tv U.S. Senate CSPAN June 10, 2013 5:00pm-8:01pm EDT
it's also important to know when they leave. full deployment of the biometric exit component of u.s. visit should be a high priority, such a capability would have assisted law enforcement and intelligence officials in august and september of 2001 in conducting a search or two of the hijackers -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. sessions: i thank the chair. i believe 5:00 has arrived and i would yield the floor. and i would say thank you to the managers of the agriculture bill. i know you've worked hard on it. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 954, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 73, s. 954, a bill to reauthorize agricultural programs through 2018. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 5:30 p.m. will be equally divided and controlled between
the two leaders or their designees. ms. stabenow: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: i see the distinguished senator from north dakota on the floor. this is senator heitkamp's first farm bill we are ready to vote on. she has been an extraordinary voice, really hit the ground running. we are really proud of her, and it's my pleasure to yield her five minutes. ms. heitkamp: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. ms. heitkamp: i would first like to thank the incredible leadership of the great senator from the state of michigan. i met her over a year ago and knew that she was a force to be reckoned with, not only because she has red hair but because she is someone who understands that to move something forward, we need to have compromise and we need to understand that this is a farm bill that represents the
interests of the entire country, not just the interest of maybe the great plains states or the southern states or even our urban areas that care desperately about nutrition, but that we need to forge a bill that can pass both chambers and that can keep our country moving. the fact of the matter is, madam president, that agriculture is a shining star in the american economy today. if you look at states like north dakota and nebraska and kansas and south dakota, all ag-based states, you will see that we did not have the deep trough of this recession because agriculture did pretty well. why did agriculture do pretty well? because the last farm bill that was crafted provided an appropriate balance of concern for our long-term fiscal obligations along with providing our producers with a legitimate and appropriate safety net. and so we have a farm bill today that i think is even better,
that we are going to be voting on. why is it better? because it not only provides that certainty and that safety net for american producers, the backbone historically of our economy, provides not only that certainty but it reduces the deficit $24 billion. by eliminating a process of direct payments, by cutting some unnecessary expenditures, by streamlining consequencization and by -- conservation and by taking a look at a national and reasonable approach to some of the issues regarding nutrition. and so i am very, very proud today to stand before this body body -- one of my first votes -- not the first vote but one of my first votes. i am doing what is absolutely essential to the north dakota economy, and that is passing a farm bill. and so just to give you an idea of north dakota, because we like to brag, because people forget about north dakota as an
agricultural state because so much attention has been focused in recent months and recent years on our dramatic energy development that we have, but i want to just give you a rundown on what we do in north dakota when you look at our production. we're number one in barley. we're number one in beans, dried and edible. we're number one in n.f.c.kies, number one in pinto beans, we're number one in canola, number one in flax seed and honey, number one in lentils and dry edible peas, we're number one in all forms of sunflowers, and we're number one in spring wheat, we're number two in all wheat. 90% of north dakota's land base is engaged in agriculture. it's the backbone of what we do. as we talk about the importance of public policy, not only to protect our producers and give them opportunities for
opportunity, i want to talk about two unique things that i am exceptionally proud of. the first is that this crop insurance program will provide the safety net that so many of our young farmers and our states need to get engaged in the business of farming. why is that important? when i -- ten years ago, when i was still in elected office, i would go to farm meetings and i would look around the table, and everybody was in their 50's and 60's, and a 50-year-old farmer would be a young farmer, and now we go to those same meetings and sitting around that table are 20 and 30 and 40-year-old farm families saying we want to engage in the business of agriculture, and that's good for the world, because we not only need to produce our products for america, we need to produce our products for the entire world. and so this is a farm bill that i think strikes the right balance. it is a farm bill that addresses the priorities not only of my state but hopefully the priorities of this country.
16 million jobs, 16 million american jobs depend on this bill. the second point i want to make about this bill that i think it's -- people remind me occasionally that it is a year late because we have already gone to one extension, but since i have been here, it is a bill that will send the message to the american people that we need to provide a -- a certainty once and for all. we need to do things in a timely fashion, and i think moving this farm bill right now is moving it in a time hi fashion. i think this is an excellent, excellent piece of legislation, and i urge all of my colleagues to vote for it, and i thank the chairwoman from michigan for her excellent and exceptional leadership, along with her ranking member, senator cochran, who has been so instrumental in forging the compromises that make today possible. thank you so much, madam chairwoman.
ms. stabenow: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you, madam president. i want to take a moment before we vote today to recognize folks that have worked so hard to get us to this point. and first of all, i thank my colleagues in advance for coming together one more time and leading for rural america, for farmers, for ranchers, for the 16 million people, to have a job because of agriculture in this country. it's been a long road for the agriculture reform food and jobs act, and i have been so blessed and pleased to have the wonderful partner and ranking member, the distinguished senator from mississippi, as my partner every step of the way, and i want to thank him, look forward as we move forward. hopefully the house this time will complete their work and we will have the opportunity to go to conference and craft an agreement that we will then present back to the senate, but
i can't thank senator cochran enough and the staff for their wonderful partnership. we started last year, we had three weeks that the farm bill was on the floor of the senate. we had 73 votes and adopted 42 amendments, and we took that as the basis of the bill this year once the house did not take up the bill and in my judgment walked away from rural america last year. we had to come back and do it again, so we used that work product that the senate did last year as the basis of our work, and we had two weeks of debate on the floor of the united states senate. we have added 14 more amendments to the bill that is in front of us. so i want to thank first the majority leader for his hard work and leadership and patience , as always. he knows how important agriculture is to our economy,
how important it is to support rural communities and families, consumers around our country. i appreciate that he has not just once but twice given us precious time on the senate floor so that we could do our job and standing up for rural america and for consumers across this country. i'm proud that we once again voted -- or are about to vote today in a bipartisan way to move this bill forward. this bill has been bipartisan from start to finish, and i believe that's the reason for our success, and i am grateful to colleagues who have worked in such a diligent way on both sides of the aisle. there are many leaders on both sides of the aisle on this bill. we wouldn't be here today without leadership on both sides of the aisle, and i am very, very grateful for that. this is how the senate is designed to work where people who care very deeply on both sides of an issue can sit down, in our case around a table in
the senate agriculture room, look each other in the eye, talk to each other, listen, make the compromises necessary to come together with a balanced bill, and that's what we did. last year, we passed the farm bill, as i said before, in a bipartisan way as well. the house agriculture committee passed a bipartisan farm bill last year, but for whatever reason, the full house didn't consider the bill. it was allowed to expire, but the good news is that this year it looks like it is going to be different, madam president. that's good news for rural america and the men and women who work hard every day to give us the safest, most affordable, most b -- abundant food supply in the world, in the world. i want to thank my incredible staff who have done this now, not once but twice, and suddenly when we were engaged and had a work product and when the deficit commission was actually
operating, we have done this three times. i think they could do farm bills in their sleep. hopefully they have not been sleeping when they were writing this one, but i am very grateful for their leadership. i want to thank chris adamo, my terrific staff director for the agriculture committee who is living and breathing these issues every minute and only takes occasional breaks to go fly fishing in michigan. we have a historic agreement on conservation and crop insurance in this bill, thanks to his leadership in our team. jonathan coppas, our chief counsel, joe schulze, our economist extraordinaire who understands the ins and outs of agriculture like nobody else, and we have done so much in this transition toward market-based risk management tools for our farmers. jonathan cordon, our general counsel, who dotted every t and dotted every i in this bill, and frankly, madam president, there are a lot of them. he has been keeping track of all the amendments and making sure this process runs smoothly.
carla tieman who leads our livestock and energy issues and helps make the energy title something we could be very proud of. i am very grateful for all of her leadership and hard work. tina may who wrote our original conservation title and then decided to go have a baby. she is amazing. she knows more about conservation than anyone i know. we're very proud that not only the conservation title in the senate but one that is very similar in the house bears the marks of her hard work and leadership. and i do want to note that jonathan coppas had a son during the last farm bill, and tina had a son during this farm bill, so i'm not sure what it is about farm bills, madam president, but we'll see what comes next. one thing about tina's maternity leave is that it allowed us to get the t-2 team back together. kevin norton came back from the usda to work with katie lee as they kicked up very excellently
the heavy load and made it look easy. thanks to them, our country will have healthy wildlife habitats and clean, fishable waters for generations to come. jonathan snyder who is another one of our farm bill veterans who ably leads our nutrition team has done such a wonderful job, has done so much for the diversity of american agriculture through organics, fruits and vegetables and all the things we call specialty crops, as well as jesse taylor. jesse has done terrific work in partnership as well. randy mcbride led our efforts to reorganize rural development entitlement and worked so hard this year to make sure the energy title continued to grow the economy in rural america. rush venheim. rush is our expert on technology issues, biotechnology issues, on crop protection, has lent very important expertise to our efforts, and i'm grateful. cora clawson who led our efforts
on dairy last year and whose hard work led to the majority, the major advances we have made in this bill for beginning farmers and ranchers as well as for our veterans who want to get into agriculture. i'm very proud, madam president, that in our bill we have a new agricultural liaison for our veterans. so many of our men and women coming home are from small communities around america, and they want to have the opportunity to go into farming. we want to help them be able to do that. of course, also leading our cftc efforts, so cora's work is just getting started. hannah abu alsaio who kept the trains running on time and hannah made sure we were all prepared and prepped, no easy job as well. alexia stancheck and kyle varner who as the newest member of our team have once again done a great job, whatever needed to be done in order to help us be successful. jesse williams, nicole kurt
anstein, jacob cheney, our entire great team on the committee have helped us, madam president, to get to this point. i also want to say thank you to my chief of staff, dan farrow, who manages our personal office, mat vankyken, my legislative director who has followed the floor procedures and made sure everything was happening as it should, my great deputy chief of staff, bill sweeney, colin schwarz, ben becker, our press secretary who made sure that we were telling the story of rural america and this farm bill and the reforms in it every day. we couldn't have done it without them and our entire team, matt williams, will eberly and alex barager. i want to thank all of the outreach efforts led by kelly fox, mary fudnex and korey hall, making sure that michigan is truly represented on every page. i want to thank everyone on
senator cochran's team. once again, doug elmendorf c.b.o. farm team came through thanks to jim langley and everyone on their team. i want to thank casey jill fret senator reid's office who is part of our extended female family. great working with her again. this is like a second annual family reunion, always having casey with us. nothing could again get down dunn without our excellent floor staff who have been led by gary myrick and tim mitchell and thank everybody for their very long hours as usual. of course, we wouldn't have had anything to pass without the expertise of our legislative council team, michelle johnson-wider and gary end acot for their invaluable assistance and lastly, the team at the usda and what i believe is an absolutely terrific secretary
agriculture, tom vilsack and his general counsel's office. there are other colleagues that wish to speak. i just want everyone to know that when you take basically 12 different chapters or titles, any one of which could be its own piece of legislation and put it together in something called a five-year farm bill, it happens because of a tremendous amount of talent and experience, and hard work. and it happens because in our case, we have what i believe is the most seasoned agriculture committee, former chairs, former secretary of agriculture, we have people who know agriculture deeply and care about it deeply, and with so much talent and experience it's been a real privilege and continues to be to chair this committee. madam president, this farm bill is the product of two years of hard work by along list of talented people, and as we vote
today, we support 16 million people that depend on agriculture for their jobs. we are providing $24 billion in deficit reduction on a bipartisan basis. we are providing policies that will conserve our land and our water resources for generations to come, that help families who have fallen on hard times keep food on the tables for their children. a bill that helps our veterans get started in agriculture, that supports our small towns all across america. and recognizes the diversity of american agriculture and strengthens efforts to give families the opportunity to buy fresh local food in their supermarkets and have it available in their schools. this farm bill creates jobs. i'm very proud of the work that we have done and i ask all of our colleagues to support us in voting yes today on this bill.
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer:, -- ms. stabenow: senator klobuchar was next i believe. i would yield five minutes to senator klobuchar. and if my ranking member, if he is interested or we will then turn to senator nelson. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: madam president, i rise in support of this very important bill and i want to thank senator stabenow for her leadership as well as the senator from mississippi. it was a true bipartisan effort and as i heard her list all the names of all the wonderful staff people that worked on this bill i also want to mention my staff member, adam duran. this wouldn't have happened without senator stabenow with her ever-optimistic view of never giving up on this bill. i thank you, senator. it has been 354 days since the senate passed its last farm bill. i've been counting it down, madam president. and this is long overdue.
this got down in record speed because we had gone through all of these issues, 70-some amendments last time and this time we're able to get the farm bill through the agriculture committee in record time in three hours and now it's on the floor and i predict we'll have strong bipartisan support. you ask why. first of all, last year our country experienced the worst drought since 1956, costing the country tens of balances of dollars. in minnesota, 74 counties were eligible for disaster relief due to drought. this year the late spring and wet conditions have prevented many farmers in my state from getting their crop into the ground. dairy farmers have been especially hurt because of the alfalfa shorta, because of the rot, because of the water. we can't do anything about the weather but we can make sure that our country has a steady food supply and that we are not dependent on foreign food. how do we do that? by having a smart, fiscally sound farm bill.
i can tell you we have a bill that literally saves the taxpayers $24 billion in ten years over the last farm bill. that's why it makes no sense for me to play a game of green light/red light and at the end of the year are we going to extend the last farm bill that's more expensive when we have a very smart farm bill here. it matters in my state. my state is number one in turkeys -- i always like to say that -- sweet corn and grean peas and oadz oaths, three in hogs and soybeans and number four in corn. but it is more than the crops and the sugar beets and the wheat. dweentd just raise livestock, don't just produce these crops, we produce the food. the turkey at jenny o, the spanl at hormel. when we look at this farm bill we have to understand it involves not just our farmers, in fact, that is a smaller percentage of the farm bill than say the nutrition programs, but it also involves our spire economy and how that all goes
together from energy on down. what i like about this farm bill, madam president, is it does connect these dots and makes sure that we have a strong economy across the board starting with our farmers, also including strong conservation efforts and i see the senator from north dakota, senator heitkamp here, she and i along with senator hoeven worked very hard to make make sure there were strong provisions in this bill for the conservation efforts which include a retention of water with floodings in the fargo-moorhead area, making sure that we had strong efforts for agriculture research, something everyone in our country cares about as we move forward. we streamlined the conservation program from 23 to 13 programs. the bill funds the energy title programs which this last extension did not do. and it also does a lot with ag research. i also had some of my amendments included which helps beginning farmers and ranchers that includes reducing the cost of crop insurance for beginning
farmers by 10%, the second amendment helps beginning farmers access land for grazing. these are just a few of these things in this bill. we are excited about this bill and by say as senator stabenow did, this is a call for action. the senate has gotten its act together on this bill. we were able to work out a bipartisan compromise in the committee. we are able to get a strong vote on the floor. and now it is time for speaker boehner to call the house bill up so we can work out the differences as we should in regular order and conference committee. our farmers deserve nothing less, the kids that depend on school nutrition programs deserve nothing less and the conservation efforts in our country, those that hunt, those that fish, enjoy the outdoors, they deserve nothing less. it is time to get this gill bill done. we will vote on it tonight and then it goes over to the house and i would like to get this thing out of the house by the time that we are ready to head into august where we talk to a
lot of our farmers, and they have a few words to say every time i speak to them, madam president. and i think the house would like to hear good things for a change. with that, madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. cochran: madam president, i'm pleased to join the distinguished senator from michigan in urging approval of this bill by the senate. it's been a pleasure working with her and other members of the agriculture committee to produce a farm bill that meets the needs of those involved in agriculture production and the consumers of the crops produced by nearnls farmers and ranchers. i ask unanimous consent that the balance of my remarks be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. stabenow: i would yield time now to the senator from florida for a colloquy with myself. the presiding officer: the
senator from florida. mr. nelson: madam president, and i am grateful to the chairman of the committee to engage in a colloquy with me about a devastating disease, bacteria called greening which is devastating the citrus industry. we know of no cure. the bacteria kills the citrus tree in might have years -- tree in five years and we're not going to have a citrus crop or industry unless we can find a cure for this bacteria. the bacteria is transported by an insect called a cillid, and once the cillid bores its snout into the bark of the tree and the bacteria is injected into
the pholum or sap of the tree, it will kill the tree. they found various methods of spraying to try to prolong the life of the tree, but in essence, the tree will guy dye in about five years. it's in every grove in florida. it's now in the citrus industry in california and arizona. and they have found the cillid, likewise in other gulf coast states -- alabama, louisiana louisiana -- and it is -- greening is also in the state of georgia. so what we are trying to do is to set up a trust fund which is authorized in the bill and to get it funded in order to find the cure for this disease so that an industry that has become so important to the entire
country can be saved. i have talked at length with the chairman of the finance committee, senator baucus, who has been very supportive. as a matter of fact, we've passed a similar bill out of the finance committee in the last congress. and i plan to work with senator baucus and senator stabenow to make sure that this trust fund becomes a reality as we move forward with this farm bill. ms. stabenow: madam president, i would just indicate to my colleague who has been such a strong advocate for his state, for his growers, his people, i'm very grateful for that, he has made his case very strongly. i understand once a diseased tree is exposed to the disease there is no cure, the tree will die within five years. it must be entirely replaced and, in fact, as the senator
indicated, this is something that affects many states, not only florida but texas, california, louisiana, alabama, arizona, georgia as well. and so i know this is a serious issue for our citrus growers and i'm committed to working with senator baucus to make sure the trust funds for citrus as well as cotton and wool are included in the final conference committee. i know these are concerns shared by a number of our colleagues, and i look forward to working with the senator from florida as well as our colleagues. this is a very, very important issue. mr. nelson: i want to thank senator stabenow for her commitment to helping fund a cure for citrus greening. and it is just that, it is an emergency situation. and because of the devastating nature of this citrus greening disease, the citrus research trust fund must have the
guaranteed funding in the farm bill. we just simply can't wait any longer. and graciously, senator -- senators stabenow and baucus have both been so encouraging and have agreed to me personally to restore the funding mechanisms of the trust fund when the senate and the house go to conference on the farm bill. and when this farm bill makes its way to the president's desk, the citrus trust fund needs to be a fully functional and a funded component. ms. stabenow: madam president, let me just say in conclusion i look forward to working with my colleague to ensure there is guaranteed source of funding for this citrus trust fund. i understand the devastation he's speaking about to an entire industry and i am looking forward to working with him. mr. nelson: i would conclude, madam president, by saying i not only speak of this for my
state, florida, of which citrus is one of its primary industries, and now the product of which is a staple on every american breakfast table, but i speak also of our sister states, arizona, california -- by the way, to, madam president, i would say that the cillid and the bacteria are in the state of hawaii as well. arizona, georgia, louisiana, and alabama. and i am grateful, very grateful for this commitment. thank you. the presiding officer: under the previous order, all postcloture time is expired. and the question occurs on amendment number 998 offered by the senator from vermont, mr. leahy. mr. leahy: madam president, this amendment is very simple and it sets up a pilot program for real
ultra high-speed internet in rural areas. we're going to have this in urban areas. all we're saying is let rural areas and every single senator represents a rural area somewhere in their state. allow rural areas to compete with urban areas for jobs, for education, for medical care. this -- the ultra high-speed internet service pilot is narrow in scope, carefully drafted. i know it's supported by the distinguished chair and the distinguished ranking member, has the potential of bringing, as i said earlier, innovation of the silicon valley to the up irvalley, in vermont, to rural areas across the country. it's almost what we had to argue about rural electricity back before i was born, whether rural areas would be the same as urban areas.
this makes it possible. i'd urge its passage. ms. stabenow: madam president, i would urge a "yes" vote on the leahy amendment. the presiding officer: the question is on the leahy amendment. all those in favor say aye. a senator: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll.
the presiding officer: is there anyone wishing to change his or her vote? if not, on this vote the yeas are 48. the nays are 38. the amendment is agreed to. without objection. mr. reid: we have one more vote tonight. we're going to have one more vote tonight. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: we're going to have one more vote tonight, on final passage. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the bill for the third time. the clerk: calendar number 73, s. 954, a bill to reauthorize agricultural programs through 2018. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the question occurs on s. 954 as amended.
nays are 27, and the bill as amended is passed. the senator from ohio. mr. brown: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak for up to five minutes, following my remarks, senator sessions will have the floor. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. and i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. under the leadership of chairwoman stabenow and ranking member cochran the senate has again passed a deficit-reducing bipartisan bill that will help our farms, our families, our economy, our environment. the agriculture reform, food and jobs act of 2013 is a good start to cultivate a new era of prosperity in our country and reinvesting in rural america. that's because this bill benefits all americans, especially in my home state of ohio. one in seven jobs in ohio, many places like custer and defiance, is related to food and agriculture. to keep our economy growing, the farm bill must remain a priority
here in congress. we've shown the senate can do its part. to people who are uncertain about our ability to work across the aisle, i say look at this farm bill. to people who are concerned about spending in washington, i say look at this farm bill. to people who are disheartened about our ability to help low-income family make ends meet, i say look at this farm bill. this bill saves more than $24 billion. it maintains important investments in conservation and nutrition and renewable energy and rural development. farmers in ohio and across the country tell us they want a leaner, more efficient market-oriented farm safety net. taxpayers deserve that too. by eliminating direct payments, by linking crop insurance to conservation compliance, by reforming our risk management programs, senate's taken that first step. every farmer knows the importance of building on last season's work. last year, senators thune, durbin, lugar, the predecessor, the presiding officer and i proposed the aggregate risk in
revenue management programs, streamlining the farmer safety net, making it more market oriented. the ag risk coverage program included in this bill gives farmers the tools they need to mitigate risks, ensuring that payments happen only when farmers need them most. the program relies on current data and as a result is more responsive to farmers' needs and more responsive to taxpayers. it includes a provision to help ohio farmers and producers sell their products directly to consumers. it would make a world of difference to families and schools who want to eat locally grown foot. i appreciate the efforts -- locally grown food. i appreciate yait the efforts and support of senator cochran in those efforts. this bill does not include my food and agriculture market development amendment, sponsored by 14 of my colleagues to provide needed funding to several important programs that support the development of stronger, more sustainable food system. we will -- we will work on that in the house. by aligning our agricultural health and economic policies in
ways that ensure farmers get a fair price for their product, all americans can have access to affordable, healthy food while contributing to strong communities and thriving local economies. the -- the farm bill affects every american every day. its a deficit-reduction bill, it's a jobs bill, it's a conservation bill, it's a rural development bill, and it's bipartisan. i commend again senator stabenow and senator cochran for their work in this effort. their joint effort to work across party lines is to be commended. mr. cochran: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. cochran: mr. president, i want to thank the senate for passing this very important farm bill. the agriculture reform, food and jobs act of 2013. i especially thank my colleagues, debbie stabenow and pat roberts and their staff members for the hard work that
they devoted to this effort. their bill, when it was begun, passed the senate last year. their legislation became the starting point for our work this year on the bill. the chairwoman of the agriculture committee, senator stabenow, and her staff director, chris adamo, have been outstanding leaders in this effort and i at this opportunity thank them and all of the members of their staff for their hard work in developing a strategy and developing the language of a bill that could enjoy such broad support. members of our committee staff and my personal office staff have worked very hard, too, in this effort. i'd like to thank them for their contributions. i appreciate the hard work. they include our staff director
t.a. hawkes, nina mccoy, kevin batday, darryl dixon, adam tell, animal ultimer, ben mostly, taylor nicholas, julian baer, andrew vilaskey, chris steven wahl, ann haslett, james glick, and sara margaret hughes. the staff members have really done an outstanding job, and i'm very pleased that they have been members of our team, and for all of them and especially for the senators and the support we have received today, we appreciate the support very much.ield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. mr. brown: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio.
mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. thank you, senator cochran. i ask unanimous consent that tributes to frank lautenberg, the late senator from new jersey, be printed as a senate document and that the members have until 12:00 noon on thursday, june 20, to submit tributes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent for the appointment at the desk -- that the appointment at the desk appear separately in the record as if made by the chair. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that economy the senate completes its business today, it adjourns until 10:00 a.m. on tuesday, june 11. that following the prayer and pledge, the morning business be deemed expired, the journal -- the journal of proceedings -- following -- i'm sorry, the morning business be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date and the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. following any leader remarks, the senate resume consideration of the motion to proceed to s. 744, the comprehensive immigration reform bill under the previous order. further, that the chair recess from 12:30 until 2:15 tomorrow to allow for the weekly caucus
meetings. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: tomorrow, 2:15, trillion be a -- there will be a cloture vote to proceed to the immigration bill. if cloture is invoked, there will be a second vote at 4:00 to adopt the motion to proceed and begin to consideration of the bill. if there is no further business to come before the senate, ski that it adjourn under the previous order following the remarks of senator sessions as provided for under the previous order. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
bill, s. 744 that's before us, two-volume set, 1,000 pages, and unfortunately it doesn't do what its sponsors say it does. it doesn't provide the security and other important items that we want in an immigration reform bill, and therefore it cannot be passed in its present form and should not be passed in that form. it's just that simple. this is a big important issue. we need -- when we pass immigration reform, we do not need to be back in the situation that occurred in 1986 when they passed immigration reform and promised to do enforcement in the future. they gave the amnesty immediately and the promises of enforcement never occurred. this is not a little matter.
it's resulted in 11 million people now being in our country illegally. the result directly of the failure of the 1986 bill to carry out its enforcement promises. the direct result of presidents and congress for not insisting that that happen. and so there is a general consensus even among the gang of eight that congress and the president can't be trusted, and we need to have legislation that somehow mandates that to happen, because, you know, you have to have in their minds the amnesty first. that's just the way it's got to be. and once that's given, well, we will promise to take care of it in the future. now, i have been discussing the two aspects of immigration that causes us to have the illegal entrance. the first part is obvious.
it's people to enter the border illegally, and any number of borders and ports, they come in illegally and that is a big part of our problem. actually, 60%, though, only. 40% of the problem are the people that come into our country legally on a visa. the others just come illegally. they have no right to enter the country. they just enter. these have a right to enter the country, they come in on a visa and they just don't go home. they just stay. and history tells them nothing ever happens. nobody knows they didn't return home. nobody clocks them out when they go home. nobody knows they're here, and they just stay. and the president of the united states is -- through the secretary of homeland security has directed i.c.e. agents, immigration, customs enforcement officers who are over and around our country, although small in
number, about 5,000, they have directed them basically not to execute any deportation proceedings against anybody. almost none. now, they have to be convicted of a big felony, serious crime, only then do they initiate deportation. and we have got cities that are failing to support the federal government in any way. they won't even notify the federal government when they catch somebody for a crime in their city and discover they are illegally in the country, they won't notify the something that they're there so they can come and pick them up and carry out the deportation that's required. and this is the kind of sad state we are in. it certainly is a sad state indeed. and so the american people by a 4-1 margin by a poll just a few days ago said we are prepared to be generous to people who entered the country illegally
and haven't got in trouble and be compassionate to them, but we want to see the enforcement occur. and by a 4-1 margin, that poll showed that the american people said the enforcement should come first before you grant the legality, before you give the amnesty. now, isn't that good common sense? and as i go through a second part of my concern about this project, you will see the ineffectiveness and unwillingness of the federal government to fulfill its role of ensuring that our sovereignty is defended through the elimination of illegal immigration. and we can do that. we can do it but we are not not doing it. so the first part dealing with the borders i mentioned today they soften the law, current law. current law is that you have to
have 100% enforcement, security at the border. under the standards that they utilize there. this bill says 90%. and it otherwise reduces the enforceability and the enforcement standards of making sure our border is lawful. i would just say first and foremost each one of these matters are exceedingly complex and must be done properly. so we talked about earlier the crafting of legislation necessary to ensure that our border is lawful and it requires a lot of work and a lot of different strategies,
capabilities for our men and women who are out there at risk enforcing that law. and that's the fundamental reason we should have legislation that goes step by step. we should have a piece of legislation that has been worked on very hard involving the immigration officers, the border patrol officers. that legislation would be brought forth and we would pass it to fix the border. and then the second part, as i am talking about today, the entry-exit visa situation where people enter the country lawfully according to a visa but don't return, that is its own unique and complex systems that need to be dealt with, and that needs to be done independently and separately. we need a separate and independent analysis of how to deal with the workplace to ensure that people who don't get jobs who come into the country illegally in the future. we have got to end this. so let me just say, i'm taking
the bill at its words. they want to give a legal status to everybody that's here. and so i'm talking about now what do you do to try to ensure this doesn't happen again in the future? we're not saying go out and try to find everybody that's in the country illegally and capture them and deport them. that's not a practical solution at this point in our history and doesn't -- to me, we do need to figure out how to compassionately deal with those individuals, but we don't need to be where we can't enforce the law in the future so we have another amnesty upon us, another situation with millions of people here illegally because we failed to do our duty. well, the way you do the entry-exit visa has been determined by congress for a number of years. it's to use a biometric
entry-exit visa system. and so we take fingerprints of people right now, everybody that comes to the country, and that they are clocked in when they enter the united states, and that fingerprint identifies them as the person who has the visa. and then when they leave, they're supposed to clock out and use their fingerprint, which is the best biometric. it's a proven system. you put your fingerprint, maybe just two fingers on the reader as you go onto the airplane to fly out of the country, and it reads it and see if you're a terrorist or you're a criminal fleeing prosecution, a crime you may have committed in the united states. it's simple and easy as can be. but for one reason or another, this has been -- this has been blocked. and so the history of the biometric exit system is so instructive for us because it
tells us how the presidential and congressional authorities of america have failed to carry out what ought to be a universally accepted bipartisan plan to make our entry-exit visa system work right and reduce that 40% of the illegal immigrants in our country that come by visas. so in 1996, congress first adopted a requirement for an entry-exit system to track those who were entering and leaving the united states in the illegal immigration reform and immigrant responsibility act. the first time we passed it, in 1996. and in 2000, congress passed another law requiring the entry-exit system be electronic and to be implemented at all air, sea and land ports of
entry. that was in 2000, 13 years ago. again, in 2000, when amending the visa waiver program, congress required -- quote -- "fully automated entry and exit control systems. entry and exit control systems to record entry and departure information for all aliens participating in the program. congress also required that passports be machine readable. after 9/11, this was a time of national introspection and study. congress once again demanded the implementation of an entry/exit system through the passage of the patriot act. it's in the patriot act. the intent of congress was made clear at that time. quote, "in light of the terrorist attacks perpetrated against the united states on september 11, 2001, it is the sense of congress that the
attorney general in consultation with the secretary of state should fully implement the integrated entry and exit data system for airports, seaports and land ports of entry with all deliberate speed as expeditiously as practical." importantly, congress demanded that the entry/exit system be biometric. this is important. and based on tamper resistant machine-readable documents. a biometric system requires that an immigration document match the individual presenting the document. in other words, there's a biometric capability to make sure the person who presents the document is the person named in the document. there are a variety of ways to make a document biometric but the most common is to use digital fingerprints which can
easily be run through computer data ways bastes to make -- databases to match records on file. according to the department of homeland security's own web site, today -- it's on their site today -- secretary napolitano's web site, it says this: quote, "unlike names and dates of birth which can be changed biometrics are unique and virtually impossible to forge. collecting biometrics helps the u.s. government prevent people from using fraudulent documents to enter the country illegally. collecting biometrics also protects your identity in the event your travel documents are lost or stolen." close quote. that's on the web site today of homeland security. and it's absolutely correct. but it didn't happen in 2000. in 2002, congress reiterated
the demand for a biometric entry/exit system at all ports of entry requiring homeland security issue aliens -- quote -- "only machine readable, tamper resistant, visas and other travel and entry documents that use biometric identifiers close quote. that was what we passed in 2002. it also required that the government install biometric readers and scanners -- quote -- "at all ports of entry in the united states." also in 2002 the department of homeland security initiated the u.s. visit system which is really got great potential and it has done some good things but it hasn't been completed and that system was to develop this entire process. two years later, u.s. visit was
collecting biometric data on all aliens entering the united states. so they'd take this data and they guilty it -- get it. in 2004, congress again demanded a biometric entry/exit system, in 2004, passing another law. the passage through -- through the passage of the intelligence reform and terrorist prevention act of 2004. and in that act congress said -- quote -- "congress finds that completing a biometric entry and exit data system as expeditiously as possible is an essential investment in the effort to protect a united states by preventing the entry of terrorists" -- close quote. it goes on, -- quote -- "the secretary of homeland security shall develop a plan to accelerate the full
implementation of an automated biometric entry and exit data system" -- close quote. that's what we did again in 2004. 2007, now the 9/11 commission comes back together again. they'd issued a report with a whole lot of recommendations and they met to see how many of their recommendations had been adopted. so they reiterated the need for an exit visa system and required exit -- and asked -- demanded that the exit simply pli to all foreign nationals entering under the visa waiver program and added a biometric component. that was in 2007 when that was passed. so congress is crystal clear and consistent that this is what we expect to be done.
has it been done? no. it has not yet been done. and what about this new immigration bill that's got a thousand pages in it and we're told is the toughest in history, we're told it's -- senator schumer said tough as nails. does it require it? will it ensure that it finally gets done? no. not only that, it alters the law. it says it doesn't have to be done. it eliminates biometric and it eliminates land entry and exit systems. so you don't have an exit visa system at anything but the airports under their plan, and it's not biometric. it actually weakens dramatically
repeated law enactments of the united states congress. so it's not stronger on the visa program where 40% of the overstays come from, 40% of the people entering the country illegally comes through visa overstays. it doesn't fix that. it weakens that law. and i don't see how my colleagues can come here and brag about this when plain as day that's what their bill does. and i don't think the bill should be considered in this form. and the struggle continues. get this: last week, the house, still frustrated about this matter, representative bartlett of pennsylvania got an amendment passed to prohibit funding for the department of homeland security parties and receptions until the biometric entry/exit system was fully
implemented as the 2004 law required. so what do we draw from this? well, we draw several things. one of them is the american people already get it. they don't trust congress to do anything they say. we pass laws and we go home and we say we fixed a biometric bill and it never happens. we passed six different laws requiring it and it doesn't happen and then they say they're passing the toughest bill that's ever been written about entry/exit visas and we're going to fix this problem and we recognize 40% of the problem come through that way and is it fixed? no. the -- it undermines current law. current law is not being enforced, i acknowledge, they just surrender. and give in. now it's not -- now this can be
done, first of all. we need to go back. i think the american people's frustration with what's happening in this congress is well earned. they have a right to be unhappy. in a recent poll, a poll not too long ago, showed this: asked people are you more frustrated or angry with people who enter the country illegally or the government officials who have allowed it to happen, 88% said they were mad at congress and the government. the american people aren't mad at people who want to come to the country illegally. they are frustrated and angry their elected representatives who year after year, decade after decade, promise to fix this system and blithely go about their business and never do it. they say one thing and they do another. and it's not right. well, they say, well, you know, it just can't be done. it's too hard.
it's too expensive. it slows down entry exits. people just don't want to do this. and that's why we just never got around to it. well, we just discovered a report that never got any publicity, that i don't know if it was secret or not but i didn't realize what was in it, in 2009. went to the appropriations committee, they're not the immigration committee, it sat around. nobody paid much attention it to. 2009 the department of homeland security conducted a pilot program at the detroit and atlanta airports. to deal with what would happen if we had an entry/exit biometric visa system at those two airports. they found a biometric exit system -- we have the entry, remember -- was not only feasible but fast, accurate,
did not slow passengers as they boarded the departing flights. during one month of heavy international travel time, june and july, the biometric exit system in detroit processed 9,448 aliens and identified 44 from the consolidated watch list and 60 suspected overstays. out of less than 10,000 people. so this is a terrorist watch list and the criminal consolidated watch list. some of these were arrested for violation of federal law. and had warrants out for their arrest on nonterrorist charges. some of them showed up on watch lists, and 60 of them were suspected overstays. what about atlanta? well, they promised 20,296
aliens, subject to u.s. visit, and identified 131 on the watch list and got hits on those, in 90 overstays. since 9/11, at least 36 individuals who have overstayed their visas have been convicted of terrorism-related charges. 36 since the 9/11 attacks have been arrested for terrorism charges and they were visa overstays, including amean el calf iffy who attempted to bomb the capitol last year. the christmas day bomb plot and the near getaway by the would-be times square bomber fasal shazad who had already boarded a flight
leaving the united states when he was arrested, just before he could take off. we are once again reminded that border security is an essential element of national security and exit control is part of that rubric. tamber lane -- tamar an sarn yes, i have remind invisible, having exited the country for a six-month stay in russia because today's biographic exit data was insufficient to identify him as leaving the country. in this case a misspelling or he used a different spelling and he wasn't picked up on the list, whereas if he'd used his fingerprints he would have been identified biometrically instantly. s. 744 requires the use of software to correct misspelings, it may not work for the millions of other names that the software does not pick
up. and it won't pick up the fact that there's an arrest warrant for murder out for him, let's say in indianapolis, when he's getting on a plane in boston. but it should get picked up if they use the entry/exit visa. and the individual would then successfully have fled the united states and may be able to get away completely with a serious crime. so the only way to verify a person is who they are -- claim to be really is through a biometric identifier. and during the committee markup i offered an amendment to require the implementation of the biometric exit system as required by current law, as part of the trigger to allow the secretary to grant green cards to those given amnesty. in other words, if she didn't have that -- that fixed and in place as current law required
it, the amnesty in ten years, the green card would not be issued. a biometric air-sea exit solution is available right now, as it was in 2009. it requires no infrastructure changes to airports, can be deployed immediately. nominees the t.s.a. nor airlines need to be directly involved in this. also in 2005, biometric exit for vehicles and pedestrians at land ports was tested and found to be workable. to implement that solution today would require less than was required during the 2005 testing and simply use -- of the biometric data already in the system and tamper resistant biometric card and expansion of the current trusted traveler program in entry lanes to the exit lanes. we dothe entry, we need
to do the exit lanes. so nevertheless, my amendment, i guess it wasn't -- it failed 12-6, so i guess senator schumer and -- and the leaders of the gang of eight didn't give a pass to the republican members at least who might have voted for my bill so they had to stick together. senator schumer claimed that such a system would cost about $25 billion to implement. well, somebody had used that figure and it was all -- i had just only then discovered this 2009 report of the exit system in atlanta and detroit. this report right here. we just found out that there was actually documented evidence that it doesn't cost anything like that much. however, when we were
aggregating the 2008 u.s. visa impact analysis data and industry data, the greatest total costs for the first year technology implementation at air and seaports would be approximately $172 million to $855 million depending on collection units chosen. the more expensive units do not require an attendant to even be there, but a monitoring attendant that can supervise a number of mobile kiosks all at once. in addition, a 2008 air-sea biometric exit project regulatory impact analysis also noted that air-sea biometric system was less costly than a biographic exit system for several reasons: improved detection of aliens overstaying visas, 300 i.c.e. agents have to do overstays now.
cost avoidance resulting from improved immigration and customs enforcement efficiency. in 2007, costs for removal per visa violator was $18,000 per individual. improved efficiency in processing of entry-exit data. improved national security environment. so today the cost is significantly lower still because the latest technology requires less manpower to operate and support processes. so in an exit system, you come through the airport, you get ready to board the plane. while you're in the area there heading to your gate, you simply go by a spot and for a few seconds, according to this report, negligible slowing down, you put your finger on it, it reads your fingerprint and says yes, indeed, this is the individual that entered the country. he has a permission to leave and it runs a check of terrorist and crime data and to see if there's
a warrant for the person's arrest. and then they get to move right on. it requires, the report found, less than two seconds for fingerprint capture. that's amazing. of course, a lot of people don't know, but many police departments provide police officers in their automobiles fingerprint reading data. so they arrest somebody for d.u.i. and they have them put their finger on the machine and who knows, bingo, it comes up they're wanted for rape somewhere. that's how you apprehend fugitives today. we do far less hunting them down by name than we just simply wait for them to get picked up in some sort of checking -- some sort of other arrest. mobile units do that. these systems are now deployed internationally in nine countries and 20 international airports, including australia.
processing over 700,000 passengers per year. so this can be done and i'm amazed and really frustrated it's not happened. when secretary ridge was homeland security secretary, i guess the first one, we talked about this. my experience in law enforcement was the fingerprint had to be the data because it's the fingerprint that the police officers and f.b.i. use when they arrest somebody for a cri crime. and many people flee. and many people who flee like to leave the country. and he -- the last thing he said when he left office, he said, i have one bit of advice for my successors and that is use the fingerprint. and after much effort and much debate and much conflict, he had distilled that down to that simple decision. and we're almost there, frankly. we should complete it. so in the committee markup, an amendment sponsored by senator hatch was adopted that requires yet another pilot program
limited to the ten busiest airports within two years and the f.a.a. designated core 30 airports over six years. the amendment, which does not serve as a trying to her amnesty or anything else -- trigger to amnesty or anything else, fails to require biometric at the land ports, which makes the system unenforceable and almost unusable because a person can fly in and they can exit from a land port. and you need record that or you don't know whether they ever left the country or not. as senator grassley said at the time in the committee -- quote -- "in 1996, we passed an entry-exit system and it's not law. so what i see before us is a fig leaf that leads us to believe that we are doing more than what the bill requires, but because the bill does a lot less than
what we decided in 1996 we needed to do, i think this amendment should be defeated." but it wasn't, it passed. finally we were told that all of the triggers would have to be fully implemented. if they are not fully implemented, there will be no green cards issued. this is one of the gang of eight selling the bill, talking about the bill, that it had to be fully implemented, these -- all the triggers, and there will be no green cards. so let's take a look at what the bill actually says about that. the bill says that after ten years, the secretary may adjust the status of those illegal immigrants who receive amnesty to lawful permanent resident or green status, green card status. so the secretary can adjust the people who came illegally from their temporary legal status to permanent resident of the united
states, green card, on a guaranteed pathway in three years to full citizenship. but that's supposed to only be done, when? when the secretary certifies to congress that her border security strategy is substantially deployed and substantially operational and her fencing plans is implemented and substantially completed. so these terms are undefined, leaving these determination to the sole discretion of the secretary. and she said, we don't need anymore fencing. so she gets to decide about fencing. and what is she required to do? to make her fencing plan -- her fencing plan has to be initiated and approved or her plan has to be implemented. but the plan doesn't have to call for a single foot of
fencing. and also, the green card status can be given when she has implemented the new -- and this is important -- employment verification system required under the bill, which is for new employees, not current employees. you do an everify system to check on that, something like that. and is not mandatory until five years after the regulations are published. so the employment effort is really not effective until as long as five years after aftere amnesty has been provided. so the real deadline for implementation of the employment, everify successor system that they'd like to develop, may be as long as ten years. this is less than what the 2007 bill called for, the bill that
failed. 2007 required everify for all new hires 18 months after the enactment of the bill and for all current employees, three years after the enactment of the bill. so their plan for the everify system is far weaker than the plan in 2007 and it suggests by putting it off and not having current employees have to have it used with them, that they're not very serious about it. indeed. also, when she is using an electronic but not biometric system at air and sea but not land ports of entry. so another requirement for trigger is that -- is that there must be an in use an electronic, not biometric, exit system for
air and seaports but not land. and experts have told us, if you don't do land, you never know when anybody left the country. unfortunately, like most seemingly tough provisions in this bill, it's followed by exceptions that swallows the rule. the bill allows the secretary to grant green cards to those given amnesty without satisfying these triggers. just not -- there's so many loopholes in it, and so she can certify she has a plan, she can certify that we've expanded the system electronically but not biometrically about the airports and land and -- at airports and seaports but not land ports. and you end up to be what appears to be a big improvement over current law but it's not. current law requires biometric at land, sea and air. so this reduces that. and the bill undermines the ability to deport people who are
in the country illegally. it -- it -- there's a whole lot of examples that i could give at this point and point that out. and i won't, not tonight, to the chair's relief. so like 1986, amnesty comes first. it will occur the deportations will stop. and it happens now. but the enforcement that is promised will not happen. in any effective way. that's clear. if you read the bill, there's not a real sense that anybody that knows anything about enforcement is -- was there in the room drafting the bill, driving the legislation to close loopholes and make this system enforceable in future and end its brokenness today, end the
illegality today and put us on a path that we can be proud of for our future. the bill does not fix the illegality that dominates so much of our current system. it surrenders to illegality and does not stand up and fix it. this is not what the good people of this country want for their future. another long period of illegal immigration and another inevitable amnesty. we can fix the border. we -- we can do that. we can fix our visa system. it's not that hard. we know how to do it now. we can fix and dramatically increase the ability of employers to ensure that they hire only legal workers and not hire illegal workers, leaving americans unemployed at record rates. we can establish a strong interior enforcement system that
has integrity and fairness to it. this bill is not close to that goal even though we could do it. it fails to move us where we need to go to put this system on a sound path. it should not become law. i thank the chair and would note the absence of quorum. no. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until
fcc has to steer this in a way that is very small, medium-sized and large companies to be able to compete relative to spectrum. and the idea that the big fish swallow up little fish i don't think it's healthy for our economy. now they'll have a business plan. obviously they want to make money but when you look at the markets in the country, 80% is owned in terms of the beachfront , the most valuable spectrum and spectrum is gold in our country. we have to do much more in order to free it up.
and the immigration modernization act, we worked late into the evening to pay the bill. we actually considered hundreds of amendments. but what was interesting and what we heard the most about was the fact that the public would witness our consideration first-hand. we saw all preceding streamed live donned the committee's web site. we saw broadcast on c-span. in fact, about a week and a half before the market began we had been available on our web site proposed amendments and there were hundreds of them. and then as we made changes we reported in real-time. i knew this made a difference because i was receiving e-mails
and calls from all over the country. people watching whether they agreed or disagreed with a particular matter, they said how much it meant to them to actually know what the senate was doing. members from both sides of the aisle praised the transparency process and the significant amp route meant the bill made by the judiciary committee and that the bill as we amended it was passed out of committee by a bipartisan two-thirds majority. again i think because everybody works together we set politics aside and said let's do something the american people can see. in many ways that is the way we did it when i first came to the senate except we didn't have a way of streaming things live here if we didn't have c-span so it's even more -- now.
i appreciate what president president obama said this weekend about immigration reform. i agree with him, we have to move in a timely way. and of course the time is now for the senate to act. i hope you can take some of the same steps in the senate that we took in the judiciary committee during our debate on this legislation and have an efficient and transparent process. the makeup of the senate judiciary committee, all parties across the political spectrum. as well as geographically with the west coast to east coast from southern borders to our northern borders. during our committee consideration last month, an editorial termed our proceedings a lesson in democracy. the proceedings demonstrated the american people to the world how
the senate can and should fulfill its responsibilities despite our differences. the ranking republican and the senior senator from iowa were on different sides on the legislation but we were able to work well together. i hope we can continue to work on the senate floor in a bipartisan way. although he voted against the bill for senior senator from iowa said the vote was necessary to report the bill to the senate he would have done so. i appreciate that senator and i look forward to his cooperation. i have proposed to senator grassley the ranking republican on the judiciary committee managing the bill for the minority to replicate here in the senate the fair and transparent process we are able to achieve in the committee. to that end will once the senate
is able to proceed to the bill i suggest we establish a filing of an amendment as we did on the outset of our committee consideration. ideally then we would be able to take these amendments and group them and work together by issue and by title as we did on the committee. it make that a lot easier for the public and actually where the senate to know what we are doing on the bill. it will help us with the timely consideration of the legislation. of course in order for senators to be able to file of amendments and work with the bill the senate has to proceed to the bill. republicans and democrats worked together to develop legislation. senators from both sides of the aisle including the senator from alabama who has already spoken on the senate floor at length about this legislation had amendments adopted in committee.
almost none of the more than 135 amendments adopted by the judiciary committee were adopted on partyline votes. we had both democratic and republican amendments that they were all adopted in a bipartisan way. so we should be able to work together to ensure consideration of amendments. and then proceed to a float without filibusters. the american people want us to vote yes or no, up or down. they don't want us using tactics that allow us to say maybe we would have been for it and maybe we would have been against it. they expect more of their senators. vote yes or no. i hope the senate will return immediately to the consideration of amendments to this important bill. i regret that tomorrow afternoon the cloture for procedural is used to begin to debate the bill. the legislation before us is not
a partisan piece of legislation. it's a bipartisan bill. it was initially a proposal from the so-called gang of eight. it came to the committee process the product of a group of 18 supported by a bipartisan majority in the judiciary committee. senators have come together to develop this bill. i have no doubt they will be able to end this unnecessary filibuster and pass this fair but tough legislation on comprehensive immigration reform. there is broad agreement on the nations immigration system is broken and is in need of a conference of solution. there is also broad agreement in this nation that people are tired of unnecessary delays from the united states senate. they would like to see us do the work we are paid to do, the work that we are elected to do and vote yes or no, not continual of
delaying. and this bipartisan legislation will achieve this and given the impact a broken system has on our economy and our families we can't afford a delay. the senate should come together to consider its passage. we should do right is right, what is fair and what is just. comp ration immigration reform came to the senate floor six years ago. it was blocked by a minority party, the republican party. the former chairman of our immigration subcommittee ted kennedy said a minority of the senate rejected a stronger economy that is fair to our taxpayers and their workers. a minority of the senate rejected america's own extraordinary immigrant history. they ignore the nations most urgent needs. we are in the struggle for the long-haul. we continue the battle.
we have ample inspiration for immigrants all around us. he was right. i had the privilege of serving in the united states senate was senator kennedy. by the time i arrived until the time he died. i knew how passionate he felt about this. i also know both then and now a small minority of the senate continues to reject this measure and should not use this time and close the door on so many people in our country. both those who are citizens and those who aspire to become citizens. i have taken inspiration from many sources from our shared
history as immigrants with the experience of my own grandparents when they came to vermont. from another country, another language, another culture. from my wife's parents who came to vermont from another country, another culture, another language. some of our courageous witnesses jose antonio vargas and gabby pacheco as senator kennedy noted in the millions of american families that would be more secure if we enact comprehensive immigration reform. during his testimony before the judiciary committee mr. vargas asked the committee, what do you want to do with us? what do you want to do with me? this legislation answers mr. vargas and sends a message
to millions of others who are looking to senators at the church or extraordinary history and tradition of as a nation of immigrants and i'm courage some on the other side of the aisle are signaling their support for this legislation. i welcome and support those who support immigration reform in the past, to support this effort again and those who join with me and others in supporting what president george w. bush wanted to do with the conference of immigration reform and now president obama but also why so many of us here in the senate want to do. i trust that those republican senators who helped draft this legislation and help us greatly because it will be with us for the long-haul. the firm and their commitments. defend the legislation if they ask for 14 members of the judiciary committee to consider and approve.
and i will hope and expect that they will not look for excuses and what needs to be a bipartisan effort. because everybody had to give some in this bill. the bill is now before the senate is not the bill that i would have drafted. i voted for an amendment in the judiciary committee that was rejected and i voted against some amendments that were accepted. i withheld an amendment put to me as an issue of fundamental fairness and ending discrimination. after republican senators pledged to support this bill and amendment had been offered. and i cannot begin to tell this
senate how much it hurt to withdraw the amendment. but despite many shortcomings as a result of compromise the bill before the senate is worthy of this chamber's immediate attention and support. it is time for us to stop voting -- and instead proceed to this bill and get to the business of legislating. after all, that is what the american people republicans and democrats alike expect us to do. congress was the unable to change it during the last decade. now in the second decade of the 21st century we again have the opportunity to make reforms we so desperately need and strengthen our nation. as i said on the senate floor late last week, the majority of us stand
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