tv U.S. Senate CSPAN November 30, 2011 5:00pm-8:00pm EST
motion on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from michigan. mr. levin: the senator from new hampshire -- mr. mccain: mr. president the senator from new hampshire had intended to talk about her amendment and withdraw it and she may be coming. i have had a chance to notify her. there may be a couple-minute delay. so i have to suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. mccain: in a exchange hi on the floor about -- and i mentioned the wonderful long people -- wonderful long island, i made a joke. i'm sorry there's at least one of my colleagues that can't take a joke and so i apologize if i offended him and hope that someday he will have a sense of humor. i yield mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: mr. president, i've been working for some time to wrestle with this question of the right number of military forces we need in europe. it's an issue that's given me some pause and i thought we had an agreement several years ago to make some noticeable changes in that force structure.
some changes have, indeed, been made and others were in the works and they apparently have been put on hold and altered. so i just want to share some thoughts about it. i thank senator levin and senator mccain for working with me to develop an amendment to this bill that helps call attention to this problem with the department of defense. we've had a long and historic relationship with europe and our european allies. they remain the best allies we have in the world. we have large numbers of troops still in europe but they're not nearly as many as there have been in the past. but the numbers are still extraordinary. we have at this time 80,000 united states troops in europe. and i don't believe military threats justify that large a
troop presence, and our historic even larger number was based on the soviet threat, the folder gap, the weakness of our european allies after world war ii and their lack of strength and the bond that nato meant. and we stuck together and transformed the entire north atlantic region in a positive way. a book has been written about where we are today called "paradise and power." the essence of it -- pretty significant book, frankly -- the essence of it is that the europeans are in a paradise, protected by american power, and they don't feel any need to substantially burden themselves with national defense because the united states is there. we have a nuclear presence.
we have 80,000 troops. we have the fabulously trained, highly skilled military with the lift capability of moving to a troubled and dangerous spot at any time. and i do think it's fair to say they have become a bit complacent. as part of a codel that i led in 2004, we visited europe because the united states was going through a brac, a reduction of united states basing, and we didn't have the same type policy with regard to international bases. and we visited, senator chambliss, senator enzi and i, bases in europe, particularly bases we felt would be enduring, like eroda, spain, and cigenella and vincenza and other bases in ramstein, germany. but there are others, lots of
others. so part of the nato commitment is that each nation in europe would invest and spend 2% of their g.d.p. on defense. we have been 4%, sometimes over that recently, as we've -- in recent years, and so our nato members, however, are falling below that. germany, the strongest economy in europe, germany is at 1.2% of g.d.p. on defense and they spend a large portion of that on short-term, less than one year military training of young people in germany. and the fact is that a nine-month trainee is not someone in the modern world you can send into combat. they're just not sufficiently trained. many military experts believe that this is just a waste of money. so even the money they're spending in many ways is not
effectively and wisely spent to create the kind of modern military you have to have to be successful in serious matters. so we do, though, believe that europe is not facing the kind of threats that we have and i think appropriate for us to talk to our european allies and say we want to proceed with a drawdown where possible. this nation is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar that we spend. the defense department under the sequester that will occur as a result of the failure of the committee of 12 to reach an agreement will be facing dramatic cuts in spending, over a trillion dollars based on president obama's projected budget, over ten years and we need to look for every reasonable savings that we can. the defense department is taking
too heavy a cuts in my opinion, far more than any other department of government. however, we can't sustain that. i don't support that large a cut but it will be reducing spending by a significant amount and so i believe we should think about our foreign deployments. the national defense authorization act represents a vision for defense spending. we are now down from $548 billion spent on defense department last year to $527 billion this year, an actual reduction in noninflation dollars of over $20 billion. as a matter of fact, the budget control act agreement calls for a reduction of total spending in the discretionary account this year of $7 billion, whereas
defense department is taking $20 billion. other departments, therefore, are receiving increases to get the net 7 that's claimed, and, unfortunately, that's not an accurate number because we don't achieve even the $7 billion promised. now, since 2004, the defense department had a plan to transfer two of its four highly trained combat brigades in europe back to the united states as part of the larger post-world war realignment. and however, in april of this year, the department of defense announced that it would maintain three combat brigades and not bring the fourth one home until 2015. i've asked chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general
dempsey, at the armed services hearing, and the general ucon commander, for an explanation why we are altering the plan that's in place. so my amendment has been agreed to on both sides and would require three things from the department of defense. number one, assessment of the april 2011 decision to station three army brigade combat teams in europe. number two, an analysis of the fiscal and strategic costs and benefits of reducing the number of forward based military personnel in europe to that recommended by the 2004 global posture review. and, three, to describe the methodology used by the defense department to estimate the current and future costs of u.s. force posture in europe. so is europe more threatened today than before? i don't think so, and the united states has got a tougher
financial condition today than before. yes. i know thai believe that we neek at this more carefully. i thank senator levin and senator mccain for working with me to recommend an amendment they believe is consistent with the goals i'm seeking without micromanaging the department of defense. so, mr. president, i thank the chair. i'm pleased that this amendment will be considered and perhaps we can make some progress to analyzing more properly the deployment of forces in europe. and finally, i would say there is no doubt in my mind that the economy of the united states is benefited if a brigade is housed in the united states and the cost of support and families are in the united states strengthening our economy rather than transferring the wealth of our nation to a foreign area.
and i hope that we'll consider that as we deal with this issue. and i thank the chair and would yield the floor. mr. mccain: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: mr. president, i'd call up amendment number 1229 and ask for its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the presiding officer: the amendment is already pending. mr. mccain: i note the presence of my colleague, senator lieberman, on the floor, the chairman of the homeland security committee, and we have had a discussion and a colloquy that i would ask unanimous consent be included in the record at this time.
the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: and i thank my friend from connecticut for his support of this amendment and the importance with the full realization of the key role that the chairman of the homeland security committee plays in the issue of cyber security, which is the most -- in many respects one of the most looming threat to our nation's security. mr. lieberman: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. lieberman: i thank my friend from arizona. i appreciate this amendment that he's offered and i'm -- i believe i'm now listed as a cosponsor. if not, i ask unanimous consent that i so be -- be so listed. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lieberman: this amendment essentially codifies a very important memorandum of understanding between the department of homeland security and the n.s.a., the national security agency. this is a -- this is a perfect balance and exactly the kind of overcoming of -- of stove pipes
that we need to see in our government. under existing law, the department of homeland security has responsibility for protecting non-defense government, federal government cyberspace, cyber networks. and the privately owned and operated cyberspace. which -- which actually amounts to some of the most critical cyber infrastructure in our country is privately owned, and today would be, as senator mccain said -- suggested, a target of attack by an enemy wanting to do us marm by attacking -- us harm tbaiking for instance our transit system, financial systems, electric grid, and the like. and what is embodied in this
memoranda of understanding between d.h.s. and n.s.a., which we will by this amendment codify into larks iinto law -- utilizing the unsurpassed capabilities of n.s.a. i appreciate that in this colloquy that senator mccain and i are entering into we both made clear -- and i appreciate that his intention here is not in offering this amendment is not to circumvent the need for broader legislation to protect our cyberspace, our american cyberspace from theft, from exploitation and from attack. it happens that the current occupant of the chair, the distinguished junior senator from rhode island has really been a leader in this chamber in pushing us to deal with these kinds of problems.
senator reid has announced that he will bring a comprehensive cybersecurity bill to the floor of the senate in the first work period of 2012. and that's very good news for our security. as senator mccain said, i don't know that we have a more serious threat to our security than that represented by those who would do us harm by attacking our cyber systems, both public and private. so this colloquy makes clear that this is a very significant first step but that we need to do something more comprehensive and we look forward to doing it on a bipartisan basis. in the first work period of 2012. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: i want to thank the senator from connecticut, my dear friend. and the amendment does establish a statutory basis for the memorandum of agreement between the department of defense and the department of homeland security on cooperative
cybersecurity support. no one should have any doubt about how serious this issue is. the secretary of defense, panetta, testified in june "the next pearl harbor we confront could very well be a cyber atafnlgt" admiral mike mullen in a tearing on 9/22 referred to the cyber threat as an exextension threat to our country. so this is a very serious issue and one, as the senator from connecticut just pointed out, is of utmost importance to our nation's security and mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the colloquy between myself and the senator from connecticut appear as -- immediately before the vote on this amendment. the presiding officer: without objection, it shall be so. mr. mccain: i move the amendment. the presiding officer: is there further debate? if not, the question is on the amendment. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say no.
the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the amendment is agreed to. ms. ayotte: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that senator lieberman and i be allowed to engage in a colloquy. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. ayotte: constitution, mr. president. obtaining intelligence from high-value terrorist detainees is an urgent flat security priority -- national security priority that is essential to protecting americans. unfortunately, under current larks terrorists need look no further than the internet to find out everything that they need to know about our interrogation practices and how they can circumvent them. under the president's 2009 executive order 134 the 1, all's government interrogations are limited to the interrogation techniques that are available online and prescribed in the
army field manual. as a result, all members of the intelligence community, including the nondepartment of defense intelligence professionals who support the high-value detainee interrogation group, must conform to the procedures of the army field manual, which was written by the u.s. army for the u.s. army. that is, there is little flexibility permitted under these rules, and they are easy for those who want to harm us to circumvent them and to know exactly what techniques we will use to gather information to protect our country if they're detained as an enemy combatant. mr. lieberman: would the senator from new hampshire yield for a question? ms. ayotte: yes, i would, thank you. mr. lieberman: let me first thank my friend, senator ayotte, for assuming and carrying out such a leading role in our debates on this critical issue of how our country handles
detainees and gathers intelligence in our war on terrorism. i share her concerns about the potential damage to our intelligence-collection efforts inflicted by addherence to the exist -- adherence to the existing restrictions on interrogators, and that's why i'm pleased to be with others a cosponsor of the amendment she's introduced, which is amendment number 1068. i will say that i'm mostly disturbed about the amount of misinformation that seems to be circulating about this amendment and similar efforts in the past that i've supported. so let me now ask the senator from new hampshire, does amendment number 1068 authorize torture? ms. ayotte: i thank my friend, the senator from connecticut, first of all, for his leadership within this body on national
security and as we both had the privilege of serving our states as attorney general of our states. and i thank him for that question because the answer is "no." and this is an amendment i want to point out that not only is senator lieberman sponsoring this amendment -- and i appreciate his experience and leadership on these very most important national security issues -- but senator chambliss, who is the vice-chairman of the intelligence committee, as well as senator graham, senator cornyn, both members of the armed services committee, as well as the senate judiciary committee. it is very important to be clear about what this amendment would and would not do. this proposal takes every possible measure to put in place intelligence-gathering practices that honor our american values and laws. our amendment in no way condones or authorizes torture, and there have been many who have been trying to misrepresent what is
in this amendment. any new infai interrogation tecs would be required to comply with the u.n. convention against torture, the military commission's act, the detainee treatment act as well as section 2441 of title 18 u.s. code that relates to war crimes. mr. lieberman: i thank my friend, senator ayotte, for that clarification, because it's very important and very critical, particularly for those who misunderstood this amendment, to understand the host of protections that the amendment puts in -- compelling compliance with international conventions against torture as well as explicit prohibitions in american law against interrogation that amounts to torture.
but i want to also ask my friend another question. right now all federal government interrogators, all interrogators, whether in the military or in the civilian intelligence community, are limited to using the army field manual. so why do you think it's so critical to give interrogators the ability, this limited ability to go beyond the army field manual? ms. ayotte: well, i appreciate the question from my senator -- my colleague from connecticut. and the decision by president obama to limit interrogations to the army field manual was, i believe, based in part on the horrible abuses that occurred at the abu ghraib prison in iraq. undoubtedly, the abuses at abu
ghraib failed to reflect america's values and certainly damaged our interests. however, responding to these abuses by reflectio reflex civig the army field manual -- which the terrorists can go online and know exactly which techniques they will be subject to if captured, to apply that to all federal government interrogators does not reflect the threat to our country and the importance of providing our nonmilitary intelligence collectors all of the lawful tools that they need to gather intelligence to prevent future attacks and protect our country. mr. lieberman: well, i thank senator ayotte for that answer, and of course i completely p agree with her. it is foreign step back and just perhaps state the obvious: why do we capture enemy combatants? why do we take prisoners of war?
there are really two reasons. the one obvious one is to get them off the battlefield against us. so that they can no longer attempt to kill americans in uniform and in the case of the war we're in with islamist terrorists, to kill civilians. that's the first goal to get them off the battlefield. but the second goal to -- and this is a traditional purpose of taking prrntio prisoners in wars long as there has been war. the second purpose is to gather intelligence from them, which will assist us in defeating the enemy and protecting -- achieving our goals, protecting the lives of our men and women in uniform. that traditional purpose for taking prisoners of war is all
the more critical in the unconventional war we're in against a brutal enemy that doesn't strike us from battleships or tactical air fighters or military tanks or even in uniform, but strikes us from the shadows and strikes civilians as well. so i think it's very important to approach this amendment understanding that we're trying to increase in a reasonable way the capacity of those who work for us to protect our security and freedom to interrogate detainees that we have captured in the war against terrorism. and one of the purposes is to gather intelligence which will help us protect the lives of our -- of americans and of our allies. the preface to the army field manual says, and i quote, that
"it applies to the active army, the army national guard, the army of the united states, and the united states army reserve unless otherwise stated." end quote. so, that's from the field manual. recognizing that these words create limited applicability of the manual outside the army -- the army training and doctrine command authors had the wisdom to warn that this manual was army doctrine. that is, the very authors have said, this is army doctrine and would have to be adapted, altered to apply to other military departments or other military services. so if the interrogation tactics inttack inthis man pule are noty suited for military services other than the u.s. army, why should civilian interrogation
professionals in the intelligence community and particularly those who are in support of the high value of detainee interrogation -- that is the group that gets the most serious, most powerful, influential, dangerous prisoners of war -- be forced to comply with a document written for a defined military unit, which is the u.s. army? and so i ask my friend from new hampshire that question. ms. ayotte: well, i think -- i appreciate the question from the senator from connecticut, and absolutely, as you've pontsed out, they shouldn't. the army field manual was not created for this purpose. and as you've mentioned, the high-value detainee interrogation group is a group consisting of the c.i.a., f.b.i., and defense intelligence agency, which is designed to interrogate the worst terrorists who are likely to have valuable
information about future attacks and information we need to protect our country. to address this problem, what our amendment does is we have drafted the amendment to this authorization that would allow members of the intelligence community who are assigned in support of the high-value detainee interrogation group to utilize interrogation techniques that are consistent with our laws and values. our amendment would ask the secretary of defense, working with the director of national intelligence and the attorney general, to develop a classified annex that terrorists could not see -- unfortunately now they can go right on the interknit and look at what techniques are going it be used -- a classified annex to the army field manual that would provide interrogation techniques that could be used by that important select group of intelligence-gathering professionals to allow them to have at their use the techniques they need to protect americans
and to gather information to protect our country. mr. lieberman: again i thank my friend from new hampshire. i want to come back to something i said earlier. we described here the purpose of this amendment, what i call the due process that we put into it, the mandate that it comply with existing international norms and treaties and obviously comply with our law. i want to ask my friend, none of the additional measures -- let me put it this way. is certainly not our intention -- and i ask you, is it your intention that none of the measures that we are authorizing here, interrogation tactics for the worst of the terrorist detainees should or could equal what is conventionally known as torture. in other words, we're not attempting to legalize torture
with this amendment? ms. ayotte: thank you, senator lieberman. no, we are not. we believe that torture violates our laws and runs counter to american values. that's what i believe. that's why we specifically require that the techniques developed by the secretary of defense, the director of national intelligence and the attorney general have to comply with the u.n. convention against torture and all applicable laws including the detainee treatment act. thus the aclu's claim that the amendment threatens to revive the use of torture is patently false, unfortunately. currently the army field manual interrogation techniques that our intelligence community interrogators must follow are publicly listed online. that is unacceptable. this would be like the new england patriots giving their opponents their play book days or weeks before the game begins. in my experience as attorney general of new hampshire and as a murder prosecutor, no detective or cop just in a
common criminal case would tell the criminals what techniques are going to be used to gather information. mr. reid: mr. president? could i ask my friend from new hampshire to allow me to ask a unanimous consent request? ms. ayotte: mr. president, i would grant that request. thank you. the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. reid: the reason senator levin and i have a briefing, a classified briefing that starts at 5:30. i ask unanimous consent that following the statement of the senator from new hampshire -- is the senator from listening? how much longer are you going to speak? it doesn't matter. ms. ayotte: i would say, leader, that probably five minutes. mr. reid: mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent that following her statement of ten minutes -- because she's been around long enough. she's learned to keep senator's time. five minutes really isn't five minutes. the senator from connecticut
wish to speak? mr. lieberman: mr. president, i'd say to the leader i'm in this with the senator from new hampshire. we'll complete our colloquy within the ten minutes. mr. reid: following the colloquy in ten minutes, i ask the senate proceed to a period of morning business for one hour. following that, we go back to the defense authorization bill. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. reid: there will be no more votes this evening, mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i express my appreciation to my friend from new hampshire. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. ayotte: thank you, mr. president. i thank our leader for giving us the opportunity to continue this colloquy. i just wanted to point out that we were talking about the fact that the army field manual is online, and my experience as an attorney general -- i know my colleague served as attorney general as well. prior to that i was a murder prosecutor. and no detective or cop on the beat would in a common criminal case -- and we're dealing with a
situation where we're at war with terrorists -- would ever give a criminal their play book as to what techniques they would use to question them to get information to see if a crime is committed and to see that justice is served. and we're in a situation where we have online the techniques from the army field manual when we're at war with terrorists who want to kill us. and so what we're saying with this amendment is that we need to allow the intelligence professionals to develop techniques put in a classified annex consistent with our laws that would allow them to gather intelligence and not tell the enemies, our enemies what techniques will be used to gather information. not surprisingly, al qaeda terrorists have taken advantage of our willingness to tell them publicly on the internet what we will -- what will and won't happen during the interrogation should they be captured. al qaeda terrorists have familiarized themselves with interrogation techniques they
would confront if captured and they're training on how to respond. and that makes it more difficult for us to gather information. the united states willingness to give the equivalent of interrogation cliff notes to terrorists places our interrogators at a disadvantage and makes it more difficult to gather information we need to save american lives. so developing a classified annex of lawful techniques for intelligence professionals who are interrogating the worst terrorists would make it harder for terrorists to train to avoid and resist interrogation. the key to our amendment is giving this limited group of intelligence community -- community interrogators the techniques they need to gather information but to do so without restoring -- resorting to torture and while retaining an operational advantage that makes it more likely that an interrogation will be successful. mr. lieberman: mr. president, i thank the senator from new
hampshire. just listening to her just seems so unacceptable that we're basically telegraphic to our en-- telegraphing to our enemy the range of tactics we'll use against them as part of the interrogation. i mean, we've set some quite appropriate constraints here in this amendment consistent with our values and our laws and international law that we're not going to get anywhere near torture. but when a member of al qaeda or a similar associated terrorist group is captured, i want that person to be terrified about what's going to happen to them in american custody. i want them not to know what's going to happen. i want that terror that they inflict on others to be felt by them as a result of the uncertainty of not knowing that they can look on the internet and find exactly what our
interrogators are going to be limited to. and, again, we will not tolerate torture. we will not tolerate what happened at abu ghraib. the limiting interrogation to the army field manual was an understandable but excessive reaction to the extreme and unacceptable behavior by americans at abu ghraib. i hope this amendment will facilitate a return to a kind of sensible middle ground on which we will not be shackling our interrogators as they try to get intelligence within the law to protect our freedom and the safety of those who are fighting for us. i want to ask my friend from new hampshire whether she thinks that we've now got a kind of one-size-fits-all approach to
interrogation that's posted online. in other words, our laws should make it easier within the law -- not harder -- to gather intelligence to keep americans safe. and yet, it seems that the current policy actually runs counter to that basic principle. does my friend from new hampshire agree? ms. ayotte: i do. i do agree, because it -- i mean, as a matter of common sense, this amendment should go forward because the reality is that to tell our enemies online what to expect is just -- just defies common sense. that's really what we're doing with this amendment. mr. graham: i find the discussion fascinating, if i may enter into the colloquy? the presiding officer: subject to the previous order, the senator is welcome to join the colloquy. mr. graham: thank you, mr. president. as i understand it, the reason you're having to do this is
because the president obama, by executive order, prevented the c.i.a. and other agencies from using any enhanced interrogation techniques that have been classified in the past. is that correct? ms. ayotte: that's right, senator graham. unfortunately, we're just telegraphing to our enemies techniques to be used. mr. graham: if i may ask another question. so all of us agree that we don't want to torture anybody. waterboarding is not the way to gather good intelligence. not only is it not the right thing to do, it's just not the wise thing to do. but we believe that we're going too far the other way. that when the president said that no interrogation technique is available to our intelligence community other than the army field manual, do you agree for the first time in american history we're advertising to our enemies what we can do to you if
we capture you, and no more can be done? ms. ayotte: i would say, senator graham, that's absolutely right. that's why i appreciate that you've sponsored this amendment, that senator lieberman, i appreciate his leadership. i have to say while we're in this colloquy, senator lieberman has also been a mentor to me in the senate, and i appreciate that, with his leadership on these issues. but really it comes down to that. to not telegraphing, not advertising to our enemies what techniques our professionals -- and this amendment is limited to the group of professionals that is going to focus on these issues that will be gathering intelligence from terrorists. and we've got to protect our country. so why we would do this, it just doesn't make sense. mr. graham: to my good friend from connecticut, there is a proposal pending on the floor of the united states senate that would say for the first time in
american history that if a united states citizen decides to collaborate with the enemy, they cannot be held as an enemy combatant. i think you're very familiar with the history of the law in this area. unfortunately, during the entire history of the country and other conflicts, american citizens have on occasion collaborated with the enemy. one of the most famous cases being the in re: curran cases where you had american citizens in new york and other places helping nazi saboteurs try to sabotage america. and in that case, the supreme court ruled that an american citizen could be detained as an enemy combatant because the decision to collaborate with the enemy is a decision to go to war with your country, not a common crime, and the law to be applied is that of the law of war.
i'm sure the senator is familiar with the hamdi case where an american citizen seized in afghanistan was allowed to be held as an enemy combatant. and the hamdi decision reaffirmed in re: curran and the padilla case involves an american citizen captured in the united states accused of collaborating with al qaeda. all of those cases reaffirmed that the law of the land is that if you choose to help al qaeda, you've committed an act of war against your fellow citizens and you can be held as an enemy combatant for an indeterminant period of time so we can gather intelligence about what you may have done or about what you know about the enemy. do you agree that now would be a very bad time for the united states congress to say for the first time in american history that if an american citizen decides to help al qaeda attack us, kill us, our military can't hold them as an enemy combatant
and find out what they were up to? mr. lieberman: mr. president, i think my friend from south carolina -- and of course i totally agree with you. not only -- first, of course on the principle, and you know the law as well or better than anybody around here. the supreme court has made clear that an american citizen who by his or her acts has declared themselves to be an enemy of the united states can be treated as an enemy combatant. if we change that now, it's wrong on principle. but it is absolutely the wrong time to do this. and i will speak now for a moment. i'm privileged to be the chair of the senate homeland security committee. the presiding officer: the ten minutes allocated for the colloquy have expired. mr. lieberman: i wonder if i might ask unanimous consent for an additional four minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lieberman: very briefly, the great concern we have now in terms of of the security of the
homeland is from so-called homegrown terrorists, radicalized americans who effectively have joined al qaeda or other terrorist, enemies to attack the united states. it is a sad and painful reality that since 9/11 the only americans killed on american soil by islamist extremists and terrorists have been killed by other americans who have been radicalized, who have become enemy combatants. i'm speaking particularly of the major hassan, nidal hassan who killed 14 people at fort hood and an american named bledsoe who walked into an army recruiting station in little rock, arkansas, and killed an army
recruiter just because he was wearing the uniform of the u.s. army. so these people in my opinion have taken sides, they have joined the enemy, and to have this body at this time as the threat of home-grown terrorism rises say no, they can't be treated as enemy combatants is -- not only does it not make sense and is totally unresponsive to the facts that i have just described, the fact is that it's also dangerous, so i couldn't agree with the senator more. i want to thank senator ayotte as we come to the end of this colloquy for the initiative here and frankly establishing yourself as one of our important leaders on national security matters. i'm a little biased about this, but i know your experience as a former state attorney general has helped as well as what i
have noted is your active and informed participation on the armed services committee. so i must say that as i am about to enter my last year of privilege to be a united states senator, it gives me great comfort to know you are going to be here, senator ayotte, to carry on these fights for american national security and for freedom. ms. ayotte: thank you so much, senator lieberman. again, i appreciate your leadership, all you have done for our country, to protect our country. i dare say that you -- no one has been more focused on protecting our country in this body, and we deeply appreciate your leadership. before i yield the floor, i need to briefly discuss the withdrawal of an amendment that i have which is 1067 regarding notification of congress with respect to the initial custody and further disposition of members of al qaeda and affiliated entities. i have received assurances from the armed services committee majority and minority staff that
these common sense steps that are outlined in that amendment will be addressed when the defense bill goes to conference. therefore, mr. president, i also ask unanimous consent that my amendment be withdrawn. that's amendment 1067. that's an amendment that i would ask that it be withdrawn, but i also understand that the armed services committee will take up my amendment when the defense bill goes to conference as part of the conference on this bill. the presiding officer: without objection, the amendment is withdrawn and the senate will now proceed to a period of morning business for the duration of one hour. mr. lieberman: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. lieberman: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
unanimous consent to terminate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. graham: i'd like to be able to speak in morning business for -- could you let me know when ten minutes is up? the presiding officer: the senate is in morning business. i will let you know when ten minutes is up. mr. graham: to do a colloquy with my good friend from connecticut, you said something, senator lieberman, that i think we need to sort of absorb. as the chairman of the homeland security committee, do you believe that the likelihood of american citizens being recruited and enlisted and radicalized on behalf of al qaeda is going up? is that what you're trying to tell us? mr. lieberman: mr. president, i say to my friend from south carolina, i not only believe it, it's shown by the facts. i wish i had the numbers exactly in front of me, but if you chart attempts at terrorist attacks on the u.s. -- and here i'm
limiting the people who are affiliated with the global islamist extremists movement -- there were a few after 9/11, but in the last two or three years, the numbers have gone up dramatically. now, i want to say -- i hasten to say that these represent a very, very small percentage of the muslim-american community. but of course it doesn't take too many people to cause great havoc. we have been -- we have been effective at law enforcement and frankly we have been lucky that all but two of these attempts have been stopped, but i think you would find law enforcement officials, homeland security officials saying that the toughest, the most dangerous threat right now to the homeland security of the american people comes from home-grown terrorists who have been self-radicalized or radicalized by somebody else.
mr. graham: i think that's important for us to understand. do you agree with me that when you look at the war on terror, that the united states is part of the battlefield? mr. lieberman: well, there is no question that our enemies have declared it part of the battlefield. the very commencement, official commencement of the war against islamist terrorism, 9/11, was an attack on america's homeland, on civilians. mr. graham: so let's just go with that thought for a moment. let's say that our intelligence community, our law enforcement community and our military department of defense, they are all monitoring al qaeda threats at home and abroad, do you agree with that? mr. lieberman: absolutely true, al qaeda and like other islamist terrorist groups. mr. graham: now, under the posse comitatus act, the military cannot be used for domestic law enforcement functions. do you agree with me that
tracking al qaeda operatives, citizen or not, within the united states is not a law enforcement function, it's a military function? mr. lieberman: yeah, i mean, it's really a combination. mr. graham: but our military has the ability to defend us against al qaeda attacks at home just like they do abroad. so if the department of defense somehow intercepted information about an al qaeda cell, let's say in connecticut or south carolina, could they be involved in suppressing that cell? mr. lieberman: i would say that what's happened here since 9/11 and what we needed to have happen is that the old stovepipes have dissolved and we have got military, civilian, c.i.a., f.b.i., each with a focus working together. very often, for instance, the
doctor, the army doctor who killed 14 people at fort hood, our committee did an investigation on that case. he was actually communicating with the radical cleric awlaki in yemen over the internet. that was picked up by international intelligence operatives, and part of the story is it wasn't transferred effectively to the army so they could grab him before he committed that mass murder at fort hood. but i have to say for the record that the primary responsibility for counterterrorism now in the u.s. is with the f.b.i. that's developed an extraordinary capability since 9/11, but they have worked very closely with c.i.a. gathering international intelligence, n.s.a., homeland security and the military. mr. graham: it's a team effort. mr. lieberman: right.
mr. graham: now, let's imagine a scenario next week where we find an al qaeda cell exists that's planning a series of attacks against the united states, and within that cell, we have some american citizens and you have people that have come here noncitizens. would you agree with me since congress has designated cooperating or collaborating with al qaeda to be a -- an act of war, that that entire cell could be held as enemy combatants and questioned by our intelligence community as to what they know about the attack in question or future attacks? mr. lieberman: well, that certainly should be the case because they have all -- we have had this circumstance in reality. they are all part of the same enemy. in the case you posit, they have
all been part of the same plot to attack the american people. mr. graham: so would you agree with me that the current law is very clear that any time an american citizen joins the enemy force, they can be held as an enemy combatant? that is the law. mr. lieberman: that's the law, and as you have said and chairman levin has said several times in the debate, there may be some in the chamber who don't like it, but that's what the united states supreme court has said very clearly. mr. graham: now, if -- if we capture an american citizen as part of this cell, and you can't hold them as an enemy combatant for intelligence-gathering purposes, does domestic criminal law allow you to hold someone for an indefinite period of time to gather military intelligence? mr. lieberman: no. mr. graham: does domestic criminal law focus on the wrongdoing of the actor based on a specific event when you're
trying to resolve a dispute between the wrongdoer and the victim? mr. lieberman: yes, it does, and you're making a very important point there. it goes back to the colloquy that the senator from new hampshire and i had, which is that when you capture an enemy combatant, you do so for two reasons, main reasons. one is to get that enemy off the battlefield. the second is to gather intelligence, and sometimes the second purpose is more important than the first because it can lead you to other plots against the american people. mr. graham: and do you agree with me that the reason our supreme court has recognized that an american citizen can be held as an enemy combatant if they collaborate with an enemy is that the court views that as an act of war, and under the powers of the commander in chief, he can suppress all enemies foreign and domestic that are at war with us?
mr. lieberman: i do, and let's come back -- there is a lot of talk about the constitution. the constitution makes very clear that a primary responsibility we have in the federal government is to provide for the common defense, to protect the security of the american people. mr. graham: so our courts have recognized that during a time of hostilities, that the executive branch has the authority to detain an american citizen who is helping the enemies of the nation. the question is does the congress want to change that for the first time ever. and i would like to add something that my good friend from rhode island got me thinking, and i have always tried to explain indefinite detention. what are we trying to do here? clearly, in war, there is no requirement to let the enemy prisoner go back to the fight after passage of time. you don't want to let any enemy prisoner go back to the fight because that makes no good sense. the problem with this war is there will be no definable end,
and that's the reason we have a habeas review. we will never know when hostilities are over, so an enemy combatant determination could be a de facto life sentence, and that's why our supreme court said we want a judicial check on the executive branch so every enemy combatant will have their day in federal court and the government has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence to an independent judge that the decision to hold this person is warranted under the law. that's what the hamdi case was about. i think that makes sense because it will not be the traditional war, it will be a war without a definable end. and the idea of continuing to hold them, if the judge says to the government you're right, there is compelling evidence that this person was involved with al qaeda, tried to get involved with a hostile act, you're right, they are part of the enemy, we can hold them
forever, but we have come up with an annual review process to make sure they will have a chance every year to have their case looked at, and senator whitehouse got me thinking. in our own law under the civil justice system, like hinckley, the man who shot president reagan, he was acquitted in court by reason of insanity of shooting president reagan. he has been in jail since -- i mean in a psychiatric hospital ever since because he can be held away from the community because he's a danger to himself or others. so i think what senator whitehouse is saying is that the idea that we can hold someone, the court has agreed with the government is part of the enemy force as a continuing threat,
is not an unknown concept, you just have to have a review. so i would suggest to our -- the presiding officer: you asked to be notified in ten minutes. mr. graham: okay. i would suggest to our colleagues, let's think this thing through. let's realize that the -- the enemy is coming to our homeland. the enemy is recruiting american citizens. and that if we find an american citizen who has in fact joined forces with al qaeda, our number-one goal should be to gather intelligence to prevent future attacks and to find out what that person knows about what the enemy is up to. our secondary concern should be prosecution, and when you interrogate somebody as an enemy combatant, the best thing you have on your side is time. i don't want to water board anyone, but i want to keep them in a controlled environment where time is on our side.
and i would argue that the best information we've got from guantanamo bay detainees did not come from waterboarding. it came from the fact we could hold them an indefinite period of time and through time they began to cooperate and tell us valuable coops. do you agree that's a concept we need to hold on to in this war? mr. lieberman: i thank my friend. i absolutely agree. i've talked to professionals in this business of interrogation and they say some of the most effective interrogation takes time. i've had people describe to me detainees who were totally uncooperative and they were asked over and over again for days and weeks and months, and then finally broke and began to give information that was critically important for the protection of our country. so i do agree. i want to stress stress two
things the senator from south carolina has said. it's very relevant to the attempt to give special status to americans deemed to be enemy combatants in contravention of existing united states supreme court rulings that say that if you're an american and you're found to have joined the enemy, then you can be treated as an enemy combatant which common sense tells you is what you are. and here's what i want to say: this -- this is really important to what we're about here. there are two kinds of due process that are put into the bill, the underlying language, the compromise that has been adopted on the treatment of detainees. one is for the first time there is -- there's a process, a judicial process to determine the status of the detainee, whether evidence shows the
detainee should in fact be treated as an enemy combatant. the second is that while the enemy combatant is subject to indefinite incarceration, that indefinite incarceration is subject to annual review now. so we can determine according to a stated series of standards whether that person should --. mr. graham: would you agree under domestic criminal law the question to question -- ability to question about enemy activity doesn't exist? mr. lieberman: that's exactly right. you stated earlier, senator graham, it's an important point, this is the danger we get into when we start to treat people who are terrorists as common criminals or even uncommon criminals, which is criminal law aims at imposing a penalty, doing justice. incarcerating somebody as a result. the laws of war are aimed at
making sure that enemy combatants, prisoners of war are taken off the battlefield. mr. graham: grapes to my --. mr. graham: i knowledge in the christmas day bomber case and the times square attempted bombing they were put into federal court. i'm okay with that. i really do believe in all of the above approach. our federal courts can handle cases involving transnational terrorists and al qaeda members. so can military commissions. the idea of reading someone their miranda rights may be the best interrogation technique. i know that we're able to get some good information after reading miranda rights. i guess the point i'm trying to make is that i acknowledge that the people doing the interrogation are better suited to make that decision than i am. i just don't want the congress by legislation to say for the
first time in the history of the country in this war, unlike any other war, you no longer have it available to you, the united states government, the ability to hold somebody as enemy combatant if you believe that is the best way to gather intelligence. i'm not saying the other system can't be used. let's leave it up to the professionals. but the senate is suggesting through the legislation being proposed that the idea of holding an american citizen who is suspected of collaborating with al qaeda, that they can no longer be held as an enemy combatant is not only changing the law, it is taking off the table a tool that i think we need now more than ever, and i just don't want us to lose sight of the fact of what we're doing here and what it would mean to
our country and our ability to defend us. no one in world war ii would have tolerated the idea that someone who collaborated with a nazi trying to kill us on our own soil would have any other disposition than to be considered an enemy of the american people. now, my question for this body is do you think al qaeda is an organization that doesn't present that same kind of threat? is it really the senate's desire to say during these times that an american citizen can collaborate with al qaeda to kill us on our own soil and that's no longer considered an act of war? i would argue that that would be one of the most irresponsible decisions ever made in a time of
war by an elected body. it not only would change the law as we know it, it would create an opportunity and a hole in our defenses at a time when as you've indicated, the threat is growing. so to senator lieberman, thank you for being a steady, stern, consistent voice along the line that since 9/11 our nation has been in an undeclared state of war, the enemy still roams the globe, they have as their hope and dream of hitting us again here at home and for god's sakes, let's don't weaken our defenses in a way that no other congress has ever chosen to weaken the executive branch in the past. thank you for your service. mr. lieberman: i thank my friend from south carolina for his expertise in this area and also his sense of principle. we've got colleagues on the
floor that want to speak. i just want to say a final word because i know the senator from south carolina is particularly worried about pending amendments that would alter the way in which the underlying bill now treats enemy combatants who are citizens of the united states. the underlying bill -- the underlying provision in the bill on detainee treatment fills a gap in our law that's been harmful and hurtful, difficult for our military to deal with because there is no law about how to treat detainees. senator graham worked very closely with senator levin and senator mccain to draft this compromise, and it's a good compromise. as he knows, if i had my preference, there would be no waiver for the executive branch -- executive in this because i believe anybody who is an enemy combatant is an enemy combatant and as a matter of
principle ought to be held in military custody and tried by a military tribunal according to all the protocols of the geneva convention, according to the military code of justice. incidentally if these military tribunals are good enough for american men and women in the military who face charges, they're good enough -- they ought to be good enough for enemy combatants who face charges. but here's my point: the levin-mccain-graham provision in this bill on detainees is a compromise. it's a reasonable, effective, bipartisan compromise. it's the kind of compromise that doesn't happen here enough. and so i support it because even though i might have wished it would have gone further, so to speak, it's a lot better than the status quo. i say that at this moment because i really urge our
colleagues who now want to come in with other amendments to essentially undo this bipartisan compromise, can do great damage. i'm saying myself, i wish it had not given the president the power to waive that he has under -- under the bill and take somebody to an enemy combatant to a normal article 3 federal court. but this provision is a real step forward against -- from the status quo. and i think if we can say that, then we ought to support it. so i hope that our colleagues will think twice before trying to undo the compromise and if they do go forward with it that our colleagues on the floor will defeat those amendments. mr. graham: ,mr. president, i i'll wrap this up. i know we have colleagues who want to speak. let me reiterate what snore lieberman just say. there is a stream of thought
that of member every al qaeda, american citizen or not is an enemy of the united states, in the military sense, not a criminal sense and they should be in a military tribunal and that's the way we've handled most cases in the past. here's what i believe: i believe that the choice of venue should lie with the executive branch, and i think there is a very robust role for article 3 courts. so i don't want to say from a congressional point of view that every member of al qaeda has to be tried by military commission all the time because quite frankly, sometimes article 3 courts could be the better ven ven -- venue. when it comes to telling the executive branch you've got to put a noncitizen in military custody inside the united states, i think that's the right way to do it, but i don't know enough so if there's a reason to waive that provision, the experts can waive it. so i've been very cautious about
micromanaging the executive branch because they're the ones fighting the war. we have a role to play. we have a voice to be heard. and here's what i'm urging my colleagues: this compromise is not what some of my friends wanted, like senator lieberman, and quite frankly, it's not what the aclu wants because they don't buy into the idea that al qaeda operatives are anything other than a common criminal. so you've got two poles here. i believe an al qaeda operative is not a common criminal, and if an american citizen joins al qaeda, they should be treated as an enemy combatant as one possibility. but if you want to go down the other road, you can go down that road. i just don't want us to take off the table for the first time in the history of america that an american citizen trying to help the enemy kill us here at home somehow can no longer be talked to by our military to gather intelligence. that's a crazy outcome. i think we've got a really good
bill that gives maximum flexibility to the executive branch but preserves the tools that we're going to need now and in the future, and to my colleagues, please explain -- please ask yourself if in world war ii we could hold an american citizen who tried to help the nazis blow up america as enemy combatant, why would you want to hold an american citizen who is helping al qaeda who did more damage to the homeland than the nazis, as an enemy combatant? why would you want to take off the table the ability to hold that person humanely interrogate them to find out why they joined, who they talked to, and what they know, because what they know and who they talked to may save thousands of lives. and for us to say you can't do that for the first time in the history of the country, i think
would be a colossal mistake. so with that i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: thank you. by my fortune i'm here to speak on another topic but it's been my privilege to hear the discussion between the senator from north carolina -- south carolina, senator graham, and the senator from connecticut, senator lieberman, as we have what i think is a very serious debate, discussion about the juxtaposition of our constitutional rights as u.s. citizens in light of our desire to make sure that americans' lives are protected. i have always struggled with this trying to find that right balance, and i found tonight's conversation on the senate floor very valuable to me. i do want to turn my attention and bring to the attention of my colleagues in the senate a pending piece of legislation, a
bill that i've introduced dealing with our country's economy and particularly as it relates to financial institutions and again particularly our community banks. there are as we know, so many americans that are looking for work, our government's first priority i would say is to defend our country and we've been having that debate, how we do that. but we also have a significant responsibility to create an environment where businesses can grow and put people to work. and i want to point out tonight a piece of legislation that i've introduced that i believe is part of that solution. it's called the communities first act and it's a compilation of what i would say is commonsense tax and regulatory relief ideas for our nation's smallest financial institutions. we hear constantly about wall street. i want to worry tonight about main street. these banks in communities across kansas and in states across our country were not the
cause of the financial crisis from which we are still struggling to emerge. but, unfortunately, they have become the victims. they've become casualties of that crisis on wall street. hundreds of community banks have been allowed to fail, and the survivors are left waiting for the next burdensome regulation to come from washington, d.c. until banks are willing and able to make prudent loans to credit-worthy hometown customers, job creation will remain dispiestled our economic recovery will continue to lag. the evidence seems clear to me that the current regulatory requirements impose a disproportionate burden on community banks because they do not operate on the scale to spread the legal and compliance costs. when a bank with just, say, 40 employees requires four compliance experts, i believe something is terribly wrong.
this expensive overregulation diminishes the ability of a community bank to attract capital and to support the credit needs of customers. what that means is that investment in a bank, that someone who wants to be a stockholder, the owner of a community bank, because of the cost of capital, the regulator regulatory -- regulatory costs increase the cost of capital, and because of that, they will decide there's a different way to earn a living, a different place to invest those capital. so, in short, these burdens prevent a community bank from serving their community and they avoid, therefore, the resulting job creation that comes when a community bank invests at home. all the regulations being piled on community banks might be justified if the failure of a community bank could pose a serious risk to our nation's financial system but that's clearly, clearly not the case. it was not the failure of several hundred community banks
that left our economy in such poor condition. it was the financial condition of a handful of large -- of our largest firms in america that grew so large and so complex that their failure or bankruptcy could not be tolerated and the consequences would affect every american. we need a tailored approach to regulation. ross wilson, one of my constituents in lacrosse, kansas, a banker, wrote this to me. he says his bank will no longer make home loans, real estate loans. and this is his quote -- "as a community banker, i really hate this decision but the complexity of the new regulations have forced us to make this decision. it appears that the powers that be in washington don't understand the importance of a small community bank." when your hometown bank won't make a home loan to one of its customers, not because the loan won't be repaid but because the regulatory costs are far too
significant, our regulations have far exceeded their value. so how does the community's first act that i've introduced change that trend and restore some level of sanity to our financial regulations? this legislation would strip away outdated and unnecessary regulations like gramm-leach-bliley's annual privacy notice requirement. under current law, every bank and credit union is required to disclose their privacy policies on an annual basis, even if that bank's policy has never changed during the year. so you can have a customer of the bank that's been a customer forever, they have a policy in place that never changes but every year the bank has to send out a significant mailing to every customer explaining their policy in regard to privacy. while that burden maybe doesn't sound too significant, it's a costly requirement of questionable benefit. blake hyde, who is of the first
options bank in -- the first option bay in payola, kansas, told me that -- his quote -- "very little of what the regulations have to do is productive or helps us take care of our customers better. just the privacy notices alone cost our small bank in excess of $13,000 annually. we haven't changed it. we never sold our customer information and we still don't." the first community's -- the community's first act would also address an issue regarding s.e.c. registration by community banks. the number of shareholders which triggers a registration has not been updated in a long time and remains a burden that discourages community bankers from raising capital and making loans. the community's first act would also reform which banks are required to comply with the costly, costly burdens of sarbanes-oxley. current law exempts banks with market capitalization of $75 million from compliance under section 404.
the benefits of that section do not appear to be worth the costs, so my legislation raises that threshold. another commonsense provision would encourage americans to save by reducing the tax on longer-term certificates of deposit. it would also allow for individuals under the age of 26 to invest in roth ira's without regard to their income level. we desperately need americans to save money for their long-term retirement benefits. the community first act would also reform the new consumer financial protection bureau so that the national credit union administration, the fdic, the federal reserve, and the other regulators would have a meaningful role in the creation of consumer protection rules. dodd-frank provides these regulators insufficient input and review of the cfpb and the results of poorly written regulations could mean less credit and, again, fewer jobs. there seems to be some
disagreement here in washington, d.c., today about the effects of burdensome regulations on our economic recovery, but back in kansas, jay kennedy of the first national bank of frankfurt indicates that -- quote -- "our staff of 7.5 people are busy taking care of our customers and serving our communities. the extra burden from things like tracking escrow payments, sending privacy notices and filing call reports that take a month to complete all create undue stress and busy work for us. kansans know what that word busy work -- what those words busy work means. the relief of those three things alone would allow us to teach financial literacy that our schools can no longer afford to do and create new products to better serve our customers." the provisions of the community first act are the ability of small banks to do what they do best -- provide capital that
results in jobs. congress has created a regulatory monster and i would urge my colleagues to join me in removing unnecessary burdens from our financial system and cosponsoring senate bill 1600, the communities first act. while this legislation may direct benefit at our nation's community banks and financial institutions, our small financial institutions, the real beneficiaries are the entrepreneurs, the main street small businessmen and women, and farmers and ranchers who, with access to credit, can help put americans back to work. thank you, mr. president. mr. harkin: parliamentary inquiry. are we in morning business? the presiding officer: we are. mr. harkin: mr. president, i've come to the floor this evening to congratulate the president of the international association of machinists union, tom
buffenbarger, and boeing's c.e.o., jim mcnearney, on their agreement today to extend their current contract for four years. mr. president, this is a good deal. it reflects a strong and commendable commitment by boeing to continue having their top-quality products made by top-quality workers. it provides real job security and fair treatment for the company's valued employees. it will also resolve the current labor dispute between the company and the union that is pending before the national labor relations board. this settlement is a step forward for a great company, boeing, a step forward for a great union, the machinists union, and a step forward for our great nation. again, i commend the c.e.o. of boeing, mr. jim mcnearney, the president of the machinists union, tom buffenbarger, for working out this agreement. mr. president, this agreement is also a compelling demonstration
of the fact that the nlrb, the national labor relations board, process works -- works -- for all concerned. when an alleged unlawful activity happens, a charge is filed with the nlrb. that's what's supposed to happ happen. and while the nlrb's process was playing out, the parties were able to sit down, negotiate, and strike a deal, which they announced today. as a matter of fact, that's what happens to most unfair labor practice charges filed at the nlrb. it's all a part of the process at that independent agency. just like in our court system, cases settle to the benefit of both parties. that's what happened here. and it also settled to the benefit of our nation.
what should not have happened was the unprecedented level of political and congressional interference in this case. it wasn't just that republican elected officials attempted to try this case in the press. they went far beyond this. house republicans attempted to eliminate the board's funding entirely because of this case. senate republicans have blocked nominees for the board and the general counsel of the nlrb. house republicans tried to subpoena the prosecutor's case file so they could obtain documents that the company had been unable to obtain in the litigation. a member of this body -- of this body -- called the acting nlrb general counsel, mr. leif solomon, an independent
prosecutor, a 30-year career veteran of the agency -- not a political appointee -- a member of this body called him and threatened to come after mr. solomon -- quote -- "guns ablazing" if he brought charges against boeing. i'm informed that the house oversight committee actually threatened to try to revoke the bar licenses -- the bar licenses -- of individual career attorneys at the national labor relations board. because of this case. i have never in all my years in public office seen such brazen and inappropriate interference with the business of an independent agency, and i hope to never see it again. the time and attention that house republicans have devoted to their attack campaign against the national labor relations board is nothing short of astonishing.
what's even more absurd and shameless is the fact that they claim this attack campaign was intended to save jobs. what saved jobs was the negotiations between the great company, boeing, and the great europe, the machinists union. that's what saved the jobs. i'm mystified by the suggestion by some republicans that gutting the nlrb would somehow revive our economy. and survey after survey, business leaders agree about what's hurting the economy. it's not government, it's not regulation, it's not the nlrb, it's the lack of consumer demand. workers don't have enough money to buy things and the economy won't pick up until they do. weakening workers' rights, taking away their ability to speak up for fair treatment will only make the problem worse. attacking american workers and the theag protects them is a poor -- the agency that protects them is a poor substitute for real job creation strategy. americans know that the national labor relations board is not
remotely responsible for our country's economic woes. incapacitating this agency will not put food on people's tables, or them them send their kids to college. it will send a strong message to those few -- few -- unscrupulous employers who want to take advantage of this bad economy to mistreat hardworking people. unfortunately, that is not the case -- fortunately, that is not the case with boeing. wallewithout the nlrb, there woe with watchdog and it would be open season on workers' rights. at a time when good wages are getting harder and harder to find, this would be a wron stepe wrong direction. the nlrb is an independent federal agency charged with an important mission. in fulfilling that mirks the dedicated professionals at the board are doing their jobs at the law intended.
now it's time for the republicans in the house and senate to do the same. instead of continuing to pursue this pointless and distracting partisan crusade to dismantle and dowa do away with the natiol labor relations board, it's time to put this episode behind us, time to recognize the nlrb is doing its job, that companies and unions will sit down and work things out and settle things out without the senate and the house and governors -- and governors of other states trying to interfere and make it a political football. mr. president, again, i congratulate the boeing company and international associated machinist in doing what's best for america. mr. president, i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the senator from nevada. mr. heller: thank you, mr. president. thank you for this opportunity to spend a few minutes on the senate floor. i want to thank the previous speaker, senator moran, from kansas, and his timely comments, specifically regarding housing, the ability for small institutions, community banks to be able to produce the capital they need to help these small businesses and these homeowners, but specifically the ability to create jobs. and in dove tails into what i want to talk about today, and that's solutions, solutions for the american people. this week congress has an opportunity to come together to help hardworking americans, and those taxpayers and extend the payroll tax cut holiday. congress needs to put aside political bickering. right now has a percentage, more
nevadans are looking for jobs than in any other state. right now more nevadans are having difficulty holding onto their homes than in any other state. and right now more nevadans are filing for bankruptcies than in any other state. there was a report that was released yesterday that named nevada the toughest place in the country to find a job. our number-one priority in this congress should be to turn this economy around and get people working again. and yet here i am standing on the united states senate floor today trying to convince the majority not to raise taxes on small businesses. i'm proud of my state. i'm confident that with the right policies in place, nevadans can find job opportunities and overcome these difficult times. but in order for that to happen, congress must put partisanship aside, come together to pass a meaningful legislation that
benefits americans who need help in this tough economy and expand opportunities for employers looking to hire. extending the payroll tax cut will allow americans to hold on to wages they worked hard to earn. under my plan, hardworking american taxpayers would not see a tax increase. under my plan, we will prevent a tax increase on those already receiving the payroll tax credit. and under my plan, employers can continue to invest in their businesses so they can grow, expand, and hire more workers without the fear of a tax increase. americans need jobs desperately. congress should be focused on policies that create jobs and drive long-term economic growth. the legislation i have proposed allows congress to responsibly extend the payroll tax cut and treat taxpayers' dollars appropriately. there's no question, congress
should extend the payroll tax cut. republicans, democrats, independents -- everyone agrees on that. but we shouldn't do it by turning around and raising taxes on employers everywhere. nevadans are looking for jobs. increasing taxes on small businesses in nevada is bad economic policy and taking away the capital that they could use to invest makes little sense. rather than finding a solution for hardworking americans, the majority has chosen to go down a path that is engineered purposely to fail. they know that there's little chance that a tax increase on the american hardworking taxpayers and their businesses will pass the senate. and they know that there's no chance their tax increase will pass in the house. so instead of success and reaching bipartisan agreement, the majority has chosen to focus
on failure a and scoring political points. honestly, these are the games that the american people are tired of. my way or the highway mentality. proposals that have no chance for success, bickering at the expense of our economy. we have a divided congress. that means that to ensure 160 million americans receive an extension of this tax cut, we need to move beyond petty politics of this majority. as a senator from the state that's leading the nation in unemployment, i'm particularly disturbed by this determination to play the political game rather than focus on solutions that work for all americans. with a little common sense, we can pay for the payroll tax cut without raising taxes on job creators. we can reduce government spending where it's no longer
needed. and require the richest americans to pay higher premiums for medicare. this will allow us to strengthen and preserve medicare for those americans who rely on the program the most. and since my colleagues on the other side of the aisle frequently talk about how the richest americans should be doing more, i believe this is an approach that both democrats and republicans can support. by voting for this alternative plan, congress can put political gamesmanship aside and support a workable solution for all americans. the bipartisan veterans job bill along with the 3% withholding bill that congress passed earlier this month is proof that when congress has the will to work together, they can find a pathway forward. my proposal provides congress with another opportunity to break the political gridlock here in washington, d.c., and vote for a solution that can
pass congress and be signed into law. i'm hopeful that congress can work together to extend the payroll tax cut, preserve opportunities for job growth. it's past time that congress put aside politics and focus on policies that work for nevadans and all americans already struggling in this difficult economic environment. thank you, mr. president. i yield back the floor. ms. klobuchar: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: i rise today to speak in defense of the national defense act and certain portions of the bill that aaddress a serious problem facing the men and women of our armed services. this is sexual asawvment i introduced in legislation on this issue in the spring with senator susan collins and i remain deeply concerned about the subject.
many of our colleagues are aware that sexual assault is a persistent problem within our armed forces. reports of trauma haveries nonrecent years. in march the department of defense put out its annual report on sexual assault in the military. according to the estimates, there were more than 3,000 reports of sexual assault in the military last year. that included reports by both male and female victims, supposing attacks perpetrated both by and against members of our military. and those are just the reported attacks. since the department of defense estimated that only 15% of victims actually come higher, we can assume the number is much higher, upwards of 19,000. the department of veterans affairs has reported similarly disturbing figures, more than 250% of female service members say they were sexually assaulted or harassed during their service. let me that i can this clear. we know the vast majority of men
and women serving in our military would never be involved in sexual assault. they have the toughest jobs out there, on the front line every day. but when we have a problem, we can't just put our heads in the sand and pretend it's not happening. in 2008 alone, v.a. medical personnel alone reported more than half a million encounters that focused on the one hand sex -- sexual assault. the idea that an american in uniform who is out there on the front lines serving our country may also suffer the physical and emotional trauma of sexual assault is simply unacceptable. and it is also unacceptable, mr. president, that the records of that assault would be destroyed. according to the v.a., women who experience sexual assault or sexual harassment in the military have a 59% higher risk of developing mental health
injuries. sexual trauma doesn't just hurt the victims either. it can also take a huge toll on the soldiers who serve by their sides. it has been shown to undermine team march roll and overall force effectiveness. the department of defense is well-aware of this problem and has taken some positive stems to address it. for example, the pentagon has created positions for personnel specially trained to hand reports of sexual trauma. it has improved counseling services for victims and it has implemented new training procedures for commanders. despite these important improvements, the defense department dins to fall short in one very key area: ensuring the lifelong preservation of victims victimss from reports of sexual assault. as a former prrks i know firsthand how important it is to preserve the data connected to crimes like sexual assault. that's why i'm so troubled by the gaps we've seen at the
defense dment. as of now there is no coordinated cross-service policy for ensuring the presservation of medical records and other information that is related to sexual assault. in this day and age it seems a little crazy. some of the branches have five years. some have ten years. there is no policy and many of these records are destroyed. these are records, mr. president, of sexual assault. across the board these policies or lack thereof are bleak. in a significant number of cases, the data is destroyed within one year. it is simply shred. the problems this can cause for service members are extensive. within one year the service member loses the proof that he or she experienced a sexual assault connected to military service and as a prosecutor, if you have someone who is maybe accused of a crime or maybe no one followed through on it and then later they go on and they commit an actual crime and there is a trial, you want to be able to access the records from the
past. also, for the individual victim, it means that they no longer have access to the evidence necessary for pursuing criminal action against their perpetrator. it also means that if the victim experiences depression or any other ailment, either mental or physical, relating to the assault, they may not be able to prove that it was caused during their srvetion meaning they will not be able to seek v.a. disability benefits. there are far too many examples of this out there, of service members being denied compensation from the v.a. for disabilities caused by sexual military assault. there are far too many examples of service members who've been told to -- quote -- "find a witness" -- end quote -- and when there are no witnesses, they have been told to -- quote -- "get their attackers to assess -- attest to the assault." -- end quote. this is not the way we should be treating our service members. this year my office was contacted by a group of minnesota women veterans,
veterans of all ages who have bonded together to share their stories of sex seoul assault and to advocate for stronger protections from the department of defense and the v.a. these women signinged up to serve. they performed well and honor blivment and if in the course of their service they experienced an assault, an assault that would not have been experience fundamental they had not volunteered, then we owe them the basic decency of keeping their records. that is all we're talking about here. we have appreciated that the department of defense is open to the leaders of this bill, are woshing with us on this bill. this bill was originally introduced with senator collins, senator murkowski, and senator mccaskill. we were able to get 23 cosponsors on this bill, including every single woman in the united states senate. the support for survivors act also is endorsed by several key veteran service organizations, including the american legion, the veterans of foreign washings the disabled american veterans, and the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america, as well as
the service woman's's action net wnch the report for survivors act is straightforward. quite simply, it requires the department of defense to ensure lifelong storage of all documents connected with reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military. while also maintaining full privacy for those involved. likewise, the purpose and motivation of this legislation is also pretty simple. it's about supporting our veterans. i've always believed when we ask men and women to sacrifice for us in defense of our nation, we make them a promise that we're going to give them the support when they come home. as abraham lincoln has said, need to care for those who have borne the battle. while protecting our service members' personal records, protecting their rights is just about that. this week senators are considering a critically important bill, the national defense authorization act and i'm happy to say that this year the defense authorization already includes the significant
majority of the provisions of my support for survivors act. this summer, the senate armed services committee saw fit to address the issue of military sexual assault during its markup of the bill and i am grateful for the time and effort my colleagues have invested in reviewing this issue. already the national defense authorization act requires the department of defense to collaborate with the department of veterans' affairs in developing a comprehensive policy for ensuring retention and access to sexual assault records. importantly, the bill ensures protection of the privacy of the records. it also calls on the defense department and the v.a. to address access to the records, not only for victims but also for the v.a., law enforcement, and other entities that may need to access them. and the bill seeks to make the policy uniform across all service branches so members of the air force, the army, the navy, and the marines are given fair treatment.
why, mr. president, would you have records destroyed of one branch after a year and another after five years and another after ten years? it's my position they shouldn't be destroyed at all. the one provision which was not included in the defense authorization and which i feel is vitally important was the requirement that records be stored throughout the life of the victim. storing records for a person's lifetime is in my mind common sense. all our other critical records such as our health records, insurance records, banking records, are stored throughout our lives. so i believe the case should be the same here. unfortunately, the defense authorization act does not require lifelong storage. instead, it puts this question entirely in the hands of the defense department, requiring only that the records be stored for five years and otherwise allowing the agency to determine its own timing. five years is not enough, mr. president. yes, it's five times the length of the time the records are currently stored, and in that respect it is a good step but it is not enough.
not in the modern day where we store records and have ways of storing records in a way and certainly the defense department knows how to store these records in a way that is private. that's why i've filed an amendment that would ensure that almost all sexual assault records are stored for an estimated 50 years. this solution is one that i've discussed personally with senator levin. it's also something my office has worked on closely with the department of defense. and though 50 years is not necessarily the life of the victim, it gets us a long way and is certainly better than what we have now. i want to thank chairman levin for his willingness to work with me on this important issue, and for his efforts to include this the amendment in the overall bill. i also want to thank the republicans, the other side of the aisle, for working with us on this, and the fact that this was a bipartisan amendment from the beginning, again, including the sponsorship, the underlying bill included the sponsorship of all women senators in the united states senate. i urge my colleagues to support
this amendment as well as the strong provisions in this bill that address sexual assault protection for military members. the problems of sexual trauma within the military is broad but the provisions included in the bill including my amendment are important advancements. i intend to monitor the defense department's implementation of these provisions and although i was not able to secure the full lifelong record preservation i'm going to keep fighting this fight. but 50 years for most of the records is a pretty good result, given what we have in place right now. this year the department of defense has finally placed a military officer in charge of its sexual assault protection and responsive office, general mary k.hertog. i believe she has not only a good grasp but has the rank and weight necessary to forge real change in the department's policies. i intend to continue to continue
my communication with her and follow a policy that victims have lifelong access to their personal records. when our men and women and women signed up to serve there wasn't a line and there shouldn't a line to come back, not for the help or protection they've earned. i see my colleagues, leaders on this bill, senator levin and senator mccain are here, and i again thank them for working with me on this amendment. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. mccain: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: i want to thank the senator from minnesota for her strong efforts on behalf of the men and women in the military and their welfare and benefits. she is an advocate and a person who is committed to making sure that not only those who are now serving but those who have -- are cared for by our society and by our military and our veterans' facilities. i thank the senator and i appreciate the very eloquent
statement that she just made. the presiding officer: under the previous order the senate will resume consideration of s. 1867. the senator from michigan. mr. levin: while the senator from minnesota is here, let me add my voice of thanks and appreciation and -- for what she continually is fighting for in the area of sexual assault. her amendment makes great sense. we've cleared it on our side. we hope it gets cleared so that we can get this into a package and we hope we can get a package that is adopted. but i want to just commend the senator for her intrepid effort that just is really awe-inspiring on behalf of people who need all of the fight and all of the protection that we can give them, and those are people who have been assaulted sexually. i want to commend the senator. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: i send an amendment to the desk as
modified, number 1246. and ask for its consideration. the presiding officer: the amendment is already pending. mr. mccain: mr. president the amendment is require the secretary of defense to consult with the armed services committee in commissioning an independent assessment of united states security interests in east asian and in the pacific region. it has been cleared both -- by both sides. i urge adoption of the amendment. mr. levin: mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection, the amendment is modified. the question is on the amendment. mr. levin: mr. president. the presiding officer: all those in favor say aye. mr. levin: mr. president i want to say something first, be recognized. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: mr. president, before the amendment is adopted i wanted to indicate support of
the amendment. it's in a very significant area which has to do with our force structure in the pacific. senator mccain has been very, very active in wanting to look at that because we've got to look at it in depth and he has -- he has agreed that this study which would be done in consultation with people who have knowledge, can be done independently, and in a prompt way with an independent study. and i think has reached that conclusion, i think he is right. i believe that senator webb if he were here would want to indicate his strong support because the three of us really have worked together for this kind of an effort. and with that, i just indicate my strong support and yield the floor. the presiding officer: the question is on the amendment as
modified. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the amendment is agreed to. mr. levin: move to reconsider. mr. mccain: move to lay on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: mr. president, i would ask my friend, the chairman, if perhaps we could give our colleagues a brief update on where we are and what what -- there's not that many amendments remaining, there's a couple of rather serious amendments concerning detainees that are still outstanding but overall i think we can tell our colleagues we are pretty well moving along. we still have a pending package of amendments that have been agreed to by both sides that, unfortunately, we're unable to move forward, but hopefully we'll be able to do that. mr. levin: mr. president, we indeed have been making
progress, number one. we made significant progress today, both on the pending amendments that needed to be addressed by the full senate as well as by a major package of amendments which have been cleared on both sides. there's another package of amendments to which there has been no -- they've been cleared which means they're available to everybody and there is no objection by anybody to the substance of those amendments. if there is any objection, then they're not going to be cleared. they would have to then be brought up to the whole body. and tomorrow we have a number of significant amendments to address, including the feinstein amendments, the menendez-kirk amendment on iran sanctions, just being a few of them, but there's a number of other ones as well. and in a moment, i -- what i'm going to be asking for is unanimous consent in a moment that when we come in tomorrow that the first amendment -- that the first amendment that be
pending tomorrow be my amendment on number 1293 on high-speed ferries which apparently will require a roll call. so i just want to alert everybody that while we're preparing a unanimous consent agreement, laying out what the order would be for tomorrow, what we'll start with, that is what our intention is and i've talked already of course to senator mccain about that, and he is agreeable that we start with that amendment number 1293. mr. mccain: and, mr. president, -- the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: we think we can get wrapped up tomorrow, but there are serious amendments remaining. the kirk--- menendez-kirk amendment is a very serious amendment and one that probably is going to deserve some debate time as well as the feinstein amendment. and the sessions amendment all
of a sudden is one as well. so i think our colleagues can be prepared for a pretty interesting day tomorrow. mr. sessions: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i ask unanimous consent that my amendment number 1185 be modified with the changes at the desk. the presiding officer: without objection.
mr. sessions: this amendment would simply require the department of defense to include the discussion of a feasibility and visibility of establishing a missile defense site on the east coast of the united states in its homeland defense hedging strategy review. i hope my amendment could be accepted by voice vote and i thank senator levin and senator mccain for working with me to get language i believe all can agreed to. -- agree to. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: mr. president, the sessions amendment as modified has been reviewed, and i know it's cleared on this side, so i have confidence it's been cleared by both sides of the aisle. the amendment would require the department of defense to report to congress on the findings and conclusions of the department's
homeland missile defense hedging strategy including the feasibility and advisability of establishing a missile defense site on the east coast of the united states. administration officials have committed to providing congress with the results of the review, this amendment would make it clear 25 the department is required to do exactly that, and i just want to thank the senator for his amendment, for modifying it and hope now we can adopt -- adopt it. the presiding officer: is there further debate? the question is on the amendment as modified. all those in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the amendment is agreed to. mr. levin: move to reconsider. mr. mccain: move to lay on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: i believe we have one of senator inhofe's amendments, which is -- now i think it's agreeable on both sides.
mr. inhofe: mr. president, i have an amendment 1098. it is at the desk. 1098 as modified. i ask for its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: without objection, the amendment is modified. is there further debate? if not -- the senator from michigan. mr. levin: i thank senator inhofe --. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: let me make a comment about this amendment. first of all i want to make this general statement about i don't recall in the years we've been here see the majority and the minority working so closely together to get a very tough bill passed and done in the right way. and of course they've helped me with several of my amendments that have been accepted. this one i think they agreed to
it, it directs the d.o.d. to have a report on the effect of boycotts against our domestic contractors. it is modified. i'd ask for its immediate consideration and its adoption. the presiding officer: is there further debate? the question is on the amendment as modified. all in favor say aye. all those opposed say nay. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the amendment is agreed to. mr. levin: move to reconsider. mr. mccain: move to lay on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: mr. president, i believe that senator inhofe may wish to be recognized to talk about another amendment or a couple of amendments that he has. we will not take any further action on those amendments, and i think we are perhaps hopefully ready soon to put an -- offer a unanimous consent about what i described a moment ago, how we would begin in the morning.
but we will wait for that unanimous consent agreement to be prepared and i yield the floor. mr. inhofe: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: i have two amendments that i very significant, but i don't believe they will clear and there are reasons i won't be bringing these amendments up but it is very significant we do address a problem. the mineral leasing act prohibits military installations from receiving any revenues from mineral exploration on these lands. exploration has taken place in my state of oklahoma and other places where we have with the new horizontal drilling, we're able to get at some of these reserves. but the problem is that this incurs an expense by the military operation. the one i'm talking about happens to be the depot in mcallister, oklahoma. under the mineral leasing act that governs oil and gas leasing on federal lands, it gives the
responsibility to the bureau of land management. the problem is we want to explore and want to accommodate others who are going to go after these tremendous reserves that exist not just in oklahoma but elsewhere. but there's not a mechanism by which they can be paid for expenses incurred by the local installation. we are going to be working on this and coming up with some kind of a solution to the problem. i will not be offering this as an amendment. the second one i will not be offering is one that is very significant and that is treating the -- what we refer to as the susub s or subpart s carriers, nonscheduled carriers, who are taking currently material and personnel into areas like afghanistan. well, we have crew rest responsibilities saying that you cannot be -- a crew cannot be working for more than 15 hours.
the problem is this. 95% of the military personnel going into afghanistan and some of these other areas go in by sub-part s operators and they are exempt from the crew rest. right now there's legislation that is pending that would make them fall under the crew rest requirements. now, military can take them in but military doesn't have the capacity and that's why 40% of all materiel and 95% of personnel are -- are being brought into these -- these zones. as an example, if you're going from the logical place, which would be in germany, to go into afghanistan, you would carry it in but you would not be able to offload whatever cargo or personnel and then get back and go back to -- to stuttgart or wherever the location would be in germany because that would exceed the crew rest. and, on the other hand, they are
precluded from having civilian aircraft stay in places like afghanistan. so there's no solution to it. and we want to address this. if we're going to be trying to do it, we feel this will not clear, and as it is now, i'm not going to be offering to tonight but it is one that i think is very significant. and with that, i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: while the senator from oklahoma is here, i wonder if he is -- is it also his intent -- we're trying to get a current list of amendments -- whether it is his intent to withdraw amendment number 1101 on c-12 aircraft? mr. inhofe: i don't have that one with me and i'd rather wait until i get the -- i didn't come down prepared for that. there is one other one i will be wanting to get passed having to do -- and i know there are several amendments on guantanamo bay detention. this is on long-term, high-value detainees. and it's my intention to be offering that tomorrow.
mr. president, i have currently four amendments that i will withdraw at this time so we unclog some of this. they would be -- i ask unanimous consent to withdraw amendment number 1094, 1095, 1096 and 1101. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. levin: mr. president, let me just thank -- the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: let me thank the senator from oklahoma for helping to us get our list of amendments whittled down to where we can hopefully have a manageable group for tomorrow.
we're going to have a very busy day tomorrow. we have a lot of amendments to address and dispose of but it's doable because we've had the cooperation of senators and it's our goal -- we must finish this by 6:00. hopefully everybody -- everyone has a right to a vote if their amendment is germane and is pending and that's what our list is. we hope we'll have a chance to debate all of these amendments as well as have a vote on them but we're starting -- i believe we'll be coming in, as i understand it, at 9:30. that's the current plan, and we'll be back on the bill at 11:00. we have to start off immediately and hope that we'll have a vote on my amendment within a few minutes after it's offered. i don't think there needs to be a lot of debate. there will be some opposition to my amendment, i understand, and hopefully the senators who oppose it will be notified tonight that my amendment is first up and that they will then
be prepared to debate this at 11:00. now, mr. president, i would ask, then, unanimous consent that when the senate resumes consideration of senate bill 1867, the defense authorization bill, tomorrow, december 1, 2011, that the pending amendment be the levin amendment number 1293 relative to high-speed ferries. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. mccain: reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: i will not object. i would just like to thank the chairman for the progress we've made and also again point out, as the chairman just did, we have some very serious issues that deserve debate and discussion. but when cloture expires, the 30 hours expires there, will be an automatic votes triggered at that time. so we look forward to working with our colleagues to make sure that they have sufficient time
to debate the amendments and it would be very regrettable, as important as some of these amendments are, that we back up to the expiration of the cloture time and that would then trigger automatic votes. so i hope we can -- i'm sure we'll get cooperation of all of our colleagues. i thank my colleague and i do not object. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. levin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: i would ask consent now that the senate proceed to a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be success spentsdzed. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i with a tonight take a few minutes to thank a remarkable woman on my staff, sylvia gillespie in my
springfield office is retiring after 12 years. when you walk into that office in springfield, sill veryia is the first -- sylvia is the first person you see. her smile has made thousands of people feel welcome. sylvia is from the south idea of chicago. should i likes to say "the same as michelle obama." she went to austin elementary school on south langley avenue, she grew up on the same streets where the infamous street gang the black stone rangers made a lot of trouble. she survied and went on to make a life in the service of others. when she looks back at her life, sylvia gets a little choked up and she says, "how did i go from being that little girl in the ghetto to working for a senator?" the answer is real simple, mr. president. sylvia gillespie really cares about other people. she has helped countless people during the 12 years she has
worked in my office. from helping people get their passports so they wouldn't miss a family wedding in some foreign country, speaking on behalf of constituents who ran into trouble with federal agencies like the internal revenue service, sylvia has been such a positive force in the lives of so many people. but the work she's most proud of and the one that she'll really talk you to about is what she's been working on for the last two years: helping families in illinois stay in their homes. sylvia has helped dozens of families stay in their homes during the mortgage crisis, when they'd thought they lost everything through foreclosure. she'd sit on conference calls with banks for hours at a time refusing to take "no" for an answer. you don't want to cross sille sa gillespie. "i just felt like we couldn't just one more home. if i can prevent a family from
losing their home by being on the phone with the bank for three hours, i'd do it." sometimes she would purse veer long after the homeowners gave. one case, a hardworking woman with taboo kids had done everything right. she played by the bank's rules but she was still only days away from watching the home that she loved be auctioned off. she was ready to give up. but sylvia wasn't. sylvia
asked, have you ever seen a mustard snead that's all you need. faith the size after mustard seed to get through this. that was sylvia. after a long, grueling process, guess what? sylvia prevailed. the woman received her loan modification. with sylvia's help, the mother and her children will be spending this holiday season right where they want to be, in their own home. that mom is just one of the many, many illinoisans who are going to join me in being sad
when she retires. sill visa i do not spends a lot of time at the ablun tant faith christian church. she loves that church. she has invited me there on sundays and she really gets into it. she is 00 woman of faith and she is a great singer and she just throws herself heart and soul into their services. every sunday morning she and a few others cook up a breakfast for the community people who live near the church. they serve the
families and patients at a nearby hospital and neighborhood people from the shelters. she is a great cook and a great baker. if you ask anyone in my springfield office, they'll tell you that her cookies and cakes are the best. we've seen sylvia dressed up in her full regalia as a clown, which she does once in a while to bring cheer and fun to parties and events in her communities. she is a happy person. and it is a joy to be around here. she's also -- she also has a great talent for decorating.
one of her last responsibilities in my office before her official last day of retirement is setting up the christmas decorations. thanks to her, our office in springfield is in full swing for the holidays. we're going to miss her in our office. i speak for everyone ants countless people when i thank sylvia for the outstanding 12 years of service she's dedicated to helping people in illinois. sylvia is the mother of two beautiful grown daughters, danete and janere. she's also a proud grandmother of three grand chairman. now she has to make a tough choice, which granddaughter will she live with? she's got to decide whether to go with danette in portland or stay in davenport, iowa. whatever her choice is going to be, there's one thing she wants to make sure of: she's got a ticket for the inreagan inaugurf
barack obama. i know that sylvia will continue to be an inspiration for everyone she meets. she'll reach out a helping hand to people who need a little assistance, encouragement and the great sylvia gillespie smile. sylvia, thanks for 12 years of wonderful service in our office in springfield. i wish you and your family the very best for many years to come. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: e presiding officer: the
senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i lay before the senate a message from the house. the presiding officer: the claire will lay before the senate a message from the house. the clerk: resolved that an, and for other purposes and further resolved that the house agree to amendment number 2 of the senate of the aforesaid mentioned bill with the house amendment to the senate amendment. mr. durbin: jns i ask unanimous consent the senate concur in the
house amendment to the senate amendment and the motion to reconsider laid on the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i ask the senate proceed to consideration of senate 341 submitted earlier today. the clerk: designating the first full week in december, 2011 as national christmas tree week. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the mu. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table with no intervening action or debate and any related statements be printed in the record as if read. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i understand there are six measures at the desk and i ask for their first reading en bloc. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the titles of the bills the first time en bloc. the clerk: s.j. res. 30, joint resolution extending the
cooling-off period under section 10 of the railway labor act and so forth. s.j. res. 31, joint resolution applying certain conditions to the dispute referred to in executive order 13586 of october 2 -- october 6, 2011 and so forth. is not res. 32, joint resolution to provide for the resolution of the outstanding issues in the current railway labor management dispute. s. 1930, a bill to prohibit earmarks. s. 1931, a bill to provide civilian payroll tax relief to reduce the federal budget deficit and for other purposes. s. 1932, a bill to require the secretary of state to act on a permit for the keystone x.l. pipeline. mr. durbin: durbin: i now ask fa second reading and object to my own request, all en bloc. the presiding officer: objection is heard on the measures. the measures will be read for
the second time on the next legislative day. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that the appointment at the desk appear separately in the record as if made by the chair. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent when the senate completes its business it adjourn until 9:30 a.m. on thursday, december 1, 2011, that following the prayer and pledge, the journal be approved to date, the morning hour deemed expired and the time for the two leaders reserved for their use later in 25 day, following any leader remarks the senate be in a period of morning business until 11:00 a.m. with senators permitted to speak up to ten minutes each with the time quite quite with the leaders or their designees with the majority controlling the first half and the republicans controlling the final half. following morning business the senate resume consideration of s. 1867, the department of defense authorization act post- cloture, following that all "time" post cloture on s. 1867. the presiding officer: without objection.
mr. durbin: we expect to complete action on the defense authorization bill during tomorrow's session. the majority leader will file cloture on s. 1917, the middle class tax cut of 2011. if no agreement is reached, the vote will be friday morning. if there is no further business, i ask the senate adjourn under the previous order. the presiding officer: the the presiding officer: the
>> on capitol hill today, senators pat tiewmy told reporters that an honest merit-based process was needed for securing money for projects. the two senators announced legislation that would permanently ban earmarks. their comments are about 20 minutes. [inaudible conversations] >> morning, everyone, and thanks for coming. i want to thank senator mccaskill for joining me today
for her leadership and great work she's done on this issue. it's almost exactly one year ago that she and i joined forces. we wrote an op-ed in the "usa today" urging the adoption of a moratorium on earmarks for both respective parties. fortunately, we had a number of colleagues that joined in this effort, and both parties did, in fact, adopt such a moratorium much to their credit. our purpose today is to announce that we're going to introduce the bill together, and the bill would make a ban on earmarks permanent and do so in a fashion that closes the loophole that allows the ban to be circumvented today. i think this is very, very important for a number of reasons. one is there is an effort underway to go back to earmarking as usual, as it used to be, and i think that would be a disaster for this -- for our country, our congress, and we
intend to do our very best to prevent that, and it's important we do it for a number of reasons. the most obviously of which is we can't afford to waste money this way. we've staggering deficits. we have a completely unsustainable debt. we're on a fiscal trajectory that can only lead to disaster if we don't change this path. well, by 2010, over the course of a previous 15 years, earmarking had tripled and had gotten up to $33 billion. now, i'll acknowledge that $33 billion itself doesn't put us on a sustainable fiscal bath, but we've got to start somewhere, and this is a good place to start. it's a really important place to start. in fact, no better place to start because among other things this is a badly flawed process, earmarks that is. it's a process that is designed and exists for the purpose of circumventing that spending of taxpayer dollars should be
subject to. in my view, earmarks became currency that was used to buy votes. there's an unwritten rule, but it was well enforced that somebody asked for an earmark in a bill, and they get it, and they were obligated to vote for the bill regardless of how bloated and wasteful it was. this should be completely unacceptable in an era where we are running trillion dollar deficits. my goodness. i think maybe the most important thing on banning earmarks 1 an effort to change the culture of congress from a congress that historically has been all about seeing how much money you spend to how much money can you save so you can restore ourselves on to a fiscal path and ensure ourselves the promising future we can have to get our house in
order. that's the mission today, and senator mccaskill, thank you very much for your leadership this effort and for joining me. >> thank you very much. great to be here with senator too toomey working on earmarks. i did not campaign against them in 2005 and 2006. frankly, i didn't understand how the process worked until i got here, and when i got here and people explained it to me, i said, well, this is not right. i'm not going to do this. i'm not going to participate in this process. nobody could tell me who was making the decisions as to who got how much. no one could tell me how that process occurred. there's slips of paper passed around. i know there was some kind of effort to make people think at home that someone oles was picking winners and losers so the individual member was not responsible for picking winners and losers from all the people
flooding their offices wanting handouts. i know that certain members got more than other members, and there was no explanation for that. it was coming as an auditor to this job that made he realize something was amiss in the way this place spent money, and i said, i'm not doing it. at the time, there was only two democrats in the united states senate that didn't participate in earmarking, and there were only a handful of republicans, and frankly, most people looked at us like we were tilting wind mills. you know, lit -- literally it felt like they were patting me on the head, oh, sure, claire, you don't like them. it's a big mistake. well fast forward and thanks to senator toomey and others getting educated about it, we have made an effort to stop
earmarking, which is a good thing, but frankly, i watch every day as people try to get around it. i was shocked when i saw the house armed services committee put in the defense authorization bill hundreds of earmarks. now, they claim they were not earmarks, but if it walks like a duck and qawks like a duck, it's a duck. these were earmarks. no question about it. we'll have more information on our effort to look at that problem in the coming weeks, but it's clear to me that there are many people around here who want to get back to business as usual in terms of the earmarking process. that's why this legislation is necessary, to put into the budget act that earmarks are prohibited and to allow an enforcement mechanism on the floor of the senate if anyone tries. i have many memorable moments in the united states senate, but one of the most memorable is when i filed an amendment on the
floor of the senate to pull nancy pelosi's earmark in the farm bill that was slipped in in the dead of night in conference called an air dropped earmark, and i put this amendment on the floor of the senate, and it was very awkward because the members, the leaders of my party were agas that i would take on the speaker's earmark in an open amendment process on the floor of the senate, and they were more upset passed the amendment, and they red faced the floor and said ugly things at that moment, and it was shocking to me that it was controversial that they had done that, but it told me a lot about how the place worked, and why it was important to be independent and strong and stand up for a process that's fair based on merit and has the taxpayers' interest at the top
of the liers, so i think this -- list, so i think this legislation will go a long ways towards changing that culture, changing the quid pro quo of the earmark world and get us back to a merit-based process where every dime we spend of taxpayers' money is spent competitively, based on merit, not on how you know or how long you've been here, and woal be happy to take -- we'll be happy to take questions. >> last year with the attempt of the earmark on the floor, did you have reason to think you could get this passed soon? >> well, you know, i think it's going to be hard with all of the emphasis right now on fiscal responsibility and all of the focused on bringing down spending, i think to vote against a moratorium on earmarking right now would be a very dangerous vote. i think it would be an "i don't get it" vote, you know, a vote that telling the american people
that truly washington is really out of touch, and i think everybody is feeling endangered regardless of parties in washington because we sense the frustration of the american people. this would be the cherry on top if people have the nerve to vote against the permanent end against earmarks. >> i'll add if you look at the freshmen members of the senate and compare how they are likely to vote to how their predecessors would have been like, and in the previous congress, you can see there's quite a pickup in the number of votes, and as senator mccaskill points out, there's no question there's a greater appreciation for the importance of fiscal discipline now than probably there's ever been. >> any indication -- [inaudible] >> i would say no. [laughter] >> well, i'd say i have not had
the conversation with the leadership on our side, i intend to, but have not yet, so i just can't speak to the question at this point. >> both of our leaders are former appropriators. >> ms. senator? one thing i'm confused about is what a senator or lawmakers does if there is a project that needs to be funded or a need that is not looked at or taken care of by the administration. how do you go about getting a project like that funded if you have that need? >> you're getting at what i think is one of the most bogus arguments made in favor of the earmark, and that is we know better than the bureaucrats. well, most of the money that's being stolen for earmarking is coming out of grant and formula programs that are decided at the state level. you know, if you look at, for example, in the earmarking that has been done in the criminal justice area, we have burn
grants, we have violence against women grants, all of that decision goes en bloc to the state, and they dole that money out. when someone decides in washington to take money from that program for their own project, for, you know, sheriff smith's new patrol car, all he's doing is stealing from the competitive process that occurs at the state, so what we need to do with federal money is there are programs that need to be addressed whether it's water needs, road needs, or bridge needs, this money needs to go to the state, and allow the local stake holders through the process of hearing and through their own determinations decide what is the best use of the money in the state. that's how we do it around here except for this relatively modern practice of robbing from those funds in order to fund pet projects based on a lobbyist's ability to get to you or who you know and what committee you
serve on and so forth. 24 does not stop -- this does not stop local decisions about where federal money goes, but it just stops individual members of congress to use fairy dust in the back of the room. >> you don't think there's any needs they have -- >> there's great projects here funded by earmarks. i'm not saying they're not worthy, but the process by which it was done is so flawed, we have to end the process. it could get funded but a merit based competition. look at water projects. we have all these water needs, and there's folks here from missouri, huge flooding 24 year. if you can't earmark for levy repair, what happens? missouri competes, and instead of north dakota and utah getting the money because that's the chairman and ranking of that appropriations committee, it's based on need, and guess who has the need? a state where both the missouri
and mississippi comes together, flooding is a constant problem in the state. on merit, missouri does just fine as it should. it's not because the chairman of the subcommittee can pull the money out because they are the chairman of the sush committee. >> you don't feel like you should have any role in the process? >> fight to ensure the money gets to missouri and the people of missouri to prioritize it. >> i have to add something. what our speedometer is to make sure we have a properly designed process here, one that's honest, transparent, and merit based, and we should fight and sometimes we'll argue and disagree and agree about what the criteria ought to be and maybe what the formula ought to be that allocates it among the states, that's perfectly reasonable and legitimate, and in a system like, that the states with the most need get funded, which is how it should work, but not one where an individual member gets to have his or her way in darkness
without any scrutiny or without being subject to a competitive process. >> senator, i had a couple questions on the defense side. one, you mentioned that you were looking into the earmarks in the house armed services markup of their bill, and wanted to see if you could provide more description on what you're looking into, and secondly, if you eliminate earmark, how do you prevent them from going to the pentagon to fund their projects and even less transparent process? >> well, i think what you have to do is as a member of the arms services committee, you have to have the #kwes of the pentagon i tried to ask over the last five year, and that is, you know, why are you doing this contract? why was this contract not competitive? looking into so forth contract, looking into anc's. there's a variety of ways that congress can have oversight of the executive branch and how they spend money. we have to ramp all of that up, and we have to be serious and
significant overseers as it relates to the way money is spent. as the house of armed services committee, it was a massive attempt, there was a flush fund created, and then members were allowed to offer amendments to use that flush fund for their pet projects and tried to say, well, it's all going to be competitive. well, if you look at it closely, it just doesn't pass the smell test, and we've been trying to analyze it in a very detailed man e and we'll have reports coming out in the weeks to come. >> i completely agree about the importance of congressional scrutiny, and that needs to be better, frank whether i, and that's an ongoing challenge, but let's remember, earmarks exploded in the fashion that they did because members of congress are uniquely insented. they have an incentive that the bureaucracy and pentagon, for example, just don't have, and that is to get that big media splash when they walk down with
the gigantic oversight's check saying i'm the guy who brought you this big pile of money for whatevers whatever it is, and i'm responsible for this, and the message is you ought to support me in the next reelection campaign. the guy at the pentagon has no incentive to do such thing, and that's why it's members 6 congress asking for bridges to nowhere and cowgirl hall of fames and super christmas trees. these things came from members of congress because they thought there would be some kind of political reward for them. >> do you find the unique challenge with the deficit redorks, -- reduction, the pressure is greater to charge spending because there's a smaller pot, and can you give us insight as to whether the super committee addressed the issue of earmarks at any time? >> i don't think we spebt a great -- spent a great deal of time focusing on earmarks in the
super committee because there's no moratorium in place, and we were trying to find ways to address the mandatory spending side of the equation, just a different part of the budget. >> senator mccaskill, somewhat related topic, speaking of earmarks, perhaps from the white house. you asked for a view of the contract between hhs and a company called ciga over the small smallpox. why did you ask for that? >> there's a contract that gets my attention. >> do you feel large democratic supporters are involved with that company that this has impressions of a political payoff. >> i'm not going to comment about people drawing conclusions of the contact. i want to get into the facts, and that is how did this become a no-bid contract? was it justified as a no-bid contract? i think we have to begin