Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  October 20, 2011 5:00pm-8:00pm EDT

5:00 pm
quorum call be vitiated and ask to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection, and the senator is recognized. ms. klobuchar: i rise today to speak in support of the teachers and first responders back to work act. rarely is our economy discussed without mention of the more than 14 million americans that are currently out of work and searching for a job, but this statistic is only really the beginning of the story. two years after the recession officially ended or at least was at a place of stability, unemployment remains stubbornly high at 9.1%, and when you factor those that are working part time because they can't find a full-time job and those that have stopped working altogether, that number quickly climbs. in my home state, it is two points better at 6.9%, but there are still too many people out of work. it's my firm belief that the role of congress is to promote
5:01 pm
the interests of the american people, and the american people have said loud and clear that we need to focus on initiatives that are about jobs, private sector jobs, jobs that pay people so they can support their families, jobs that strengthen our economy. at a time when enormous budget shortfalls plague our states, many states have been forced to make tough choices, including cutting the jobs of those individuals on our front lines, law enforcement and educators. in minnesota, we have seen more than our fair share of crises in recent years, but we have also seen the value of effective emergency response. we all witnessed the critical work of public safety personnel during the minutes and hours following the 2007 bridge collapse in minneapolis. that was just a few blocks from my house, mr. president. during that emergency, the minnesota first responders reacted swiftly and effectively, and they were aided by a strong local public safety network.
5:02 pm
what we saw that day was a true show of american heroism, a window into the courage, skill and selflessness that first responders practice day in and day out. they didn't run away from this major bridge collapse, eight-lane highway in the middle of the mississippi river, they ran toward it. they dove in and out, in and out of that water, rescuing people, dozens and dozens of cars in that water, and thanks to their selfless efforts, we lost way too many lives, literally hundreds were saved because of their work. these men and wo these men and women dedicate their lives to protecting families, supporting our children and protecting the public. they perform critical jobs in our communities, jobs we cannot afford to lose. i saw it in a smaller town in minneapolis up in northern minnesota. there they had a tornado that literally flattened a mile of
5:03 pm
their town. i was standing in wreck -pblg, a high school where the bleachers were a block away, where there was nothing left of a public swimming paofplt you know what? not one person died in that town, even though this was a completely residential neighborhood. you know why? they got their siren out early. a teenage life guard at that pool who had a dozen kids got their parents there within 10, 15 minutes and the remaining kids she got in a basement across the street. when i visited that town, a few days later, hugged a man whose entire agriculture business had been flattened, he saved his employees in a safe that he always joked since he didn't have a basement they could go in the safe. that's what i remember. the thing i remember most was the mayor and sheriff and how despite people, despite having their houses completely flattened, losing everything they owned in the world, all they could do was hug those
5:04 pm
officials and cry because they knew the planning they put in place, the acts of the sheriff, police and emergency system saved their life. that is first responders at their best. that is public servant at their best. that's why we need to pass the teachers and first responders back to work act which would support the hiring, retiring and retention of career law enforcement officers and first responders. i know that state and local budget cuts forced thousands of police officers and firefighters off the beat. this bill provides $5 billion to put police and firefighters on the job by creating or saving thousands of first responder jobs across the nation through competitive grants to state and local governments. the teachers and first responders back to work act also saves or creates jobs through critical investments in education. a good education should be the basic right of every child. i know you know that in maryland, mr. president, as i know it in minnesota. it is one of the very best
5:05 pm
investments that we can make in our future as a nation. my mom taught second grade until she was 70 years old. she had 30 second graders in her public school class. we lost her last summer. but what i will never forget are all of those students who are now grown up that came to the visitation, came to the funeral and told me all those stories. i'd always known that my mom dressed up as a monarch butter fly when they had the unit on met morph seus. she would wear a butterfly outfit and wear a sign that said to mexico or bust. what i didn't know was that after that school day would be done each year, she would go to the local grocery store in that outfit and shop. when i first heard that story, i thought that was pretty funny and something she would do. what i finally realized is she went to that store, because i met the parents of this young man, he had taken her class in
5:06 pm
second grade, he had some pretty difficult disabilities and he went on, graduateed from high school and his job was to bag groceries at that store. she would go back every year to see that kid in her butterfly outfit so that he would remember that class. that is a public servant, mr. president. that is what teaching is all about. it is something bigger than yourself. given the enormous budget short false across the nation, states and local school districts have been forced to cut back on education programs and services. often laying off needed teachers and other critical staff or raising additional revenue to cover the shortfall. as a result, two-thirds of states were forceed to slash funding for k-12 education programs and services and are now providing less per student funding than they did in 2008 and 17 states slashed funding by at least 10% since 2008.
5:07 pm
in my state alone since 2008 we have lost 1,200 education jobs. cuts like this hurt our children, but they hurt our communities too. we have to compete on an international stage, mr. president. we are going up against countries that are actually upping their education funding, countries that are making sure their kids are learning incredibly difficult concepts in science and math and technology. we are not going to be able to accomplish that if they don't have schools in which they can learn and work, if they don't have teachers that have the expertise that can teach them these difficult kpwr-dz. that -- ideas. that's why we need po pass the teachers act which would provide support for nearly 400,000 education jobs and offering a much-needed jolt to state economies. it would also provide funding to support state and local efforts to retain, rehire and hire early
5:08 pm
childhood, elementary and secondary schoolteachers. it's a time when we recognize that educating our children is a shared responsibility. americans overwhelmingly support funding for teacher and first responders jobs. one poll showed that 75% of americans support providing funds to hire teachers, police officers and firefighters. passing this bill isn't the right they think to do just because it's popular. it's the right thing to do because it will have a positive impact on our children. and as we know, we pay for this bill. and we pay for this bill in a way that shares the responsibility with those that can afford it the most. this bill will move our economy forward without adding to the federal deficit. with our economy struggling and 14 million americans still out of work, the people in my state want congress to put the politics aside and come together to move our economy forward and ensure that our communities stay strong and that our children
5:09 pm
remain safe. that's what they want. it's time to step up and show some leadership here. i believe we need to bring this debt down. i'm one that believes we need to bring it down by $4 trillion in ten years and i believe there is a way to do it with a balanced approach that doesn't do it on the backs of these kids in school, that doesn't do it on the backs of our people who need protective services, who need our police, who need our firefighters. what would we have done when that bridge collapsed, if there hadn't been firefighters and police officers there ready to dive in and save people? what would we have done if there hadn't been emergency workers ready to take them in? what would we have done in minnesota when that tornado hit if we didn't have a proper public siren system in place? hundreds of people would have been killed. what we have done for that had kid i talked about with the disabilities if my mom hadn't been his teacher and cared about him and went back to visit him again and again and again?
5:10 pm
these are people that devote their lives to public service, mr. president, and we have to show america that washington isn't broken, that instead we're willing to put the politics aside. we're willing to do something smart on the debt and bring it down to the place where we need to bring it. but we're going to do it with a balanced approach. i urge my colleagues to vote for this important piece of legislation. it's the decent thing to do and it's the right they think to do. -- and it's the right thing to do. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: i rise in support to the -- in support of the amendment which specifically addresses the transportation bill we're talking about and addresses one of the new provisions in the bill this year that is a mandate that i think is not appropriate. a lot of states have infrastructure challenges right
5:11 pm
now. and the last they think we should be doing here in the congress is to make it more difficult for them to pay with their infrastructure with the limited transportation dollars they have. with the fiscal crisis we've got, we need to make sure that states have flexibility to meet the requirements from the federal government. at a time when unemployment is over 9%, we have over 14 million americans out of work, we also need to do what we can do to protect jobs. this legislation would hurt jobs and the amendment i'm offering would give states more flexibility and help keep some jobs. there are countless miles of guard rails around our country and many are manufactured in my home state of ohio. those manufacturers galvanized guard rails top prevent corrosion. they have two options on the process they use to galvanize the metal as well as two options to preserve the zinc they use in the process. in terms of the galvanizeation process, the first method is called continuous galvanizeation where the company treats the steel with zinc.
5:12 pm
the second method is called batch galvanizeation. in addition, there are two types of zinc thickness, type one, thinner and type two, a thicker coat of zinc. a lot of states around the country, including ohio, actually require type 2, which is the thicker kind of zinc for all guard rails. that's due to the harsh environmental conditions that cause metal to erode more quickly. however, ohio is one of those states that although they require type 2, a hrouts for continuous -- allows for continuous galvanizeation or batch galvanizeation process. a great surprise to me to read the legislation before us, the underlying bill says the states are prohibited from using any kind of guardrail unless it's type 2 plus it's produced through this batch galvanizeation process. it's a mandate. never been in this legislation before, that says it's got to be type 2, meaning the thicker kind
5:13 pm
of zinc and has to be applied using a particular process. it's micromanaging the process. the life of a guardrail is dependent on the thickness of the zinc, also the environment in which it's placed. there are 15 states that still approve type 16789 these states have -- type 1. these states have less extreme environments. without this amendment they would be forced to buy a more expensive product they don't want and don't need. these states are mississippi, virginia, delaware, oklahoma, kansas, colorado, utah, texas, california, montana and wyoming. the u.s. department of has weighed in on this issue. they have said -- and i quote -- "requiring all galvanized steel to meet type 2 could add unnecessary expense for many states where the added thickness is not needed. type 1 will protect guardrail components in many cases for the typical 20-year life design. the extra cost of type 2
5:14 pm
galvanizing may be unwarranted." that's the u.s. department of transportation. the ohio department of transportation said while they only use type 2 that odot does not have a preference with regard to how the galvanizeation occurs. they do not have a preference for a particular species of type 2 guardrail as both have similar properties to one another. they would prefer their flexibility use both kinds remains intact. that's the ohio department of transportation. they don't want to be told they can't use the process that many of them use now, which is continuous galvanizeation. the primary manufacturer of continuous galvanizeation guard rails is gregory industries located in canton, ohio, founded in 1896, a privately owned company run by the gregory family. these guard rails make up about 75% of the business of gregory and about 99% of the guard rails they make are made through this continuous galvanizeation process that would be prohibited under the legislation. in addition, about 30% of their
5:15 pm
sales come from type 1 guard rails which would also be prohibited under the legislation. the language as it stands would be devastating for this one company and would put 125 jobs in their canton, ohio facility at risk. the guard rails they produce are approved by the state highway transportation officials and a document called the m-180 that dictates what's acceptable and what's not. the type of products the current language would prohibit have been in use in all 50 states in the country and the continuous process that would be prohibited has been around for 50 years. so bottom line is we shouldn't give this ohio company or any company an advantage. we should allow competition to determine this and let the states determine it. why come up with a new mandate that micromanages this process at a time when we're all trying to save dollars and use them more efficiently? so this amendment seeks to strike the language that would limit the flexibility of states and place additional costs in
5:16 pm
cases where it does make sense to use type 1 for does make sense to use this continuous galvanization. so i would urge that the senate just take a commonsense approach here and i would urge all my colleagues to support this legislation. i know that my colleague may have some thoughts on this, but in summary, i would ask through this amendment to strike the language that would limit the flexibility of states and encourage you to support amendment 859. colorado i object to amendment 859 presented by my -- mr. kohl: i object to amendment 859 presented by my colleague, the guardrail amendment. i wish to tell him that we're seeking to work out our differences so we can move forward. but for the moment i object to the amendment. the presiding officer: the chair is advised that it's not currently pending. so -- a senator: i ask unanimous consent that the pending amendment be set assigned calmed amendment 859. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. kohl: i object. the presiding officer:
5:17 pm
objection is heard. a senator: wcialg i thank my colleague for his comments. i it is a simple amendment of it is a jobs amendment. it is perfectly germane to the bill. it is exactly the type of amendment that i think should not be blocked through this process. i thank my colleague from wisconsin. i yield the floor. mr. kohl: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll of the senate. quorum call:
5:18 pm
5:19 pm
5:20 pm
5:21 pm
5:22 pm
5:23 pm
5:24 pm
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proargs under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, leader is recognized. mr. mcconnell: i also ask unanimous consent that the junior senator from new hampshire and i be allowed to engage in a colloquy. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i want to thank my good friend from new hampshire for the issue she has raised with regard to the proper way to treat enemy
5:25 pm
combatants. her amendment, which we've been discussing off and on here on the floor today, has prompted preyed indications of doom and -- preyed indications of bloom and doom from our friends on the other side of the aisle and a lot of exsilented rhetoric. just to be clerks i would ask my friend from new hampshire, is it not true that the amendment that she has offered does not apply to everyone -- absolutely everyone -- who might be generally labeled a terrorist? ms. ayotte: i thank our distinguished republican leader, the senior senator from kentucky, for that question. that's correct. my amendment only applies to members of al qaeda and associated forces who are engaged in an armed conflict against our troops and coalition force and who are planning oregon carrying out an attack against our country oregon coalition partners. it does not apply to everyone
5:26 pm
who might be termed a terrorist and it does not apply to united states citizens who are members of al qaeda. mr. mcconnell: i would ask my friend further, has the united states congress authorized the use of military force against al qaeda and associated forces? ms. ayotte: i would answer, yes it has. so my amendment only pertains to enemy combatants against whom congress has declared we are in an armed conflict with, and because we are in an armed conflict with al qaeda and associated forces, the congress has authorized the use of military force to combat them and that is why it's called the authorization for the use of military force. mr. mcconnell: now, i can't recall a time when congress has declared that we're in an armed conflict, has authorized the use of military force against the enemy in that conflict, and yet the executive branch has a bias against using the military for interrogation and, if need be,
5:27 pm
the trial of enemy forces. can the senator from new hampshire recall such an occasion? ms. ayotte: no i cannot. mr. mcconnell: two days ago the president's top lawyer at the pentagon dwengdz the pentagon's use of force against an american citizen who is a member of al qaeda. in doing so he noted that using lethal force in such a case is perfectly appropriate because that person was an enemy combatant. specifically, he said, those who are part of the congressionally declared enemy do not have immunity if they are u.s. citizens. so, does it not strike my friend from new hampshire as inconsistent for the administration to authorize lethal force against a member of al qaeda, even if he is a u.s. citizen, because he is part of an enemy force, as declared by the congress? but, on the other hand, not to trust the military to try by
5:28 pm
military commission members, the same enemy force who are foreign nationals? ms. ayotte: it certainly strikes me as very inconsistent. it's especially odd given that the military commissions were enacted by congress at the suggestion of our united states supreme court. they were passed on a bipartisan basis and were refined by the obama administration to its liking. yet the administration refuses to fully use them and -- as they were intended. mr. mcconnell: so the senator from new hampshire's amendment do this appropriations bill makes clear that in the war on terror we remain at war with al qaeda and associated groups, that these forces remain intent on killing americans, and that in prosecuting this war, a higher priority should be placed on capturing enemy combatants, interrogating them for
5:29 pm
additional intelligence value, and thereby targeting other terrorists. that is the purpose, as i understand it, of the amendment of the senator from new hampshire. in military custody, our national security professionals would have the choice of prosecuting enem enemy combatann a military commission, detaining them under the law of war, and periodically questioning them for intelligence as new information is developed without them being all lawyered up. ms. ayotte: yes, and yesterday some of our colleagues came to the floor to argue that my amendment would limit the choi choices available to our commander in chief in prosecuting terrorists. i would ask the republican leader the following: in january of 2009, did president obama, when he first came into office, issue executive orders ending the central intelligence agency's detention program, ending the c.i.a.'s option for using
5:30 pm
enhance the thed interrogation techniques, ordering the closure of the secure facility at guantanamo bay, cuba, prior to any study being done concerning how to dispose of the population of enemy combatants there -- we now know that 27% of them are back in theater -- and suspending military commissions? mr. mcconnell: well, the senator from new hampshire is entirely correct. president obama has unilaterally restricted the tools available to him for combating terrorism, including by ordering the closing of guantanamo bay prior to having any plan for dealing with the population of yemeni detainees that are almost certain to return to the fight if they are released from guantanamo bay. it seems that once the president shut down the ability of the c.i.a. to detain enemy combatants and refused to transfer any further detainees
5:31 pm
to guantanamo bay, that many of us were waiting for the obvious test case to come along in which a terrorist was captured outside of iraq or afghanistan and needed to be interrogated and detained. now, i know the senator from new hampshire is a member of the armed services committee. does she recall the case of mr mr. warsami, the sew mal the soi terrorist captured at sea? ms. ayotte: the senator is correct. and this test case shows that capturing rather than killing a terrorist we can gain intelligence. instead of sending him to guantanamo, he was held at sea for prl two months, then -- for approximately two months and then law enforcement officials were brought in to read him his rights. i want to address arguments that were made on the floor earlier by senator levin from michigan, the chairman of the armed services committee. he claimed that if my amendment were to pass, that mr. warsame
5:32 pm
would escape justice because we wouldn't be able to prove that he was, in fact, planning an attack against the united stat states. well, i want to point out that if that were the case, my amendment would not apply because my amendment applies to members of al qaeda or affiliated groups who are also planning or have carried out an attack against the united states so he would be able to be fully held accountable in the civilian court system. and i wanted to correct that because i think that leaves a misimpression that mr. warsame will not be or could not be held accountable under our law. but i'd also like to say that the second problem with the analysis of the senator from michigan is that it ignores what's really going on here. the reason that the united states had to take the unusual steps of holding warsame at sea on a navy ship and then flying him to the united states over the fourth of july weekend is because of the administration's
5:33 pm
refusal to use the top-rate detention facility at guantanamo bay, cuba, that we have there for long-term military detenti detention. because it refuses to use this valuable'valuable asset for new, the administration has gone to great lengths to treat these enemy combatants who are captured in an -- on an ad hoc basis instead of placing them in a long-term detention facility which places an artificial time period on when we can interrogate these individuals and how long they will be available to gather information to protect americans. as the republican leader has noted, the president's top lawyer at the pentagon observed that members of al qaeda are enemy combatants and that congress has passed an authorization for the use of military force to treat them as such. we need to do that on a consistent basis and use the military assets we have.
5:34 pm
we should not have an ad hoc, haphazard approach to treating enemy combatants. we should not measur mirandise y combatants and then hold them on makeshift barges as if we were in the 19th century because the administration refuses to use guantanamo bay and then import them into the united states so they can be detained in our civilian court system, tried in our civilian courts with the possibility that they could be released to the united states if they're acquitted or given a modest sentence, as nearly happened with ahmed ghailani. now is the time to keep the pressure on al qaeda, whether in the tribal areas of pakistan or in yemen, our law enforcement officials have done a tremendous job in contributing to the counterterrorism fight. but we cannot for the first time in the history of this country
5:35 pm
take the view of the attorney general, which is that our civilian court system is "the" most effective weapon in our conflict with al qaeda because that's simply not the case. thank you, mr. president. mrs. hutchison: mr. president? mr. president, i want to thank the senator from new hampshire, on behalf of the leader. she has brought to the floor an outstanding amendment that needs to be addressed because this is an issue that is certainly one on a lot of people's minds, why would we be using our judicial system for enemy combatants. and she has articulated it so well, as the former attorney general of new hampshire, and we appreciate so much that she's brought this amendment and it's going to get a lot of support from the american people as well as members of the senate. thank you, mr. president. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized rood mr. reid: we have worked very hard to move through this first
5:36 pm
tranche of appropriation bills that we have. progress is being made but not nearly enough progress. we're going to move on the -- i'm going to move in just a minute to the bryson nomination but i want everyone within the sound of my voice to understand this cannot go on forever. people sometimes are unreasonable. we cannot have votes on all these amendments that have been called up here. i would hope that everyone would understand that we -- there has to be some give and take here and we need to move through this. they need b to be cooperative wh their staffs, because when this matter is finished regarding the secretary of commerce nomination, we're going to have to make a decision as to whether we continue working on this appropriation bill. this was a noble experiment. i'm part of t. i want it to work very, very much. but it can't work without the cooperation of all senators. and i say to everyone listening here, this is the way it's always been. i -- i was a member of the appropriations committee.
5:37 pm
the first day i came to the senate and i managed many appropriation bills here on the senate floor, and every one of them, we had more amendments than we had time to vote on them. that's where we are today. but only way we can finish them is work through these amendmen amendments. we hope we can do that. otherwise we'll have a cloture vote either tonight or tomorrow and determine whether or not we want to finish these appropriation -- these appropriation bills. all really extremely important. commerce-state-justice, agriculture, and, of course, the transportation bill. it would be really good porous to be -- good for to us be able to get this done. i heard susan collins, senator from maine, speak about this a little earlier today and she did an extremely good job of explaining why it's important we do this. under the previous order, mr. president, i move to executive session to call up calendar number 410, the nomination of john bryson to be commerce secretary. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, di department of commerce, john edgar bryson of california to be secretary of commerce. mr. reid: mr. president?
5:38 pm
the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: mr. president, there is four hours under the order previously entered. we would hope that all this time will not have to be used. we have -- i ask that there b be -- that 20 minutes remain equally divided between the two leaders or their designees, regardless of any time consumed in quorum calls or other presentations made on this matter. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: mr. president, i would like to congratulate my friend, the chairman of the committee, the commerce committee, and the senator from texas, kay bailey hutchison. they've both worked very, very hard in a fair, fair way to move forward on this. it's been good for the senate. when we confirm this nomination, it will be good for the country. i don't think we'll use all this time. i hope we can vote on this matter anywhere between 6:30 and 7:30 tonight. closer to 6:30.
5:39 pm
5:40 pm
5:41 pm
mr. rockefeller: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from west virginia. mr. rockefeller: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the order of the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. rockefeller: mr. president, i rise in strong support of john bryson of california who
5:42 pm
president obama has nominated to be his secretary of commerce. mr. bryson's nomination comes at a very critical time for our country and for our economy. no one disputes the secretary of commerce is an important part of the president's economic team. that person is now missing in the commerce department. commerce has to do with jobs. nobody there. that dictates that we have a leader with strong, real-world experience in the post. this position has been vacant since combat door locke left for china in late july. it's stunning to think with what the country's going through, we don't have a cabinet secretary who can attend to manufacturing and other kinds of jobs and job-related efforts that he will do. but because of the assistance of the minority -- and i have no objection to this -- we were unable to move this nomination until the trade agreement was finished. in other words, the trade agreements had to come forward, they had to be passed. that was done, and then it was okay to proceed to the bryson
5:43 pm
nomination. the commerce, science and transportation committee confirmed mr. bryson by a voice vote. i recall no objections at all. mr. bryson will be an excellent secretary of commerce, and america is entitled to have a secretary of commerce on the j job. mr. bryson possesses a rare combination of actual real-life business experience and a very broad intellect. as an executive, he has proven himself to be a talented executive and has shown his dedication to public service. he cares about public service. his to wait a long time to get this job and he's been in and out of public service. my colleagues should appreciate that mr. bryson's confirmation comes at an important crossroads for the country and for the commerce department itself. the challenges, obviously, are very important. high unemployment, a slow economic recovery. the secretary of commerce plays a major role in promoting jobs and our economy. but to do that, he has to be in
5:44 pm
place on the job. if confirmed, as i believe he deserves to be, he will have to face these steep challenges and looks forward to so doing. but i believe mr. bryson's experience provides him with the capacity to help restore jobs in manufacturing in america, as the secretary of commerce. i have long fought for stronger manufacturing sector in this country. anybody from west virginia would be crazy to do otherwise. manufacturing has been hit hard all over the country in this past decade, losing nearly one-third of its work force, and the government's response has been i think piecemeal. this needs to change. if the next decade is as bad for manufacturing jobs as the previous one, we're going to have very little left to work with of a manufacturing sector if we're trying to save it. this has grave national security implications, could cripple our ability to out-innovate and out-compete other countries. that's already happening. in the commerce committee, we held three hearings on this issue this year.
5:45 pm
that is, manufacturing. and we also included a field hearing. happened to be in west virginia, total coincidence, on exporting products made in america. mr. bryson knows if confirmed i intend to work with him to make manufacturing a high priority in our job-creating agenda. a word on noaa and nist. mr. bryson will also bring his leadership to help noaa innovate essentials to help americans from daily weather forecasts to fishing management to supporting marine, commerce and on and on and on. noaa's product and services support economic vitality and affect more than one-third of america's gross domestic product. americans in many states across the nation have suffered record-breaking weather disasters in 2011 and much of the gulf continues to recover from the worst oil spill of our -- in our history.
5:46 pm
mr. bryson's business-minded leadership is valuable now more than ever to help noaa continue to improve important service and keep pace with scientific innovation. the department of commerce also has -- houses the national institute of standards and technology, nist, an extraordinary place. i think we have a couple of nobel laureates out of nist in the last year. nist is critical to u.s. innovation through its measurement of science, standards and technological development. nist plays a critical role to advance everything from manufacturing to cybersecurity to forensic science standards. mr. bryson's own experience in both the public and the private sector will serve him well as he and his department tackle such national challenges. in closing, mr. president, mr. bryson is eminently
5:47 pm
qualified to be secretary of commerce and lead this important cabinet department during a time in which the american people are looking for innovative solutions to improve our economy and create jobs, and we need all the good people we can get. i urge my colleagues to support mr. bryson's confirmation so he can begin his important work towards that end. i would yield to my distinguished friend from the state of massachusetts, senator kerry. mr. kerry: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts is recognized. mr. kerry: i thank the chair, and i want to thank the chairman of the commerce committee, the senator from west virginia. mr. president, i strongly support the nomination of john bryson to serve as secretary of commerce. i think he is an exceptional choice by the president, and i am absolutely confident, having served with many commerce secretaries through the years, that he's going to be one of our
5:48 pm
best. i think he's the right person at this moment in time to be taking the helm at the department of commerce. it is a critical defining moment in many ways for our economy. the challenges are well known by everybody here in the senate, and the decisions that we make or fail to make on new energy sources, on infrastructure, technology, research, all of the items that the senator from west virginia just mentioned, all of those are going to play a critical part in defining the united states leadership role in the global economy. the experience of john bryson in the private sector has won him broad support in the business community, and i would ask unanimous consent that a letter from the former secretaries of commerce serving both republican and democrat administrations
5:49 pm
alike be placed in the record as if read in full. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. kerry: mr. president, i would just say to you that this is a letter written to senator reid and senator mcconnell from koteras, former commerce secretary, norm mineta, pete peterson, all of whom are strongly supportive of this nomination. in addition, i ask unanimous consent that a letter to senator reid from the president and c.e.o. of the hispanic business community, that they also be placed in the record as if read in full. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. kerry: let me say very quickly that john bryson brings to this role the special qualities of somebody who has served as chairman and c.e.o. of
5:50 pm
one of the nation's largest utility companies for almost 20 years, c.e.o. of edison international. he's been a board member for nonprofit organizations as well as for major corporations in our country. boeing, disney, some of the great success stories of our country. he has extensive experience working on international issues through his work at edison international and as chair of the pacific council on international policy. and i am convinced that if he's confirmed as secretary of commerce today, he's going to focus on increasing american exports, and he will be a superb ambassador, helping american companies while looking to expand across the globe. this is a person who has already proven his ability to be able to deal with people in other countries, with other companies. and i'm confident about his ability to perform this task. his previous experience exposed
5:51 pm
him to the importance of innovation and technology at a vital time for the information economy. and his department is now leading the administration in its efforts on issues ranging from privacy to spectrum reform. i am confident he is the right person to help make that process work. i also know his work on competitiveness means that he will be at the forefront of helping to lead our country to in fact take the skills of our workers, the infrastructure of the nation and retain and bring the brightest people in the world to this task. finally, i just want to close saying that in my conversations with, i hope secretary-to-be bryson, we raised an issue that is of critical importance to us in massachusetts. because of federal regulations limiting fishing in our waters, a lot of our fishermen have been put out of business or pushed to
5:52 pm
the brink, and there's a great frustration that exists between the fishing community in our region and the federal government. when i met with john bryson, he exhibited an understanding of the importance of that issue and a willingness to come to massachusetts and help us resolve this current situation. we are, frankly, here waiting for his confirmation months after those conversations took place and his talents could have been put to use in so much of the challenge that we face in this nation. i hope my colleagues will join together in an overwhelming vote of support for this outstanding, capable nominee who i think is the right person for this time. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. from california.
5:53 pm
mrs. feinstein: thank you very much, chairman rockefeller and mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from california is recognized. mrs. feinstein: i believe john bryson is really well suited for this role, particularly at a time when our economy is fragile and job creation isn't occurring fast enough. he has a lot of experience. senator kerry just pointed this out. he has run a multibillion-dollar company. he has been a strong advocate for business. he is ready to advance a jobs agenda, and all of that makes him a perfect fit for commerce secretary. i first got to know john when he served for 18 years as c.e.o. of edison international, one of the 200 largest corporations in the united states, with more than 20,000 employees. edison international is the parent company of southern california edison, which provides power to 14 million
5:54 pm
californians and nearly 300,000 businesses. as my colleagues may recall, in 2000 and 2001, california was gripped by an energy crisis that resulted in rolling blackouts that left millions of californians in the dark. the period marked the most turbulent era ever for the california power sector. price caps, manipulation, rolling blackouts, deregulation and enron became the focus of our attention. during that difficult time, john's company was under siege. i watched closely as he successfully fended off financial disaster even as other california utilities were swept into bankruptcy. i met and spoke with john often during that energy crisis and remember well his intelligence and pragmatism as utilities,
5:55 pm
state officials and washington worked our way through the crisis. some say that a crisis serves as the best test of a person's character. if that's so, john bryson is a man of exceptional character. in my observation, he worked hard to hear from the people of california, his shareholders and the many businesses that relied on a stable power grid. and after emerging from the crisis, from 2003 to 2007, john turned edison around completely. the firm was number one among investor-owned utility companies for returning value to its shareholders. i believe he will carry this same thoughtful, sensible leadership style with him to the commerce department. in addition to his time at
5:56 pm
edison, he served as director, chairman or advisor for a wide array of companies, schools, and nonprofit organizations, including many institutions with deep roots in my home state, california, such as the walt disney company, bright source energy, boeing, and the asset manager, k.k.r. the california business round table, the public policy institute of california, and the university of southern california's school of medicine, the council on foreign relations, stanford university, the california institute of technology, and the california endowment. i'm also proud to note that john and i share the same alma mater: stanford, where john earned his undergraduate degree. later he attended yale law school before returning to california. so, john bryson's experience
5:57 pm
paints a peck tour of a leader -- paints a picture of a leader who focuses on the practical and achievable. i believe if confirmed, he will support measures that meet those criteria. at this time in our economic history, our number-one priority as a government must be to grow the economy and get people back to work. i know my senate colleagues agree. and in my view, john bryson's combination of pragmatism, experience in the board room and understanding of the public sector will make him an outstanding commerce secretary. i expect he will be a powerful voice inside the administration and a partner with the business community to grow our economy and open international markets for american manufacturers. i make these remarks on behalf of my colleague, senator boxer
5:58 pm
as well. we have a california candidate for secretary of commerce. we're the largest state in the union. we've got 12.1%. we need job generation. and so i trust that john bryson is going to provide this and provide it as expeditiously as is humanly possible. i thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming is recognized. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i listened to the statements made by my colleagues, and i have come to a different conclusion. i think that this nominee is actually the wrong person at the worst time, at a time when unemployment rate is 9.1%, when 14 million americans are looking for work, i would think that the president would want to respond appropriately and nominate someone to lead the commerce department whose record was consistent with the mission
5:59 pm
outlined for the commerce department. and that mission is to promote job creation, to promote economic growth, to promote sustainable development and improve standards of living for all americans. so i would think that the president would want to nominate someone who has a record of robust job creation. instead, the president has nominated someone whose political advocacy is, in my opinion, detached from the financial hardships facing tens of millions of americans today. most americans recognize that cap and trade, or as i call it "cap and tax" is job-killing. it is a job-killing energy tax. yet, this nominee has repeatedly advocated for cap-and-trade legislation. he had even called the waxman-markey legislation a moderate but acceptable bill. there are colleagues on the other side of the aisle that support that legislation. i do not.
6:00 pm
i view it as a tax. the nominee even went so far as to say that the legislation was good, precisely because it was a good way to hide -- mr. president, to hide a carbon tax. but is that the role of the secretary of commerce, to hide taxes on american businesses, on american families, to make american businesses less competitive, to make it more expensive for them to hire new workers? i want to find ways to make it easier and cheaper for the private sector to create jobs, not for ways to hide taxes and make it more expensive and harder for the private sector to create jobs. and finally, mr. chairman, madam president, i would like it point out what would happen before the confirmation hearing before the senate commerce committee. the chairman of the committee, who is here on the floor, questioned mr. bryson about coal. coal is important to the
6:01 pm
chairman's state. it's very important in my state, a big part of our economy. and he asked for straight, direct answers, which the chairman did not receive to the point that he actually invited the nominee to visit with him privately in his office to discuss the issues. so, mr. president, i come here today to say, we need a commerce secretary who is committed to making american businesses more innovative at home and more competitive abroad, more innovative at home, more competitive abroad. we need someone who will address the problems of high unemployment, slow economic growth, and rising consumer costs, aggressively and dispassionately. mr. president, in my opinion, john bryson is not that person, and, therefore, i will not support nor will i vote for his nomination. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
6:02 pm
mrs. hutchison: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas is recognized. mrs. hutchison: mr. president, today very shortly we will vote on president obama's nominee to be the secretary of commerce. this is a most senior position in the department, and with unemployment at 9.1% and most certainly trying to promote business, to create jobs, we need a secretary of commerce. the administration has talked about job creation and the need for regulatory reform, but, to be honest, i haven't seen regulatory reform get a priority on the president's agenda. you might not find a price tag for regulation, but there's no question that businesses know when they are overregulated, it stifles their ability to create jobs. this year alone regulations are
6:03 pm
projected to cost u.s. taxpayers $2.8 trillion, and new regulations imposed by the administration in 2011 would cost over $60 billion. so, during the confirmation process when mr. bryson was before our committee, i asked him the question about his view on overregulation, and he stated that he would be a voice in the administration for simplifying regulation and eliminating those where the cost of regulation exceed the benefits. i believe his business background qualifies him to address that issue. it would give him the experience to be helpful in bringing back the regulations that are stifling the growth of business and, therefore, the job creation in our country. i also appreciated that mr. bryson said in the confirmation hearing that the
6:04 pm
national labor relations board was wrong in trying to keep boeing from choosing where it would manufacture its products. on the corporate tax rate, the u.s. currently has the second-highest corporate tax rate in the world, behind japan, which has said it will lower its rate, ultimately leaving the rate in the dubious distinction of having the highest corporate tax rate in the world. lowering the u.s. corporate tax rate should be a substantial part of any tax reform and, although that tax policy is beyond the commerce secretary's responsibility, i did ask mr. bryson the question of whether he believed our corporate tax rate was too high and would he be a voice for lowering it and he said he would. i thought that was a very important statement for him to make and important for the secretary of commerce to commit to doing. we have now passed the free
6:05 pm
trade agreements that were really the holdup on considering his nomination. if confirmed, i expect mr. bryson to take advantage of the agreements and work to assist our businesses with the efforts to reach out and expand new markets with these new free trade agreements. mr. bryson stated before the commerce committee that he made statements supporting cap-and-trade legislation because he felt that electric utility industry, of which he was the chairman of a major industry -- corporation in that industry, needed regulatory certainty. that was his reason for coming out for cap and trade. now, i disagree with him on that, and i agree with many of my colleagues that he -- that that is not the right approach for america. we should not having cap and trade and, as some have call it
6:06 pm
cap and tax. but, mr. bryson again said that he had no interest in pursuing that kind of legislation, if he is confirmed as secretary of commerce. i would point out that mr. bryson has the support of the u.s. chamber of commerce, the hispanic chamber of commerce, and the national association of manufacturers. and they will be major constituents that he will represent in trying to build businesses for our country. he is also supported by six former secretaries of commerce, including the secretaries that have served in the administrations of george w. bush, george h.w. bush, and the nixon -- and nixon. so, i believe, in summery, the president should be given deference in selecting the members of his cabinet, unless there are serious issues against the nominee. i have voted against a few of the nominees of some of the presidents when i have been in
6:07 pm
the senate. but i do it rarely and very carefully because i do think that elections have consequences, and i do believe the president has the right to make his decisions. i do not believe there are issues that rise to that level in the case of john bryson. he does have a business background. he is well-regarded by the many colleagues who have called me on his behalf, who have been with him in the business world. and i do not see any issue that would cause me not to vote for his nomination. i will support his nomination, and i will work alongside him to be a voice for job creation in our country. and i hope that he is confirmed. i think he will be confirmed. and i would hope that he would then work with our members of congress who want to help him be an effective voice for business and investment in america and
6:08 pm
create the jobs that will get this unemployment rate back down and get people comebac back to . thank you, mr. president. i don't have people on my side yet who are going to speak, but there are two others who wish to speak. i will put news a quorum call until they get to the floor and then that will probably be -- allow us to give back time. now, mr. president, i would just ask my colleagues, any who are listening, if they wish to speak on behalf of or against mr. bryson, to please come to the floor now so that we will be able to know that everyone has been satisfied, and we will be able to take this to a vote. i do think mr. bryson has waited very patiently for a very long time to have this come to a conclusion, and i hope that we can do that on as quick a basis
6:09 pm
as we can, giving everyone their ability to talk, if they choose to. thank you, mr. president. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: their their hard wk
6:10 pm
6:11 pm
6:12 pm
6:13 pm
6:14 pm
6:15 pm
6:16 pm
6:17 pm
6:18 pm
6:19 pm
6:20 pm
6:21 pm
on this nomination and their continued great work in the commerce committee, a committee of which i once had the great honor of serving on. until the senator from texas
6:22 pm
forced me to leave. [laughter] but, mr. president, i rise today to support the nomination of mr. john bryson to be the 37th secretary of the department of commerce. as i mentioned during my time in the senate, i had the great honor of serving on the commerce, science and transportation committee. one of the most -- in my view, one of the most important committees in the united states senate. and it is really a wonderful and broadening experience to be a member of that committee. and i think it's important what we are discussing here today. and that is whether mr. bryson should be confirmed by members on my side of the aisle because we may not agree with some of his views and some of his philosophies and some of his
6:23 pm
statements in the past. and i'd like to be clear, if i were president of the united states, i -- i would probably not have nominated mr. bryson, even though i am confident that he's a fine man. we just have different views on different issues. but i think we all ought to appreciate the fact that elections do have consequences, and when a president of the united states is elected, we have an important role to play of advise and consent. but we also have a role to play in understanding that the american people have spoken and elected a president of the united states, placed on him the responsibilities of the presidency, and the best way he can carry out those responsibilities in the most efficient fashion is to have members of his team around him, people that he has trust and confidence in. now, mr. bryson clearly has the trust and confidence of the president of the united states. there are times when all of us
6:24 pm
have opposed a nominee for a -- for an office that requires the advice and consent of the senate of the united states. but those occasions should be rare. those occasions should be when the judgment of the senator should be that that individual is not fit to serve. now, that's a big difference between whether you think that individual should serve or not. in other words, the president's right, in my view, to have a team around him so he can best serve the country is a very important consideration without losing or in any way diminishing our responsibilities of advice and consent. now, mr. bryson has held a number of positions in business and in other walks of life that are impressive.
6:25 pm
now, he may not have made statements or done things that we particularly agree with, but i don't think you could really question mr. bryson's credentials and background to be to fulfill the job of secretary of commerce, and that should be the criteria, in my view. and everybody's entitled to their opinions as to their role as senators in the advice and consent role, and i don't try to tell any other senator what their role is, but i think that the senate during most of its existence you'd find that the president of the united states was given the benefit of appointing that individual to positions of authority and responsibility because the president earned that right. so it has to be an overriding reason to vote to reject that nominee. and, by the way, i would point out, in this particular case,
6:26 pm
because of inaction on the trade agreements, a group of us sent a letter to the majority leader saying we would withhold support for the current nominee until the free trade agreements were passed. the free trade agreements were passed. they were passed. and so i would urge my colleagues to look at mr. bryson's background and not whether you agree with his statements or philosophy but whether he's truly qualified, and i believe that he is qualified to serve. i would also mention, not in passing, to my colleagues on this side of the aisle that someday sooner or later we will have a republican president. i hope sooner rather than later. and that president will be appointing or nominating individuals to serve on his team or her team. and then i hope that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will also observe sort of what has been traditional
6:27 pm
here in the united states senate and that is that you give a president of the united states a certain latitude to pick the members of his team who he thinks will help him serve this nation through difficult times with the utmost efficient and loyalty. -- utmost efficiency and loyalty. so i want to thank both senator rockefeller and senator hutchison for their work on this important and in my view all-too-controversial nomination, and i urge my colleagues to vote in support of the nomination of john bryson to be the 37th secretary of the department of commerce. mr. president, i yield the floor. mrs. hutchison: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas is recognized. mrs. hutchison: mr. president, i just want to thank the distinguished senior citizen -- [laughter] -- senior senator from arizona. i'm having a bad night. i want to say he was chairman of the commerce committee and did a fine job and i am so appreciative that he put in
6:28 pm
perspective the role of advise and consent in the senate, because there are times when all of us have said the issues regarding a certain nomination are so great that they would not allow us to vote for confirmation. but that is not the case here, and i do think that senator mccain made the eloquent statement that mr. bryson might not be his choice but that's not the question. that is not the question before us. he is qualified for this job. he has the business background that we need. we certainly need a secretary of commerce to be able to help our businesses grow and create jobs, and elections have consequences. and i thank the senator from arizona for taking the time to come and make that part of the record complete and i'm very pleased that we are having this
6:29 pm
kind of discourse and i think that the record will be complete and i believe that when our colleagues think about the importance of the president having his nominee for this job and the qualifications that mr mr. bryson has, even if you disagree on issues, which i certainly do, which senator mccain does, senator barrasso, but, nevertheless, we're going to disagree on issues, that's -- that's something that happens every day. but does it rise to the level of voting against this nomination is the question that we have to asanswer, and i thought senator mccain answered it very w. thank you, mr. president. and i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. roll roll quorum call:
6:30 pm
quorum call:
6:31 pm
6:32 pm
6:33 pm
6:34 pm
6:35 pm
6:36 pm
6:37 pm
6:38 pm
6:39 pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota is recognized. ms. klobuchar: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senate is currently in a quorum call. ms. klobuchar: i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: i'm here to talk on behalf of commerce secretary nominee john bryson. mr. bryson testified before our commerce committee. i was impressed by his background and by his ability to answer the questions, by his understanding of business. i think everyone knows we are facing difficult economic times in this country, and we need someone in that job that understands business.
6:40 pm
mr. bryson has strong and broad support within the business community and his nomination has been endorsed by such groups as the u.s. chamber of commerce, the business round table and the national association of manufacturers. six former commerce secretaries from george w. bush, bill clinton, george h.w. bush, nixon administrations, those commerce secretaries from those presidential administrations have also joined in strongly supporting his confirmation. mr. bryson, as you know, mr. president, was reported favorably to the entire senate by the commerce committee. you look at what some of the groups have said about mr. bryson. the business round table, they say john bryson is a proven, well-respected executive who will bring his private-sector experience to the commerce department's broad portfolio. the national association of manufacturers, they say this: bryson has a strong business
6:41 pm
background which gives him the advantage of having exposure to the difficult issues manufacturers face in today's global marketplace. the national association president and c.e.o., jay timmons, said that mr. bryson has a strong business background and serves on the board of many manufacturing companies which gives him the sr-pbg of having -- of having exposure to the difficult issues many manufacturers face in today's marketplace. i believe a lot of way we get out of this downturn, mr. president, is manufacturing, making things in america again, exporting stuff. and these business groups know mr. bryson understands our issues. chamber of commerce says bryson has extensive knowledge of the private sector and years of experience running major company. we hear from edison international. bryson was a visionary leader of edison international and we know he will bring that same
6:42 pm
leadership to the department of commerce. boeing says this: john bryson's global business experience and strong leadership skills are a great match for the position of secretary of commerce. you serve on the commerce committee, mr. president, as i do. i head up the subcommittee on competitiveness, innovation and export promotion, and i've seen firsthand the need to make sure that the commerce committee is thinking every single day as the commerce department should about how we get more jobs in this country, how we make sure we're working with business as partners and we make sure we get through the red tape that we should, that we put forward a competitive agenda for this country. and that is why i'm supporting mr. bryson for commerce secretary. thank you very much, mr. president, and i yield the floor.
6:43 pm
mr. rockefeller: mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
6:44 pm
the presiding officer: the senator from california is recognized. mrs. boxer: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mrs. boxer: i rise in support of john bryson of california, president obama's nominee to be secretary of commerce. mr. bryson will bring a wealth of experience in both the private sector and the public sector to this very important job of commerce secretary. and lord knows, we're in a recession. we're fighting hard to get out of it. we need a commerce secretary. we need someone who understands the private sector and the public sector, and you have that in john bryson. in the 1970's and 1980's he served as the chairman of the california water resources board and california public utilities
6:45 pm
commission. there he helped california navigate droughts and oil shortages and other crises during a critical period in my state's history. for more than 20 years mr. bryson utilized his talents in the private sector, first as chairman and c.e.o. of southern california edison and later as chairman and c.e.o. of edison bryson has aln the boards of many companies, both large and small, and he will bring to the job of commerce secretary a unique expertise on what it takes for businesses to grow and expand. mr. bryson's top priority is job creation. as commerce secretary, he'll be working closely with the president to meet the goal of doubling our nation's exports by 2015 and creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs right here in the united states. he'll be working with the private sector to drive innovation and economic growth. and he'll be working to make the u.s. a leader in the clean energy economy.
6:46 pm
at edison international, mr. bryson helped california become a hub for clean energy development and clean energy jobs by make investments in those renewable technologies. he understands new clean energy technologies will create millions of jobs here at home and that the nation that rises to this challenge will lead the world, because the whole world is looking for these kinds of technologies. so, i think mr. bryson comes to us with varied experiences which will serve us well and will serve president obama well. mr. briesons nomination has been applauded by all sides of the political spectrum, from environmentalists to business interests. tom donahue of the chamber of commerce praised mr. bryson's -- quote -- "extensive knowledge of the private sector and years of experience successfully running a major company" -- unquote. the business round table called mr. bryson -- quote -- "a proven, well-respected executive
6:47 pm
who brings his private-sector experience to the commerce department's broad portfolio, that includes technology, trade, intellectual property and exports which will be crucial to expanding our economy and creating jobs." the natural resources defense council, which mr. bryson helped found in the 1970's called him -- quote -- "a visionary leader in promoting a clean environment and a strong economy. he has compiled an exemplary record in business that underscores the strong linkage between economic and environmental progress." unquote. i would also like to ask unanimous consent to place into the record an editorial from "the los angeles times" titled "commerce department nominee deserves the job." may i do that? the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: thank you. so, mr. president, mr. bryson's unique background will serve hi well as he works with prime minister and the senate and the thousands create jobs. i applaud our president for
6:48 pm
choosing such a well-qualified, experienced individual to about be commerce secretary and i want to thank chairman rockefeller, rank #-g member hutchison for work together so we could get to this vote today. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma is recognized. mr. inhofe: first let me thank nigh good friend, the senator from california, senator boxer, for speaking, but a i asked her to do if. you know, a lot of people are surprised on how well we get along. the committee that she chairs is called the environment and public works committee. i am the ranking member. when republicans were in the majority, i was the -- i was the chairman. and i'm looking forward to being chairman again, but that's another conversation for another day. but the reason i wanted to speak is because we do -- and lot of people are surprised to see this -- we get along very well. right now we are doing everything we possibly can to
6:49 pm
get a highway reauthorization bill, and for those of us -- she prides herself on being a very proud liberal and i pride myself on being a very proud conservative. and yet we both know that one of our primary functions here is to do something about infrastructure. i have often been ranked as the most conservative member of this body in the united states senate, and i often have said, yeah, i may be conservative -- i am a big spender in two areas -- national defense and infrastructure. i mean, that's what we're supposed to be doing here right now we have the most deplorable problem in the condition of our roads and highways and bridges. in my state of oklahoma, it goes back and forth to being dead last or next to last to missouri as having the worst condition of our bridges. we had a lady not too long ago in my state of oklahoma -- in oklahoma city, who was driving -- she is mother of two small
6:50 pm
children. she was driving in one of the big interstate bridges, driving under it, a block of concrete fell off and it killed her. she's the mother of two small children. we have people dying every day on the highways because of the condition of the highways. and for that i applaud senator boxer for joining me to put together this coalition. and let me -- i don't want to say anything that would be improper at this time. and it is my expectation -- not just hope, but expectation -- that we're going to be able to come up with a highway reauthorization bill. and it is going to be one that's going to be at least holding the current spending level. if we were to have to go back to the level of the proceeds of the highway trust fund, that would be about 34% less than what we're spending today. and i defy anyone -- anyone of my -- any one of my fellow senators from all of the 50 states to tell me one state that
6:51 pm
isn't having just as serious a problem as my state of oklahoma is having. and so i think that it's important that we recognize that there are some things the government is supposed to be doing and some things that brings us all together, and, again, that's what is going to havment i can remember back the last three authorization bills -- the last reauthorization bill we had was 2005. at that time i was the chairman of the committee. we all worked together. we came up with a -- what was it $286.4 billion five-year bism as robust as that was, that did very little more than just maintain what we have today. no new bridges, all these new things that we need to v and i think a lot of the people that i -- that are my good friends, primarily over in the house, that came under the banner of the tea parties and all that, they recognize, yes, you can be a conserve tirvetion but when they got home, they said, well, wait a minute. we wanted not to be spending these big things but we weren't
6:52 pm
talking about transportation. so we've got to single out transportation for my conservative friends to recognize there's the place where we need to be spending more money, not less money. so i look forward to that and i hope that we'll have an announcement to make as one of the most liberal and one of the most conservative members joining in coming up with a highway reauthorization bill. there's not unanimity in what it will look like, other than the spending level should remain where it is today. and it should be something that is going to address these problems. there will be a lot of sacrifices along the way. i know that when we mark up a bill, there are going to be a a lot of things in there that i don't like and that senator boxer doesn't like and we're going to have to give up some of these things. and i made it very clear that back in the days -- in the early days when i was actually serving in the other body, we always had surpluses in the highway trust fund. we were able to take care of
6:53 pm
these needs. then, as typical as politicians are this way, they see pot of money, they want in on it. so we had all these groups and a lot of them were environmental groups that wanted to have their own agenda attached to it. well, we're going to have to get serious and make this a highway bill. and, by the way, this would also make -- be probably -- certainly the biggest jobs bill that we've had during this administration, since we have not done -- this administration has done a lousy job of providing jobs. but, having said that, and i've said that because i want to draw a contrast here. we're about to consider and vote on the president's nominee, john bryson, to be secretary of commerce. now, he's president obama's choice. it is a clear indication that he has no intention of backing down on his job-killing war on affordable energy. but i have to say this: we're not talking about what john bryson -- this isn't vann
6:54 pm
jones that we're talking b this is a guy that's a nice gay. guy. and we have a lot of nice friend. i have a lot of people who are friends of mine and friends of his. and clearly he is a person that is really -- that is well-received in terms of being a good person. but he's dead wrong on the issues that will get -- that will provide jobs for america. and at a time when unemployment is sky high, president obama chooses the founder of -- and i'll characterize it differently than my friend from california did -- one of the most radical, left-wing, extreme groups, the natural resources defense counsel. it is a left-wing organization, which in the name of global warming seeks to cut off access to our natural resources, increase drastically the price of electricity and gasoline across america. we know this is true. because we know that if they would merely develop the
6:55 pm
resources that we have today in the united states of america, we wouldn't have to be dependent upon the middle east for one barrel of oil. we wouldn't have to worry about the supply of gas and coal. because we have, as i'm explain in just a minute and document, the largest recoverable resourceness coal, gas, and oil of any country in the world. now, mr. bryson once called the waxman-markey cap-and-trade bill moderate. this was probably the most liberal of all the cap-and-trade bills that were there. i have to say this one thing. i understand i am eight last speaker tonight. what all the speakers who are in favor 6 this have in common is they are all supporting cap and trade with the exception of senator hutchison and she's a retiempleg standpointrd stop and think about it. boxer, feinstein, kerry, mccain, they're all strong supporters of cap and trade.
6:56 pm
that's what i'm going to talk about tonight because i know where john bryson is on cap and trade. he told some students at the university of california berkeley last year that -- and i'm going to quote now so i don't get it wrong. "cap-and-trade has the advantage politically at sort of hiding the fact that you have a major tax." now, to me, the fact that you're supporting something that's a major tax increase on american people is bad enough, but when you say one of the good things about cap and trade is you can hide the fact that it's a major tax increase" -- and this we know now what this would cost. cap and trade is cap and trade. it doesn't make any difference if it was back during the kyoto days. it doesn't make any difference it was any of the bills that were passed. still the analysis is that the cost of a cap-and-trade bill would be between $300 billion and $400 billion a year. this is legislation that would
6:57 pm
cost the taxpayers $300 billion to $400 billion a year. it would destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs, hurt families, workers by raising the price of gasoline and electricity and yet he believes -- this nominee for secretary of commerce believes that that was a moderate bill, the waxman-markey bill. the secretary of commerce should have a record of promoting, not stifling economic growth, and john briesons career shows that he has -- and john bryson's career shows that he has a record of the latter. it makes no sense to have a secretary of commerce who's against commerce. i'm not the only one who thinks soavment i'm going to quote these because an editorial for example in "the wall street journal." quote -- "president obama nominated john bryson to head the commerce department on tuesday, praising the californian as a business leader who understands what it takes to innovate, to create jobs, and to
6:58 pm
perseveres through tough times." going on quoting "the wall street journal," "that's one way of describing someone with a talent of scoring government subsidies." and we keep hearing -- and i think they have been -- and they answered the question, people say, well, this man has been very successful for 18 years; he ran the -- let let me see what it was called here. one of the major utilities and it was out in california. it is one of the interesting things about it. this utility out there is not one that is -- was using coal. this is using renewables, and obviously all they do is, as "the wall street journal" pointed ow, they have very heavery expenses and they raise the price of utilities, they pass it on. they pass it on to the consumers to ultimately have to pay for it. quoting further, "the washington examiner," quote -- there is another side of bryson, twhawn
6:59 pm
fits squarely in the tradition of radical obama appointees like green jobs czar vann jones, a self-proclaimed marxist, medicare head don berwick, who swoons over britain's socialized national health srvetion the national labor relations board member craig becker, the former labor lawyer who never met a union power grab he didn't back. that's queeting from the "washington examiner." here's investor's business daily. "the nominee for commerce secretary found it an antienergy group and believes in redistribution of wealth to help poorer nations. at this rate we'll be one of them." if personnel is policy, there can be no better choice to help implement president obama's antigrowth energy policy and redistribution of wealth plans than his choice to be the next secretary of commerce, john bryson." again, that's the inkvestors business daily.
7:00 pm
the acu came out and they said, putting john bryson in charge of the commerce department is the dictionary dea definition of pug the fox in charge of the henhouse. that's exactly what it is and that's what -- and you know that's one reason that i would prefer we not have this vote tonight. i would like to have all of us go back for this one-week recess and let the people know that this is about to be voted on. and i think that's one reason that they are going to be doing it tonight. by the way, i'm -- i'm not critical of the leadership, certainly not the democrat or republican leadership. in fact, i went to them and i said, so long as you give me a 60-vote threshold, i would waive all the -- going through all the loops of filibustering and having cloture votes and all that. so i appreciate that. but my intent was to wait and i still would ask them formally if they would change this u.c. under which we're operating and allow this vote to take place when we come back from this one-week recess.
7:01 pm
the choice of bryson is also part of president obama's green energy jobs push. in fact, the president said that he specifically nominated -- listen to this, mr. president -- he specifically nominated bryson because he is a -- quote -- "a fierce proponent of alternative energy." but with more than 9% unemployment and the complete collapse of the solar company solindra, the president's green agenda is not creating jobs. in the end, it's more than just a bankrupt company, it's a metaphor for the failure of obama's war on affordable energy and america's fossil fuel jobs. i've already called for the hearings in senate on solindra and i hope it won't be long before they occur. president obama has received the message loud and clear that his global warming green agenda no longer sells, but that doesn't mean that he has given up trying to implement it. bryson is just one figure in
7:02 pm
obama's green team. he follows in the footsteps of carol browner, anthony van jones, who also supported increasing taxes on america's energy, as well as energy secretary steven chu. you remember steven chu, the president's energy, who said, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels of the price in europe." that's about $8 a gallon. so it's the intention of this administration to race gas prices to either reduce -- force them into some other type of energy or to -- or to stop people from having the freedom of driving, as we always have in this country. but that was the energy secretary who said that we've got to bring our price of gasoline at the pumps up to that in the -- of europe. then we had also allen krueger. allen krueger is the -- has been nominated by president obama to be the chairman of the council
7:03 pm
of economic advicers -- advisors, as yet another example. and during his time at the department of treasury under president obama, mr. krueger made it clear his opposition to the development of traditional domestic energy. he even went so far as to say -- and i'm quoting now -- "the administration believes that it is no longer sufficient to address our nation's energy needs by finding more fossil fuels." he further stated -- and i'm still quoting allen krueger, this is when he was in the treasury department, and he's his nominee now for the chairman of the board of the council of advisor -- advisory council -- "the administration's goal is to have resources invested in ways which yield the highest social return." now, that's -- that's -- that is the nominee, the current nominee for the -- to be chairman of the council of economic advisors for the president. well, he doesn't need that advice. he's already doing it.
7:04 pm
yet congressional research service reports america has the largest recoverable resources of oil, gas and coal in the world. the obama administration, their failure to appreciate this fact is one of the many reasons why they are not making progress in creating jobs and improving our economy. this is a key here. when this discovery was made -- this was the congressional research service -- nobody has denied this, that when they came out, that was less than a year ago, and they said that we -- america has the largest recoverable resources of oil and gas in the world. that means we could be totally self-sufficient. all we have to do is develop our own resources. and there is not one -- i defy anyone on this floor to tell me there's one other country that doesn't develop its own resources. we're the only one. and so we have 83% of our non-shore public lands off-limits. we can't do -- we have these huge reserves out there but we can't -- we can't go after them.
7:05 pm
then there's rebecca water, who president obama has chosen to be the assistant secretary for the fish and wildlife departments. that would be for the department of interior, as c.e.o. of american rivers, which works actively to shut down energy production in the united states, she, ra beck what water, is a -- rebecca water, is a strong add case for hydraulic fracturing, a a -- this is interesting. it wasn't long ago that president obama was lauding the virtue of natural gas and then at the end of the speech said we're going to have to do something about hydraulic fracturing. look, mr. president, hydraulic fracturing started in my state in 1948. you know, there have been 1 1/2 -- well, i don't -- i can't really quantity ph quantie hundreds of thousands of wells that have been hydraulically fractured. but it's in the hundreds of thousands. maybe a million and a half.
7:06 pm
i've heard that figure. and yet with the exception of one well back in 1986 where somebody actually went into an aquifer, there hasn't been one documented case in over a million hydraulic fracturin fracturing -- refractured wells where it has contaminated groundwater. and yet they're using that, knowing full well if you kill hydraulic fracturing, you kill the -- the -- all of the oil and gas in tight formations because you can't get it without that. the selection of mrs. water is a clear departure from her predecessor, tom strickland, who in testimony before the e.p.w. committee -- that's our committee -- that said we should actively and aggressively develop our energy resources. unfortunately, miss water's support for regulation advancement suggested that she would do the opposite, which exposes the reality of president obama's agenda of creation energy prices and destroying jobs. these nominations -- and, of course, we're talking tonight about another nomination, a
7:07 pm
person who's a good guy and all that, but john by son, to be in a -- john bryson, to be in a position to follow all the rest of these who are doing everything they can to fill fossil fuels. and when you kill fossil fuels, and we know and the president admitted that it would cause our price of electricity in america to skyrocket. these nominations are not surprising when you remember that president obama said himself that he wants electri electric -- electricity rates to skyrocket. as he told the "san francisco chronicle," he said -- quote -- "if anybody wants to build a coal-fired plant, they can. it's just that it will bankrupt them. and that's just what the obama e.p.a. regulations intend to do. the e.p.a. is moving forward with an unprecedented number of rules for coal-fired plants and industrial boilers that have now become known as the -- the infamous train wreck for the incredible hard -- harm that they will do to our economy. they're set to destroy hundreds
7:08 pm
of thousands of jobs and significantly raise energy prices for families, businesses, and farmers, basically anyone who drives a car or flips a switch. the president himself has now publicly acknowledged this, and when he stopped the agency from tightening the national empty ient air quality for oh zone, his statement couldn't have been more clear. the e.p.a. creates uncertainty that stifle job creation. and just last week the e.p.a. also pulled back on its plan to tighten regulation on farm dust undoubtedly due to bipartisan concern that it would cause great harm to our farmers. i -- you know, with all these regulations, i've given this speech on the floor and i'm not going to repeat it tonight, about what it costs, all the regulations that this president is trying to put forth in terms of his mack regulation. that means maximum achievable control technology. he has the -- the refinery mac,
7:09 pm
he has the boiler mac, he has the farm dust mac. these are things that he is trying to do where the technology's not even there. you know, i -- i found out something just the other day, that in broken arrow, oklahoma -- and i can't recall the name of the company now -- but they make platforms for hydraulic fracturing, and i don't know whether the senator from california has ever seen one of these platforms. i've seen a loft them. they make a lot of them in oklahoma. and this young man who is the president of this company showed me these platforms. these platforms are about -- you put maybe four of them in this chamber. that's how big they are. and on these platforms -- this is to do hydraulic fracturing -- they are -- they have a -- made a great big diesel engine and this diesel engine is necessary to do hydraulic fracturing of oil wells. well, they came out with a regulation the other day that i didn't even know about and they said that we -- from -- after a certain date -- can't tell you
7:10 pm
exactly when it was, the next couple of months -- that you will not be able to use the diesel engines on your platform that does hydraulic fracturing unless it is a -- quote -- "tier 4 diesel engine." well, here's the problem, they don't make them. they're on the drawing board. they're making them but they're not on the market yet, and so they're shutting down the people who are building the platforms to do hydraulic fracturing through regulations. and every day we run into new regulations. i can remember on the farm dust regulation, i had a news conference in my state of oklahoma. in oklahoma, we went back to -- i had people coming out from washington, d.c., who had never been west of the mississippi and we went down southwest of the town of altos, oklahoma, and i said in my news conference, and the cameras were rolling, and i said, now, this president is trying to do something to regulate farm dust. now, let me explain something to you. if you all will look down here, that brown stuff down there, that's called dirt.
7:11 pm
now, if you look at that round green thing down there, that's cotton. and now put your finger in the air. that's called wind. now, are there any questions? what i'm saying is -- and they all realized -- that there is no technology to regulate farm dust of, and yet they're trying to do it in every farm -- right now the major farm organizations, like the american farm bureau, they are ones who are saying that's our number-one concern right now is what they're trying to do to shut down farms in america. yet the e.p.a. continues to push the regulations that harm the economy. the cross-air state pollution rule, the so-called utility mac, the prime examples of rules that are poised to destroy jobs. let's not forget the economic ramifications of global warming. i want to talk about that one. but before we leave the utility mac, we have right now utilities that are notifying coal producers, saying that if this goes through, we're not going to be able to honor our contracts to buy coal from you.
7:12 pm
that's how serious it is. we're talking about hundreds of thousands of employees. let's get to the big one now, the economic ramifications of global warming regulations imposed by the obama e.p.a. in the clean air act which costs american consumers between $300 billion and $400 billion a year. the reason i want to mention this is because there have been attempts since the kyoto treaty -- and, of course, we did not ratify the kyoto treaty and we didn't do it for a very good reason and that is it would cause extreme economic harm on the united states of america. it would only affect the developing nations and not the developed nations -- it would only affect the developed nations, like the united states, and -- and some of the european nations but not the developing nations. so it wouldn't have the effect of reducing co2 if you wanted to reduce co2. now there, have been bills all the way -- ever since the 1990's there have been about seven or eight different bills to try to
7:13 pm
do -- here in the united states to do away with -- impose some kind of cap and trade but they weren't able to do it because the people in this body won't vote for it. in this body. they -- right now, count get 25, maybe at the most 30 votes, and it takes 60 votes to pass something. you couldn't get more than 30 votes to vote for a cap and trade bill. so the president realized this. he realized that with all the people that -- the jobs that would be lost and the cost of this thing, the fact that it would be -- impose a tax of around $300 billion to $400 billion a year on the american people. i remember back in 1993, and that was during the clinton-gore years, and i remember what when they came back with their big tax increase. i'll never forget it because i was serving at that time over in the other body. and they came out and they were raising -- they were raising marginal rates, raising capital gains taxes, they were raising all the taxes, retirement, all of it, and the cost of that was
7:14 pm
some $30 billion a year. and i remember coming down to the floor of the house of representatives and saying, we can't afford $30 billion a year. well, this tax would be ten times that, between $300 billion and $400 billion a year. and that's what they're trying to do. now, when the president realized that he was not able to pass this legislatively, he decided through regulations he was going to pass his own cap and trade. and as we -- and i've got to say this, there are people out there who still believe -- not very many but they still believe that somehow we're having catastrophic global warming and it's due to anthropogenic gases or co2 emissions. and so i remember and i'm very phoned of lisa jackson whose the e.p.a. administrator appointed by president obama, because i asked her the question, i said, you know, if we were to pass any of these cap and trade bills, would this reduce worldwide co2 emissions? she said no, because it would only affect the united states of
7:15 pm
america. this isn't where the problem is. if it's a problem, that problem is in mexico, in china, in india and places that don't have any kind of restrictions. and so that's what he's trying to do that to impose that tax. i know people get worn out when they hear, talking about billions or trillions of dollars, and i'm not as smart as most of these guys around here so i do it dimple. i keep -- differently. i keep track of the number of families in oklahoma who file a tax return and then i do my math. if we were to do cap and trade and then sponsor it -- if you were to do it, it would increase the taxes by between $300 billion and $400 billion a year. do your math on the number of people who file a tax return in the state of oklahoma and it would approximately $3,000 per family. you get nothing by their own admission because it would not
7:16 pm
reduce the worldwide emissions. what this president fails to realize is that affordable, reliable energy is the lifeblood of a healthy economy and the foundation of our global competitiveness. instead he continues to favor the radical environmental agenda of turning around our economy and putting americans back to work. on the other hand, in my state of oklahoma, oil and gas development has led to a tremendous economic boost and the creation of good-paying jobs. right now in my state of oklahoma, you're talking about a 9.2% unemployment rate that they have nationwide, in my state of oklahoma it's 5.5%. i'm sorry, it is, it is -- it's about 5.5% or 5.2%. that's about half of what the national average is. it's due by and large to the fact that we have this growth and people who are in the energy business. we can continue going down the path of president obama's
7:17 pm
job-killing agenda or start developing our nation's natural resources which are the key to the nation's recovery. that's jobs. that's cheap gas at the pumps. we have plenty of them. the c.r.s. report i mentioned shows us that america's combined recoverable natural gas and coal endowment is the largest on earth. in fact, our recoverable resources are far greater than those of saudi arabia, china and canada combined. we have 163 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the united states of america. that's enough to maintain our current levels of production as the world's third-largest producer and replace our imports from the persian gulf for more than 50 years. in other words, on oil alone, it would be, if we just develop what we have here, it would take care of our needs that we know is down there for 50 years. then we can say the same they think for natural gas, the current skupgs, america's --
7:18 pm
consumption, america's future supply of natural gas is 2 thousand trillion cubic feet. that's enough to run the united states of america for 90 years. 90 years, just imagine that. the only problem is our politicians won't let us develop our own resources. finally the report i referred to, which is a fairly recent report also reveals that america is number one in the coal reserves with more than 28% of the world's coal. now it is a real solution to the energy security and the key to economic prosperity. now john bryson, if he were to become, and the vote would take place, energy development and economic growth in oklahoma and across the nation could be in jeopardy. that's why i'm doing everything i can to tell the truth to the american people. it's been said to me by democrats and republicans alike that their phone has been ringing off the hook by people
7:19 pm
who serve on boards with john bryson. and i agreed. and i said at the very beginning that he is a good person, but he is of the philosophy, and he's an outspoken proponent of cap and trade. and that's what we can't afford. i wonder, really, i know there's a lot of pressure put on members of this body, i wonder where all the conservatives are tonight. i appreciate john barrasso, senator barrasso coming here and talking as i am talking and telling the truth about the problem that we have. sometime, someplace we've got to draw the line. i named all these appointments that the president made, the nominations he's made. but we have to draw the line. and i felt this is a good place to do it, and i recognize there's going to be a lot of pressure on conservatives to kind of sit this one out. but i want them to keep in mind that this is the number-one concern of most of the conservative groups right now. i read the editorials that are out there. everybody knows. our eyes are open. this is not a vote where you go
7:20 pm
later on i wish i'd known that. i would have voted "no." this is your chance to do it. have i had calls from people on board? yes. they all said he's a good friend of oursant i don't want to weigh in. one of them, he called up and after he told me how good a person john bryson was, he said have you got that down? you've got that down? ignore everything i said. we know the phone calls come in, they are leaders out there. i love them all aeupbd love john -- and i love john bryson, but we're going to have to draw the line. if you want to have an advocate for the largest tax increase in the history of america, that is the tax increase called cap and trade, then this is the nominee for the secretary of commerce that is committed to cap and trade in america. so i just, mr. president, i wish that we were not going to take
7:21 pm
this vote until the end of the recess, because i'd love to have people go home and try to answer questions from people who are out there in the real world as to why is it that someone isn't standing up for us to develop our own natural resources, our own energy and reduce the price of electricity, reduce the price of gas and think of us for a change. that's what's going to happen. i think right now by rushing this vote for people have time to realize it, very likely it's going to pass. but i don't want anyone to say that they weren't informed because i'm informing you right now. i thank senator barrasso for joining me. with that, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
7:22 pm
mrs. hutchison: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas is recognized. mrs. hutchison: mr. president, i think everyone -- the presiding officer: the senate is currently in a quorum call. mrs. hutchison: i suggest the -- mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to suspend the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. hutchison: mr. president, everyone who has asked for speaking time on my side has spoken, and i yield back the rest of our time. mr. rockefeller: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia is recognized. mr. rockefeller: i yield back all time on our side, and i ask for the sroes and call for -- ask for the vote and call for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll.
7:23 pm
7:24 pm
7:25 pm
7:26 pm
7:27 pm
7:28 pm
7:29 pm
7:30 pm
s vote: votvote: vote:
7:31 pm
7:32 pm
7:33 pm
7:34 pm
7:35 pm
7:36 pm
7:37 pm
7:38 pm
7:39 pm
7:40 pm
7:41 pm
7:42 pm
7:43 pm
7:44 pm
7:45 pm
7:46 pm
7:47 pm
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber who wish to vote or to change a vote? if not, on this vote the yeas are 74. the nays are 26. and the nomination is confirmed. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. reid: we have a consent agreement that we're working on. we hope to have people sign off on that. if they don't, one or many are going to have to object to it. we've spent enough time on this that we need to move forward. we know we have a number of votes already scheduled. mrs. boxer: the senate is not in order. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. mr. reid: senator mcconnell has something pending. i do too. we know we're going to have to vote on that. that's the least of our worries. we have to work through this
7:48 pm
appropriation stuff. so people who have concerns, bring that to david chap -- schiappa or gary myrick. otherwise i'm going to come forward with a consent agreement. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate -- the president shall be immediately notified of the action of the senate. and the senate will resume legislative session. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
7:49 pm
7:50 pm
7:51 pm
7:52 pm
7:53 pm
7:54 pm
7:55 pm
7:56 pm
7:57 pm
7:58 pm
7:59 pm
quorum call:


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on