tv U.S. Senate CSPAN June 12, 2013 12:00pm-5:01pm EDT
drug smugglers coming into this country. i learned the other day and i'd like to share with this with people who potentially could be listening here that the coast guard has intersented more illegal drugs than the entire land operation last year because they intercept drugs at a wholesale level before they even get to the country. this is about creating a perimeter that secures us against things that we don't want to come into this country, either illegal workers or illegal drugs or illegal human trafficking which is also concerning many people in louisiana and around the country, but it's also important, madam president, to have a border that allows for trade and commerce. we cannot lock ourselves away from the world. so what senator mccain is saying is so true. we have to be the smartest nation on the earth to protect our borders, because we're the most open society and a model of
what an open society should look like, but we've got to have that balance of security and trade. now, this is important for every american. so i just have to say to my colleague how proud i am of the senator, and i would hope that his colleagues on that side of the aisle would follow his good and steady advice. yes, this bill can be improved on the floor of the senate but it should not be undermined with rhetoric that makes no sense, and i'm hearing that from some of these colleagues on the other side and kwr-8d hope that they -- i would hope that they would have the good judgment to follow the wise and mature leadership of the senator from arizona. but i want to call my colleagues' attention to an amendment that senator coats and i have introduced, and i'm very grateful for his leadership. i know of no opposition to this amendment, so i'm hoping that after lunch the caucuses can meet and we can maybe take up a
few noncontroversial amendments that really just seek to clarify some provisions in the law that could be helpful to a few hundred, potentially even a few thousand americans that desperately need our help. all of these, it's one amendment, the citizenship for lawful adoptees amendment supported by myself, senator klobuchar, senator coats, and we hope there will be many more cosponsors. it does three simple but important things. first of all, a couple of years ago i helped lead the fight with many of my colleagues still serving here to pass the intercountry adoption act, which granted -- or child citizenship act of 2002. that was a very significant breakthrough in the adoption community and as you all know, i'm the chair of the adoption caucus and we have democrats and republicans and just support the idea that every child in the world needs a family. we try to minimize and reduce
barriers to children getting the family that they need, either staying with the one they were born with, trying to help support that family or if they are abandoned or neglected or grossly abused, finding another family. governments do a lot of things well, raising children isn't one of them. parents raise children, and a responsible, loving adult is necessary for a child's development, physical, emotional, and spiritual development. and both our faith and the new science tell us that. it's really nondebatable. so a group of us work on this and we're proud -- proud of the progress we're making, but one part of this amendment would -- would make it clear that if a person had been adopted and is now an adult but because of some circumstances never went through the process of citizenship, before this law -- because when
we pass a law ten years ago, any child now adopted overseas is automatically a citizen as if you were born to an american, that's what happens, if you're overseas and you give birth to a child as an american, that child is automatically american. you don't need to go through the immigration process to bring your child to the united states. well, we made it the same for adopted children because that truly is what adoption is like. it's like having your own biological child. and so we made a great step forward and we said at the time that for anybody under 18. what's happened is before 2000, for people older than 18 -- and they might be adults now, they are clearly in their 30's or 40's or 50's, they have been adopted as infants or as young children but their paperwork never went through. some of these individuals are being deported. it would be like deporting, you
know, a child that came from korea at six months, they've never spoken a word of korean, they were adopted from korea, they shouldn't be deported to korea. if they've committed a misdemeanor or even a felony, they should be penalized under the law of the united states. they can be put in jail for life. they can, you know, be any kind of appropriate criminal activity, they should be -- b be -- you know, be given just like any other american. but deportation is not and should not be for this very small group an option. so our amendment makes sure that that is clear. it also clarifies a residency requirement. this bill that we passed -- and, again, it was passed by overwhelming support, the child citizenship act, republicans and democrats. i think that don nickles, as i recall, the senator from oklahoma, was the lead sponsor on this bill and he was a very strong supporter of many of the things that i'm speaking about.
so he's no longer here but his work lives on. the child citizenship act also requires that americans living abroad for military, diplomatic and other reasons do not receive automatic citizenship upon entering the united states. when we wrote this bill, we intended for that to be the case, but because we put the word "reside" instead of "permanently physically present" we've just got to clarify that. so with that minor change, it will basically say if you're a diplomat living overseas, you adopt a child through a -- a lawful, legal adoption process, this act applies to you. and then the third thing that it will do is we call the one-parent fix. many countries -- we hope that russia will one day again open. we hope that guatemala will get its 112 cases that we're still waiting for moved through very quickly, but some of the countries are requiring, and
rightly so, that parents come to the country to adopt the child physically and then bring the child to the united states. in the past, things could be done through agents or through adoption agencies, et cetera. i'm perfectly fine with that. many adoption advocates are. parents should travel to the country. my sister did an intercountry adoption to russia so i'm fairly familiar with what our family experienced, which was quite a joy, even an added expense but a joy to travel to the orphanage. and some members of congress have adopted children and have gone through that process. but the problem is, is that our agencies are saying, which is not according to the law, i believe, that if both parents don't travel, the adoption is not automatic. that was never the intention of our law. so we're simply saying, if one parent travels and is a legal adoption, that law still applies, it doesn't have to be both.
so there are three minor changes to this bill that has helped so many children come to the united states and been such a joy to their parents and a help to the world, to providing homes and love and support for kids that need it. and it just takes another barrier and another headache and another heartache away from them for us to encourage adoption of all orphan children and unparent children in the world that need families. so i see the leader of the bill on the other side, the senator from utah. i would hope that he could also be a cosponsor, if he would, to take a look at this amendment and to give his support. i know that there are many people in utah, minnesota, indiana, louisiana that this could potentially help. it's not going to touch millions but it will touch thousands of people that i think could benefit. i will have many other amendments -- not many, several other amendments that i think can tighten up the underlying
bill, particularly for everify, which senator mccain spoke about, but i wanted to get this hopefully uncontroversial amendment out of the way to help this small group and then turn my attention to some other things that are very important in the underlying bill. and i yield the floor and ask that whenever this amendment can be considered, the senator from utah would ask you personally through the chair if you would consider putting this amendment on the short list to be reconciled potentially today. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: madam president, this week we continue a very important discussion about how to fix our broken immigration system. one of the most important concerns we have is that the border is simply not secure. despite the fact that this assertion is almost universally held, on both the left and on the right, the bill we're debating today does very little, if anything, to make the border more secure, or at least to
guarantee that it will become more secure as a result of its passage. instead, the bill offers more of what the american people are used to from washington -- plans, promises, commissions, studies, and spending lots and lots of money. but requires almost no action on border security. many on my side of the aisle have placed heavy emphasis on strengthening the border security provisions to ensure that certain goals are met before granting permanent legal status to illegal immigrants. the reason for this is not merely academic, it's based in commonsense. failing to secure the border is the quickest way to repeat the mistakes that we've made in the past. it means we'll be back here in another 20 years dealing with a much larger and far less manageable problem. that's what we're trying to prevent today and why we need to make sure this bill secures the
border. but the problem with this bill isn't just the weak border security measures. even if we can come to some satisfactory conclusion on the security issues, this bill still would fail to reform many of the challenges we face and it makes most of them worse. if all we do is fix the border security portion, this bill is still considerably weak in four major areas and would still be unworthy of support without major changes. first, there's no congressional oversight of how the executive branch implements these reforms. by passing this bill, congress would turn over almost all authority to the executive branch to secure or not secure the border, verify or not verify workplace enforcement, certify or not certify visa reforms. and, of course, the administration will begin the legalization of 11 million illegal immigrants with no input from congress as soon as possible, regardless of how much
progress has been made on the border security and the fencing provisions and on the other priorities outlined in the bill. now, congress is the branch of government that's most accountable to the american people, and if the people don't believe the border is secure or that our visa system actually works or that the country's economic needs are being met, it is congress that should be held accountable. it's also congress that can most readily be held accountable through regular elections that occur every two years in both houses, with each senator being held accountable at least every six years. therefore, congress must play a predominant role in approving, overseeing and verifying these reforms as well as ensuring the reforms are being implemented correctly and achieving the desired results. this bill, however, leaves congress and the american people dangerously out of the loop. second, the bill surrenders control of immigration law to
the secretary of homeland security as well as to a handful of other unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in washington. this is a problem that permeates the federal government in general. for example, last year, congress passed and the president signed in to law 1,519 pages of legislation. meanwhile, the federal government published 82,349 pages of new and updated rules and regulations in the federal register. that's more than 82,000 pages of rules that never came before congress, never had a chance to be amended, and never received a vote in this body. this bill will make that problem worse by granting similarly broad discretion to the secretary of homeland security to create the rules and regulations that will determine how the bill is to be implemented as well as authorize the secretary and hundreds and hundreds of instances -- in hundreds and hundreds of
instances to simply ignore immigration law as it's enacted by congress. now, while i can certainly see why members of congress might not want to take responsibility for the consequences of this bill, that's not how our republic is supposed to function. third, this bill is inherently unfair to the countless thousands of people who have tried to navigate our current broken immigration system. let me cite just one example. i received a letter just a few months ago from a constituent in utah, from a person who emigrated to this country lawfully, to a person -- from a person who was teaching school in america for utah, here on a nonimmigrant visa. as she explained, she spent years of her life and thousands of dollars making sure that she came to the country legally. but she understands that her visa will expire in just a few years, in 2017.
she anticipates that she'll be unable to get a renewal on that same visa and that she will effectively be deported at that point. voluntarily but her visa term will expire and she anticipates she'll have to go back to her home country. she explained to me that it's very difficult for her to accept the fact that she's been here a few years teaching lawfully, developing friendships, developing her career when she did it legally, she'll have to go home. meanwhile, those who have broken the law by their illegal presence in the united states will not only be allowed to stay where they are, not only allowed to live where they now live, not only be allowed to work where they now work, but they'll be put on a path toward eventual citizenship at the same time that she and many others like her will have to go back to their home country. it seems to be rewarding those who have broken our laws. well, in relative terms, punishing those who have
attempted to abide by our laws in good faith. so this bill must be fair to those who have tried to come to the country the right way. as my colleague from iowa, senator grassley, explained in painstaking detail yesterday, the claims of those who say there will be stiff penalties for those who have broken the law have proven almost entirely false. there is no requirement to learn english or pay all back taxes, and it's quite possible that many noncitizens will be eligible for our country's generous benefits, or at least a number of them, which brings me to the final concern that must be addressed before anyone should support this bill -- the cost. one study conducted by the heritage foundation says the gang of eight bill could cost the taxpayers more than $6 trillion. now, some on the right and on the left have criticized that study, and i welcome the debate surrounding that criticism, but the proponents of this bill have so far refused to do their own
corresponding cost analysis. if they believe the heritage foundation is wrong, that's fine, but they should tell us how much they think it's going to cost the taxpayers. so far, we have heard nothing. so far, we don't have a corresponding study. replacing the heritage foundation study with one of their own that responds to the same points. there are reports that some democrats have asked the congressional budget office to evaluate the bill, but the report won't be published until next week. that's unfortunate. if they're really concerned about the cost and if they want it to be part of the debate, this should have been done a long time ago. these are major -- these are major portions of the bill that need to be addressed, major aspects of the bill that i think we need the full opportunity to debate, discuss and consider. even if we're able to come to a deal that makes the security portions incrementally better, as long as it still lacks
congressional oversight, grants successive authority to the executive branch, unfairly penalizes those who are trying to follow the law and costs taxpayers trillions of dollars, we should still reject this reform unless major changes have been made. some have suggested that by pointing out the flaws in the bill, we're letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. that vastly understates the problems in this bill. far from good, this bill repeats the mistakes of the past. it makes our immigration system worse than the one we have today, and will only lead to bigger and less manageable problems in the future. i strongly urge my colleagues to oppose it. madam president, there is one more point i'd like to make as we continue this debate. i realize this issue is very personal to some. moments ago, i recounted a story from a constituent who takes this issue to heart.
it has affected her family, her employment and almost every aspect of her life. i understand that sometimes when congress is taking on tough challenges, people's emotions get heated. that's understandable. but let's not forget that we're all on the side of immigration reform. i don't know a single member of this body or of the other body of congress on the left or on the right who is not on the side of immigration reform. perhaps such a person exists, but if that's the case, i have not met him or her. as i said last week and as i have said on countless occasions in interviews, op-eds, newsletters and online, i stand here today in support of real and comprehensive immigration reform. and i stand here today as someone who supports legal immigration into our country. i understand, as all of my colleagues do, that immigration
is necessary to our country's prosperity and to its ultimate success. there are those who unfairly suggest that i and my fellow senators who oppose this bill are somehow -- quote -- "anti-immigrant or anti-immigration. unfortunately, those are the voices that are diminishing the prospects of getting real immigration reform done this year. i'm well aware that if this bill does not pass the senate, we will have an immigration problem that very next day. that's why i have been encouraging members of congress to support a step-by-step approach to immigration reform. let's not hold hostage the things that we can't get done today because we're unable to iron out every contentious issue. there are more than 40 individual pieces of immigration-related legislation that have been introduced in this congress alone, half of which i have sponsored, cosponsored or that i ask
support. indeed, the only reason immigration reform is controversial, in my opinion, is because the senate refuses to take it step by step. first, let's secure the border. let's set up a workable entry-exit system and create a reliable employment verification system that protects immigrants, citizens and businesses. then let's fix our legal immigration system to make sure we're letting in the immigrants our economy needs in numbers that makes sense for our country. we don't need another 1,000-page bill full of unintended consequences. we need and the american people deserve real reform. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: thank you, madam president. madam president, just a few months ago, i met two sisters from my home state. they are marrie and addary anna
berrera. they were brought here when they were 7 and 8 years old. they were raised by a single mother who spoke no english after their father left the family behind. growing up, their mother who worked at a local hotel did whatever she could to support their family, but the girls often had to depend on themselves. unlike other children her age, marrie told me she grew up the moment her father left. she told me about how she scheduled all of her family's doctors' appointments and how she translated legal documents and how at the age of 13 she started working as a hostess at a local restaurant, not more money like most teenagers want for their own indulgences, but to support a family. marrie also told me when she was just about to enter high school, adrianna had to have
life-threatening surgery and a dream was born within herself, marrie. as her sister's life hung in the balance, marrie realized she wanted to become a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon. she wanted to help others the way she watched doctors help her sister that day, and she decided she would commit herself to get the education and work towards that dream. but when i talked to marrie that day a few months ago, it was just after she had been forced to drop out of the university of washington because she could no longer afford it. now, living in seattle, she told me about how she had been unable to find a job to support her studies. why? because she lacks a social security number. marrie's dream, it turns out, like many just like her, have been put on hold. they have been put on hold because our immigration system remains broken. they have been put on hold because for far too long, congress has failed to act.
they have been put on hold because despite the fact that young women like the berrera sisters want to contribute to our nation, but our current system won't let them. madam president, it's not only stories like those of the berrera sisters that point to a system that is badly in need of reform, i see it everywhere in my state. i see it in rural parts of my state, cities like yakima and moses like where farmers can't get the seasonal ag workers they need to support one of our state's largest industries. i see it in big cities like seattle and vancouver and spokane where high-tech businesses struggle to hire the world's best and brightest. i see it in neighborhoods throughout my state where families have been ripped apart by a system that forces them to choose between legal immigration and long-term separation from the people they love. i see it along our northern border in washington state where the need to secure a long,
porous border must be balanced with a smart enforcement policies that don't use intimidation and fear as a weapon. and i see it in my state's lgbt community, a community that badly lacks fairness and equality under today's broken system. but, madam president, these aren't problems that cannot be fixed, and although previous reform efforts have fallen short, this senate is not incapable of this task, especially now, and that's because today, because of the changing demographics of our nation, because of a growing political voice of a new generation of americans and because of the energy, determination and hard work of immigration advocates in my home state and across the nation, we are at an historic moment of opportunity. for the first time in the history of this debate, there is broad bipartisan agreement that this system must be fixed and
that a bipartisan solution is within reach. madam president, no one in this country needs to be reminded that it's a rarity here when senators from different parties and from very different states come together to agree on common solutions to a big issue. so it is truly remarkable that over the course of the past year, the bipartisan so-called gang of eight has worked to craft this bill that is now before the senate. the bill that we are considering is focused on four bipartisan pillars that have drawn consensus support from members of congress and the american people. first of all, this bill includes a path to citizenship so that with a lot of hard work, many of the immigrants that are living in this country that are dreaming of citizenship can achieve that goal over time. secondly, the bill provides employers certainty in a system that has often left them without any answers. third, this bill will help
continue the progress we have made in securing our borders by focusing on the most serious security threats and by utilizing new technology. finally, this bill helps to reform our legal immigration system so that it meets the needs of our families and our nation going forward. these are all important steps, but this bill is only the beginning of a full, fair and open public debate over reforming immigration in this country, and while it will be tempting to get caught up in the specifics of one amendment or policy in this debate, we can't forget about the larger questions this bill addresses, because at its heart, this is a bill that touches nearly every aspect of american life, from our economy to our security, from our classrooms to our workplace. it's about what type of country we want to be, what we stand for, what type of future we all
want to build. these are the questions that i have actually posed in meetings with advocates and businesses and leaders in meetings all over my state, both in recent weeks and going back many years. those conversations have stirred a lot of passion, brought new facts to light and helped me bring the voices of countless advocates to this debate today. they have also helped me to arrive at the core issues that i believe are essential to repairing our broken immigration system, the issues that i will fight for as we debate in the weeks to come. madam president, sitting and talking about the aspiring americans this bill will affect has made clear that protecting families must be a central priority in comprehensive immigration reform. you know, immigration reform isn't just about a person's status. it's about sons and daughters and mothers and fathers and families that want to live full, productive lives together in this country. we know that when workers have their families nearby, they are
more likely to be satisfied with their job, they are healthier, they work harder and they contribute to our economy. we know that families are the building block of strong communities, yet under today's broken system, family-based immigration has been pitted against employment-based immigration, and far too often immigrant families are being forced to choose between the country they love and the ones they love. i firmly believe it is in our long-term national interest to change this approach. for immigration reform to best need our national ideals, we have to keep our focus on keeping our families together, reducing these backlogs, giving women immigrants access to green cards and reuniting immigrants with their families. immigration reform must also include a poison pathway to citp for the 11 million undocumented
immigrants who are residing in this country. many of you are undocumented immigrants have been living in this country for more than a decade. they are our friends, our neighbors, our colleagues, they go to church with us, they pay their taxes, they follow our laws. but our current system creates a permanent underclass of people that are caught between the law and earning a living. and while citizenship has to be earned, it is simply not feasible to deport this entire population or expect them to return to their nation of citizenship, and we certainly can't make this pathway contingent on enforcement measures that are unachievable or unrealistic. i believe the bill before us lays the foundation for a pathway to citizenship that will bring aspiring americans out from the shadows. immigration reform must also meet the needs of our changing economy. this need is perhaps best on display in my home state where the diversity of our economy creates diverse immigration
needs. washington is home to some of our nation's largest high-tech, aerospace, and composite manufacturing firms. these are businesses that demand a robust, employment-based visa system that attracts the best and brightest from across the world. however, just across the cascade mountains lie miles and miles of fertile farmland and orchards that demand a flexible and pragmatic -- prag maltic agricultural worker program. i plan to support changes to help both of those needs while investing in job opportunities for american workers through the stem investments provided in this bill. madam president, we also need a smart and humane system of securing our nation's borders including my state's many land border crossings. but me must balance the necessity of securing our borders and enforcing our laws with the importance of treating everyone with dignity and respect, and that includes
ensuring access to due process in our immigration hearings, restrictions on the use of unnecessary restraints on pregnant women, the use of less costly alternatives to detention whenever possible, and humane conditions and strict oversight and reporting requirements at our detention centers. our strategy for enforcement and border security should focus on keeping americans safe, fighting violent crime and stopping terrorists. and always do it in a way that upholds our commitment to civil liberties and the rights of every american. finally, madam president, i strongly support efforts to craft a system that will unite families by extending immigration sponsorship programs for married binational lieutenant gun coupleles -- lgbt couples. i was proud of my home state when it vote forward national
equality. but my heart breaks because each time their marriage have sn recognized by the federal government, it's just not right. the defense of marriage act has long barred equal immigration sponsorship programs for married, binational lgbt couples and while i'm hopeful the supreme court will strike down the defense of marriage act we should move decisively to include these provisions in this bill. these are not the only priorities i will be fighting for in the coming days. in fact, i am hoping to introduce some amendments that will help open new doors to education for our dreamers and that will expand he investment in our stem education. but i also know we will see amendments that will attempt to weaken and defeat this bill altogether. because as we saw in the exhaustive and inclusive committee process, there are those here who are simply spent on standing in the way of a bill americans want and our economy needs.
those who will say or do anything to defeat this bill. but, madam president, i'm confident this is a new day for immigration reform. i'm confident of that because more americans than ever before see the benefits of a modern immigration system that is coupled with the help to help our families succeed. this they see we are stronger when immigrant workers are contributing to our economy, when employers have the resources they need to grow, and when a path to citizenship is available to those who are already here. too often in this debate it's difficult for some people to understand that the millions of undocumented families in our country are already an important part of our communities. immigrants work hard, they send their children to schools throughout this country, they pay their taxes, and they help weave the fabric of our society. in all but name, they are
americans. you know, when john f. kennedy was serving right here in this chamber, he wrote a book about the fact that america is a nation of immigrants, and in it he wrote -- and i want to quote it today -- "immigration policy should be generous, it should be fair, it should be flexible. with such a policy, we can turn to the world and to our own past with clean hands and a clear conscience." today, those words continue to ring true. and it's not only the world we have to turn to. this effort is about living up to our own ideals. it's about, as then-senator kennedy said, living up to our own past. our history has long been that of a beacon of hope for people throughout the world. from those who arrived at ellis island to start a new life decades ago to the dreamers who want to contribute to the country that they love today. as we once again take on this
very difficult task of reforming our immigration policy, let's make sure our actions reflect our security, our economy, and our future. but let's also never forget the past, and the fact that our nation has long offered generations of immigrants the chance to achieve their dreams. thank you, madam president. and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. kaine: madam president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of
calendar number 33, h. con. res. 25, that the amendment which is and has been at the desk, the text of s. con. res. 8, the budget resolution passed by the senate on march 23 be inserted in lieu thereof, that h. con. res. as amended be agreed to, that the motion to reconsider be laid on the table, that the senate insist on its amendment and request a conference with the house on the disagreeing votes of the two houses and the chair be authorized to appoint conferees on the part of the senate, that following the authorization two motions to instruct conferees be in order from each side, a motion to instruct relative to the debt limit and a motion to instruct relative to taxes and revenue, that there be two hours dwaift equally divided between the two leaders or their designees prior to votes, in relation to the motions and further that no amendments be in order in either of the motions prior to the votes all the above occurring with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection to the request? the senator from utah. mr. lee: reserving the right to
object i'd like to explain briefly what the overall situation. we're not objecting to budget, we're not objecting to conference. we just want the debt limit left out. it's a separate issue what warrants its own debate. it's a simple request. no back-room deals on the debt limit. i'd like to focus on one particular argument we've heard from the other side. critics argue that conference committees are transparent and they don't involve back-room deals. if this were ever the case, today it is not. the purpose of conference committees is to reconcile differences in similar bills passed by the house and by the senate. it's not the only way but it is one way. in theory, conference committees are an open, accountable and trustworthy means of resolving bicameral differences. but in recent years, the conference process, like so much else in this town and in this chamber, has become constructed -- corrupted. today conference committees are another mechanism to exclude the
american people from the legislative process. secret, closed doors, they usually don't even begin until the deal is already completed as a practical matter. speaker boehner himself said recently we don't typically go to conference until such time that they're well on their way. a recent example was the conference last year on the highway bill. the senate passed its bill in march, the house passed its version in april. may 8, the conference committee met for about two and a half hours on c-span but no amendments, no substantive legislating. members mostly gave opening statements. but that was just the first meeting after all. plenty of time to get to the real work. but then at the end of it all, the chair of the conference thanked everyone for coming and then said something peculiar. we will be back here if necessary. maybe we can do this, you know, out of this room here. but we may be able to agree and get signatures on a conference report. but if necessary, we will be back here in 20-some days.
strange thing that the conference, which hasn't done anything yet, would only meet again if necessary. how else could they do their work if they didn't meet again? but then without meeting again, the conference filed its 670-page report in the early morning hours of june 28 as if by magic without any debate or amendments or votes, all the differences simply got ironed out. the highway bill suddenly included provisions that had nothing to do with highways. the conference committee had added to the highway bill the flood insurance program and the student loan program. you might call it the miraculous deception. and so thursday morning they presented to congress their massive bill intentionally waiting until only hours before the entire highway program was set to expire. it was a clambg cliff deal -- classic cliff deal, immune from amendment, included unrelated provisions air dropped into the
bill presented as a take it or leave it proposition up against a manufactured deadline crisis. faced with this situation, the house and senate passed the report without reading it and patted each other on the back for their bipartisanship. this, unfortunately, is how washington too often works and it's why the american people hold washington in such low esteem. people don't crust trust the government because they know the government doesn't trust them. if my colleagues really want a back-room deal on the budget, we'll give them their chance to have it. we just ask that they leave the debt ceiling out of it. but make no mistake, my colleagues and i are not objecting because we don't understand how washington works as someone suggested. we are objecting because we know exactly how washington works in this regard and we mean to change it. so, madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the senator from virginia modify his request so that it not be in order for the senate to consider a conference report that includes reconciliation instructions to raise the debt
limit. the presiding officer: is there objection to the request as modified? mr. kaine: madam president, given that --. the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. kaine: given that no member of this body made an amendment to request such a provision and offered it for a vote, either during the budget committee deliberation or on the floor of this body when we were debating the budget, i consider the request basically an effort to modify the budget after if vote is done and therefore i reject the request and i ask -- request an opportunity to comment additionally. the presiding officer: does the senator object to the request as modified? mr. kaine: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. is there objection to the original request? mr. lee: madam president, in that case, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the senator from virginia. mr. kaine: i would like to comment on my colleague's characterization that members of this body want a back-room deal
because in that characterization my colleague neglected to make clear to certainly people in this gallery what happens when there's a conference report. since march 23, we have been trying to take a budget passed by this body in accord with the budget act of 1974 into a conference with the house budget passed the same week and that is the way in a bicameral legislature where you resolve differences between the two houses. you put the different positions in a conference committee and you ask people to sit down and debate and listen and dialogue and hopefully find a compromise. there is no guarantee in any conference that a compromise will be found. all we are asking is that members of this body instead of exercising a prerogative to block debate and compromise, allow a conference to go forward so that we can talk and listen
and see whether we can find compromise for the good of the nation. the senator has indicated they are blocking that because they want to stop back-room deals. the senator has neglected to explain what happens when there is a conference. when there is a conference, if there is a deal, if there is an agreement to find good for the common good of the nation between a republican house majority and a democratic senate majority, then the conference report gets submitted back to the bodies, we have debate in this chamber where every senator, just as they did during the budget can stand and explain whether they're for it or against it and every senator has the ability to vote yes or no to the conference report. if the senator would like to see a conference and see if it works and if he doesn't like it vote against the budget, or the budget compromise, he's able to do it. if any senator allows a
conference committee to go forward and when it comes back believes it represents some kind of a back-room deal, at that point they can say that on the floor. but to restrict a budget from even going to conference so that we can find compromise before you know whether compromise will be found, before you know what the compromise might be, and to call it a back-room deal when you're blocking anybody from even entering the room and trying to find compromise, i think is an unfair characterization of the procedures of this body. i've stated before on the floor as i've made the motion, this is the 13th motion we have made since march 23 to begin a budget conference so we can find compromise. when our framers established a bicameral legislature, they knew what they were doing, but they gave us a challenge. and the challenge was this: in a bicameral legislature that requires passage in both houses, if the governmental organism is to be alive, then
compromise is the blood of the organism. because passage in one house is not enough. there has to be passage in both houses for the vast majority of items, including a budget. blocking a process of compromise from beginning is taking the blood out of the living organism of this congress and of this government. and efforts to block compromise harm this institution, they're harming the institution every day in the minds of the american public, be they democrat, republican, independent, wherever they live. i've made the motion, the motion has been objected to, i can assure folks this motion will continue to be made because we've passed a budget in this body under regular order, we need to get into a compromise, into a conference with the house, so that we can do what's expected of us. listen, dialogue, exercise efforts to find compromise. without compromise, there is no
congress. i yield the floor. mr. lee: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: madam president, to respond to my distinguished colleague and friend from virginia, in the first place, it's important for us to remember yes, we are a bicameral congress. yes, in order to pass legislation you've got to have something that passes the house and passes the senate and is signed into law by the president. but the fact is that there are a number of ways to accomplish this. yes, it's certainly true that one way that we reconcile competing versions of legislation passed in the house and senate respectively is through a conference committee. it is not the only way, it is one way. it's also true that under article 1, section 5, claws 2 -- clause 2 of the constitution, each body of congress has its ability to write its own rules for operation. the way the rules for are written in our current posture in order to get to a conference committee, it requires
unanimous consent. all of us have to agree it's a good idea to take that particular route. but we don't have to take that route. there are other ways under the rules of the senate would allow us to reconcile differences between the house-passed budget and senate-passed budget without going to conference. we could, for example, take up the house-passed budget right now. we could debate that and address that. that's a way of addressing that that doesn't require us to going to conference. but going to conference right now under the rules of the senate as they apply to this set of facts does require unanimous con scene. there are a handful of us who are not willing to grant that consent if, in fact, the intent is, the possibility remains that they use that as a backroom effort to raise the debt limit, a backroom effort that would not require utilization of the senate's traditional rules, including the 60-vote threshold that often applies. so you're asking us to agree with something with which we fundamentally disagree. now, my friend from virginia has also made the argument that it is somehow unreasonable of us to make this objection because of
the fact that none of these amendments were brought up in connection with the budget. i actual think the argument -- i actually think the argument goes exactly the opposite way. because the debt limit was not part of the deliberations in this body on the budget and because the debt limit was not part of the deliberations or the final text in the other body in connection with the budget, there's no need for the conference committee to address the debt limit. there certainly is no need to circumvent the otherwise applicable rules of the senate that would govern this in this posture, in this context. now, madam president, i'd like unanimous consent to engage in a colloquy with my colleague, the junior senator from texas. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lee: and i'd ask my colleague from texas, who has on occasion expressed similar concerns to those that i have just expressed with this kind of posture, so i would ask my friend from texas, is it, in fact, your intent, is it your objective to be obstructionist,
are you trying to obstruct here or are you, in fact -- are you being unreasonable in raising these objections? mr. cruz: i thank my good friend from utah and -- and i would note that -- that each of us -- a number of senators have raised this objection, have focused on one thing and one thing only, which is whether the senate can raise the debt ceiling with just 50 votes or instead whether the senate can do so with 60 votes. that is the issue here. we are perfectly prepared to go to conference on the budget right now, today. that is a red herring. that's not what this procedural fight is about. every time that this motion has been asked for by the majority, the minority has risen up to protect the rights of the minority. because ordinarily to raise the debt ceiling, it would take 60 votes. and if it takes 60 votes, what that means is that the 54 democrats are not able to do so on a straight party-line vote, freezing out the republicans. right now the democrats have stated they believe the debt
ceiling should be raised with no preconditions, no negotiations, no structural changes to our out-of-control spending that is bankrupting our country. and what the minority senators have said is that at a minimum, if we are going to raise the debt ceiling, it should be subject to a 60-vote threshold so that we have a conversation about fixing the deep fiscal and economic challenges in this country. and it is, indeed, the majority who -- i will give credit for candor -- does not wish to say, no, we -- we will take the debt ceiling off the table because it is, i believe, the democrats' intention, if this budget process goes to conference committee, to use reconciliation as a backdoor procedural trick to raise the debt ceiling on 50 votes. i think that would be a travesty. but i think much of this debate is clouded in smoke and mirrors. much of this debate is clouded in obfuscation. this is a simple question --
should the debt ceiling be able to be raised with only 50 votes or should it require 60 votes, which will necessitate some compromise, some discussion? and on that question, i'm quite confident that the american people are with my friend from utah, are with the members of the minority who believe that if the debt of this country's going to go higher and higher and higher, we need leadership in this body to fix the problem rather than simply putting more and more debt on our kids and grandkids. mr. lee: and if i might ask, madam president, of my -- my friend from texas, why wouldn't one want the usual rules of the senate to apply? that is, why would one want to block or prevent the 60-vote threshold from applying with a debt ceiling increase, just as the 60-vote threshold applies to so much of the most important, the most contentious and the most closely watched legislation that moves through this body? mr. cruz: well, the 60-vote
threshold, as my friend from utah knows well, was designed to protect this institution that has been called the world's greatest deliberative body, and to ensure that the minority has a role in the discussions. and on this issue, i think that is critically important. there are few, if any, issues we will address that are more important than the question of the unsustainable debt that is threatening the future of our kids and grandkids. the natural reason why the majority would want to get around the 60-vote threshold is without a 60-vote threshold, the majority doesn't need to listen to this side of the house. and president obama has been very, very explicit. the president has said he wants the debt ceiling raised with no negotiations, no discussions, no conditions, no nothing to fix the problem. and in the last 4 1/2 years, our national debt has gone from $10 trillion to nearly $1
$17 trillion. what we are doing is fundamentally irresponsible, and the majority would like to be able to keep doing it without making any prudent decisions to stop the out-of-control spending, stop the out-of-control debt, fix the problem. and the only way they can do it is to use a procedural tricycle shut down the minority? -- procedural trick to shut down the minority. i don't believe that is consistent with our obligations to the constituents who elected us and i don't believe it's constituent -- it's consistent with the responsibility of all 100 senators to take seriously the obligation of protecting the fiscal and economic strength of this nation for the next generations. mr. lee: the senator from texas is a seasoned constitutional scholar, a graduate of princeton university and of harvard law school. he went on to clerk for judge michael ludick on the united states court of appeals for the fourth circuit, now general counsel to boeing. he later clerked for the late
chief justice william h. rehnquist on the united states supreme court. having argued a total of nine cases before the united states supreme court, the senator from texas is a seasoned litigator in addition to being a scholar of the constitution. and so i would -- i would ask my colleague a couple of questions related to that. you know, it's occurred to me sometimes as a -- as a lawyer myself, that there are sometimes some similarities between being a senator and being a lawyer. they're -- they're not perfect but we are retained for a limited period of time, in six-year increments generally, to represent a group of people. and it's our job to do what we can to act in the absence of those people. in my case, there are 3 million people from my state, the state of utah, they can't all fit inside this chamber so i'm one of the people who's elected to represent them in their absence. so i would ask my colleague from texas, number one, how do the people of texas feel about the
idea of raising the debt limit yet again? in particular, how do they feel about the idea of raising the debt limit yet again without any kind of permanent structural spending reform put in place as a condition precedent to that action? and finally, how would the people of texas feel if, as their elected representative, representing those people here in -- in this body, you surrendered one of your biggest bargaining chips, you abandoned one of the tools that allows you to make sure that we don't raise the debt limit too casually, too cavalierly without putting in place the adequate precautions? mr. cruz: i thank the junior senator from utah for his overly generous comments and -- and very kind characterizations. and, indeed, i think the analogy he drew is really quite apt. every lawyer in representing -- quite apt in that every lawyer in representing a client has an
obligation to zealously represent that client. that owes a fiduciary duty to that client. and i would suggest that all 100 of us owe that same fiduciary duty to the men and women in our states who entrusted us with the obligation of coming here and fighting for them because the 3 million citizens of utah could not all be on the floor of the senate fighting, the junior senator from utah steps in their shoes to fight on their behalf. and i -- and i feel confident that -- that the citizens of utah, like the citizens from texas, would be horrified at the notion that this body would continue raising the debt ceiling over and over and over again without even trying to fix the underlying problem. you know, this senate floor has a long and storied history. there have been great men and women, great leaders of this country who have walked on this floor, and yet each generation going back for centuries has
managed to avoid saddling the next generation with crushing debts. you know, i am reminded of the senator from utah's very distinguished late father, rex lee, who was the solicitor general of the united states, who was widely considered one of the finest u.s. supreme court advocates to have ever lived. he was an individual who took the obligation of zealously representing his client deeply and near and dear to his heart. your father's generation, my father's generation did not leave us with crushing debts, did not leave us with debts from which we could never escape. what has happened in the last 4 1/2 years is qualitatively different. it's qualitatively different from what has happened in the last 2 1/2 centuries in this country. no other generation has said to their kids, to their grandkids and to their grandkids'
grandkids, we are going to rack up so much debt that you're never going to be able to escape. my wife and i are blessed, we've got two little girls at home, 5 and 2. the idea that caroline and catherine are going to spend their adult days working to pay the taxes, to pay off the debt that we are spending recklessly right now i think is profoundly immoral, it is profoundly irresponsible and i cannot tell you how many thousands of texans, men and women across the state, have said the exact same thing. stop bankrupting the country. stop bankrupting our kids and grandkids. that's the fiduciary duty we have to fight for, to defend, is to stand for the 300 million americans for whom this body, congress, has been racking up a massive credit card debt that
threatens to imperil the security of this country and the future generations in america. mr. lee: are you suggesting that we stop altogether the practice of issuing u.s. treasuries to finance the operations of government? are you suggesting that we go without a budget or that we simply halt the issuance of treasury instruments altogether? are you suggesting something more long term? mr. cruz: of course we shouldn't halt the issuance of treasuries, and of course we shouldn't foreswear any and all debt. the constitution provides that the federal government can incur debt. and there has been a long history of incurring debt, particularly to meet extraordinary circumstances. in wartime, we have had a history of incurring debt and then of paying that down. what is important to emphasize is that there is a qualitative difference in what's happened in the last four and a half years. we have always had some degree of debt in this country, but one
of the challenges is that at times a million and a billion and a trillion can seem like the same number. they all end in illions, they all sound big, and yet the difference of $10 trillion where the national debt was five years ago and just shy of $17 trillion where we are now is fundamental, it is structural. our national debt exceeds the size of our entire economy. you know, we look over at europe, we look at greece, we look at the nations of europe that are collapsing because their elected officials were not able to be responsible, they spent money they didn't have, they built up so much debt they couldn't repay, and there comes a point where every decision to address the debt is an ugly one. where the debt hole is so deep
as some of the nations in europe are discovering that the answers are either address particular cuts to spending or massive tax increases or massively inflating the currency, and any one of those outcomes is ugly, which is one of the reasons we are seen -- we have seen rioting in the streets of europe. now, thankfully the united states is not yet in as deep a hole as some of the nations of europe, and that's why we need leadership now, to stop the out-of-control spending by addressing the deep structural problems. if you keep spending money you don't have, if any of us ran our families, our households, our businesses the way the federal government is run, we would be bankrupt. we would be sleeping under a bridge. what it takes, i believe, is responsible leadership and i hope bipartisan responsible leadership, republicans and democrats coming together to say let's live within our means. you know, that's not a terribly conservative principle.
that is a principle that has been common sense in this country for centuries, and it's one sadly we have gotten away from in the last four and a half years. mr. lee: here we're really talking about a procedural strategy. we're not even talking about an outcome here. we're talking about the full utilization of the procedural rights of each and every member of this body. we have been asked to give our consent, effectively to vote for a procedure that people on both sides of the capitol have now admitted could and may well be utilized as a mechanism for raising the debt limit in a way that circumvents the 60-vote threshold of the united states senate. it seems to me that that's troubling. if we analogize that yet again to other circumstances where you have to represent someone else, that can be troubling. so i -- i ask the senator from texas, let's suppose when you were representing clients in court, let's say in the united states supreme court, when you
were in the petition of the petitioner, for example, you have the right as the petitioner, meaning the person filing the petition for a writ of certiorari, you are seeking review by the supreme court of the united states, review is granted. after review is granted, a briefing schedule kicks in and you have the opportunity to file the first brief. that's your prerogative as a petitioner. the other side has then about a month to file its brief. and then you get something that the other side doesn't get to follow. you get a reply brief. procedurally under the rules of the supreme court of the united states, that's your right, that's your client's right. once you have got a case up in front of the supreme court and you're in the middle of the briefing schedule, what would you say to a client if you came to them and said, you know, my opposing counsel has just asked me to waive my right to file a reply brief, even though that's my right to do that, the client has asked me to do it. what would the client think if
you actually said i'm not going to file a reply brief even though procedurally i have every right to do that? mr. cruz: my friend from utah asks a terrific question, and it's a question -- you know, procedural rules, whether in a room or in the united states senate, are designed to protect substantive rights, and ultimately the 60-vote threshold is designed to protect the substantive rights not of the senators. we are not here on our own stead. we are instead here representing the constituents who sent us here. what the majority is asking us to do by asking for unanimous consent to allow this to go to conference and to set it up for them to raise the debt ceiling with 50 votes is the majority is asking for the 46 republicans on this side of the aisle to give away our right to speak, to say we will cede to the majority the
ability to do whatever it wishes on the debt ceiling and giving away our right to speak, what we're really giving away is not anything that belongs to us. it is the right of 26 million texans to have their voice heard. and for us to agree with the majority, yes, we will hand you the ability to make this decision on the debt ceiling without ever again consulting this side of the aisle. would be very much like the situation you asked about. and i don't know how the senator from utah would answer a constituent in utah who said senator lee, why did you give away my voice? why did you simply hand to the democrats the ability to decide how much debt the united states should have to raise it and why did you essentially give away my seat at the table, because it's not your seat, it's not my seat. it is the seat of the millions
of constituents in utah and texas and each of our home states who sent us here. and the idea that we would willingly give up their right to speak is inconsistent with the obligation we owe the men and women of utah and the men and women of texas. mr. lee: i would suspect that in most circumstances, a lawyer giving up that procedural right would be committing malpractice. now, perhaps a lawyer in that circumstance could say to the client, well, you know, i'm going to do this because opposing counsel has asked it of me and i want to get along with her, i want to make sure that i maximize our chances of settling this litigation, perhaps before the litigation has been completely resolved. but if that were the argument that opposing counsel was making to me, i suspect i would tell the client if that's the case, if our objective is to try to settle the litigation rather than wait until the court resolves it, then by doing that, by giving up that procedural
right to file the reply brief, i would be forfeiting a lot of bargaining power that i would otherwise have. and so, too, here. we would be forfeiting a tremendous amount of bargaining power relative to the budget discussions, relative to the debt limit discussion, a discussion that needs to take place under full sunlight and not under cover of darkness. it needs to take place in the two chambers and not in some back room deal. that's what we're talking about. that's why these procedural rights are so important. you can disagree with the rules of the senate and a lot of people do. you can want to change the rules of the senate and there are some who do, some even in this body, but the fact is that the rules are what they are. we have the power to make those rules under article 1, section 5 of the constitution, and we have the power to change those rules under article 1, section 5 of the constitution. those rules being what they are, those rules being in place as they are today, those rules having the application that they do as of this very moment, you
can't ask someone like me or my friend from texas to give our consent to something that we think is fundamentally wrong and that we think will substantially diminish the bargaining power that we have in undertaking that policy approach that we think is most necessary today. now, one of the questions that i have been asked by some of our friends on the other side of the aisle and a few of our friends who are even on our same side of the aisle as you and i is, you know, you're a republican, i'm a republican. why can't you guys just trust that the republicans who control the house of representatives will adequately secure your interest? why don't you therefore feel comfortable effectively forfeiting your right to a 60-vote threshold on the debt ceiling debate? mr. cruz: well, i think that is a reasonable question to ask, but there are a number of points that are relevant. number one, there is a
considerable history of the debt ceiling being raised through reconciliation, and indeed it has been done in 1986, in 1990, in 1993 and in 1997. so the danger that we are acting to prevent is not a hypothetical danger. it is a danger that has proven accurate. those who say we'll simply trust the house, the house, they were elected to represent their constituents, and each of the 435 members of the house has an obligation to exercise their best judgment to represent their constituents. whatever they choose to do -- and i would note a number of members of house leadership have publicly on the record suggested that they might well be amenable to raising the debt ceiling through reconciliation, so given their public statements, the scenario we are raising is a possibility that the house leadership has suggested may well be on the table. but more fundamentally, regardless of what the house
chooses to do, the senator from utah has an obligation to three million citizens of utah to represent their views, and i don't believe it would be responsible for him to give up his very eloquent voice, for me to give up my voice, for any of us to give up the voice of the citizens we're representing. you know, i'm reminded of meeting an individual at a gathering of republican women back in texas about a month ago, and this individual was a veteran who had fought in world war ii. he was there and was introduced to everyone and then received a standing ovation. a story was told about how he had been injured in world war ii, grievously injured, and he was in a hospital, and two doctors were debating about where to amputate his leg, whether to amputate the leg above the knee or below the
knee. this soldier was unconscious, and he awakened in the middle of this conversation between two doctors about where to amputate his leg. and this soldier began to participate in that debate, and unsurprisingly, he had a very strong view that he would very much prefer they not amputate the leg, and he expressed that view vociferously to the doctors who were having that debate. and as he expressed his view, he ended up prevailing in that argument and they chose not to amputate his leg below or above the knee, and to this day, he walks with a limp, he doesn't walk as well as he might if he had not been injured, but he was able to save that leg because he had a voice in that debate, because he spoke up and his interests concerning his leg were acutely different from the two doctors who were debating it without his voice. now, i think he had every right to participate in that debate because it affected him, it
affected his future, it affected his life, and just so i think the three million citizens of utah have every right to participate in this debate and not simply to be told trust the other body of congress, they have an independent obligation, but you, my friend, the senator from utah, have an obligation to your constituents to make sure their voice is part of this debate. mr. lee: indeed, we each have an obligation to utilize our own voice and to make our own judgments with regard to the best course of action to take in any debate, in any discussion. the problems in this country are significant. there is not one of us in this body that would like to minimize them. there is not one of us in this body that isn't concerned about these problems. each of us might take, might advocate, might firmly believe in a different course of action, but it's precisely because of the diversity of opinion in this
nation that this nation is great. it's precisely because of the viewpoint of diversity that we have in this body that this body has been called the world's greatest legislative body, deliberative legislative body. we need to make sure that that remains. in order for that to be the case, it is appropriate that members of the senate who have a good-faith genuine disagreement with an issue as to which a unanimous consent request has been made, that they come forward and they object. on that basis, i object and i will continue to do so as long as it remains necessary to ensure that the debate that we have surrounding the debt limit occurs under the regular order of the united states senate. thank you, madam chair. i yield the floor. mr. lee: madam president?
mrs. mccaskill: i ask to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. mccaskill: this afternoon, the senate armed services committee -- in fact, in less than an hour -- will convene and we will begin working on historic changes, unprecedented changes to the union formed road -- uniform code of military justice in response to a serious and significant problem of sexual assault in our military. i've come to the floor before we convene to explain why i am supporting significant changes as to how we handle sexual assaults in the military but also why i am not supporting completely removing the role senior military commanders play in ordering these kinds of trials to go forward. the discussion of this issue take me back many years, when i began prosecuting rape and sodomy cases as a young
assistant d.a. in the prosecutor's office in kansas city. for years, i handled dozens and dozens of these cases in the courtroom, both as an assistant prosecutor and as the elected prosecutor, i have had the opportunity, the blessing, the challenge, and the scarring that comes from holding victims' hands, crying with victims, feeling their pain, the permanency of the injuries they have suffered as a result of these unspeakable chrysler. i would challenge anyone in the senate to come to this issue with more experience or more understanding of the unique challenges this crime represents in the never-ending quest for true justice.
my years of experience and the time i have spent with military prosecutors, victims, civilian prosecutors, i have become convinced that the approach that the armed services committee will take today is the right approach to get these predators and put them in prison. i believe the provision that i expect that will receive a bipartisan majority of the votes on the armed services committee will better empower victims and lead to more reporting. and the reason it will empower victims and lead to more reporting is because these changes will lead to more and effective prosecutions. ultimately, no woman wants to come forward and talk about this crime and certainly no man who has been victimized in the military wants to come forward and talk about this crime. it is personal. it is private.
it is painful. so it doesn't matter whether the perpetrator is a member of the military or a civilian. these are difficult cases to bring forward because of the intensely personal nature of the pain involved. but i believe these reforms will hold the chain of command for accountable and force them to be part of the solution, and it will prevent the unintended consequences of dismantling a system of military justice that has long been a centerpiece of discipline in our military. make no mistake about it, the changes we are making are aggressive, historic, victim oriented and unforgiving to the predators. commanders under these reforms
will not have the ability to dismiss a conviction of a jury. that's the first and most important reform that is occurring. never again will a commander who hasn't heard the testimony be able to say, never mind -- "never mind" to that victim. most importantly -- and this is very important, because the reporting on this issue has not been accurate -- most importantly, under these reforms if the lawyers, the prosecutors, say the case should go forward and the commander disagrees and says "no," that will go straight up not to a man in uniform but to the secretary of the branch of the military where the crime occurred. so no longer will you have the uniforms making the ultimate decision. i would argue, we are taking in many ways the convening
authority out of the equation because we are allowing that lawyer, if the commander disagrees with him, that prosecutor, if the commander disagrees with them, can go straight up to the secretary of the army, the secretary of the navy, the secretary of the air force for the ultimate decision by a civilian, not by a member of the military. if the commander decides not to order the court-martial, not to order the trial, the final decision will go to the civilian secretary. the ultimate authority is with the civilian. this is even a greater level of scrutiny than in the reforms proposed by senator gillibrand because you have another level. we heard of cases where the prosecutors didn't want to go forward and the command did. there are instances where
prosecutors in the civilian world won't file these cases and the military prosecutors will. and i am sure there will be cases where military prosecutors won't want to go forward. so the good news is, is there's someone above the prosecutor that's a civilian that can, in fact, pass judgment also. we know that many cases are not filed in the civilian courts when they're he said/she said consent defenses in rape cases. i have painfully explained that decision to victims when the evidence simply was not going to meet the burden. but in the military, we've got to make sure that it isn't just a line prosecutor that has the ultimate authority. we need that civilian secretary at the top of this decision-making power. we need that ultimate authority, especially in the culture of our military. the other thing that our reform does that senator gillibrand's
proposal doesn't do -- and i think this is really key -- it creates a crime of retaliation. so if this victim comes back to the unit and retaliation occurs, the people who are committing the retaliation are now subject to the uniform code of military justice and they can be prosecuted for the crime of retaliation. i think this is a very important direct approach, because ultimately that's what most victims who don't come forward say that they are afraid of -- their loss of privacy and retaliation and the impact on their career. the bill also makes many other reforms, giving victims better access to legal counsel, improving the skill of personnel working with victims in the sexual assault response system, making sure victims have a voice in the clemency proceedings, and many others. ultimately at the end of the day, if a victim is assaulted, sexually assaulted, and they come back to their unit, is it
more likely that the unit will retaliate against them and make their life miserable if outside lawyers have said the case should go forward or if the commander has said the case should go forward? we do not have evidence that this is a problem right now, that commanders are refusing to file these cases. just the opposite. we heard testimony in committee that they are demanding prosecutions in some instances where the lawyers have said "no." i believe these reforms will do a better job of getting predators behind bars and ultimately creating a more supportive environment for victims to come forward. we are not done with this. even after we pass these reforms in committee today and even after we pass this defense authorization bill and it goes to the president, but i think we have the best chance of making real progress with a strong, bipartisan reform that will get at the heart of the matter,
which these reforms do. and i believe we will continue to monitor this, and as we go forward, if more changes are necessary, i'll be the first in line to work for them. but don't let anyone say that the reforms we are doing today are not doing what is right for the victims of sexual assault or for the proposition that anybody, any coward who bbesmirches our fine military by committing these crimes, that they should not belong in prison. they belong in prison and that's what these reforms are intended to help happen. and i appreciate and i assume that i should yield the floor to my colleague from colorado. mr. bennet: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: i'd like to say through the chair thank you to the senator from missouri for her advocacy on behalf of our servicemen and women, and i think she should have made no assumption about yielding the floor to me but i'm happy to take it, if the senator is done.
madam president, i wanted to come down today, as i did yesterday, to talk about this incredible opportunity that we have before us with this bipartisan immigration bill that we are considering now in the united states senate in -- in regular order in the united states senate. and i hope that we have a process on the floor now that we're here that mirrors the one that the judiciary committee had, an open process where people could offer amendments that they care about, one that has a spirited debate on a variety of important issues so the american people can have the benefit of a fully transparent and deliberative process over these important issues. in the judiciary committee process alone, over 300 amendments were filed and 200 were considered, and over 140 of them were actually adopted by the committee. and that's the way this place ought to work. and i think it will strengthen,
this bipartisan bill, to continue to take other people's ideas. what we didn't do in the judiciary committee and what i hope we won't do on the floor is accept amendments that will disrupt a very carefully negotiated balance in the so-called gang of eight, or group of eight -- four democrats and four republicans -- who worked hard together to try to get to a place that could actually work. and today there's been a lot of talk, and over the past few days, about the border security issues and the border in particular and preventing future waves of immigration. and i just -- i didn't come down here to negotiate any particular amendments or to litigate any particular amendments. i did want to give a little bit of context of where we arrived in the group of eight on this issue. the bill as written makes very serious investments, takes major steps to secure our borders, and i have to say the work was
informed most principally by two border senators, john mccain and jeff flake, both republicans representing the great state of arizona. and as they have pointed out and as we have pointed out, we actually career to some of the rhetoric around this place, we have actually made a lot of progress over the last decade. it's not perfect, but we have moved in the right direction. as you can see, madam president, from this chart, in 2012 alone, our expenditure on border security and immigration enforcement, this is before this bill that we're talking about now that makes more investments in border security. our investment exceeded $17.7 billion. that's what the american people spent on border security, which is 23% higher. just on border security, that is 23% higher than the $14 billion we spend on all the other federal law enforcement agencies combined. i think that would surprise the
american people to know that. this is what we spent on the border security, here is the border patrol, here is i.c.e., together about $17 billion, a little more than that. that's more than we spent on the f.b.i., the d.e.a., the secret service, the u.s. marshal's service, the a.t.f., all of those law enforcement agencies, all of them combined in 2012 before we passed the law that's in front of us, that's what we spent protecting the border. and to hear some people around here talk about it, you would think none of that money had made a difference. you would think none of the increased border agents had made a difference. well, as of january, 2013, the u.s. border patrol had 21,370 agents in total, 18,000 of whom are on the southwest border. that is an increase from 1980
that represents a ninefold increase. it's nine times the number of agents we had. we had roughly 2,000 in 1980, and today we have got roughly 21,000, and that might be a reason why border crossings are down as much as they are. that was about net zero this year in terms of people coming across our southern border and leaving. there are still areas on the borders where we need to do more like in arizona's tucson sector and senator mccain and senator flake were kind enough to take some of us down to the border and see what is really happening to understand the topography down there, the difficulty of building a fence from one end of our border to the other. there are places where fences have been incredibly effective like in san diego. there are other places where we are going to need other technology to be able to secure our borders in an efficient and
thoughtful manner. i have been guided and i hope others that have concerns in this area will meet with these border centers and listen to what they have to say about how we can improve the situation on the southern border. what our bill calls for in addition to the increases in resources is that within six months of the bill passing, secretary of homeland security is required to develop and submit to congress a comprehensive border strategy and fencing strategy. we appropriate in this bill $4.5 billion. in addition to this money that you saw up here, $14.5 billion for these strategies. the goal of this plan is to achieve persistent surveillance and 90% effectiveness rate at certain high traffic border areas. this is places in the border where lots of people try to get into the united states. madam president, i can tell you i have seen it with my own eyes when senator mccain took us down there. we actually saw somebody come
across the border, we saw somebody climb the fence while we were standing right there. i have a photograph of it on my cell phone. and that person was apprehended within about 30 seconds of getting across the border. it shows you that it is an issue that we need to continue to manage, but it's good news that we have seen the improvement that we've seen. and i think these goals will be met. i am convinced by the conversations i have had with homeland security and with others that the objectives that we have laid out to create this 90% effectiveness rate in the high traffic areas is achievable, and it's achievable with the technologies that we propose, and if there are changes that can be made during this discussion to improve that, i'm all for that. but if the goals aren't met, if people say well, you say it's going to happen, what if it doesn't happen, here is what happens. in five years if it doesn't happen, the southern border
security commission will be established to make further recommendations about how it is we can secure the border, with representation from the border states themselves. we appropriated another $2 billion in this bill for the commission's recommendations if, in fact, we ever have to get to the commission, which i hope that we won't and i expect that we won't. now, i have heard people say that one of the big problems with this bill is it's just like 1986 all over again. i wasn't here in 1986, so i can't take the credit or the blame for what happened in 1986, but it is a serious critique and a reasonable critique of that bill that it didn't do anything to stop future flow of immigrants and illegal immigration in this country. that is a very fair critique. it is not a fair critique of our bill because our bill deals with the border security that i talked about as well as internal security measures in the united states of america that were completely absent in the 1986
effort. this bill includes a universal everify system, and we crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers. that alone will reduce dramatically the incentive of people to cross the border illegally if they know that all across medical, small businesses can run their -- their biometric card or other i.d. through a database that tells them whether they are here lawfully or not and in an instant know whether they are here lawfully or not, instead of engaging in this game that has been played for decades in this country where people with false security cards are able to come in and get a job and then a year later or 18 months later find out -- the employer finds out the social security card is no longer available. that is going to dramatically disincentivize people from crossing the border, and the small business owners i know are very happy with this. because they are tired of being the immigration police. they are tired of feeling like they went the extra mile to
figure out whether somebody was here lawfully or not and relied on a social security card that looked perfectly valid with a valid social security number, only to find out that 18 months later that they had hired somebody that was undocumented. they are so weary of this, which is why they are expecting the congress to finally do its job and fix this broken immigration system. you know, the comparison to 1986 is unfair in many ways, and mark everson who is a former deputy commissioner at the immigration and naturalization service who oversaw the implementation of the 1986 law wrote today, just today in the "washington post" -- quote -- "in contrast, the legislation before the senate today takes a comprehensive approach. in contrast to 1986, this legislation takes a comprehensive approach. demand for unauthorized workers can be dampened but only through
adequate attention to the workplace and interior enforcement. if anything, he wrote, i would accelerate the rollout of the everify system while helping to secure the borders faster. and i hope we can accelerate the everify system, and the reason is i have heard from employers who say, you know what, we're playing by the rules, we're making sure that we don't hire undocumented people for our construction business, but there are other people down the road that are paying lower wages to people that are here unlawfully, and that's an unfair disadvantage for us, and i agree with that. i think the question about how fast we can implement everify needs to be balanced against the inconvenience that we pose to businesses as they get up to speed on the new system, but that's certainly something that we can talk about. finally, you know, we have, among many other broken parts of this system, a broken entry-exit visa system in the united states. i think it would shock the
american people, it surprised me, to learn that of the 11 million people that are here, 40% of them are people that entered the country lawfully. they entered the country on a visa, but they overstayed their visa. and we have the ability in this great country of ours in the 21st century to somehow detect when people are coming in on a visa, but we haven't bothered to figure out when people are leaving. which doesn't make a lot of sense, given the fact that the technology is available. this bill finally includes a mandatory and operation alibi owe graphic entry and exit system to track those coming to the united states and those leaving the united states of america and miraculously, finally, we're going to actually know who is coming in and out of the country. as we begin to phase in a biometric system that will build upon the other efforts being taken to attract visitors in a way that's cost-effective, we are going to become more secure.
we will finally know who is in this country and who should be asked to leave the united states of america. so in my view, border security is not a reason to obstruct this bill, and as i said earlier, we're open to changes but we already have very strong border measures in this bill. i don't want that to be overlooked, and i think when people hear that we need to spend billions and billions of dollars more, they should know that we're already spending billions of dollars down there. some of it has been effective, some of it has not been effective. i say let's do what's effective, lest not do what's ineffective, and let's not overspend at a time when we have got the budget issues that we are facing. in conclusion, mr. president, as the "usa today" editorial board has written, unlike 1986's political sleight of hand, there is not a lot of love lost with the 1986 bill, as you can probably tell.
unlike 1986's political sleight of hand, this year's legislation is a tough, credible plan for preventing a new surge of illegal immigration, a quest for unattainable perfection should not be allowed to undo the good that it would achieve. i wish i could say this was a place that let the perfect be the enemy of the good. we seldom even get to the good, but in this case, i think we have gotten to a place that's very good, and that we should move together forward as we have to this point in a bipartisan way to craft a thoughtful solution to a broken system that continues to be a drag on the economy of the state of colorado and the economy of the united states of america. this law, if we passed this law will once again reaffirm a couple of things that makes the united states so special, one that we subscribe to the rule of law. there are a lot of countries in the world where that is not true, and it is one of the principal reasons that people want to come to the united
states, because it is a place where -- where you can live up to your talents because nobody could take it from you because we subscribe to the rule of law. people want to come from all over the world. it's a great compliment to our country, to build their businesses here, to help us grow our economy. and it will reaffirm as well the very important notion that we are a nation of immigrants, generation after generation going back to the founding of this great country of ours. that is who we are. if we can get this bill past the senate, we get this bill past the house, i think we will have done something very important for this generation of americans but also the people that are coming after us. with that, mr. president, i thank you for your patience and i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. i come to the senate floor --. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. vitter: excuse me. i ask unanimous consent to end the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. now i come to the floor to stloing urge consideration and passage of the first of several amendments i'll be presenting on this so-called comprehensive immigration reform bill. it's number 1228 and it's about the u.s. visit system. the entry/exit system that is supposed to be in place has been mandated by congress many times to guard against visa
overstays, which is a serious national security problem. mr. president, why is this important? well, there's one simple way to underscore that, to answer that question, and that is to remind us that the 9/11 terrorists, every single one of them, were visas overstays. there are dangerous people who came into our country on valid visas, and then who overstayed their visas, who plotted against us and who ultimately caused horrendous death and destruction on 9/11. what do we do about that situation? well, we need a system of tracking visas who come into the country, and then tracking when they should be leaving the country and looking to see if they have exited the country. we need a system of -- which has biometric data associated with it which can track those
entrances and those exits. that sort of system is technologically possible. it's definitely possible to fund and put in place. it's primarily a question of political will, and, unfortunately, even after congress mandating this multiple times to no effect, even after 9/11 and other terrorist attacks, we haven't mustered the political will to demand that this is in place. if 9/11 wasn't enough, the 9/11 commission, which we appointed, put into law, asked to look at the horrible attack of 9/11 and give us recommendations, the 9/11 commission put this as one of their top recommendations. and their specific recommendation was that -- quote -- "the department of homeland security, properly supported by congress, should complete as quickly as possible
a biometric entry-exit screening system." again, mr. president, congress had talked about this years before starting in 1996. congress passed that mandate. congress repeated that mandate many different times. over 17 years, six additional votes. the 9/11 commission said the tragedy of 9/11 was in part due to our not having that system. congress, the administration, you need to get this done. and still that important piece of border security is not in place. and so, mr. president, this vitter amendment number 1228 is very, very simple. it will prohibit the implementation of any program granting temporary legal status in this bill or adjusting legal status who's presently in our
country unlawfully until this u.s. visit system has been fully implemented. full implementation. so no change in anybody's legal status happens until we finally, after decades, implement this u.s. visit system. until we finally, after years, heed the recommendation of the 9/11 commission. until we finally, decades after 9/11, say this will never happen again. and under this legislation, under my amendment, both houses of congress must pass a joint resolution of approval that, yes, this is fully in place. because, quite frankly, there isn't sufficient trust of just the administration saying so, just some certification from any administration, not just this one, any one. it has to happen and congress has to say, yes, that is in
place and then that change in legal status can go forward. mr. president, we talk a lot about border security and, of course, usually we focus on the southern border, for obvious reasons. that's where the numbers are. that's where the greatest flow is. but when it comes to national security, this is a vital component of enforcement. this is a vital component of border security. and we need to get this right. we need to remember 9/11. we need to heed the recommendation of the 9/11 commission. it's been 1996 since we, congress, has mandated this. we need to make it stick. and the only way to make it stick in the context of this bill is to demand that it is done, it is completed, verified, including by congress, before any change in legal status happens. thank you, mr. president. in closing, mr. president, i also wanted to express strong
concern and opposition to the leahy amendment number 1183 which is currently on the floor and up for consideration. that amendment would really grant exceptional priority and exceptional favor to particular o and p visa applications which are generally for renowned professors, researchers, doctors, oscar winners, entertainers, performers. and it would specifically waive a fee associated with this visa. i think that's problematic because we depend on all of these fees to fund this system and this enforcement system which we're trying to improve. i find it ironic that we would waive this fee on that class of individuals, who are absolutely the most well-heeled and the
most capable of paying it, so it would give them special status and a waiver of a relatively modest fee, for them, and hurt the funding of the entire enforcement system. i think that is misguided, when we're trying to build up enforcement, when we're trying to get this done and pay for all that enforcement, i think it's misguided to waive this fee for exactly the sort of visa applicants who are most in a position to pay it. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? mr. vitter: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: mr. president, i would ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: mr. president, one of the things that i found intriguing and was glad to hear was that the bill sponsors of this s. 744, the comprehensive immigration bill, their sponsors indicated that they had a plan that would move us to a more merit-based system of immigration, they made that promise. it's something that i advocated in 2007, had the opportunity to meet with the chairman of the canadian system in canada and talk about their merit-based system. it's very significant system, a
major change in how they handled immigration in canada. he was very, very pleased with it. fundamentally they sought to admit people into canada who would have the best chance to be successful in canada. they can't admit everybody in canada. no other country that i know of has no limit on the number of people that enter. so they wanted to say, who could be the most successful, who would do the best and could flourish in canada. and so they gave points for people with more education, people who already speak english, people that have job skills canada needs, younger people and matters like that. and it was designed to serve the canadian national interest. it's been in place for a number of years now and it actually works and it's -- they are very happy with it. they would never go back. and so when i heard that this might be a part of the bill, i
was pleased to hear that. and it's important to emphasize first, though, that this merit-based immigration is separate from the doubling of the guest workers that come in because guest workers come under other categories. and i'm referring now to immigrants, people who come to the country with regard -- with plans to stay permanently eventually. and so those are real what you call immigrants. and so the guest -- the point -- the merit-based system, as i understood it, was to focus on that group, rightly so. so the merit-based provisions don't include the temporary workers. they have their own categories. but when you actually review the bill, it's clear that this promise of a merit-based system is not met. the promise is just not met in any significant degree. and it's another example of the
promoters of the legislation overpromoting and selling something that's popular, but when you read the bill it's really not there. so i want to talk about the legislation, go through it on this particular subject. you know, the bill's a thousand pages. it deals with quite a lot of issues, and each one of them are very important. the merit-based system has had almost no discussion in the -- in the process so far and it needs to be discussed. and it's a reason i believe we'd be better off to have brought up pieces of legislation that deal with the characteristics of the people we would like to have enter the country in the future, to deal with the border security, to deal with the visa system, to deal with workplace enforcement, to deal with internal enforcement individually and separately. but, no, we've got this monumental thousand-page bill with all kinds of things in it and the sponsors say, we've
taken care of this problem, we've taken care of border security, we've taken care of the visa system. and, by the way, we've got a great plan, the system's going to be more merit -- be merit-based now. now, the proponents of the legislation have said the bill decreases annual family-based migration by reducing the cap on family-based visa systems. these are immigrants who come to the country based on relationship with people here. they say it would reduce that from 226,000 to 161,000. however, the bill actually increases overall family-based migration by allowing an unlimited number of visas each year for children and spouses of green cardholders. it grows the number further by allowing the visas that would have gone to them under the old system to be used by other family-based applicants. the bill also does not change
current law, which allows an unlimited number of family-based visas for parents of u.s. citizens each year. one of the largest and fastest-growing chain migration categories is parents. according to the department of homeland security yearbook statistics, in 2012, 124,000 parents adjusted status to legal permanent residence in this country. now, canada does the opposite. canada says, canada benefits more if we have young people come, they have a full working life, they pay into the pension plans and then that's fine. that -- that works well. but they give less points for older people for the very same reason. so this is -- this is a big increase we're seeing there. and the number of merit-based
visas pale in comparison to the family-based visa visas under te bill. so the total number of merit-based visas in this category are much smaller than the family-based visas in this legislation. for example, the new merit sectional lows for up to 125,000 to 250,000 a year. so these are people that would apply and they would claim that they have certain merit qualities that justify being ranked higher on the list. well, that's almost exactly the number of petitions that u.s. citizens and immigration service currently receives every year in just sibling and married sons and daughters policy category. so the 250,000, the maximum number under the merit system,
is almost exactly the same as the number of brothers and sisters and married sons and daughters in the family-based category. according to the center for american progress, the annual flow -- annua annual flow of family-based immigrants will be over 800,000, three times higher than the number of merit-based visas offered each year. the migration policy institute notes that "the senate bill would lift numerical limits and increase the number of permanent visas issued on the basis of nuclear family ties." the migration policy institute effectively and correctly notes this also: "the senate bill would dramatically expand options for low- and middle-skilled foreign workers to fill year-round longer-term jobs and ultimately
qualify for permanent residence." close quote. so this is a serious matter. does the bill move to merit-based system or does it dramatically expand immigration of low- and middle-skilled foreign workers to fill long-term jobs and move to qualify for permanent residence? well, i think there's no doubt about it, the migration policy nut is correct in that -- institute is correct in that analysis. it would be so good if we could -- if we had moved a lot further in the married-based system, but the bill just doesn't. the bill's proponents have also suggested that the bill reduces chain migration by eliminating siblings -- brothers and sisters -- and married children categories from the family-based system. however, the bill awards points in the new merit system to siblings and married children,
allowing the same chain migrants to receive merit-based visas ahead of many highly skilled and educated merit-based visa applicants. so what i'm saying there is that the merit-based system gives points, but it also gives points if your relatives, you got family here -- a lot of points. the proponents of the bill argue that the merit-based system will ensure that more highly skilled and educated aliens will receive visas because the point system favors education, employment, and english proficiency. however, points are also a lo indicated for -- are also allocated for nonmerit-based factors such as family ties, civic involvement and by virtue of being an alien from a country which few aliens have immigrated from. that's sort of like the former divers--that's sort of like ther
diversity visa. it allocates more points to nonmerit-based systems. okay, so let's look at it. for example, an alien who wants to apply to the united states, who has a college degree, a four-year bachelor's degree, they're given five points because they have more education. however, an alien who wants to come to the united states can also receive five points for simply being a national of a country from which few aliens have been admitted. he could have a high school diploma or not even a high school degree. zero education requirement there to get five points. and, two, an alien who is a sibling of a citizen of the united states would receive the same amount of points as an alien with a master's degree.
ten points. and five more points than an alien with a college degree. so that this brother or sister would also receive more points than an alien with three years of experience in an occupation requiring extensive preparation, such as a surgeon. so what i'm saying is, through a backdoor way, they claim they have a he got they claim they'e got a merit system, but again advantages are given based on family connection. so you could have two people from honduras apply to come to the united states -- one was valedictorian of his high school class, has a four-year college degree, and speaks english, and is anxious to come to america and go to work, and we have another one who dropped out of high school, who doesn't speak english and has no -- not even a high school degree. well, the one -- if that one had a brother in the united states, he would be accepted before the
more educated student graduate. and i think that's wrong. in tier 2, a brother or sister of a citizen would receive the same amount of points as an alien lawfully present and employed in the united states in an occupation that requires medium preparation, which can include air traffic control,commercial pilots and registered nurses. but this is only a fraction of the chain family-based migration that will occur over the next ten years under this legislation, because the 11 million i will eel immigrants -- illegal immigrants who are given green cards and even citizenship will be able to bring in their families as well over time. and they can be approved on an expedited basis. for example, there are an estimated 2.5 million who would
benefit under the dream act provisions of the legislation, if they came here as a child, they get accelerated process. they will be eligible for citizen in five years and then that 2.5 million will be able to bring their parents also. and dream act beneficiaries will also be able to bring in an unlimited number, without any caps on parents, spouses, children, and those parents, spouses and children will get permanent legal status, an additional five year, and they will be eligible for citizenship in ten, and then they would be able to bring their parents also. an estimated 800,000 illegal agricultural workers today would become legal permanent residents, green cardholders in five years and will then be eligible to bring in an unlimited number of spouses and
children. an estimated 8 million additional illegal immigrants who are here today would be given legal status, including recent arriveals as little as -- arrivals as little as december 2011. and million of visa overstay persons will receive legal status and work authorization. these million will be able to bring in their relative relativn as ten years from now and those relatives over time will be able to bring in spouses, children, and parents. what i would say is, none of those would come in on a merit-based system. they're not depending on their education, not depending on their health. they would just be able to come under the rules that would be set forth in this bill. an estimated 4.5 million aliens are waiting -- awaiting employment and family-based visas on the current cap limitations -- we've got 4.5 who
million who have applied to come -- we've got 4.5 million who have applied to come, but there are limits as to how many can come under current law and those caps will be completely eliminated under the legislation. so an estimated 4.5 million that are waiting now outside of america, their time to come, will be cleared over a period of years, not subject to the family-based annual cap, thus freeing up room for more family-based migration that would be subject to an annual cap. so over the next decade, the bill would legalize well over 30 million applicants. colleagues, we need to understand that. under current law, our processes call for the legalization of a million people a year. we're the most generous nation in the world. but you've got to know that if this bill passes, we would be giving permanent legal status to
30 million people in the next ten years. over 2.5 million of those people would be through the new merit-based system. so out of 30 million, only 2.5 million would be admitted under the merit-based system. and even among those 2.5 million, many will be admitting because they get extra points for being family members. but there is a larger issue here as well. median income has declined in america since congress last considered immigration reform. income in america for working americans has been declining. i hate to say it but it's true. recent statistics from 1999 to today, we've seen an 8% reduction in real takehome pay by real working americans. some say for the last 30 years
we've had a basic erosion of the salary base of working americans. that's a very serious thing. yet this bill roughly triples the annual flow of legal immigrants, largely low-skill legal immigrants, not high-skilled college graduatessings and doubles the flow of temporary guest workers, an entirely separate group from the one i have been talking about. do my colleagues have any concerns about how this will impact the falling incomes of our middle-class american citizens? has any thought been given to that? has anybody considered that if we bring in more people than the economy can absorb, that this will create unemployment, place people on welfare and dependency, deny men and women the ability to create an income to take care of their father
make them dependent on the state, because we don't have enough jobs in we don'? we don't have enough jobs. that's a fact. we had a decline of 8,000 jobs in manufacturing this last month. the bulk of the increases in jobs were in service industries like restaurants and bars and part-time workers, so we've got a serious problem here. and our colleagues need to be asking themselves, can i justify this kind of huge increase in immigration when -- when we can't find jobs for current americans? and what about the millions living in poverty today and chronically unemployed? what about the nearly one -- almost one in two african-american teenagers who are unemployed today? they need to get started in the workforce, but if they have to compete against somebody who
came -- came here under a work visa program, who is 30 years of age, they don't have a chance to get started, who would be glad to work for minimum wage or lower. can one of the the sponsors of this bill explain to me the economic jukes fo justificationr times more guest workers than proposed in the bill in 2007, at a time when more than 4.6 million more americans are out of work today than in 2007? can one of the sponsors answer this basic question: how will this legislation protect struggling american workers? how will it help them? oh, it may help some meatpacker or some large agribusiness. they may get a gain from it. but will it help millions of middle-class working americans
who need a job, need a pay raise, need to be able to have health care and retirement benefits? i'm worried about that. we need to talk about that some people are talking about it on the outside, but it's almost not discussed within this chamber. let me ask you, will the flowing of this many new workers, will it raise wages or reduce wages? will it raise wages or reduce wages? will it make it harder for a husband or a wife, a son or a daughter, a grandchild or a granddaughter to get a job at a decent wage? wages have been going down. unemployment is up. the lowest percentage of people in the workforce in america today since the 1970's, and how can we justify this? somebody needs to talk about it.
we've got people that are optimistic. they think we just bring this millions of people and somehow jobs will accrue. but it doesn't appear to be so. and who do we owe our loyalty to? some business who would like to have more labor or to the american people who fight or wars, obey our laws, raise our children, and pay their taxes to this country -- when they're working and can pay taxes? who's our loyalty to? we need to ask those questions. so, mr. president, i would say that i appreciate the fact that the gang of eight has stated they believe that merit-based kind of program that would bring in more people and convert our system from a low-skilled immigration to a higher-skilled
immigration. unfortunately, it makes far too little advancement in that regard. we can't accept such a meager alteration of our system. canada went much further toward a merit-based system than we did, and that's what we need to do. and there are a lot of statistics out there that show that an immigrant who comes to america with two years of college or more speaking english does very well in our country. they tend to flourish, tend to do well financially, tend to pay more in taxes and take out a revenue. but those that come with less skills and less advancement, the opposite is true. it's obvious that the nation should seek to advance its national interest by welcoming more people who have the ability to be successful and flourish in our great country.
i thank the chair and yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. mr. wicker: mr. president, i rise to continue this debate on one of the great issues of our time, immigration bill that is before us. and i thank the ranking member, mr. grassley, for allowing me to jump ahead of him in the schedule. i have a markup in the armed services committee that i need to get back to. but let me say that in the next few weeks the senate will have an opportunity to discuss clearly and resolutely america's broken immigration system. part of that means seeking policy solutions that will not only make our country stronger for decades to come but make our country safer going forward.
partisan politics should not derail the pursuit of an honest and good-faith approach to solving national problems, problems like our broken immigration system. americans are right to demand better from their elected representatives, and there's merit in allowing this legislation to proceed in an open and transparent manner. in doing so, we rightfully recognize that there is widespread and bipartisan consensus for lasting immigration reform. that consensus exists in this chamber, mr. president, and it exists across the country. for that reason, yesterday i voted in favor of cloture on this bill and in favor of the motion to proceed. so here we are about to consider, i hope, amendments that would improve the bill.
we cannot ignore the reality that there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in america today. we cannot dismiss the economic implications of a failed immigration system. disagreements are part of the legislative process, and we will have disagreements over the next several weeks on this issue. i don't expect our work on this issue to be seamless. i don't expect it to be easy. but robust debate has always been central to the senate's function and purpose. we would do well to uphold that proud tradition now. lasting and effective immigration reform requires a willingness to work on issues collaboratively and constructively and bipartisanly, mr. president. an issue of this magnitude that touches on so many aspects of society in our economy cannot be done on a solely partisan basis. we must have a wide, large bipartisan majority for anything
that moves out of this body and down to the house. i'm a longtime supporter of reinforcing our borders, of increasing the number of border patrol agents and using surveillance technology to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing into our country. i support policies that come with stphoerplt -- enforcement and accountability where those who have broken the law face consequences. i believe measures to strengthen employment verification are important to making sure that american jobs are held by american citizens and by those who live and work in our country legally. in my view, the immigration bill prepared by a bipartisan group of eight and supported by the judiciary committee is a start, but it is lacking in many ways, and i cannot support it in its current form.
more should be done to ensure first and foremost that our borders are secure. without this fundamental first step, true reform remains elusive and the problem of illegal immigration will persist. as we proceed with this bill, i look forward to amendments that would implement a stronger border security strategy, interior security protections and processes for honest employers to assess the employees' work rights. a responsible way forward must recognize past failures, and we've certainly seen that. past failures, for example, to secure the border, unfulfilled promises for better enforcement. we need to recognize those failures of the past. a comprehensive plan must include mechanisms to trap those who unlawfully overstay their visas, just as it seeks to
remedy gaps in border security. over the course of the last few weeks mississippians have contacted my office and spoken to me directly regarding their concerns about whether the bill will offer amnesty, whether it will offer federal benefits to illegal immigrants. let me be clear that i will oppose legislation if it grants legal status without penalties or if it issues welfare benefits to individuals who have broken the law to live and work in this country. these individuals should not go to the front of the line ahead of those who have patiently waited to become americans. we are a country of immigrants. throughout american history, people of all nations have recognized the promise of opportunity and freedom in the united states. legal immigration has sustained
and advanced our communities in a positive way. whether our immigration system going forward works in a way that benefits our society depends on how we act in the coming weeks. i hope we can do so thoughtfully and meaningfully as we seek solutions to a flawed system. this bill in its current form does not contain the reforms we need. efforts to amend it should be seen as an opportunity to get a bipartisan consensus of senators to a "yes" vote. they shouldn't be seen as poison pills or as efforts to hurt the process. this bill serves as a vehicle for continued discussion about the future of u.s. immigration policy. we should welcome this debate, and i do welcome this debate. and we should confront the challenges of our day in a way
that is deliberative and principled. thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor. mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: thank you. i suppose that when those of us that raise a lot of questions about this legislation and we point out shortcomings in it, that some question about sincerity when we say we need a piece of legislation might be questioned by a lot of people
that are listening. but -- and that may also sound like we question the sincerity of the group of eight, this bill that we have before us, that they worked hard to put together when we raise questions about it. and i don't question their sincerity, and i do believe that a piece of legislation must pass the united states senate. those of us that have said for such a long time that the system we have is not satisfactory, you can't maintain the status quo, you've got to be working for a product. and all of us in the united states senate are working towards a product. there's a difference of what that product should be in the final analysis. so, i continue to come to the floor to raise some questions about not the intent of the authors but what i think is the practical effect of the authors
of this legislation. so i come to the floor today to respond to what my friend, the senior senator from arizona, said earlier today on this legislation. and he's one of those hardworking senators that have worked hard, hours i'm sure i can't comprehend, to put together this piece of legislation. so today that senator argued that poll after poll shows american support of legalization process if -- and that's a very important "if" -- people pay back taxes, pay a fine and get at the end of the line, and if we secure the border. well, i pointed out before that the problem with the legislation before us, as well intended, is that people don't really have to pay back taxes or a fine or go to the end of the line and
secure the border. so these polls are being misused if the practical, if the language -- the practical effect of the language in the bill makes it possible that those things may never happen, even though it's well intended that they ought to happen. and nobody disagrees that they ought to happen. so i would probably be somewhat repetitive, but i want to remind my colleagues as i take a few minutes to discuss how the authors have tried to sell this particular immigration bill and what i see as false advertising. you see, the american people are being solid a -- being sold a product. in fact, that's what politics is. it's a sale of ideas. a political party doesn't have any reason to exist if it doesn't have good ideas. and then the idea is to get in a position to put those ideas into
effect. well, this product is being sold , and i wish it comes out exactly the way they say it does, but i have questions about that. so the american people are being asked to accept a legalization program. in exchange, they'd be assured that the laws were going to be enforced. normally consumers are able to read the labels of things that they're about to purchase. they have to read 1,175 pages to really know what's truly in this bill. and even a quick read of the bill would have many shaking their heads in confusion. and this bill is full of delegations of authority to the secretary, possibilities for waivers, things of that nature that really could be well down
the road after the president signs legislation that you're going to really know how it's being carried out. now you've all heard the phrase that the devil's in the details. at first the proposal that the bipartisan group put forward sounded reasonable. but we need to examine the fine print and take a closer look at what the bill really does. as i noted yesterday, i thought the framework held hope, but i realize that the assurances that the group of eight made didn't really translate into when the language of the bill emerged. they profess that the border would be secured and that people would -- quote unquote -- earn their legal status. however, the bill as drafted is legalization first and enforcement later.
if at all. so i'd like to dive in to these details and give a little reality check to those who expect this bill to do exactly what the authors promised. so, i have on a chart here four points that i'd like to make and statements that have been made about this legislation. number one, they say people -- they say -- quote -- "people will have to pay a penalty." end of quote. to obtain legal status. now, the reality is that the bill lays out the application procedures, and on page 972, a penalty is imposed on those who apply for registered provisional immigration status. that's the words in the bill for legalization. we refer to that as r.p.i.
it says that those who apply must pay $1,000 to the department of homeland security. now, what's the certainty of getting that $1,000? for instance, it waives the penalty for anyone under the age of 21. yet on the next page it allows the applicant to pay the penalty in installments. the bill says -- quote -- "the secretary shall establish a process for collecting payments that permit the penalty to be paid in periodic installments that shall be completed before the alien may be granted an extension of status." end of quote. in effect, this says that the applicants have six years to pay the penalty. now, that six years is how long it takes to get r.p.i. status and at the end of six years you have to extend it.
in addition to the penalty, applicants would pay a processing fee. now, that level is set by the secretary, so here you have got two instances of excessive delegation of authority to the secretary. the bill says that the secretary has a discretion to waive the processing fee for any quote -- unquote -- class of individuals she chooses and may limit the maximum fee paid by a family. the bill doesn't require everyone then to pay a penalty. it doesn't require anyone to pay -- to pay it when they apply for legal status. in fact, they may never have to pay a penalty. number two, people, -- -- quote -- ," un-- quote -- ," people have to pay back taxes. now, who's going to argue with the fact that people have to pay
back taxes to receive legal status? the reality, members of the group of eight stated over and over again that their bill would require undocumented individuals to pay back taxes prior to being granted legal status. however, the bill before us fails to make good on that promise. proponents of the bill point to a provision of the bill that prohibits people from filing for legal status -- quote -- unless the applicant has satisfied an applicable federal tax liability, end of quote. now, doesn't that sound right? absolutely, it sounds right, but as always, the devil's in the details. there are two important weaknesses with how the bill defines applicable federal tax liability. the first one is the bill limits
the definition to exclude employment taxes such as for social security and medicare. now, for a lot of people, that may be the only taxes they pay, but you don't have to pay social security and medicare taxes. second, the bill does not require the payment of all back taxes legally owed. what it requires is the payment of taxes previously assessed by the internal revenue service. well, there is a lot of problems with -- with people -- with the i.r.s. assessing somebody for taxes if they have been in the underground, just as an example. so in order to assess taxes, it's quite obvious the i.r.s. first must have information on which to base its assessment. our tax system is largely a voluntary system, relying upon
everybody to self-report their income on their tax return, but it also relies on certain third-party reporting such as wage reporting by employers. that's why we get a w-2 form at the end of every year, so that the i.r.s. knows and we know exactly what we owe and what we paid and figure out what more we might owe or how much we might get back. if someone has been working unlaw friday in this country and working off the books, it is likely that neither an individual return or a third-party return will even exist. thus, no assessment will exist and no taxes will be paid. similarly, it's very unlikely that any assessment will exist for those who have worked under a false social security number and have never filed a tax return. a legal obligation exists to pay
taxes on all income from whatever source derived and nothing in this bill paris a requirement or a mechanism to accomplish this prior to granting legal status. one of the group of eight members in january said -- quote -- "shouldn't citizens have to pay back taxes? we can trace their employment back. it doesn't take a genius." end of quote. well, maybe a well-intended statement. it obviously meets the test of common sense, but i have just showed you how difficult it is to make that happen. the other side of the aisle, for instance, is going to argue that establishing a requirement for back taxes owed rather than taxes assessed is unworkable and costly. they will also claim that imposing additional tax barriers on this population could prevent
undocumented workers and their families from coming forward in the first place. but the sales pitch has been clear. to get legal status, one has to pay their back taxes. so let me provide a reality check. this bill doesn't make good on the promises made. let's go to the third item on the chart. people will have to learn english, the reality. the bill as drafted is supposed to ensure that new americans speak a common language. learning english is a -- is a way of new residents to assimilate. this is an issue that is very important to americans. immigrants before us made a concerted effort to learn english. the proponents are claiming their bill fulfills this wish.
however, the bill does not require people here unlawfully to learn english before receiving legal status or even a green card. under section 2101, a person with r.p.i. status who applies for a green card only has to pursue a course of study to achieve an understanding of english and knowledge and understanding of civics. if the people who gain legal status ever apply for citizenship -- and some doubt that this will happen to a majority of undocumented population, they would also have to pass an english proficiency exam as required under current law. so yes, after 13 years, one would have to pass an exam, but the bill does very little to ensure that those who come out of the shadows will cherish or use the english language. the reality is that english isn't as much of a priority for
the proponents of this bill as they claim it is. the fourth thing on the chart, they say -- quote -- "people won't get public benefits," end of quote, if they choose to apply for legal status. now, the reality, americans are a very compassionate and generous people. many people can understand providing some legal status to people here illegally, but one major sticking point for those who question the legalization program is the fact that lawbreakers could become eligible for public benefits and taxpayer subsidies. the authors of the bill understood this in an attempt to show that those who receive r.p.i. status would not receive taxpayers' benefit, they included a provision that
prohibited the population from receiving certain benefits, but there are two major problems with this point in the bill. first, those who receive r.p.i. status will be immediately eligible for state and local welfare benefits. for instance, many states offer cash medical food assistance through stayed only programs to lawfully present individuals. second, the bill contains a welfare waiver loophole that could allow those with r.p.i. status to receive federal welfare dollars. the obama administration has pushed the envelope by waiving the welfare laws. if this loophole isn't closed, they could waive existing law and allow funds provided under the welfare block grant known as temporary assistance for families to be provided for noncitizens. senator hatch has an amendment during committee markup that would prohibit the u.s. department of h.h.s. from
waiving various requirements and the temporary assistance to needy family program. his amendment would also prohibit any federal agency from waiving restrictions on eligibility of immigrants for future public benefits. but the reality check for the american people is that there are loopholes and the potential for public benefits to go to those who are legalized under the bill. again, the devil is in the details, and i hope this reality check will encourage proponents of this bill to fix these problems before the bill is passed by the senate. the american people deserve truth in advertising. i want to speak about another part of the bill much shorter than i have just spoken, the provision that deals with the commission. and aside from the claims i just
gave on the promises to pay taxes, et cetera, one of the authors of the immigration bill before us stated early on that if the department of homeland security has not reached 100% awareness and 90% apprehension at the southern border within five years, the secretary would lose control of the responsibility and it will be turned over to a board of governors to get the job done. the fact is that board of -- that board of governors and the commission that they serve with is not going to have any power. that's the point that i am going to make. there was a lot of talk about how the secretary would be pushed to fulfill the congressional mandate to secure the border. i pointed out yesterday how this secretary said we don't need to secure the border, it's already secured, but at the end of the day, as far as this bill's concerned, the legislative text
doesn't match up with the rhetoric. the border commission created isn't made up primarily of board of governors, doesn't have any real power, and the secretary isn't held accountable for not getting the job done. again, false advertising. the bill states that effective control -- and those words effective control are the legal language in the bill. the bill states that effective control of the border is the ability to achieve and maintain -- quote -- "persistent surveillance and an effectiveness rate of 90% or higher, end of quote. it defines the effectiveness rate as -- quote -- "the percentage calculated by dividing the number of apprehensions and turnbacks in the sector during a fiscal year by the total number of illegal entries in the sector during such fiscal year, end of quote.
first, the bill only states that effective control requires -- quote -- "persistent surveillance," end of quote. it does not require 100% awareness. second, there is nothing in the bill that turns over the issue of border security to board of governors if the department here in washington, d.c., is unable to secure the border. the bill provides for a commission to be created if the secretary of homeland security tells congress she has not achieved effective control in all border sections during any fiscal year within five years. the southern border security commission is then created with the primary responsibility to make recommendations to the secretary. there will be ten members of the commission, and while border states have a seat at the table,
only four of the ten members need to be southern border governors or appointed by them. the members are allowed travel expenses, administrative support. they have to have some knowledge and experience in border security. the commission is required to submit a report to the president, the secretary, and the congress with specific recommendations for achieving and maintaining the border security goals established in the bill. the members have six months to come up with a plan to achieve what the secretary failed to do in five years. the bill does not grant the commission any grand or impressive authorities. the bill simply states that the commission shall make recommendations. nothing in the bill requires that the recommendations be acted upon or implemented by the administration. the bill provides $2 billion to the secretary to carry out the recommendations made by the
commission, but, again, there's nothing in this bill requiring the secretary to take any further action on those recommendations. why not give the commission then actual authority to enforce border security? then if you don't do that, why create the commission at all? in recent years, we in congress have become accustomed to outsourcing our work. we have a responsibility to legislate. the executive branch has a responsibility to enact. these are basic tenets of government. the commission called for in this bill is kind of irrelevant. this administration and any future administration must get the job done. no outsourcing to some commission, no excuses. and this is so important. because we quote these polls and i referred to the polls that
senator -- the senator the senir from arizona gave before he gave his remarks. they're well intended but not the certainty they're going to be carried out and legalization is based on that. the same for the polls that say the people want the border secured. so this commission ought to have some power if the secretary isn't going to act, but already, you know, the secretary has the responsibility to see that the border is secure. she has testified it's secured, more secured than it's ever been but i think the facts are it has not been and we need to do better. for us to sell this bill to the american people, it's based upon the proposition that the border be secured first and then legalization. i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the senator from nevada. mr. heller: thank you. mr. president, there's very little disagreement about the fact that american's immigration system is broken and in need of reform. for far too long it has punished those who came to this country to pursue the american dream, play by the rules while rewarding those who do not respect our laws. as a result our nation is suffering. that's why it's important for this body to have an open and transparent amendment process as we move forward on this immigration reform legislation, try to fix what's broken with our immigration system. and no state feels the impact of this broken immigration system more than my home state of nevada. nevada is a top destination for travelers all over the world. and is an international hub through which tens of millions of people pass each year. our state benefits from the cultural diverse si ty of filipino, chinese, and armenian communities to name a
few and we are couched between two states that border the country of mexico. las vegas is known for mccarran international airport which sees tens of millions of tourists each year and is merely a short drive away from los angeles, san diego, and phoenix. nevada's unique location leaves it highly vulnerable to our flawed immigration system. and open to this exact same problems faced by other southwestern border states like arizona, texas, california, and new mexico. but despite the fact that nevada is in many respects a border state that copes with the exact same immigration problems facing states like california, this bill in its current form excludes nevada from the list of states that are eligible to join the southern border security commission. so my amendment, heller 1227, would include nevada with other southwestern border states whose governors would comprise the
southern border security commission. this amendment ensures the commission created in the underlying bill is fully representative of issues affecting southern border and southwestern states. although nevada does not touch the southern border, its current demographics and state issues are reflective of other southern border states. and nevada should have a voice on this commission. mr. president, the problems of our immigration system are not simply geographic problems of latitude and longitude. they impact my home state in profound ways. i encourage my colleagues to support this commonsense amendment. as i've said, this immigration reform legislation is important and we have an opportunity to provide much-needed solutions to the problems with our immigration system. but we must also ensure that the bill does not make matters worse by creating more confusion and placing heavier burdens on the economy and on the american
people. my home state of nevada continues to lead the nation in high unemployment, bankruptcies, and foreclosures. it's absolutely critical that this immigration bill does not hinder nevada's already struggling economy. that's why i filed two amendments, heller 1234 and 1235 which will safeguard nevada's recovering tourism industry? a way that meets our nation's border security needs. the bill before us today mandates the implementation of an entry/exit system that will include a biometric data system for all ports of entry, including the ten highest volume airports. the implementation of such a system is long overdue, in order to comply with current law, but we can take steps to ensure it does not negatively impact international travel. while i firmly believe that we need to process our visitors both in and out of this country safely and securely, it is also essential that this mandatory
exit system not cause increased travel delays at international passengers at high-volume airports like mccarran international airport in las vegas. so i filed an amendment that will require d.h.s. to submit a report to homeland security and government reform committee within 60 days of enactment of the underlying bill detailing how d.h.s. intends to implement the system. requiring d.h.s. to outline its plan will provide the necessary guidance and clarity to airports that will first be required to comply with the system as well as ensuring they provide the necessary staffing at these airports in an effort to minimize the impact on the floor -- on the flow of travelers. additionally, heller 1235 will require d.h.s. to create a waiting time -- a wait time reduction goal.
and increases deemed necessary by the department, the number of customs and border protect offers so airports can process them in a timely manner. under this amendment d.h.s. will be required to develop a viable plan to reduce wait time by 50% at airports with the highest volumes of international travelers. wait times for international visitors at mccarran international airport in las vegas are already significantly high. largely due to today lack of custom and border protection officers. this amendment will help to alleviate these wait times, help to reduce the congestion that is discouraging travel and ultimately hurting our economy. mr. president, the underlying bill is far from perfect. but as general george patton said a good plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed next week. the amendments i'm filing will increase government transparency
and help ensure this bill does not add more confusion to the immigration process which would only make the problems with our immigration system worse. i urge my colleagues to join me in that effort by supporting these amendments and with that, mr. president, i yield back the floor. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: let me compliment the senator from nevada, where with regard to staffing at the airports, seaports, we have the same problem at land ports in texas where legitimate tourism is taking place but which is being inhibited because of -- or hardship or inconvenience on travelers because of the lack of staffing and infrastructure at those ports of entry. mr. president, i've come to the floor to talk today about an amendment that i intend to offer which i have discussed over the
last couple of days which uses many of the same standards that the underlying gang of eight bill does. and let me explain. of course, the gang of eight is the republicans and the democrats who came up with the original framework that then was adopted by and large by the judiciary committee, which is the base bill that we are talking about today. but both the gang of eight bill and the results amendments which i will introduce call for the department of homeland security to achieve 100% situational awareness of the southern border in ten years. both the gang of eight bill and the results amendment that i will introduce call for the department of homeland security to achieve full operational control of the border, which is defined as 90% apprehension rate of illegal traffic, both the gang of eight bill and the results amendment which i will offer call for a nationwide year
system or a -- everify system so we don't have employers, small and large alike, have to be the police. we can give them a system that will be easily implemented, card swiped, which will allow them to determine and satisfy themselves that the worker who presents themselves for work is legally qualified to work in the united states. and both the gang of eight bill, the underlying bill and the results amendment which i will introduce call for a biometric entry/exit system at america's largest airports. so, in other words, rather than a poison pill, if my amendment is a poison pill as some suggested, the gang of eight bill itself is a poison pill but neither is true. the most important difference between my amendment and the gang of eight bill is that my amendment has real border security triggers in place,
while the gang of eight bill has no effective trigger that will guarantee implementation of border security standards that reach the gang's own standards of 100% situational awareness, 90% apprehension rate. the gang of eight bill endorses many of the same border security standards that my amendment does, but it also authorizes a permanent legalization program for illegal immigrants regardless of whether the united states-mexico border is ever secured. in other words, it's another promise that congress is making to the american people, but the american people have no way of knowing whether that promise will ever be kept. well, as further indication what i'm trying to do in my amendment is consistent with what the gang of eight has proposed, here is a quote from the majority whip,
senator durbin from illinois on january, 2013. he said their bipartisan framework for comprehensive immigration reform, in that bill, a pathway to citizenship needs to be contingent upon securing the border. but yesterday as reported in national journal on june 11, senator durbin said the gang has -- quote -- "delinked the pathway to citizenship and border enforcement" -- close quote. what my amendment would do would be to restore this contingency, which if the gang's own standards are met, which i believe they will be, will allow people to transition from r.p.i. status, registered provisional immigrant status to permanent residency if they supply complie with the other requirements of the law.
my amendment would delay permanent legal status until after we have that 100% situational awareness along the border and full operational control, and nationwide everify and a national biometric entry/exit system at all air and seaports where customs are currently deployed. some have said my amendment and standards of my amendment are unattainable, or some said it's just too expensive and let me answer both of those criticisms. if the standards that the gang of eight have set themselves for situational awareness and operational security are unattainable, why did they embrace brace those standards this in their own bill? the only difference between my amendment and their initial proposal is that my amendment creates a trigger or a contingency requiring that standard to be met before immigrants who qualify for
registered provisional immigrant status can transition into a legal permanent residency status. it's also been claimed by some of our colleagues who interestingly were speaking without having actually seen language in the bill that somehow the cost of my amendment is just too high. the fact of the matter is this bill appropriates $8.3 billion to pay into a trust fund that's created by the underlying legislation. it's called the -- on page 872 of the bill, it's called the comprehensive immigration reform trust fund. and the initial funding is $8.3 billion. if my colleagues will simply read the legislation in my proposal, my amendment, the funding for my amendment comes from that same trust fund and does not appropriate any other
additional funds. and so i am satisfied by merely re-allocating those funds in a way that i believe will help the department of homeland security, help congress, help the united states government make sure that we keep our promises to the american people. well, you don't need to take my word for it, mr. president. "the washington post" recently asked a number of immigration experts whether the goals set out in the gang of eight bill and in my amendment are, in fact, attainable, and one of them, asa hutchison, a name that's familiar to many of us because he served as a member of congress, a member of the drug enforcement administration and an under secretary of border and transportation security at the department of homeland security, he told "the washington post" that the border security requirements in my amendment are both reasonable and attainable. in fact, hutchison said my
amendment -- quote -- "only requires security measures that are attainable in the near future." close quote. another expert, cato institute color alex narrosta, who is a strong supporter of the underlying gang of eight bill, he said my amendment is very much in the vein of the rest of the bill. he also affirmed it would be indeed attainable or possible for the federal government to attain that 90% apprehension rate along the southern border. as for the biometric entry-exit system and the advisory requirements, -- everify requirements, if the nationwide biometric system at our nation's airports and seaports is insufficient, then somebody should have told president clinton in 1996 when he signed such a requirement into law. and that is really the problem that my amendment is designed to serve, mr. president. it has been the law of the land that congress and the federal government implement a biometric entry-exit system for people entering our country and leaving
our country since 1996. but you know what? it's never been done. after the tragedy of 9/11 where 3,000 americans lost their lives on that terrible day, the 9/11 commission itself undertook a comprehensive study of how do we -- how do we stop such a terrible tragedy from occurring again and what they recommended again is a biometric entry-exit system. but while the biometric entry system is in place, it's just fingerprints on a fingerprint reader. pretty quick, easy technology, relatively cheap. there has been no implementation at the airports and seaports of an exit system which would tell us when people have entered legally but then have illegally overstayed their visa, which is 40% of illegal immigration. well, -- and i would just close on this, on the everify proponent, this of course is the
employment verification system. if that's unrealistic, then somebody should have told our friends on the gang of eight because the everify language in their bill is identical with my amendment. but here's the bottom line and the reality. without a border security trigger, immigration reform will be dead on arrival in the house of representatives. my amendment provides such a trigger. the gang of eight bill does not. that doesn't mean my amendment is a full-scale alternative to the gang of eight bill, but it does mean that my amendment is essential to moving this legislation forward and to getting an outcome that ultimately will end up on the president's desk. i believe that we should try to do our best to improve this underlying bill. my amendment is in that spirit because i do believe that the status quo is simply unacceptable, as i believe almost virtually all of our colleagues do. if we don't guarantee results on border security, particularly at
a time when skepticism about washington is at an all-time high, we guarantee the failure of bipartisan immigration reform, and that would be a tragedy. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: thank you, and i thank my colleague from texas for his specifics there. i know he is trying to make the bill a better bill. i have to say, as i understand it, this is the very same amendment that was defeated in committee, it was defeated by a bipartisan vote of 12-6. it was defeated for two reasons, and let me take a step back. the two reasons are one is cost goes through the roof and there is no way to pay for it in the cornyn amendment. it is estimated it would be in the original amendment as much as $25 billion. now, maybe the number of border agents was reduced. i don't know if my colleague has done that or not, but that is a huge expense and an unnecessary
expense because our bill, the proposal that is before us, does a huge amount on border security for a much lower cost. $25 billion is a lot of money. and second, we do have triggers in our bill, but they are achievable and specific because this bill is a careful compromise. we want to do two things. we want to have border security, absolutely. and i have always said a watchword of this bill is that the american people will be fair and have a commonsense approach to both future legal immigration and the 11 million who are living here in the shadows, provided and only provided we prevent future waves of illegal immigration. we do that in three ways. one is the everify system. we both agree that that should be in place before there is a pathway to citizenship. one is fixing up exit-entry.
it could take 25 years before it is in place. we cannot, should not and will not tell those who have waited in the shadows for so long that they should wait for 25 years. and those are the estimates. we can do this on the ports and in the air, but we need a better system which we have worked on for land entry. and finally, at the border itself, we have put a large amount of money in there. we have been guided by senators mccain and flake because the arizona border has more people passing through it than any other as to what we should do. we emphasize the ability to put in new technologies, drones who can track everybody who crosses the border and track them in land. we do it for a lot less money.
but unfortunately, one of the triggers that my colleague, my good friend from texas has put in place would make a path to citizenship even if all the other metrics were put in place iffy. possibly yes, possibly no. that is unacceptable. we need to do both. and should there be a new person who comes into office, should there be a different senate, a different house, under my colleague from texas' proposal, not one single person could achieve citizenship, even if we had improved the border in many, many different ways. i want to say to my colleagues we certainly can improve the border but we cannot improve the border and put in place triggers that are not specific and achievable. can you measure whether there
are 20 drones at the border. you can measure whether we have x miles of fence. but if you say then that it has to be at this certain rate every year, you're taking away that path to citizenship through no wall fault of those who have tried to implement tougher border security. and so i'd say to my colleague we cannot accept his amendment, plain and simple. we welcome proposals on border security. i know many on the other side, i have spoken to four or five who are working on those proposals, but the very same amendment, very same proposal that was defeated in committee by a bipartisan vote of 12-6 is not going to revitalize an immigration bill which has plenty of life already, it's not going to strengthen a bill. it could indeed kill it. mr. cornyn: would you yield for a question? mr. schumer: so i would urge that we go back to the drawing
boards. if the senator from texas has a different proposal, obviously, i would look at it. that one is unfortunately one that we have tried, rejected and will not lead to either comprehensive immigration reform in the broader sense or a path to citizenship in the most immediate sense. mr. cornyn: mr. president, would the senator yield for a question? mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i'm happy to allow the colloquy between the two senators, questions or otherwise, but i have a consent agreement that senator grassley and i have been waiting here to do for some time, and so when we complete our work, i would hope the two senators would engage in whatever conversation they want. i have also been told that perhaps senator leahy, the manager of this bill, may want to say something. so, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the following amendments be in order to be called up before the senate.
thune number 1197, vitter number 1228, landrieu number 1222, and landrieu number -- i'm sorry, and tester number 1198. that the time until 4:30 be equally divided between the two managers or their designees for debate on these amendments and that grassley amendment 1195 -- let's do that again, mr. president. that the time until 4:30 be equally divided between the two managers or designees, and that would be for debate on these amendments, and the grassley amendment 1195, at 4:30 we proceed to vote on that matter in relation to the grassley amendment, that upon disposition of the grassley amendment, the senate proceed to vote on the four amendments in this agreement in the order listed. that there be no second-degree amendments in order prior to the votes, that all five amendments be subject to a 60-affirmative
vote threshold, that there be two minutes equally divided between the votes, that all after the first vote be ten-minute votes. the presiding officer: is there objection to this request? mr. grassley: i object. would the senator yield? mr. reid: yes. my friend has a consent agreement i understand he wants to propose. mr. grassley: i ask unanimous consent that the pending grassley amendment be set aside and the following amendments be in order to be called up -- thune 1197, vitter 1228, landrieu 1222 and tester 1198, that the time until 4:00 p.m. be equally divided between the two managers or their designees for debate in relationship to the pending grassley amendment 1195 and pending leahy amendment 1183. further, i ask that at 4:00 p.m., the senate proceed to vote in relationship to the grassley amendment, that upon disposition of the grassley amendment, the senate proceed in
relationship to the leahy amendment, that there be no second-degree amendments in order prior to the votes and that there be two minutes equally divided in between the votes. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: reserving the right to object, i'm somewhat surprised at this request. how many times have we heard the republican leader say on this floor and publicly that the new reality in the united states senate is 60? so i just thought i was following the direction of the majority leader -- the republican leader. i mean, this is what he said. that's why we're having 60 votes on virtually everything. and with this bill, with this bill, no one can in any way suggest this bill is not important and these amendments aren't important. so i -- i care a great deal about my friend, the ranking member on this committee, but i object. the presiding officer: the
objection is heard to both requests. mr. leahy: would the senator from nevada yield to me? mr. grassley: well, it's amazing to me that the majority has touted this immigration bill process as one that is open and regular order, but right out of the box, right now, just on the third day, they want to subject our amendments to a filibuster like a 60-vote threshold. so i have to ask who is obstructing now? there is no reason, particularly in this first week, at the beginning of the process, to be blocking our amendments with a 60-vote margin that's required when you suppose there is a filibuster. let's at least start out with regular order. otherwise, it really looks like the fix is in and the bill is rigged to pass basically as it is. bottom line, you should have seen how the 18 members of the judiciary committee prayed for five or six days over a --
operated for five or six days over a two-week period of time. everything was open, everything was transparent. there was complete cooperation between the majority and the minority, and there is no reason why we can't do that out here in the united states senate right now and particularly at the beginning. this is a very provocative act. mr. leahy: mr. reid: mr. president if. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: a provocative act? if my friend is so interested in regular order, why have we waited three months to go to conference on a budget, on a budget? that's regular order. now suddenly when it works to their advantage, i guess, they want to do away with the mcconnell rule. what is the mcconnell rule? 60 votes on everything. mr. leahy: mr. president? if the senator would be happy to yield on that point -- mr. reid: yes, i would be happy to. mr. leahy: i was privileged in my capacity as president pro tempore, to speak to the graduating class of pages, the
group of pages graduating just ahead of the distinguished group we have here now. and there had been discussion about immigration coming up, and then the distinguished republican leader spoke and at great length went on to the pages about how these important issues must have 60 votes on everything, must have 60 votes on amendments and so forth. and i'm sure the distinguished thor from kentucky would confirm that that's what he said. certainly there were 100-and-some-odd people in the room that heard him say it. and here we've offered the distinguished majority leader -- the distinguished majority leader has offered to have three republican votes and two votes by democratic senators, all under exactly the same rule, the rule that senator mcconnell proposed.
now, we've talked and given great speeches, that we've all given time and time and time and time again, both in the committee and on the floor. i'd like to start voting on something so we can finish this because, frankly, given my week of spending 4th of july week in washington, as salubrious as the weather is or in vermont for the 4th of july, i'd much rather be in vermont. mr. reid: mr. president, i still have the floor. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: mr. president, i'm sorry that we've had this disagreement here. but i would say to everybody, there are other ways of having simple majority votes, and if there is an objection to this, we're going to have to go to that. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i would just note that senator grassley just offered, in a few minutes, to commence voting on twoemp two amendments, in the normal way
that we would proceed here, and i think that was a very reasonable request. we've got to be careful. these amendments represent important changes to an historic piece of legislation, and we can't just throw up a bunch of amendments here at the beginning and people haven't had time to digest them. so i think as we proceed, we're going to need to be sure that it's just not some situation where people bring up an amendment, an hour or so later it has to be voted on, and people haven't had time to fully digest it. i think the offer from senator grassley is very reasonable. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, while th the senator from new yk is still here, i want to respond briefly in a nonconfrontational way, but i would hope that on something as important as this, we're all operating from the same facts and not based on erroneous information or erroneous assumptions. my understanding is the
congressional budget office hasn't scored the underlying bill. as i said earlier, on page 872 of this bill, a comprehensive immigration reform trust fund is created, and $8.3 billion are transferred into that trust fund. my amendment uses the same money that the underlying bill does to fund the requirements of my amendment. and this notion that somehow having a biometric entry-exit system that costs $25 billion is completely detached from any factual information i'm aware of. my staffness o staff informs med on our best estimate, that a biometric entry-exit system would cost roughly $80 million a year. and we're more than happy to share that information with our colleagues and have them take a look at it. further, i would say --
mr. mccain: would the gentleman yield for a question? mr. cornyn: give me a second, senator mccain. i know there's been an assumption that somehow -- that there's been a figure of 10,000 new border patrol agents and maked in my amendment. that's incorrect reading of it. the underlying bill calls for 3,500, and we plus that up -- we do -- by not only border patrol but also customs and border agents to help facilitate the flow of illegal commerce across arizona and texas borders and elsewhere, which creates about 6 million jobs in america. so i don't mind having a disagreement about policy. that's -- we're used to that. that's fiefnlt but fine. but i think some of these claims about extravagant expenses are not borne out. i would yield the floor to my friend from arizona. mr. mccain: i would just ask my friend from texas, if you're
adding additional either border patrol or customs, in addition to what's already in the underlying bill, where does your money come from? we are talking about personnel costs which are incredibly expensive, and so i would ask him where the money comes from, if there's not additional cost. you'd have to take it from somewhere else? mr. cornyn: if i could respond to my friend, it coombs from th- it comes from the same trust fund that the underlying bill uses. it reallocates the money and puts more money towards personnel. one of the problems is -- i me, there's so much -- i mean, there's so much that technology can to. and i'm excited about the prospects of technology when it comes to 100% situational awareness in allowing the border patrol to do a good job. bur you have got to have border patrol that show up and detain people when they come across illegally, and my state has the longest border with mexico, 1,200 miles. arizona has got its own challenges. we have our challenges as well.
so we do need more personnel, but the part that i would think is baked into the underlying bill is we also need to separate the legal commerce and tourism that's beneficial to both sides of the border. that's part of why the customs agents that are included in my amendment are also there as well, because the theory being -- and i think it is a good one -- if you identify legitimate commerce and beneficial tourism and separate that from the bad guys, then law enforcement can focus more on the bad guys. that's what my amendment attempts to do and it's no additional money. mr. mccain: well, if the gentleman would yield again to question. you are adding personnel into your version of the bill. the money has to come from somewhere. where is it coming from? you're saying it is -- quote -- "reallocates." where is is it reallocated from? mr. cornyn: from the same trust fund that's on page 872 -- mr. mccain: there is a finite
amount of money authorized. if the senator takes money from one and adds money one place, it has to come from someplace else. that's simple first grade mathematics, and i think it's incredible that the senator should stand there and say, yeah, we're adding these thousands of personnel, but yet there's no additional cost. that's not possible. mr. cornyn: mr. president, if i can explain to the senator from arizona, this is the trust fund created by the underlying bill on page 872. mr. mccain: with a finite amount of money. mr. cornyn: it is $8.3 billion. that a lo indicate some of that money -- they allocate some of that money. my amendment reallocates that money for other purposes. there's no additional money. this is an appropriation made in the underlying bill. so i think it's a misunderstanding of what my amendment does. mr. schumer: how many extra personnel does my colleague ask
for in your bill, your amendment? mr. cornyn: the underlying bill, mr. president, calls for -- schumer how many more do you ask for? mr. cornyn: we ask for another plus up of 6,500. mr. schumer: mr. president, it is quite arguable that the entire trust fund is used up by those 6,5 oovment tha 00. that would mean no helicopters, no drones, it might mean no pensioning that we add to the border. so my colleague from arizona is exactly correct. the costs here -- now, my good friend from his side of the aisle, senator graham, estimated this morning that the total cost would be $18 billion. i think if you add a type of land-based exit-entry, it goes up another $7 billion, $8 billion. we don't have that kind of money. so i would suggest to my colleague that if he wants to add 10,000 border patrol -- which most experts have told us
will not close to as good a job as the helicopters and drones --ed reason i--the reason is ve. we don't have roads on most of the border. what are the border patrol going do? there are no road. they're impassable. a drone flying, you know, 10,000 feet above can see every person who passes -- crosses the border, track them inland and if they go to a gathering point 25 miles inland, they pick them up there. and so the bottom line is, not only is the cost of this bill probably exceeding the trust fund on itself, but it will take a highly efficient way of preventing people from crossing the border and replace it with an inefficient way that no expert i have talked to -- and, again, maybe my colleague has -- no expert i have talked to say the best way to control people from crossing the border illegally, which i desperately
want to do, works better with a huge amount of personnel, unaowe indicated -- unallocated. i ask my colleague, where are they going to be assigned? which sectors? where are they going to work? i bet there's no answer to that. we have carefully thought this through. we think we have maximized the effectiveness for about a third of the money that our colleague is talking about. it is only one of many reasons that this amendment was defeated by a bipartisan group -- majority in committee. so let's move on. let's move on. let's look at how we can make the border more secure. i am open to that. mr. cornyn: mr. president? mr. schumer: but this amendment, as i said, for a variety of reasons, is a nonstarter. the presiding officer: the senator from texas has the floor. mr. cornyn: mr. president, what is this, th, the third days
bill has been on the floor? there's been to scoring of the bill by the congressional budget office. so no one knows what the official scorekeeper of the united states congress has too say about the bill. but my amendment does not appropriate any additional money other than the money in the bill. and indeed, this leaves it up to the department of homeland security within 120 days to render a plan and then under the underlying bill you can transition after ten years for r.p.i. status to legal permanent resident by substantial completion of a plan that we don't know anything about. i mean, i don't think we are the experts in how exactly this should be done, and i would hope that technology, which i think is fantastic, what answers that may provide to us ten years hence in terms of how to accomplish the goals. but to suggest that somehow this
legislation, which i have complimented on numerous occasions, that it represents a substantial step in the right direction, to say that we can't touch it, we can't change it because eight senators got together and decided what it should be, is preposterous. that's exactly what we should be able to do it. we ought to have a regular process to debate and vote on t we shouldn't be suggesting, been there, done that you had your -d your shot in committee. i don't think we are all that far apar apart, if we'll is it n to the facts and text of the bill. we shouldn't make things ouch and particularly on the order of $2 5 billion. moi there was a suggestion that my amendment called for 10,000 new border patrol agents much that's not in the bill. let's stick to the facts. mr. sessions: mr. president? mr. mccain: mr. president? mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. i would just say this. number one, this amendment -- we
are only on the third day of the bill. and i have said over and over again i welcome suggestions how to improve the bill. to one says that the gang of eight's bill is exactly right. in fact, as senator leahy well knows, our chairman of the judiciary, we accepted a large number of amendments, many of which came from the other side in committee. we'll do the 15eu8 thin same tht but this -- we'll do the same thing here. but this particular amendment is not three days old. mr. mccain: isn't it true that whether it has been scored by c.b.o. or not, the legislation calls for the expenditure of certain amounts of money? in other words, about $6.2 billion, i believe? so, if it calls for the expenditure of a certain amount of money and it designates what that money is for, if you're going to ask -- add thousands of border patrols onto it, then it seems logical that that's going to cost more money. right?
okay. mr. schumer: i would say it is hard to refute my friend from arizona's logic. mr. mccain: could i just finish my question -- sorry, mr. chairman -- and isn't it true that we have said, look, we welcome any suggestion as to improving the bill. so i would say respectfully to my friend of texas, it's not true that this is written in golden tablets. in fact, the senator from ohio is going to have some suggestions for improvements on the exit-entry visa which i think will make the bill much better. so somehow to allege that we think -- isn't it true that someone alleged we said there could be no changes is patently false. third of all, i guess isn't it true that this amendment would break the agreement that was a hard-fought agreement, and we are willing to compromise and make agreements in certain areas
but not to a bill that billions and billions of dollars are added to and especially in the area of personnel when we've gone from 4,000 members of the border patrol several years ago to 21,000, and we're adding national guard to the border. and percent -- personnel is not the challenge whether it be the texas border or arizona border. the challenge is to use the technology that is existing so we can surveil and intercept. mr. schumer: i thank my colleague for those questions and they're all pretty obvious. number one, we have costed this out. c.b.o. will judge whether we're correct and we've made the bill revenue-neutral. we have a slight surplus. the huge cost of 6,500 border agents without any allocation of where they would go, if this were another bill my colleague from texas and all of his
colleagues would say wasting billions of dollars with no plan. he's exactly right on that point. on the second point, i have said until i'm blue in the face sometimes from some criticism from some of the people who are my allies out there that i'm willing to look at changes in this bill. it is so unfair and patently false to say any one of the group of eight said is that we can't change the bill. we welcome changes to improve it, and what happened in committee proves that. third, i'd say to my colleague another point. the way the gentleman from texas constructs the trigger, there will be no one who will ever achieve a path to citizenship because he leaves out turn-backs. if you don't have turn-backs, the 90% causes us trouble even with the way it was done in other areas, with other suggestions. but if you leave out turn-backs, people who are turned back, who
are caught and said go home, you will never get to 90%. so to say that the senator from texas' proposal allows a path to citizenship, it makes it virtually impossible. and, therefore, again i would say i want to improve border security. i am open to suggestions. i want to improve this bill in every area. i know my colleague from arizona, my colleague from colorado, my colleague from illinois and the rest of us welcome that, and we've shown it time and time again. but this amendment, i don't think, advances moving the bill forward. it doesn't work on border security because of its expense and its lack of specificity and is taking away the very technology we need. it doesn't create a path top citizenship in any way. it doesn't allow one. and finally, and finally its
cost is through the roof. whatever c.b.o. says, 6,500 new border agents is a multibillion-dollar proposition unpaid for, which i know my colleagues on the other side rue the day when we vote for unpaid-for obligations. i would yield to my colleague from vermont. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, there has been some discussion about whether this might be a closed thing and the eight senators who came together on this, i think, did a tremendous job for democrats and for republicans in putting it together. they are saying it was closed. but isn't it true that when your bill came to the committee, the judiciary committee, isn't it true there were 301 amendments filed in the committee? mr. schumer: that is exactly the right number, as i recall it. mr. leahy: and isn't it true that 136 of those amendments were then adopted? mr. schumer: my count is
exactly the same. mr. leahy: and 49 of those amendments were proposed by republicans; is that not correct? mr. schumer: and we are so proud of that fact, mr. chairman. mr. leahy: and isn't it true that of the eight senators we talked about, four of them -- two democrats and two republicans -- serve on the judiciary committee, and they were helpful in voting for most of these amendments that were changes to the original? is that not correct? mr. schumer: i agree. that is the right count. there were four of us there and we did just as the chairman has stated. mr. leahy: i just thought i'd mention -- mr. sessions: if the senator would yield for a question? mr. leahy: -- i would like to finish my question to the senator from new york. i just thought -- i just want to make sure because i thought i heard some comment that this was a closed process, and i
appreciate the senator from new york agreeing that it was anything but. mr. schumer: i yield to the senator from arizona. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona is recognized. mr. mccain: the senator from arizona is working on everify, and i think he's come up with some very good ideas on how we can improve a vital part of this bill, and that is the verification of someone who applies for a job, because that's the magnet that draws people across the border. again, we look forward to those kinds of improvements and many other suggestions that have been made. again, how you can manufacture 3,500 new personnel and say it doesn't add to the cost and will be reallocated, i want to know where it's reallocated from. mr. schumer: i thank my colleague, and i agree with his sentiments. i reiterate one final point here. the cornyn amendment as proposed asks for a 90% success rate in terms of effectiveness on the
border, but it eliminates the turn-back part of it. that would mean, that would mean now that it would be virtually impossible to get to that 90% one year from now, five years from now, ten years from now. because one of the most effective things we do on the border is turn people back. we don't catch them after they cross the border. they get up to the border and we find them and say "go home." it just fails on both counts. it's been debated. it's been studied. i would plead with my colleagues who want more border security, let's move on. the senator from utah has amendments on taxes and on benefits. the senator from ohio has amendments on everify. many of my colleagues have amendments on many other issues, and we are open to debate and discussion as long as the core
principles that the eight of us agree -- that is an agreement among the eight of us and the rest of you can disagree with that. we think most of you will agree with those core principles. so be it. but aside from the basic core of the bill, we welcome changes and suggestions and improvements, and we look forward to a healthy debate. but to bring up an amendment that has been rejected and basically turns things on its head because there will be no path to citizenship for anybody and because you're just sort of, if you will, in all due respect, throwing money at a problem without a specificity as to where the money goes, that doesn't move the debate forward. mr. mccain: would the gentleman yield? mr. schumer: i yield to my colleague. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona is recognized. mr. mccain: i hope the senator from new york understands what the chief of the border patrol said on this issue of 90%
effectiveness. we're going to hear this over and over again. i quote in a hearing on february 26, 2013, of the house homeland security committee, the chief -- chief fisher, chief of the border patrol, not secretary of state of homeland security -- not secretary of homeland security said -- quote -- "90% really wouldn't make sense everywhere. we put 90% as a goal because there are sections along the border where we have not only achieved, we've been able to sustain 90% effectiveness. so it is a realistic goal but i wouldn't say necessarily and arbitrarily say 90% across the board because there are other occasions when there is less activity. for instance, so where it makes sense, we want to go ahead and start parsing that out within those corridors and within those specific sectors." that's why we think that what we came up with in this legislation is effective control, 100% surveillance, and the use of
technology which i am confident will give us a border that all americans can be happy with. no border is ever going to be sealed. and anybody who stands in this body and says if you want to hire 10,000 or 20,000 or 50,000 more border patrol agents you still aren't going to secure the border completely. but we can have effective control of that border and we can have 100% surveillance and we can get the border to the point where american people can have confidence in it while we move forward with the path to -- while we move forward with the rest of the legislation. i thank my colleague. mr. schumer: i thank my colleague, and reclaiming the floor for just a pwraouf -- brief minute and i know my colleague from utah has been offered time to speak on his proposal so i don't want to take too much more time. i would just say once again that we welcome suggestions that the
senator from arizona is right. we carefully looked at the border. this wasn't fly-by-night. and every one of us, certainly myself, wants to see that border as secure as possible. it so happens that 6,500 more border patrol agents, if you ask the experts, they wouldn't know what to do with them because large sections of the border have no roads, have no way to station border patrol agents there. whereas helicopters, drones and mobile forces work. and it was my colleague from arizona who actually taught me that on a trip to the border. he used his military expertise to help us figure out the most effective way to seal the border most effectively. and when i hear my colleague from texas' amendment, i don't get what the logic is behind it. and i certainly don't get the logic on his trigger. you know, it's fair if you want
to make sure the border is secure. but if you use triggers as some might -- i'm not saying my colleague from text's intent -- my colleague from texas' intent is that but if triggers is a way to avoid a pathway to citizenship without saying i don't want to vote for it, that is not going to work and we will not move forward. this nation desperately needs us to move forward as democrats and republicans together. let's continue the bipartisan spirit that we've had. let us move forward together to make this bill better and make our country proud of us and keep america the leading power economically and every other way in the united states. and with that, i yield the floor. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from utah is recognized. mr. hatch: i ask unanimous consent to ask the distinguished senator from ohio, without losing my right to the floor, if
he has something he wanted to do. i didn't mean to jump in front of him, but i was told i could appear here at 4:00. mr. portman: to my colleague from utah -- the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: the ranking member of the finance committee, member of the judiciary committee, i was told i could speak even before that but then the majority leader came out on the floor to do important business, so i was pushed back. i have about five or ten minutes i would like to talk about everify and border security. but i would defer to my colleague as long as my other colleagues would allow me to speak after him. mr. hatch: i appreciate my friend from ohio. i would be haefr to defer to you -- i would be happy to defer to you if that is the way it is. i ask unanimous consent the distinguished senator from ohio could give his remarks immediately following mine? the presiding officer: is there objection? so ordered. the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i want to take some time to talk about the immigration bill before us.
its flaws and what needs to be done to fix them. i voted for this legislation out of the senate judiciary committee. i worked in good faith with my colleagues to secure the inclusion of provisions in addressing things like high-skilled immigration and a new agricultural visa program. indeed, throughout the judiciary committee process, i was a willing negotiator on many important issues surrounding this bill. in general, i'm in favor of immigration reform and i want to see this bill succeed. i also want to commend my colleagues for their work on this legislation so far. up to now i think the process has been fair. it's been transparent, and i believe bipartisan. i hope that will continue now that the bill is on the floor. it's important that we continue to work on a bipartisan basis because the bill is far from perfect. you can't look at it without knowing that. in my view, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed before this legislation is ready for final passage. during the judiciary committee's consideration of s. 744, i
introduced four amendments on issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the senate finance committee. at the time i stated that my continued support for the bill was contingent on whether those issues were addressed before final passage. today i will file similar amendments here on the floor with the hope that i can work with my colleagues to address these concerns. i want to say up front that despite what will likely be several claims to the contrary, these are not poison pill amendments. i have no desire to weaken the bill or to threaten its prospects for final passage. indeed, i think my four amendments will make it easier to pass the bill with strong bipartisan support not only here, but in the house. senator rubio, a member of the gang of eight, is a cosponsor on these amendments. i appreciate his willingness to work with me on these important issues. he's been the one singular person, in my opinion, who has been -- who has had an open mind and willing to work on these
issues with both sides. he deserves -l a lot of credit for this bill but he knows it's not perfect. he knows it's not there yet. i know he wants to do the right thing. i can only hope other proponents of this legislation will be willing to do the same. each of my amendments is designed to ensure that illegal immigrants applying for a change in status are not awarded special privileges and benefits under the law. i don't want to punish these immigrants. i simply want to make sure that they are treated no better or worse than u.s. citizens and resident aliens with respect to federal benefits and taxes. let me take a few minutes to describe each of my amendments. my first amendment is designed to ensure compliance with federal welfare and public benefits law. as we all know, last july during the height of the presidential campaign, the department of health and human services issued an information memo to states allowing them to waive federal
welfare work requirements. we now know that h.h.s. attorneys have concluded that that -- that the then-h.h.s. secretary has the authority to waive almost any prohibitions on federal welfare spending that exist under current law. certainly a false interpretation. under a long-standing provision of federal welfare law, noncitizens are banned from receiving cash welfare assistance for their first five years in this country. under s. 744, that five-year ban is extended to registered provisional immigrants, or r.p.i.'s, and blue cardholders. however, under the h.h.s.'s current interpretation of the law, the department could choose at any time to ignore this restriction and enter welfare benefits to these groups of noncitizens. my amendment would simply clarify the law to make clear that the obama administration does not have the authority to allow states to waive these
long-standing restrictions and ensure that welfare benefits are not offered to noncitizens as a result of this bill. as i stated, this is not punitive. this is not designed to punish any illegal immigrant seeking to -- seeking a change in status. it is instead designed to preserve the balance that exists under current welfare law. some critics of the underlying bill have claimed that it will allow illegal immigrants to receive welfare benefits. and when you couple the bill with h.h.s.'s recently claimed waiver authority, these critics actually have a point. my amendment would protect the bill from this type of criticism. that's a step in the right direction. i think it will bring people op to the bill. let me make one thing clear -- no one who is currently eligible to receive welfare benefits will be denied them as a result of this amendment. instead, this amendment does something we should have done
long ago, which is to assert the prerogatives of the congress in the face of executive overreach. there's no question that, with its information memo permitting states to waive federal welfare work requirements, the obama administration overstepped its statutory authority. and we now know that officials in the administration were working through ways to circumvent key features of welfare reform for years, including how and on whom federal welfare dollars can be spent. so we know they believe they can allow states to spend federal welfare dollars on noncitizens so i don't think it's far-fetched to conclude at some point they will allow states to spend federal welfare dollars on noncitizens. congress needs to act to prevent this and future administrations from engaging in this type of overreach. that's the purpose of this amendment, my amendment. my second amendment would apply
a five-year waiting period before immigrants become eligible for tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies under the affordable care act, or the so-called affordable care act. under current federal law, most lawful permanent residents, or green card holders, must wait five years before they're eligible for most means-tested benefits, including medicaid and tanf, temporary assistance for needy families. however, the bill does not apply this same five-year waiting period to the premium credits and subsidies offered under the affordable care act. true enough, the bill does not allow r.p.i.'s and blue card holders to access these benefits, but once they become lawful permanent residents, they can access them immediate. this is a serious oversight that essentially creates a carveout for the affordable care act. my amendment would -- and a huge expense to this government. my amendment would correct this oversight and put the affordable
care act's subsidies in the same class as other federal benefits. this is only fair. after all, even those who were u.s. citizens at the time the health law was passed have had to wait nearly five years for the law to go into effect so they could access these credits and subsidies. those who would under this bill be placed on a path to citizenship should be required to do the same. the amendment also prevents nonimmigrants who are not on any path to citizenship from accessing these benefits. my gosh, anybody on this floor should want that. under the bill, a ban on affordable care act benefits is applied to only r.p.i.'s and blue cardholders but not to nonimmigrants. my amendment would extend the ban to nonimmigrants. let me repeat that. under the bill, a ban on affordable care act benefits is applied to only r.p.i.'s and
blue card oarldz but not to nonimmigrants. my amendment would extend the ban to nonimmigrants. once again, my goal with this amendment is not to punish any immigrant applicants or deny them benefits that they might be entitled to under the law. i simply want to h ensure that we're not creating a new class of people with special access to federal benefits. we can prevent that by imposing the same waiting periods on affordable care act subsidies that we place on other federally means-tested benefits. my third amendment would help to preserve the social security system. under current law, for a worker to be eligible for social security benefits, they must be classified as -- quote -- "fully insured, "or -- quote -- "permanently insured." to become insured, a worker accrues quarters of coverage during the years they work in the united states. s. 744 is unclear as to whether it would allow an i will greeley
immigrant who -- immigrant -- an illegal immigrant who obtains a change in status, who apply for social security benefits. indeed, this bill is entirely silent on this matter. once again, this is a glaring oversight in the legislation that needs to be rectified in order to preserve the integrity of the social security system. my amendment makes it clear that no periods of unauthorized employment can be counted in an employee's quarters of coverage and, thus, they cannot be used to determine eligibility for social security. this is not a matter that can be simply overlooked. if someone was not authorized to work in this country but made the calculated decision to work anyway using a made-up or stolen social security number or if someone overstayed their visa and worked anyway, they should not have been working and paying into the social security system. consequently, they are
ineligible for benefits. until they become citizens. once again, there is nothing punitive involved with this amendment. it only ensure that we do not reward past unlawful activity. once they're lawful under this bill, they can participate. but not for the past unlawful activities. that's like rewarding people for doing wrong and disobeying our laws and ignoring the obligations that come with living in the united states of america. and it's a punch in the face to every law-abiding citizen that's been making these paiments. the amendment provides the fairesfairest and most workableh forward. now, my fourth and final amendment is the one that's garnered the most attention. as it should, in some ways. i think all three of these amendments have been very important and will be very important in this debate. and i'm certainly hoping my colleagues on the other side will recognize that and help to
pass them. this fourth amendment would modify provisions in the bill relating to back taxes to include all income and employment taxes owed by immigrant applicants. for the past few months, proponents of this legislation, including members of the so-called gang of eight, had been claiming that, as a condition of being put on a path to citizenship, illegal immigrants will be required to pay back taxes. this claim was repeated in the halls of congress, on sunday morning talk-shows and in casual conversation. this was -- this was a promise made as the chief response to arguments that the bill would provide amnesty for illegal immigrants. however, under the current laft of the legislation, this promise goes largely unfulfilled. the bill currently states that
illegal immigrants cannot apply for a change in status unless they have -- quote -- "satisfied any applicable federal tax liability." well, that is all well and good, under this standard, immigrant applicants will will not required to pay any part of their back taxes owed to any part of their residence unless the i.r.s. has already made a tax assessment. this will only occur in the very rare case where the i.r.s. has already audited an immigrant applicant and found a tax deficiency. so put simply, very few people will be required to pay back taxes under this provision. my amendment would require r.p.i. applicants to demonstrate that they either have no idea to pay back taxes or to actually pay the back taxes that they lawfully owe. it also requires them to remain current on their tax obligations once they obtain the change in status. once again, mr. president, this
is only fair. some may claim that it's punitive but that's absurd. is it punitive to ask immigrant appear sense to live up to the same standards imposed on citizens and legal residents? no. when a citizen decides to leave the u.s. and renounce their citizenship, they often face taxes on income earned in the u.s. and on any games from accredits access. is it punitive to apply a punitive standard for those seeking u.s. citizenship? think about that. when a u.s. citizen decides to leave the u.s. and renounce their citizenship, they often face taxes on income earned in the u.s. and on any gains from appreciated assets. that's not punitive. answer, of course, is it's not punitive. my amendment would not punish any immigrant applicants. it would simply ensure that they pay no more and no less than
u.s. citizens and resident aliens in the same economic position. in addition to claims that requiring the payment of back taxes is punitive, some have already claimed that it will be impossible to enforce because the applicants won't be able to determine what they owe in back taxes. this, so, is extremely misguided. the i.r.s. is well experienced in estimating the tax liabilities for people who, for whatever reason, lack the records that normally support a tax return. they do it for u.s. citizens. why can't we do it for people who now want to be on a path for citizen but who haven't played by the rules? it just makes sense. using bank records, credit card statements, housing records and other evidence of an individual's lifestyle, the i.r.s. is able to construct returns and estimate tax liabilities for nonfilers who are u.s. citizens and resident aliens. the same process can be looking
for immigrants looking to certify that they no longer owe any federal taxes. that's not a thuf thing to do, it's -- tough thing to do, it's something they do every day at the i.r.s. and it may be, a lot of these people didn't make enough money to pay taxes anyway. but they should at least have to be honest about -- to be honest about where they stand. and they should at least have to do what regular citizens in this country have to do. we're not asking anything more or any less than that. in the end, the only way proponents of this bill can escape the label of "amnesty" is to h ensure that immigrant applicants fulfill all their legal obligations and that they are not accorded any special treatment. we're talking about amnesty here. this is the way to get rid of amnesty and to pass this bill. and you simply cannot do that without requiring that they pay any taxes they still owe for income they earned during their 6 u.s. residency. i think the authority of the
bill know this because once again they've been saying the bill requirements the payment of back taxes for months now. my amendment would simply fulfill the promise that they've already been making. let's get it right. let's not play games on this. what's more, if we put this amendment into effect we would be reducing the tax combap gap. as you know, it's the difference between what is actually paid to the i.r.s. and what taxpayers owe under the law. the most recent tax gap estimate we have is from 2006 when the tax gap was approximately $385 billion for a single year. the number of -- a number of my colleagues talk a lot about closing the tax gap on both sides of the floor, by the way. my amendment would take significant steps towards doing just that. mr. president, as i said at the outset, none of my amendments are designed to punish immigrants who come forward out of the shadows.
and none of them are designed to poison the well for immigration reform. my aim throughout this process has been to improve the bill. i believe we're engaged in an important effort here but we have to do things the right way and i made that effort during the markup of this bill. i didn't bring these four amendments up because they were finance committee amendments and probably would have been ruled out of order in the judiciary committee. and i agreed to defer with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle till the floor. now i'm finding that all of a sudden there are roadblocks put up on these very simple amendments. too often over the past few years the senate majority has opted to ignore opportunities for bipartisan cooperation on issues of great importance. when the senate first took up immigration reform, proponents of the bill said they were hoping to get at least 70 votes in the senate. i said at the time that that was an important goal. that we needed to get at least
that many votes to send the right message to the house of representatives. however, this week there are indications from the democratic leadership that they are willing to set these goals aside if they just get 60 votes. guess where that's going to go with the house. we get 70 votes, it puts pressure on everybody involved in this matter and i think we can get 70 votes. according to news reports out just today, two members of the majority leadership have indicated they don't want to make too many concessions to conservatives in order to get republicans on board. instead, they just want to focus on getting to 60 votes. needless to say, i think that would be a serious mistake. i think there are a lot of people on this side who would like to vote for a final bill here. but they're going to need amendments like these that are basically simple amendments, nonpunitive amendments that make
sense, that basically show that we're not for amnesty. immigration reform is too big to be done by just one party. and it can't be done with just a small handful of republicans. as courageous as those republicans have been, as far as i'm concerned. it's going to take members of both parties to put together something that can not only pass but something that will work once it becomes law. we do have an opportunity to come together here on something that will make a real difference for a lot of people. something if done correctly can do a lot of good. i hope we don't waste this opportunity in favor of yet another political exercise. once again, stated outright, i want to support this legislation, but i'm not going to if we don't do commonsense things like this. and i'm laying down the gantlet. i want immigration reform to
succeed. these amendments will help it to succeed. not only here but in the house of representatives as well. but unless we address these four issues i've outlined today -- and there are others but these are the ones that i've decided to bend my plow over -- unless we address these issues, i believe the bill is designed to fail, if not in the senate, in the house of representatives and it would deserve to fail as far as i'm concerned. if we don't address these issues the bill will not be able to be implemented in a fair and equitable way and i think the american people would be justly outraged. i know there are some who don't really care about these important issues. i just urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support my amendments. i think it's critical that these amendments pass. or work with me to find ways
that can please both sides. but i think they're pretty straightforward amendments. i was promised by leaders in the gang of eight they would work with me. that they would help me to get these things done. i consider those promises to be very important. and yet i've had some indication over the last few days that maybe they're not going to work with me. i don't think anybody's acted in better good faith than i have. as i've said, i'd like to support the bill. and make no mistake about it, i don't want people stiffing me on things i consider to be important without even talking, without even working with me to resolve any problems they may have. and i'm not the kind of guy who takes that lightly. i think there's too much partisanship around here anyway.
and, frankly, if we could pass this bill with these amendments, i think it would go a long way to showing that not just four republicans on our side, who are courageous as far as i'm concerned, as i think the democrat four are courageous in the gang of eight. that they're not the only ones who should support this bill if it's done right. now, if this is going to be a political exercise, count me out. if this is an exercise to really try and resolve the amnesty issues, if it's an exercise to really really try and resolve these critical issues, i can be counted in. maybe i don't mean that much in this debate. but if you look at some of the major sections of this bill, i helped work them out and i'll help work out this bill not only with colleagues on this side but with colleagues on the other side of capitol hill.
and i don't want to be stiffed at this time and i'm not the kind of guy who takes stiffing lightly. i see some real politics at work here rather than the kind of fair working together that we've got to have and that we've got to start working towards if we want to really accomplish things that need to be accomplished during this next three and a half years. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio is recognized. mr. port: thank you, mr. president. i'd like to join in this 2008 about immigration reform and to say with regard to my colleague from utah who spoke he makes good points, one on the substance of the legislation and the need for us to be concerned about what the eligibility is particularly as relates to federal benefits to go to legal status. mr. portman: but second about the process. i hope the process can be an open one. not all of us in the gang of eight, not all of us are on the judiciary committee and a number of us have what we think are
improvements to this legislation to make sure it does work and i hope there will be an openness to that over the next couple of weeks as we take up this legislation. it's my hope that working constructively in a bipartisan fashion we can address some of what i see as shortcomings in this legislation. i do believe our current immigration system is broken. i think it's far too easy for people to cross our borders illegally and too easy to find work without authorization. i think it's too difficult for those who seek to come here in accordance with the plawvment both the illegal and the legal part of our immigration system needs fixing. it can't keep up with the demand for legal immigration or stem the tide of illegal immigration. reform is essential. as it's stands now i am concerned the legislation will not provide the country with a lasting, workable solution. like a lot of my colleagues we heard, senator cornyn talked about it, senator hatch, others talked about it on the floor, i remain about the eligibility for federal
benefits, but nor me it comes down to meaningful enforcement of our laws including on the border, very important, also entry/exit as senator mccain talked about it but also significantly workplace enforcement. this is one area in particular i believe you must be dress addressed to have a successful implementation of the bill and i'd like to focus my comments ca today on what's called employment verification with the everify system. we we talk about enforcement measures we talk a lot about the border. that's important. it's important to have a secure border for a lot of reasons including the movement of guns and drugs and certainly terrorism as well as immigration. but i'll tell you, i don't believe that border security alone will address the problem. why? because so many people entser legally but overstay their visas. it's estimated 40% overstayed their visas. you're not going to solve that problem at the border.
no matter how many miles of fence we build or how many border patrol agents we put side by side along the border as long as you have people come for economic reasons and i believe economic incentives are the primary reason people come to this great country, it will be difficult to stop illegal immigration at the border. we have to deal with the jobs magnet which is why people are coming here. this, by the way, has been a discussion over the years going back to the 1980's, the 1986 act talked about the jobs magnet and the need to have an effective, at that point called the employer sanctions system, never put in place, that's one of the reasons the 1986 act did not work. we haven't fixed it yet and my belief the underlying bill needs to be improved in this prard. our current system has failed to address some of the fundamental problems of having unauthorized workers. so effective employment verification to me is essential to the successful completion of this legislative process and to
have a successful comprehensive immigration reform bill. simply put, whatever reform we may adopt in this congress will fail if we don't eliminate the enticement to come to our country to work. i believe we have a strong and workable everify system, it can help solve this basic problem. ideally, everify would enable all employers to be able to first verify act caratly and efficiently the identity of new employees and secondly to ensure their work eligibility. by ensuring that only authorized job seekers get hired we can begin to remove that jobs magnet that frawnlt undermine the 1986 reform effort, left us in the situation we face today where we have over 10 million people living and working in the shadows in this country. ultimately i believe that the everify system contemplated by this legislation falls short but can be improved. and while no verification system is perfect, the bill we are now
considering mandates nationwide everify implementation while doing little to address the fundamental flaws we've seen in everify. there is a recent study that estimates that everify has an error rate for unauthorized workers of 54%. that means half of the folks who are not authorized to work who go through everify are able to be qualified anyway. in other words, the everify system is not working to detect more than half of the unauthorized workers. in implementing a mandatory everify system we have to do more to strengthen the protectionings against the fraudulent use of identifiers particularly social security card and social security numbers in the employment authorization process and we need to improve individuals' data privacy protections in that process. the proposal before us attempts to address these through a photo matching tool. the this tool is designed to allow a digital photograph from the everify system with a photo on a driver's license.
unfortunately, the verification system doesn't have access to photos for more than 60% of u.s. residents who do not have a u.s. passport or an immigration document making the photo matching ineffective. the current legislation relies on the states to give the department of homeland security access to drivers' license records on a voluntary basis. this there is no assurance all or even most states will choose to participate in this. past experience with what's called the real i.d. act would indicate that fewer than half of the states will comply. some say only 13 states have complied, some say 18. the fact is fewer than half of the states are complying with real id which would for the 60% of u.s. residents who don't have a passport or immigration document. so i think more can be done to make this bill work better and i'm committed to try to do that through legislation, amendments and working with my colleagues
on both sides of the aisle. mr. president, american citizenship is precious and there are millions around the world who dream of attaining it. our nation deserves an immigration system that works. we can get there. but only if we demand reform that recognizes the mistakes of the past comblug including the lack of promised enforcement from the 1986 law and take steps to remedy those mistakes. imi'm committed to correcting the deficiencies in this legislation. strengthen the wr the border security, and eliminate this magnet of illegal employment. in particular i'm committed to making sure that everify is implemented in a matter that does curtail the employment of unauthorized workers, protects privacy and minimizes the burdens on employers, particularly small businesses. if this process is indeed open a as was discussed earlier, if it's an open process where amendments are accepted, where people of good faith on both
sides of the aisle are trying to get to a solution for a broken immigration system, broken in terms of legal and illegal immigration, that we can in the end pass good legislation out of the united states senate. i appreciate the time. i yield the floor and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
senior senator from iowa is recognized. mr. grassley: ask that the calling of the quorum be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. grassley: i've come to the floor several times to discuss border security because border security is so essential to people approving the legislation that we passed because most every poll shows that when people want a immigration bill, it's prefaced on the assumption that we're going to have a secure border. i talked yesterday about my amendment and that amendment tends to be pending and i try to improve upon the group of eight legislation of border security. so i take a few minutes right now, not very long, to discuss why i think my amendment is a good first step at restoring faith of the american people in this legislation but, in turn, in our government. i'd like to mention to you why
it is so important not just for public confidence, because that's what i've spoken about in the past, but for national security and defense of the homeland. being a u.s. border patrol agent is a very dangerous job. a former agent said in an interview in the "el paso times" -- quote -- "i was attacked one time by a group of seven men with rocks and i was pretty severely injured. being assaulted is not really that uncommon." whether it's rocks being thrown at you on a hand-to-hand combat situation or being shot at, it's not particularly uncommon." we need a bill that will protect our border patrol agents who put their lives on the line every day and do their job of patrolling the border.
they face threats and violence and many, like brian terry, had been killed because of gang violence or drug cartels. not only do our border patrol agents face danger, but rangers face daily encounters of drug smugglers and illegal border crossers. robert krantz from arizona, a rancher, was killed in 2010. his family expressed frustration with the federal government, stating -- quote -- "the disregard of our repeated pleas and warnings of impending violence toward our community fell on deaf ears, shrouded in political correctness. as a result, we have paid the ultimate price for their intelligence or their negligence, incredentially securing our border lands -- credibly securing our border lands." no one can fault someone for
having to improve their lot in light. husbands and wives cross the border to make a better life for them and their family. people yearn to be free and to make a life full of liberty and happiness. but people who cross the border illegally risk their own lives. they spend days walking through desert. they fall prey to smugglers and become victims of rape and abu abuse. securing the border is one of the most humane things that we can do to protect the lives of those who will venture into the united states, not caring about our laws but for the sole purpose of improving their life. you know, that's the goal of america -- a better life, for all of us who were born here as well as those who emigrate here. but it is dangerous crossing the border illegally for those people. we can give them legal avenues
to enter this country to live, work and raise a family if we don't deter illegal border crossings, people's lives will remain at risk, as they are at this very hour. nonetheless, proponents of legalization hold to the belief that the vast majority of people who cross our border are people seeking employment. most times that's true. however, not everyone that crosses the southern border is a resident of mexico that seeks to reunite with family and do the jobs that americans won't do. the number of individuals from noncontiguous countries, otherwise known as other than mexicans, should be a concern. as of april the 2nd, the other than a mexican numbers on the
southwest border were up 67% from fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2013. we know that some of the other than mexicans include terrorists who enter the united states via the southern border. secretary napolitano has testified before congress to that very fact. we also know that a majority of "other than mexicans" fail to appear for their immigration proceedings and simply disappe disappear, lost here in this great country, the united stat states. increasing bonds for these nationals would deter absconders, assist the -- assist i.c.e. and the customs border police in covering detention and removal costs, or, at a minimum, provide a disincentive to cross.