluation and indeed elimination. but the other factor that compels us to take these steps today is a simple factor, that we have to begin to reduce the deficit. all of the resources that are being raised, we hope through this legislation, will be targeted to deficit reduction. it's a way in which i think we
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can continue, obviously, to provide the kind of necessary support for our economy through a healthy oil and gas system, but not to subsidize an industry that does well in the marketplace, and ought to use those funds to reduce the deficit. there is another aspect, and this is not directly related to the provisions that senator menendez and i support, but, for example, we have tried to get the oil and gas industry to at least pay more for the inspections that are so necessary on these offshore platforms to provide the safety to prevent another deep water explosion. the administration has proposed an increase in fees oil companies pay for deepwater rig inspections from the present fee of $3,200. $3,250 if you're precise to
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to $17,000, and the companies have balked at this. now, here is an industry that is deriving huge tax subsidies, that obviously an example of deep water has raised serious concerns about their ability to manage and to develop some of these offshore platforms and are essentially saying no, we're not going to pay for the inspection fees -- more for the inspection fees that are necessary. and the total increase is minimal. in fact, let me just give a comparison. b.p., british petroleum, would be asked to pay about about $1.5 million in fees, if this new fee structure went into effect, for their offshore platforms. that would represent about .01% of their revenues in the gulf of mexico alone last year, and yet the companies are saying no. when it comes to paying their fair share for inspections that
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actually directly benefit them, provide further confidence to the public that their operations are successful and gives them frankly more confidence in allowing or encouraging further offshore drilling, they say no. but when it comes to tax subsidies that benefit their bottom line, they say yes, yes, yes. and so i think, mr. president, what we have to do is press forward on our efforts to ensure that these tax subsidies are revoked, dedicate these tax subsidies to deficit reduction, and in that way, we can let the market decide on the success or failure of these companies. that's one of the man transportation that i hear so often -- one of the mantras that i hear so often here, particularly from many on the other side, and i think it can be done without in any way impacting the cost of fuel in
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the united states. because i think frankly what we're seeing, going back to my initial point, is that there are factors beyond tax subsidies that are driving up the cost of fuel. speculation, issues of the international exchange, the value of the dollar. but it's quite clear, given our dependency -- and we have to get off that dependency on oil -- that there will be a robust market for petroleum products in this country for the foreseeable future. that market alone justifies increased exploration, increased research, increased activity, and it will reward the companies that these subsidies are not necessary. with that, mr. president, i would urge rapid support and favorable support of senator menendez's legislation, and i would yield the floor.
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mr. reed: mr. president, i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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objection. mr. durbin: and to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin durbin: mr. presidene was an article, a column written
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in this morning's "washington post" which was extraordinary. it was written by one of our republican colleagues, senator john mccain of arizona. john mccain and i came to the house of representatives in the same year, in 1983. and though he came to the senate first, we have worked on many things together over the years. we have our differences, that's for sure, but there are times when john does extraordinarily good things and this morning was one of them. he wrote a column in "the washington post" about the issue of torture. it's an issue that's been in the headlines for the last two weeks after the capture and killing of osama bin laden and questions were raised as to whether or not so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, or torture in another parlance, were used to obtain information that led to osama bin laden. a few years ago, that issue came up on the floor of the united states senate. i had strong feelings about it, but senator mccain stepped up and really led the effort to put
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the united states senate and our government on record that we were opposed to the use of torture. no person was better qualified in this congress to speak to it than senator mccain. he was a victim of torture himself when he served in the united states navy during the vietnam war, was shot down as a naval i hav aviator and spent me than five years in prison. i cannot imagine what that must have been like. couple that with severe physical injuries, which he still labors with today, and the torture, mental and physical that accompanied it, no person is as well qualified as senator mccain to speak to it. and this morning in "the washington post," he once again stated what may not be the popular view but i believe is the right view, that the united states should make clear that we do not accept torture as a standard for our conduct when it comes to dealing with our enemies. for the longest time, that's
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been our standard. it was only relaxed or changed after 9/11, when some argued in a previous administration it was the only way to get information from these hard-core terrorists. senator mccain made the point in his article in "the washington post" this morning that in this case, he asked leon panetta, with the central intelligence agency, whether there was any linkage to these enhanced interrogation techniques and the information that led to the decision closure of the messenger who was linked to osama bin laden which led to his capture. and panetta said no. and mccain wrote that this morning. in fact, the information that came out of waterboarding, one of these terrorists ended up being just plain wrong. and senator mccain made the point in his article, when you're being tortured, you'll say almost anything to make the torture stop. you'll lie if you have to just to make it stop. and that's what happened here. so i want to commend him.
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it was a courageous thing for him to write that article this morning. not popular but right. and, john, i want to thank you for your leadership on behalf of the senate on both sides of the aisle for having the courage to speak out on such an important issue relative to the values of america and who we are. he ended his column talking about how we would expect our troops to be treated if they were taken prisoner. if anyone tortured an american soldier, i don't know of a single american who wouldn't step forward and say it's an outrage. well, if we are going to stand up for humane treatment, sensible treatment of detainees, then we're doing it not only to protect our values but to protect our men and women who serve this country, both in the intelligence agencies and the military services. mr. president, an issue's going to come up next week which is very important for every american family and business and that's the issue of gasoline prices. i've been across my state and as i mentioned on the floor earli
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earlier, my expert on gasoline prices is my wife. and when i speak to her in the morning in springfield, illinois, she'll tell me the latest in gasoline prices. last week it was $4.20 a gallon. i don't know what it is this week. but she asked me, as everyone in illinois must ask, what are you going to do about it? well, it turns out that we are going to do something. it may not have a direct impact on gas prices but it certainly has a direct impact on our policy toward oil companies. you see, american families are being clobbered three times by high prices at gasoline stations. first at the pump. second when we give $4 billion in subsidies every year in the tax code to the oil companies. and third when we have to borrow the money from china to give to these oil companies. and end up paying interest to china ourselves, our children, our grandchildren. paying three times for
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outrageous gasoline prices is an outrage itself. the big oil companies have made almost $1 trillion in profits over the last ten years, over $35 billion in the first three months of this year. some of these oil companies are breaking records on wall street for corporate profits. the "wall street journal" also reported last week that the c.e.o.'s of oil and gas companies who are appearing before the senate finance committee today had the highest median compensation at $13.7 million annually in 2010, up 17.3% from the year before. in addition to the profit taki taking, the oil industry receives over $4 billion in tax giveaways each year. instead of using that money to lower prices at the pump, these giveaways have merely been used to pad the profits and the compensation of the oil companies and their executives.
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yesterday, senator menendez introduced a bill which i'm cosponsoring to end the special treatment and tax breaks given to the five largest oil companies in america. this would save americans over $4 billion a year and it's our goal to use that money to reduce our nation's deficit. americans across the board agree it's time to end this corporate welfare for the big oil companies. in a recent poll, three out of four americans support eliminating tax credits for the oil and gas industries to reduce the federal deficit. we have to deal with our deficit that's growing at an unsustainable rate, and i'm hoping that this will be a commonsense, good-faith, bipartisan agreement to end this subsidy, take the taxpayers' dollars flowing to the oil companies and give them instead to those who are dealing with our deficit to reduce it. incidentally, we're not talking about business expenses at these oil companies, and that's what many of these execs would like to have people think.
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these are subsidies used to increase profits and reduce their tax burden. last year, exxon had an effect active tax rate on its income of 16%. less than half of the corporate tax rate. according to the congressional budget office, the average american has an effective tax rate of over 20%. so exxon was actually paying a lower tax rate on their profits than the average american pays on his income. in addition, the big five oil companies have used 71% of their profits not for exploration and production, which is what they'd like you to think, but, rather, for boosting share prices. actually, they used only 12% of their profits for exploration and new development. in other words, these oil companies spend almost six times as much on dividends and stock buybacks as they do in looking for new sources of oil. the primary use of these subsidies is not to discover new
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oil, it's to discover new record-breaking profits. it's time for government handouts to these extremely profitable, well-established companies to come to an end. ending them will not raise gas prices, as some republicans have argued. we're dealing with a world market for oil. the price is set by the global market. gasoline prices have risen significantly even with these subsidies in place. removing them will not change these prices. the congressional research service has said that the effect of removing the subsidies would be very small. according to the department of treasury, removing them would cause the loss of less than .1% of the global oil supply and have little or no impact on prices in the united states. in addition, removing oil subsidies reduces u.s. oil production by less than one-half of 1%. and it will increase exploration and production costs by less than 2% for companies that are making record-breaking profits.
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removing these subsidies will not affect the price of gasoli gasoline. nor will increasing our domestic production. that's the other thing. remember the chant "drill, baby, drill." it was all over the last presidential campaign. in fact, domestic oil production in 2010 was at its highest it's been in seven years. even with production strongly increasing, oil prices keep going up and so do gas prices. and just keep in mind, the united states has less than 2% of the world's proven oil reserves and every year we use 25%. we can't drill our way out of this issue and this problem. even though we've increased production, we still see prices going up. our fuel price would not be altered by increased drillings. we would still need to import over 50% of our oil, as has been said many times, we can't drill ourselves out of this problem. we simply don't have enough oil. the only way to end our dependence and insulate ourselves from high gas prices is to finally develop for
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america a national energy poli policy. other countries have it. we don't. we need a sound, comprehensive policy that includes plans for energy efficiency and new renewable sources. increased drilling is not going to significantly reduce gas prices. actually, congress has taken another step to help consumers bring prices under control at the gas pumps. last year, congress voted to reform the swipe fee that big banks get paid from merchants on debit card transactions. so every time you fill up the tank and swipe your debit card, you're paying on average 40 cents or more to the bank for the swiping of that card. what we've done is to say the federal reserve should establish a reasonable and proportional level for that fee. they think it should be much less than 40 cents. well, the big banks and credit card companies are screaming bloody murder. the notion that the gas company,
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the convenience store, the retailer, the restaurant, the hotel would not have to pay these high swipe fees means a loss in profits to the big ban banks. but what it means to consumers is more competition in price and lower prices. as long as you have a really competitive market -- one gas station across the street from another -- when you reduce the cost to the owner of the gas station, you're more likely to see a reduce -- a reduction, rather, in the prices charged to consumers. mr. president, i received a letter on tuesday from 52 national, regional and state trade associations representing virtually all the gas retailers in america. they made it clear that swipe fees inflate gasoline prices. that swipe fee, of course, is what's being paid to the credit card companies as well as to the banks. and that because the gas retailing industry is extremely competitive, lower swipe fees will produce savings plans -- savings that will be passed on to consumers.
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now, the big banks and credit card companies trying to stop this reform. you can understand it. because these credit card companies and big banks make over a billion dollars a month on what they charge for our using a debit card. if you bring it down to the actually reasonable and proportional cost, they'll make less. merchants get more. consumers pay less. there's a movement here to try to delay this for a so-called study of 30 months. i did the calculation. 30 months times the profits that the big banks and credit card companies will take out of the existing swipe fee comes to about $40 billion that's going to be taken out of the american economy if we agree to a three-year -- 2 1/2 or three-year delay in this. that's not fair to consumers. it doesn't help the me and it doesn't help -- the economy, and it doesn't help bring down gasoline prices. so, mr. president, american families can't afford to continue paying for high gasoline prices at the pump, in subsidies to oil companies, and
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in interest paid on money borrowed from other governments to help us pay these subsidies. it's time to end these handouts to the big, profitable oil companies. it's time to end the swipe fee that is benefiting the biggest banks in the america as well as the credit card companies. it's time to finally focus on families and consumers across america who really have a challenge today because of this increase in cost. mr. president, at this point, i'd like to ask that the statement i'm about to make be placed in a separate part in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, if you would have visited the city of chicago in the last 50 years and someone would have asked you the name of the mayor and you would have said "daly" you would have been right about 90% of the time. because between his father and himself, in 42 of the last 55 years, there's been a richard daly as mayor of chicago. monday marks the end of that era. when richard m. daly steps down
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as the current mayor after six terms in office. he's led chicago for 22 years and 8 months, five months longer than his dad and longer than any mayor in chicago's history. i know rich daly pretty well. we started together in politics. he was a state senator and i was a staff attorney to the illinois state senate back in the 1980's. in that period of time -- i guess the 1970's, now that i think about it. in that period of time, he was a young father with a young fami family, brand-new to public li life. he, of course, had his storied last name of "daly," and he and i were in charge of the senate judiciary committee. let me clarify that. he was in charge. i worked for him. i got to know him, sitting next to him for many, many hours of hearings, watching his reaction to ideas, measuring the man. he and his wife maggie were going through a tough time at that point. they had a little baby who was
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sick and eventually passed away. it was a draining experience for the whole family and those of us who were close to him felt the sense of loss that he and his family experienced. richard michael urbanskrichard y was the oldest child. his father ran chicago from 195 until his -- 1955 until his death in 1976 was one of the big city mayors that america has known. he grew up in a modest red house in bridgeport. a storied irish neighborhood of blue-collared homes on the south side of chicago. the irish immigrants called it hard scrabble. rich daly's mom and dad taught the family always come first. they always ate at home with
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their family. mayor daly introduced his kids to politics at an early age. often after dinner he would bundle them up and take them to awards meetings and events he was attending. so i guess it was in his blood. one brother, bill, is now president obama's chief of staff. he served as u.s. commerce second under president clinton. another brother, john daly, is a cook county commissioner. at the de lasalle high school, his nickname was mayor. in his yearbook he said he wanted to become a great politician. he had to make a name for himself. as he told a reporter his father said to him, i can put you on the ballroom floor, but you're going to have to dance yourself. he started his political life as a delegate to the chicago convention, two years later elected to the illinois state
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senate in a landslide. he steered through important mental health and nursing health care reforms. pushed to combat child abuse and drug abuse and against the sales tax on food and medicine. 1980 he was elected cook county state attorney and as the county state prosecutor he earned a reputation for law and order, tripled the number of african-american prosecutors. his first run for mayor, 1983. he finished last in a three-way primary and thought about getting out of the political business. thank goodness he changed his mind. he got a second chance to run for mayor in 1989 to finish the unexpired turn of the first african-american mayor, harold washington. that time rich daly 1 with 56% of the vote. he took the office on his 47th
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birthday. he would be elected five times never with less than 60% of the vote. richard daly's vision has been clear, to make chicago one of the best cities in the world. he pursued that goal with fierce determination. his leadership transformed chicago from a rust belt manufacturing center to a cultural center that is called the sixth most global city in the world alongside new york, london and hong kong. rich daly's funny, blunt, impatient, emotional and notoriously demanding, especially of his staff. like his dad, he's a hands-on manager. whenever he sees anything that needs attention, he makes a little note on a blue slip of paper and calls the department head to make sure the problem gets fixed. his tenure has included some disappointments which happens in every public life. including the city's failed bid for the 2016 olympic for
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chicago, but we gave it our best try. but it also includes some remarkable successes. he's traveled the world promoting the city of chicago. he helped bring new jobs and vitality to the loop, the economic heart of that great city. the daley years brought the expansion of the mccormick place, o'hare airport, redevelopment of soldier field, home of the chicago bears, and the transformation of the navy pier into one of the city's top tourist attractions. mayor daley pushed bravely for sensible gun laws and it's understandable, sadly, too many times he's had to attend the funerals of policemen and people in the city who were gunned down by gun violence from gangs and other sources. he's worked relentlessly to make chicago the most livable big city in america and the most environmentally friendly city in the world. during his tenure chicago created a comprehensive plan to lower greenhouse gases emissions
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and address global climate tre change. new flower beds now line the sidewalks and the medians. downton, one of the greatest development that's he'll leave behind is just a showcase and a magnet for tourists. a 24-acre expanse downtown that was once an eye sore of tangled railroads is now milan number part -- millenium park. in 1995, mayor daley made his boldest political move and his riskiest. he asked the illinois general assembly to give him control and responsibility for chicago's public schools. when a political ally told him that taking on the schools could end his career, he said, if i can't do that for the children of chicago, then i should not be
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mayor. underperforming schools were closed, new schools were opened, test scores went up, and some of the most innovative educators in america led the chicago public school system forward. the mayor would be the first to tell you today, we still have a long way to go. were it not for his determination and his accepting the responsibility, the chicago public system would not be as good as it is today. in 1999 the city took control of the chicago housing authority tearing down some of the most notorious public high rise, places like robert taylor homes, replacing them with mixed income housing, safe, clean houses. richard daley's greatest success is the sense of common purpose that he's given chicago. recently the "chicago tribune" summed it up well, it said what distinguished richard daly from big-city mayors is his remarkable ability to complete work to bury racial chasms that
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threatened to swallow chicago. he's done that not with anguished speeches, but by projecting a strong sense of fairness in the way he does his job. as a result he's persuaded many americans to pull together in the same direction, up. edward bador, who served as budget director under both mayor daly's told the sun times, one was a builder, the other completed the house. in 2005 richard daly was named one of the best mayors. m.p. simon said it very well, he was his father's son but became his own man. among mayor daly's daley's favorite memories was going to the kamensky park. it was october 26, 2005, game three of the 2005 world series,
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white sox against the houston astros. he invited the -- i invited him and the members of the congressional delegation to watch the game. everybody showed up including a new senator from illinois named barack obama. what a game. the white sox won it 7-5 with a home run in the final inning. that was the longest world series game in history, five hours an 40 minutes. as the night went on almost everybody trailed away, everybody except rich daley. i have a photo of a hundredful of us who stuck it out until the very end. standing in the middle the happiest man in the photo, rich daley. that's the daley way, no matter how long it takes, you give it your all until the game is won. on monday chicago will enter a new era. we will welcome a new passionate, effective and talented new mayor in rahm
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emanuel. chicago is struggling with a lot of issues involving the recession and deficits. fortunately, mayor rahm emanuel will inherit a legacy of unity and progress that will continue to benefit chicagoans for generations to come. as one reporter noted, the daley name is so synonymous with chicago it might as well be stitched in the city flag. in the improved lives in the people who live in that city, in the wonderment of so many who come to chicago and always start their first sentence about the city saying, i couldn't get over how clean it was and it is. and i just tell you, it doesn't happen my accident. it takes the leadership of a mayor and great first lady, maggie daley, who made it happen. to quote from the tribune editorial which i mentioned earlier, when this community, this nation needed to know that a city could come back from economic decline and tribal
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conflict, he delivered. for that, mayor daley, we thank you. i also want to give him my personal thanks for all of his friendship and our great opportunity to work together over the years. loretta, my wife and i, had an opportunity a couple of weeks ago to go out to din wer the mayor and -- dinner with the mayor and maggie. we had a great night. we were at the naja restaurant. i watched as everybody walked on by and stopped to look inside at the mayor and the first lady. they know him because he is chicago. i also want to say kind words about the daley children, nora, patrick, elizabeth, and kevin for sharing their husband an father with us. i close by saying, mr. president, we attend the same church in chicago. it's called old saint pats, and last st. patrick's day was the mayor's big day. maggie, who has been struggling with some health issues, made it
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that day and the church was packed. everybody was wearing shamrocks and green ties and the irish dancers were there for a great celebration of st. patrick's day. luckily for the daleys, their grandkids were also there. little kids scrambling all over the church pews, waiting in anticipation for the end of the mass, for at the end of the mass, the mayor's favor bagpipe band marched up the mine aisle of the church and the -- main aisle of the church and the kids were brimming over with excitement. i captured a little picture with my cellphone which i sent to the mayor and his wife of their grandkids in anticipation of the bagpipe band arriving. i value it and i'm sure that family hav value it's. we sawe value richard daley.
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i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. alexander: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from tennessee is recognized. mr. alexander: thank you. i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. alexander: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i've come to the floor today to introduce on behalf of 34 senators the job protection act. the job protection act is occasioned by a decision of the acting general counsel of the national labor relations board to file a complaint to stop the boeing company from building airplanes at a nonunion plant in south carolina, suggesting that a unionized american company cannot expand its operations in one of 22 states with a
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right-to-work law. a right-to-work law protects a worker's right to join or not to join a union. for example, in tennessee, in the case -- we're a trite work state -- a right to work state. in the case of a saturn employee, a worker at the saturn plant doesn't have to join a union or pay due, but he or she does have to accept the u.a.w. arrest its bargaining -- u.a.w. as its bargaining plant. at the nissan plant, workers there have three times elected not to have a union as a bargaining agent. that is what a right to work state s. there are 22 of them, and the state of new hampshire is in the process of deciding whether to become the 23rd. legislators are of one view, the governor is of a different view and we'll soon know what the result is. the job protection act that i
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introduce today on behalf of 34 united states senators would preserve the federal law's current protection of state right to work laws in the national labor relations act and provide necessary clarity to prevent the nlrb from moving forward in their case against boeing or attempting a similar strategy against other companies. specifically, the job protection act would first explicitly clarify that the board can't order an employer to relocate jobs from one location to another. two, it guarantees an employer the right to decide where to do business within the united states. and three, protects an employer's free speech regarding the costs associated with having a unionized workforce without fear of such communication being used as evidence in an antiunion discrimination suit. i ask unanimous consent to include in the record at this print the legislation, the job


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