Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  June 26, 2013 12:00pm-5:01pm EDT

12:00 pm
vote:
12:01 pm
12:02 pm
12:03 pm
12:04 pm
12:05 pm
12:06 pm
12:07 pm
12:08 pm
12:09 pm
12:10 pm
12:11 pm
12:12 pm
12:13 pm
the presiding officer: does any senator in the chamber wish to vote or change his or her vote? mr. leahy: could we have order? the presiding officer: on this vote the yeas are 68. the nays are 30. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to and the point of order falls. under the previous order, there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote on amendment number 1183 as modified, offered by the senator from vermont, mr. leahy.
12:14 pm
mr. leahy: madam president, i yield -- the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: madam president, i yield my time to the senators from tennessee and north dakota mr. corker: madam president, i thank the senator from vermont. americans want immigration reform but they want border security first, and that's exactly -- mr. hoeven: that's what this amendment does. it secures the border with five tough provisions that must be met before green cards are allowed. those five triggers are a comprehensive southern border strategy, must be deployed and operational, 20,000 additional border patrol agents, a total of 700 miles of fence, a national mandatory everify system must be in place and electronic entry-exit identification system must be in place at all airports
12:15 pm
and seaports. simply put, this is about making sure we secure the border and we do it in an objective and verifiable way. i want to thank all of my cosponsors on this legislation and turn to the good senator from tennessee and thank him for his work. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. grassley: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: this grand compromise makes false promises to the american people. it throws money at the border but there's no accountability to get the job done. we need to see results, but the only result we're being assured of is legalization. legalization first, border security later. on top of all the earmarks that are in this amendment, the grand compromise also has a grand plan for spending taxpayers' dollars. we don't have -- and we have to raid the social security trust
12:16 pm
fund to get it. the american people expect us to get this right. this amendment is the wrong answer. i urge a "no" vote. i yield the floor back. yield back the balance of the time. the presiding officer: all time has expired. mr. corker: i'd ask unanimous consent for 30 seconds. the presiding officer: objection is heard. the question is on -- the question is on amendment 1183, as modified. a senator: ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. there is. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
12:17 pm
12:18 pm
12:19 pm
12:20 pm
12:21 pm
12:22 pm
12:23 pm
12:24 pm
12:25 pm
12:26 pm
12:27 pm
12:28 pm
12:29 pm
12:30 pm
vote:
12:31 pm
12:32 pm
12:33 pm
12:34 pm
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or to change their vote? if not, the ayes are 69, the nays are 29. the amendment as modified is agreed to. under the previous order, there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the committee-reported substitute as amended. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the committee-reported substitute amendment to s. 744 a bill to provide for comprehensive immigration reform and for other purposes signed by 17 senators.
12:35 pm
mr. leahy: madam president, i ask consent to yield back all time. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. by unanimous consent the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is, is it the sense of the senate that debate on the committee-reported substitute amendment to s. 744, a bill to provide for comprehensive immigration reform and for other purposes, shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
12:36 pm
12:37 pm
12:38 pm
12:39 pm
12:40 pm
12:41 pm
12:42 pm
12:43 pm
12:44 pm
12:45 pm
vote:
12:46 pm
12:47 pm
12:48 pm
12:49 pm
12:50 pm
12:51 pm
12:52 pm
12:53 pm
12:54 pm
12:55 pm
12:56 pm
12:57 pm
the presiding officer: on this vote the yeas are 67. the nays are 31. three-fifths of the senate having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. mr. leahy: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, a couple of things. we've been talking about the schedule and all. we are moving forward. the time has started now on this vote. it is obvious that a majority, a very large majority, bipartisan majority of the senate will support an immigration bill. i know there have been proposals for amendments. i'm not going to make a proposal. i'll leave that for the leader. but there have been efforts to get a finite number of both republican and democratic
12:58 pm
amendments that we can vote on. most under normal circumstances would probably be accepted by voice vote. i would hope we can do that because i think that we could be able to complete this immigration bill in enough time so our, especially our staffs which will have a great deal of work to do putting it together, staffs on both sides who work long hours even after the rest of us leave, that maybe they can actually have some time with their families and prepare for the celebration, celebrating this great nation next week. mr. president, i'd ask consent that i be allowed to continue for five minutes as in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, today the supreme court struck down section 3 of the defense of marriage act. i think that helped this nation take a major step towards full
12:59 pm
equality. the ruling affirms my belief that the constitution protects the rights of all americans. not just some, but all of us. and that no one should suffer from discrimination based on who they love. and i share the joy of those families who had their rights vindicated today, including many legally married couples in my home state of vermont. i've already heard from many and the joy that they have expressed is, it is so overwhelming. in august my wife marcelle and i will celebrate our 51st wedding anniversary. our marriage is so fundamental to our lives, it is difficult for me to imagine how it would feel without the government refusing to acknowledge it.
1:00 pm
without her love and support in those 51 years there's nothing i would have accomplished of noteworthy in my life without two people who love each other. but today we have thousands of gay and lesbian individuals and families across the country who had their rights vindicated by the supreme court decision including the same rights marcelle and i have had for 51 years, and despite today's ruling, there is still laws that discriminate against these married couples. i will continue to work with senator feinstein on legislative fixes to protect all families. as we continue to fight for equality and against discrimination in our nation's laws, i'm hopeful today's ruling will address a serious injustice. by strike down section 3 of the defense of marriage act, the
1:01 pm
supreme court has pronounced that our federal laws cannot discriminate against individuals based on who they love. i believe this should extend to our immigration laws as well. last month i was forced to make one of the most difficult decisions in my 38 years as a senator when i withdrew my amendment that would have provided equality in our immigration laws by ensuring that all americans -- all americans -- may sponsor their lawful spouse for citizenship. it is one of the most disappointing moments of my 38 years in the senate but i took republicans and who spoke in good faith at their word that they would abandon their own efforts to reform the make it's immigration laws if my amendment had been adopted. i believed what they said and i withdrew it. but with the supreme court's decision today, it appears that the antidiscrimination principle
1:02 pm
that i've long advocated will apply to our immigration laws and to binational couples and their families can now be united under the law. as a result of this very welcome decision, i will not be seeking a floor vote on my amendment. today's decision should be seen as a victory for all those who support justice, equality and family values. i had the privilege of serving with the wonderful senator from vermont when i first came here, senator robert stafford. mr. republican in our state. senator stafford, when we were debating the question of same-sex marriage -- i ask consent for two more minutes. when we were debating the same-sex mr. president,
1:03 pm
i yield the floor and i ask consent that we go back out of morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: mr. president, over the last few days i've received numerous e-mails and calls from conservatives and tea party activists across the country regarding immigration. their opinions really matter to
1:04 pm
me they were with me three years ago when so many people here in washington and in florida for that matter thought i had no chance to win my election. let me begin by saying these people are patriots. every day americans from all walks of life deeply concerned about the direction our country is headed and they're increasingly unhappy about the immigration reform proposal in the senate. it's not because they're anti-immigrant, as some on the left like to say. it's not because they're closed minded. they believe as i do that as a sovereign country, we have a right to secure our borders, that we have a right to have immigration laws and to enforce them. they are opposed to this effort because for over three decades and despite many promises to enforce the law, the federal government under both republicans and democrats have failed to do so. in the end, it isn't just immigration reform. itself that
1:05 pm
worries them. it's that the government has failed them so many times before. they realize we have a legal immigration system that needs to be reformed, that we have over 11 million people living in our country illegally and we have to deal with them. they simply believe no matter what law we pass, we cannot trust the federal government to ever actually enforce it. this sentiment was best summed up for me in an e-mail i received from sharon calvert, a prominent tea party leader in florida. here's what she wrote. today, june 2013, we're in a very different political climate than we were after the last election. we're in a political climate of distrust of government and elected representatives at its highest. do we want to trust this administration to faithfully enforce this bill to the best interest of all americans, with a bill that so few have read? end quote. she makes a powerful point. finding out the i.r.s. investigates people based on their political views, all the questions that remain about
1:06 pm
benghazi and seeing the government target reporters, trusting the federal government is rightfully at an all time low. i share the skepticism about this administration and washington in general. in just the two years that i have been here, i have seen the games that are played and the promises that are broken and how the american people ultimately suffer the consequences. and that's exactly what led me to get involved in this issue in the first place. we have a badly broken legal immigration system. not only one that does not work, it actually encourages illegal immigration. we have a border with mexico that despite billions of dollars that have already been spent, it's still not secure. every day people, drugs and guns are trafficked across the border. and we have 11 million people living in this country illegally in de facto amnesty. this is the way things are now. this is the casino, and it is a terrible mess. it is hurting our country
1:07 pm
terribly. and unless we do something about it, this administration isn't going to fix it. political pundits, they love to focus on the politics of all this. but for me, this isn't about catering to any group for political gain. predictably, despite all the work we've done on immigration reform, some so-called proimmigrant groups continue to protest me daily. this isn't about winning points from the establishment or mainstream media. no matter how consistent i have been on focusing on the border security aspects of reform, whenever i've spoken about it, the beltway media has accused me of trying to undermine or walk away from this reform. this isn't about becoming a washington dealmaker. truthfully, it would have been a lot easier to just sit back, vote against any proposal and give speeches about how i would have done it differently. and finally, this is certainly isn't about gaining support for future office. many conservative commentators and leaders, people who i deeply respect and with whom i agree on
1:08 pm
virtually every other issue are disappointed about my involvement in this debate. i got involved in this issue for one simple reason. i ran for office to try and fix things that are hurting this special country. and in the end, that's what this is about for me. trying to fix a serious problem that faces america. the proposal by the senate is by no means perfect. like any proposal that will come before the senate, it has flaws. but it also has important reforms that conservatives have been trying to get for years. for example, it changes our legal immigration system from a predominantly family-based system of chain migration to a merit-based system that focuses on jobs skills. this proposal mandates the most ambitious border and interior security measures in our nation's history. for example, it requires and funds the completion of 700 miles of real border fence. it adds 20,000 new border
1:09 pm
agents. it details a specific technology plan for each sector of the border. it requires everify for every employer in america and it creates a tracking system to identify people who overstay their visas. these are all things that at a minimum must happen before those in the country illegally can apply for permanent status. and the proposal deals with those who are here illegally in a reasonable but responsible way. right now those here illegally are living in de facto amnesty. this is what i mean by that. they are unregistered, many pay no taxes and few will ever have to pay a price for having violated our laws. under this bill, they will have to come forward. they will have to pass background checks. they will have to pay a fine. they'll have to start paying taxes. and they will be ineligible for welfare, food stamps and obamacare. in return the only thing they get is a temporary work permit. and they can't renew it in six
1:10 pm
years unless they can prove they have been holding a job and paying their taxes. for at least ten years, that's all they can have. and after that, after all that, they can't even apply for permanent status until the fence is built, the border patrol agents are hired and the border security technology, everify and the tracking system are fully in place. yet despite all these measures, opposition from many conservatives has grown significantly in the last few weeks. why? well, because they've heard that the secretary of homeland security can just ignore the border requirement. but this is not true. the department does have the discretion on where to build the fence but not on the amount of fencing it must build. at the end of the day, it is simple -- 700 miles of pedestrian fencing must be built. they've also heard that the secretary of homeland security can just waive the radars and the drones and the ground censors and the other technology required in the bill but that's just not true.
1:11 pm
the secretary can always add more to the plan but the list of border security measures we mandate in the legislation is the minimum that must be implemented. some oppose it because they've heard that a future congress can just defund all the security measures like they've done in the past. that's just not true. the money is built into the bi bill. unlike previous border security laws, it doesn't leave it dependent on future funding. they also oppose the bill because they've heard that it creates a taxpayer subsidy for people to buy a car or a scoot scooter. that's just not true. nothing in this bill allows that. and finally, they oppose the bill because they've heard that last friday, a brand-new 1,100-page bill that no one has read is what's now before the senate. that's just not true. this is the exact same bill that's been publicly available for ten weeks. the main addition to it are about 120 pages of border security.
1:12 pm
because in order to add 700 miles of fence, 20,000 border agents and a prohibition on things like foreign students or tourists from getting obamacare, we had to add pages to the bill. now, i understand, i do, why after reading these false claims people would be opposed to this bill. and i understand why, after we've been burned by large bills in the past, people are suspicious of big reforms of any kind. and i understand why, after promises made in the past on immigration that have not been kept, people doubt whether they'll ever be kept again in the future. but i also understand what's going to happen if at some point we do not come up with an agreement we can support on immigration reform. what's going to happen is we'll still have a broken legal immigration system. we won't have more border patrol officers. we won't have enough fencing. we still won't have mandatory everify. and we'll still have is 11 million people living here
1:13 pm
illegally. and that's why i'm involved in this. because despite all the problems we have with government, the only way to mandate a fence, everify and more agents is to pass a law that does so. now, i knew getting these requirements into the bill would not be easy. this administration insisted the border's already secure and they've fought every effort to improve the border security parts of this bill. the administration wants the fastest and easiest path to citizenship possible and they've fought every condition and every tryinger in this bill. -- every trigger in this bill. but i fought for this bill because i knew if conservatives did not get involved in shaping this proposal t. would not have any of the border security reforms that our nation desperately needs. getting to this point has been very difficult. to hear the worry and the anxiety and -- and the growing anger and the voices of so many people who helped me get elected to the senate who i agree with on virtually every other issue, it's been a real trial for me.
1:14 pm
i know they love america and they're deeply worried about the direction that this administration is trying to take our country. but when i was a candidate, i told you i wanted to come here and fight, i wanted to fight to protect what's good for america and fight to stop what's bad for america. and i believe what we have now on immigration is hurting our country badly and i simply wasn't going to just leave it to democrats alone to figure out how to fix it. i guess perhaps at the heart heart-support of this -- heart of my support for this proposal is that i know firsthand that while immigrants have always impacted america, america changes immigrants even more. just a generation ago, my parents lived in poverty in another country but america changed them. it gave them a chance to improve their lives. it gave them opportunity to open doors for me that were closed for them. and the longer they lived here, the older their kids got, the
1:15 pm
more conservative they became. the more convinced they became that limited government and free enterprise and our constitutional liberties made this nation special. i am a firsthand witness to the transformative power of our country, how it doesn't just change people's pocketbooks, it changes their hearts and their minds. and despite all the challenges and despite our broken government, i still believe this is that kind of country. i realize in the end many of my fellow conservatives will not be able to support this reform. but i hope you will understand that i honestly believe it's the right thing to do for this country. to finally have an immigration system that works, to finally have a fence, to finally have more agents and everify and to finally put an end to de facto amnesty. in my heart and in my mind i know that we must solve this problem once and for all or it will only get worse, and it
1:16 pm
will only get harder to solve. to my fellow conservatives, i will continue to fight alongside you for real tax reform, for lowering our debt, for balancing our budget, for reducing regulations, for rolling back job-killing environmental policies and for repealing the disaster of obamacare. to my fellow conservatives i will continue to fight alongside you for the sanctity of life and traditional marriage. but i will also continue to work in the hopes of one day uniting behind a common conservative strategy on how to fix our broken immigration system once and for all. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, i want to say how much i respect the senator from florida. i respect his viewpoint. i respect the amount of effort
1:17 pm
he has put into this issue, which is a very difficult and a very complex issue. he speaks from the heart. i have never questioned his motives. and he has worked very, very hard to put together the very best piece of legislation i think that could have been accomplished on this senate floor. i wish i could stand with him in terms of final support because i, too, believe our current system is broken, that it needs to be addressed. the status quo is not an option. we will continue down the same road that -- and only to a greater degree than where we find ourselves today. but i'm deeply concerned here and for me, the most difficult of things to work through finally came down to the fact that as senator rubio has talked about, there is a great level
1:18 pm
of distrust in this country today toward whatever comes out of washington, and whoever's mouth it comes out of. some of this is due to, i think, certain events that have happened here in the last several months. benghazi is still not settled, the american people still have not satisfied with what has been said about what happened exactly and what our response should have been and there's been changing narratives. that feeds into the distrust, certainly the scarnls, the i.r.s. scandal and others continue to feed and it's a very dangerous thing for democracy when people have lost trust in their elected representatives, in their government. it's a very dangerous thing for the future. and we need to restore that. but to me, that element that now exists means that when we take up legislation as comprehensive as this bill is,
1:19 pm
as sweeping as this bill is, we need to ensure that the american people understand it, and that they have trust in us that what we promise we will do in this bill will be fulfilled. and all this from my perspective has to be measured against the 1986 immigration reform act which i voted for and supported. ronald reagan was president at the time, we had a divided congress, republicans and democrats. the senate was under one party and the house was under another. and so the situation was somewhat similar to today. but with the president's leadership, and with the promises that were made that the then three million people that were here illegally would be granted an opportunity to get on a path to citizenship, and it was combined with the fact that we promised in that bill,
1:20 pm
verbally and in language, that we would secure the border so we wouldn't have to deal with this again. well, here we are in 2013 dealing with it again, but not three million, but 11 million and counting. in terms of illegal immigration, and its having enormous impact on our country and it is an issue which we have to address. but i think we have to do it in a way that acknowledges that the promises made then were not fulfilled, and when added today to the promises and the things that have been said that have caused even a greater level of distrust than any of us could possibly imagine, that has to be addressed. and the way in my opinion to address that is to borrow from ronald reagan, trust and verify. and i think ver nigh now -- verify now because of this trust deficit has to come first.
1:21 pm
before people are ready to trust. they simply don't believe that the promises made here will work, that they will be fulfilled. when the bill -- underlying bill basically says the secretary of health and human services will state that h.h.s. -- i mean homeland security has a strategy to address the border security problem, that doesn't play very well with people who have seen strategies promised before. they want to see results. and the real issue here has been whether or not, at least for me and i think many of my colleagues, is whether or not we are able to prove to the american people they're going to get their results before we start a process in which most people -- moves people through a legalization process which we know we'll never be able to pull back. there were some amendments offered here by my colleagues
1:22 pm
which i supported because essentially what they said was we want to look at results first before we begin the process of which we're never going to be able to pull back, of legal status for illegals in this country. so it's that cart before the horse here that i think for me at least and i think for many of us, is the reason why we cannot support this bill as it's currently written. i hope the house will come forward with something more credible, perhaps more sequential, that addresses this very fundamental flaw in this bill. which is proving to the american people that we will fulfill the promises that we're making in this legislation before we start a process of granting legal status to illegals.
1:23 pm
so that we will not get years down the road only to find that we have not succeeded in fulfilling those promises and yet we have created yet another amnesty situation and we will not have secured what we want to do. i'm the son of an immigrant. my mother came here with her family. it's been the narrative in our family that legal immigration is what has made america the country that it is. and so i don't fear immigration. the diversity has been good for our country. i served as ambassador to germany for four years and cintd tell you how many germans and europeans from other countries came up and basically said some mayday i hope to get in the lottery, that my fame anybody -- name will be pulled. i've been ben in line for 15 years, for 20 years, waiting to come to your country through
1:24 pm
a legal immigration process. it's pretty hard when you're the son of an immigrant, you know your family came here the right way, to know that there are millions of people in this world that would love to come to america and become responsible citizens, and yet to see them look at people flooding across the border and being granted that privilege, which they not have yet been able to attain. so i trust that we'll be able to go forward, trust the house will come forward with something that is more credible than what we're passing here. i voted earlier for a procedural motion to proceed for debate on this issue because i thought we needed to have this debate. i was hoping through the amendment process we could address this fundamental issue, at least fundamental to me.
1:25 pm
the employee verification has been strengthened, the border security has been strengthened, the exit visa problem has been strengthened if the promises come true. but they've only been strengthened on a piece of paper, and we need to see it strengthened for real on the border at the employment office, and at the exit visa office, offices on the portals coming -- for people coming in and out of this country. that has yet to be seen. that has yet to be demonstrated. and so without that fundamental let's get this in place first and in order to restore that trust, which is so lacking in the american people, justified, justified on the failures of congress and the failures of this administration in particular, or any administration, to deliver what they said they would, to
1:26 pm
fulfill their promises. and so that that is why i will not be supporting the bill but i do hope, given the problems we have with the status quo, as i think clearly outlined by my colleague from florida, we need to keep at this. we need to find the solution to the problem, because america cannot continue to be the country that it is and be the country that we want it to be if don't want address this wound and this flaw in the current immigration system. we need people with skills at the high level that americans can -- cannot fill all those jobs and until i hope our education system improves to the point where we can fill all those jobs. but some of our most important industries -- pharmaceutical, software and others -- important to our national defense and national security, they need those, they need those employees. coming here the legal way through the visas.
1:27 pm
we need some of the lower skilled people. i have a lot of processing plants in my state, i have a lot of agricultural sources in my state that cannot find enough american workers to do -- to full the positions that they have offered. that ought to be addressed. i want to address that. so it's not simply someone standing up and saying don't want have to fix the problem. we do have to fix the problem. i respect the efforts that have been made in a bipartisan way to try to do that. i just think this bill falls -- has one major fatal flaw, and that is the promises are not demonstrated -- are not fulfilled before the process starts. and for that reason, i cannot support the bill in its final form. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: mr. president, i wish to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. franken: thank you, mr. president, i rise today to
1:28 pm
talk about college affordability and student loan interest rates. but before i begin, i'd like to take a moment to comment on the historic decision this morning by the supreme court. i've been married to my wife, frannie --, franni, for 37 years. it's the best thing that ever happened to me, and i've long ngd believed that every loving couple cum should be seen as equal under the eyes of the law. and so i've been fighting for years along with others to overturn the so-called defense of marriage act. i am very happy today that the court did so in part this morning. today all minnesota couples will be treated equally under federal
1:29 pm
law, and this will make a real difference for those families. we still have work to do. i think that americans should have the freedom to marry the person of their choosing regardless of the state they live in, so we still have work to do but today is a happy day. okay. so back to college affordability and student loan interest rates. the interest rate on the stafford subsidized loan is set to double on july 1. along with a number of my colleagues, i'm fighting to prevent that from happening and to reach an agreement to protect students and make college more affordable for them and for their families. not long ago, i had a group of student leaders from minscu,
1:30 pm
the minnesota state colleges and university, they came to my office here in d.c. to discuss college affordability. remember, these are members of the student government of many of minnesota's public colleges and universities. they're the student leadership. there are about 20 of them. i asked them: how many of you work while you're going to school, while you're in college? every one of them put their hand up. i said, okay, how many of you work at least 20 hours a week? most of them. how many of you work 30 hours a week while you're going to school? more than i spebgtd. -- expecte. then i asked how many of you work full time, work 40 hours a week, while you're going to college? a number of them raised their
1:31 pm
hands. mind you, these are the student leaders of these schools, so they also spend time, their time in student government. now, working in college is not necessarily a bad thing. some work and help students better manage their time, become more productive and help pay for college. i worked during college. it was like five hours a week in our dorm kitchen. and evidence shows that when a student starts to work more than 15 hours a week, it becomes harder for the student to maintain good grades in school and to graduate from school on time. students are working more because college is becoming less and less affordable, and they're still taking out more and more student loans and graduating with more and more debt. minnesota has the unfortunate distinction of being the state
1:32 pm
with the third-highest average debt for students graduating from college at over $30,000 a student. whether these students are attending community college or four-year public or private college, it is increasingly difficult for them and their families to afford higher education. part of what has happened is that state support for higher education has gone down in recent years, shifting more of the burden on to students and their families. according to the latest report from the state higher education executive officers, public college -- public colleges experience a 9% decrease in state funding per student in 2011 to 2012, including minnesota. minnesota public colleges saw a 27% decrease in state funding per student from 2007 to 2012.
1:33 pm
meanwhile, and partially because of this, the university of minnesota saw an increase of 65% in its average tuition and fees in constant dollars from 2002 to 2012. our other public four-year universities saw a 47% increase in average tuition and fees. and our public two-year colleges saw a 39% increase in tuition and fees over the same time period. after more than a decade of higher education spending cuts and tuition increases in minnesota, things have started to turn around this year. state legislature passed a bill that increased funding for higher education in minnesota by $250 million, including a tuition freeze at the university of minnesota and minnesota's other public colleges and universities for two years.
1:34 pm
that is very, very good news. but while this is a great victory for minnesota's students and families, it certainly won't solve the college affordability problem in minnesota. as college has gotten more expensive our federal aid system has not kept up. in 1975, pell grants, long the cornerstone of our federal financial aid system, a full pell grant covered almost 80% of the cost of attending a public four-year college. in 1975. but now it pays for approximately 33% of the cost of a public -- a year of a public four-year college. as students have turned to student loans, more of them are
1:35 pm
ending up tens of thousands of dollars in debt. in minnesota, i have held several college affordability round tables and heard from a number of extraordinary students. one of them is taylor williams who was a senior at the university of minnesota in the spring. he grew up in a low-income family. he kind of was afraid of taking the advanced placement courses because he didn't think he could afford the tests. a test costs too much money. fortunately, taylor had a guidance counselor who found funding to help him pay for the test, and his success on those a.p. tests helped him start college with a year worth of credits.
1:36 pm
taylor was also working 40 hours a week and receiving community scholarships. and yet, in spite of all of this, he is graduating with student debt. because of stories like taylor's, i recently introduced the accelerated learning act, a bill to reauthorize an existing federal program that provides funding to low-income students to help pay for a.p. and i.b. international baccalaureate exams. this is a federal program that has been around for over a decade and has helped students lower the cost of college. and i'm pleased that this legislation was included in the larger bill to reauthorize the elementary and secondary education act that we passed out of the help committee earlier this month. taylor and countless other students at schools across minnesota demonstrate tremendous perseverance and grit in getting
1:37 pm
a college education and in cobbling together the resources to pay for it. they work incredibly hard, and they are still taking significant amounts of debt, debt that will stay with them for a good portion of their lives. paying for college shouldn't have to be that hard. and in many other countries it isn't. in fact, in many other countries students can go to college for free. for free. or pay extremely low tuition. according to the organization for economic cooperation and development, o.e.c.d., countries where students pay zero tuition for their postsecondary education include the czech republic, denmark, finland, ireland, iceland, mexico, norway and sweden.
1:38 pm
other countries like france, austria, switzerland and belgium have postsecondary systems where students have to pay tuition of less than $1,500 per year. now because of this, it's not a surprise that many of these countries are also surpassing the united states in higher education attainment. not very long ago the united states ranked first in the world in the percentage of 25- to 34-year olds with a higher education. according to the latest data from the oecd, the united states is now 14th in that category. this is a trend we need to reverse if the united states is going to remain globally competitive. in an ideal world, the united states would provide free or extremely low-cost postsecondary
1:39 pm
education to its citizens, as so many other nations do. unfortunately, that's not going to happen any time soon. so we need to take smaller but important steps to help our students pay for college. the interest rate on subsidized stafford loans is going to double from 3.4% to 6.8% on july 1 unless congress takes action to prevent that from happening. this interest rate would -- this is an increase that would affect 200,000 students in minnesota. almost 200,000 students in minnesota who would end up paying about $1,000 more for each student loan that they would take out over the life of that loan. that's above what they're already paying. at a time of record low interest
1:40 pm
rates, it makes no sense to let the student loan interest rate double. we should prevent that from happening, and ultimately we need a long-term fix so that interest rates do not become more unaffordable for students and their families. we also need to make sure that whatever action we take doesn't make the problem worse. several of my colleagues have proposed short-term fixness this interest rate problem. i'm proud to support efforts by senators read, jack reed and tom harkin to freeze the interest rate at 3.5% while congress works out a longer term solution. i'm also a proud cosponsor of senator warner's legislation to tie the student loan's interest rate to the rate at which the federal reserve loans money to banks. at a time when the fed is lending money at an interest
1:41 pm
rate of .75%, the banks, it makes no sense to force students to borrow money from the government at a remain of 68.8% a year or even higher. senator warner has been an important new voice in this debate in the senate making the student loan interest rates the focus of her first piece of legislation. madam president, we need to get this done. the democratic leaders have been negotiating in good faith on this issue. and if we need to pass a short-term succession of the current interest rate to give negotiations more time to produce a solution that works for students and their families, that's what we should do. fixing the student loan interest rate is far from the only issue we have to tackle to make college more affordable for students. i reintroduced my college:
1:42 pm
understanding truth cost of college act, financial aid award letters among universities so students can have clear and consistent information about the cost of their education. students and their families and high school counselors need to have uniform financial aid letters so they can make real comparisons about college costs before deciding where the students should go to college. and that's what my bill makes possible. i also stand ready to work with my colleagues to protect the pell grant program and to support other programs that make college more affordable for students like the trio and work-study programs. madam president, we have a lot to do and a long way to go to make college more affordable for our students. doing that will help more americans find jobs to support their families, help more employers find qualified workers for their businesses, and help
1:43 pm
our economy prosper. this is one of the most critical issues we face as a congress in addressing the student loan interest rate, is a solid first step that we can take toward tackling this issue. thank you, madam president, and i would yield the floor. mr. grassley: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: in the last three weeks i pointed out several flaws in the immigration bill. but in a couple days we'll have a bill through the senate, and i think i owe it to my colleagues and to my constituents, since i've been pointing out flaws, twald it take -- what would it take for me to vote for an immigration bill? i'm just like most everybody, and maybe everybody in the united states senate would tell you the status quo is not legitimate maintained, and that we have to reform the system.
1:44 pm
so there are, i'd like to say 100 senators who believe that the immigration system needs to be fixed. i can guarantee that there are also 100 different ways to fix it and nobody has a pebgt solution. but i bring a solution to the table few others have. my belief stems from the fact that in 1986. we allowed hraoelgzation that -- legalation that ignored the laws on the books. we allowed legalization without creating adequate avenues for people to enter, live and work in this country legally. if we had a system that worked where we had a shortage of workers where they could legally come to the country, we wouldn't have the problems we have today, and we didn't do that in 1986. these were crucial flaws that have led us to the debate that
1:45 pm
we're having the last three weeks. and i'm not willing to pass that mistake on to future congresses. so what will it take for somebody like me, a senator who voted for amnesty in 1986 and wasn't a part of the group of eight or group of ten to vote for immigration reform this bill? this is what i need to see in an immigration bill in order to support it and send it to the president. when i mention four different points, it doesn't mean that that takes care of everything. but if these things were taken care of, regardless of the other things, i would feel i'd have to support it. legalization after border security. secondly, meaningful interior enforcement, including allowing i.c.e. to do its job and to work with state and local people. three, strengthening, not weakening, current law with regard to criminals. and fourth, protecting american
1:46 pm
work erstwhile enhancing legal avenues. aeupbld -- and i would explain them starting with legalization after border security. mos -- most americans contend that legalization is a compassionate way to help those unlawfully in the country. however, those people who support a program of legalization do so only on the premise that the government will secure the border and stop the flow of illegal migration. we are a nation based upon the rule of law. we have a right to protect our sovereignty and, of course, a duty to protect our homeland. any border security measures we pass must be real and immediate. we can't wait ten years to put more agents on the border or to implement a tracking system to track foreign nationals. we have to prove to the american people that illegal entries are
1:47 pm
under complete control and that visa overstays are to be punished. unfortunately, too many people have been led to believe that this bill before us will force the secretary of homeland security to secure the border. it doesn't. a fundamental component of any legislation is border security first and foremost, not legalization now and enforcement later, if ever. there has been -- there has to be pressure on the executive branch to get the job done. we must tie legalization to results. only then will advocates and a future administration truly try to secure the border. secondly, meaningful interior enforcement, including i.c.e. being allowed to do its job and work with state and locals.
1:48 pm
enforcement of the immigration laws has been lax and increasingly selective in the last few years. as a result, states have been forced to deal with the criminal activity that surrounds the flow of people here undocumented. they have stepped up efforts to control the effects of illegal immigration in some states. and the states should be able to protect their people and stem the law enforcementlessness within their border -- the -- stem the lawlessness within their border. yet time and again, this administration has denied the opportunity and tried to stop them from enforcing immigration laws. federal immigration enforcement officers have also been handicapped from doing their j job. the bill would practically render these officers useless since they're required to verify a person's eligibility for legalization before apprehending and detaining. they need to be provided the resources to fulfill their
1:49 pm
mission and not be told by washington to sit idly by. the unfortunate reality is that the bill does almost nothing to strengthen and enhance our interior enforcement efforts. the bill does nothing to encourage federal, state and local law enforcement efforts to apprehend and detain individuals who pose a risk to our communi community. the federal government will continue to look the other way as millions of new people enter the country undocumented. meanwhile, the bill gives the states no new authority to act when the federal government refuses. i'll be the first to say that border security is a must, but people who enter illegally and overstay their visas are residing in the interior of the country and this cannot be ignored and this is something that if it's fixed i would feel very comfortable voting for -- for a immigration bill. strengthening, not weakening, current law with regard to
1:50 pm
criminals. now, let me repeat that. without regard to criminals. because isn't it -- it's not going to -- it's not going to go over well back home if you say that you can have criminal activity and be -- and even deported from the country and brought back -- and make application again to be able t to -- to have the benefits of this legislation. one of the major reasons why immigration is a subject of significant public interest is the failure of the federal government to enforce existing laws. 11 million people have unlawfully entered the country or overstayed their visas because the federal government did not deter them or take action to remove them. this bill before us significantly weakens current criminal law and will hinder the ability of law enforcement to protect americans from criminal undocumented aliens. the bill weakens current law regarding passport fraud, only
1:51 pm
charging those who make or distribute illegal passports three or more times. it allows a person to knowingly purchase materials for making illegal passports but only charge the person if a crime -- with a crime if ten or more passports are made. it also weakens current law for those who illegally enter the country. changing existing laws by removing the crime of illegally attempting to enter the united states. essentially, then, incentivizing foreign citizens to attempt to illegally enter the country as many times as they want. further, once they successfully enter the u.s. illegally, the alien would only be subject to criminal punishment if they're removed from the country three or more times. why isn't once enough? taken together, the bill weakens current law and will make it easier for undocumented aliens
1:52 pm
to enter the country illegally by not criminalizing their attempts to enter nor their actual illegal entry unless they have been previously removed three or more times. this is a drastic change that will encourage future entries by undocumented people. given the serious nature of criminal street gangs, we need to pass an immigration bill that prevents entry into the country if one is a gang member. more importantly, we need to ensure that gang members are not being rewarded with legal stahl us. regrettably, the bill is weak on foreign criminal street gang members in several regards. in addition to weakening current law, the bill does very little to deter criminal behavior in the future. the bill ignores sanctuary cities, allowing criminals to seek safe harbor in jurisdictions where they have policies aimed to protect people in the country illegally.
1:53 pm
it increases the threshold required for actions to constitute a crime. it punishes persons only if they have already been convicted of three or more misdemeanors on different days, and it only punishes undocumented aliens who are removed from the country three or four -- three or more times. i'm committed to making sure that any bill that is sent to the president makes a more serious effort to penalize those who attempt to enter or reenter the united states. it needs to be tough on lawbreakers and send a signal that fraud and abuse, including identity theft, will not be tolerated. it needs to ensure that gang members are not granted legalization but, rather, made deportable and inadmissible. we need to protect victims of crime and ensure that child abusers and domestic violence perpetrators do not receive
1:54 pm
benefits under the immigration law. finally, we need to ensure that dangerous undocumented criminals are not released in our community but are detained until they are properly returned to their home country. fourth and last, we need to protect american workers while enhancing legal avenues. while i support allowing businesses to bring in foreign workers, they should only do so when qualified americans are not available. there have been too many stories about u.s. workers who have had to train their replacements who come in through the h-1b visa program. foreign nationals are being hired but then working in locations not specified in their application. other work visa programs are not free of controversy. i agree with the creation of a temporary worker program such as the w-visa program created in this bill. i have long argued that we must enhance and expand opportunities for people who wish to work
1:55 pm
legally in this country, yet as we do that, we cannot forget the american worker. we need to fight for them, ensure that they are not disadvantaged, displaced and underpaid because of our immigration laws. the bill before the senate makes a move in the right direction by increasing worker protection for americans and providing more authority to the executive branch to investigate fraud in the h-1b visa program. unfortunately the bill is slanted to ensure that only certain employers undergo more scrutiny. all employers who bring in visa holders should be held to the same standard. all employers, not just some, should be required to make a good-faith effort to recruit u.s. workers. all employers, not just some, should be required to attest that they did not or will not displace a u.s. worker within
1:56 pm
180 days of applying for an h-1b worker. all employers, not just some, should be required to offer the job to a u.s. worker who is equally or better qualified. our employment-based immigration program, including the h-1b program, have served and continue again -- could again serve a valuable purpose if used properly. however, they're being misused and abused. they're failing the american worker and not fulfilling the original purpose that congress intended when it was created. reforms are needed to put integrity back into the program and to ensure that american workers and students are given every chance to fill vacant jobs in this country. again, how i vote on final bill coming out of conference with the house is undecided. i want to be able to support something that will make americans frau proud, that willt
1:57 pm
make the same mistakes that we did in 1986 and will stand the test of time so that future generations can benefit. and i need to see at least these four key changes before i can cast a vote in support. i have said to iowans and to my colleagues that the bill before the united states senate is precooked, but i have faith that a better bill is achievable, a bill that can gain more votes, including mine. this body, the united states senate, is described as the most deliberative body -- parliamentary body in the entire world and i believe it is. but when we had 451 amendments offered to this bill and we were promised free and open debate and we've only dealt with a couple dozen of them -- not a couple dozen, about a dozen of them -- we can't say that we had a fair and open debate like we were promised. and it surely did not meet the standard that was set by
1:58 pm
chair -- set by chairman leahy when he promised in committee a free and open debate. and there was that free and open debate and no limit on amendments. and we stuck with it until we got done. we could have just as well stuck with this bill until we got it done and we could have had votes on more amendments. so now we're going to pass a bill that's not the best for the country and doesn't accomplish what -- even what the authors of the legislation hoped to accomplish, particularly when they say secure the border first and then legalize. so we have to rely upon a body that is not considered a deliberative body, the house of representatives, to correct these mistakes that are made in this bill. i -- i think that they will. i hope that they will. and then i hope i can vote for that product that will eventually go to the president of the united states. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island.
1:59 pm
mr. white house: madam president, i'd like to -- mr. whitehouse: madam president, i'd like to speak for 10 or 12 minutes as if in morning business and then have the senator from massachusetts, senator warren, recognized at the conclusion of my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you. i'm very pleased to be joined on the floor of the senate today by senator warren to introduce some legislation that we've been working on since 2008. astute observers of this body will recognize that that was before senator warren was even senator warren, but she has been for years a renowned expert in consumer law and a leading advocate of reforms to protect families from predatory lending. so it's been a pleasure working with her on this bill and i'm delighted to be working with her as colleague senators now. a little history. during president obama's first two years in office and before the republicans took control over there in the house in 2011,
2:00 pm
democrats passed two significant landmark bills to protect ordinary consumers from credit card company abuses. the credit card act of 2010 outlawed some of the worst tricks and traps that lenders used to ski squeeze money out of their customers. after that law, big banks can no longer hike interest rates on preexisting balances just because they feel like it. and they can no longer declare that the day ends at lunchtime in order to impose late fees on payments that come in in the afternoon. as absurd as it sounds, credit card companies routinely engaged in that sort of shenanigan but the credit card act put an end to a lot of it. a second bill, the dodd-frank wall street reform act,
2:01 pm
established the consumer financial protection bureau, an essential agency first proposed by senator warren when she was a law professor. that body will be for mortgages and credit cards with the consumer product safety commission for toasters and swimming pools. in an age when the fine print in a financial agreement can be the door to a family bankruptcy, this new agency is long overdue. while the consumer financial protection board is working to protect american families from many times of unfair and deceptive financial practices, including ones that involve credit card fees, the board is barred from regulating credit card interest rates. in the final negotiations on dodd-frank, the allies of the big credit card companies kept interest rates beyond the reach of this consumer agency. that is a shame because unfair
2:02 pm
interest rates are a big problem for families in rhode island and across the nation. i have heard from so many constituents enticed to sign up for a credit card with an attractive teaser rate of zero or 1%, and eventually the teaser period ends and the rate goes up to 12% or 15% and if the cardholder slips up and misses a couple of payments, the rate can jump to 30% or higher. i think when most of us in this body were growing up, a 30% interest rate was a matter that you could usually take to the police because it violated state law. a rate at 30% would have been illegal under the laws of most, if not all, of the 50 states. but the supreme court came in in 1978 and they ruled that the civil war era national bank act
2:03 pm
only required a lender, a credit card issuer, to abide by the law of the state that's their home state and allowed them to ignore the law of the state that their customer called their home state. well, it didn't take too long for the big credit card companies to see the loophole. this meant that if they moved their legal home to states with no interest rate limits, with lousy consumer protections, even dealing with those states to reduce the consumer protection as a consequence of moving there, well, from these new havens they could lend to people in all 50 states at any interest rate they wanted. since that supreme court decision, which is called the marquette ruling, high interest rate credit cards have mushroomed and consumer debt has soared.
2:04 pm
according to the federal reserve, in the year before the marquette decision, 1977, only 38% of families had a bank-issued credit card. by 2010, over 65% had credit cards with about a third of all families holding four or more credit cards. and the debt numbers coming off of those credit cards are even worse. revolving consumer debt, which is mainly credit card debt, has exploded over 20-fold in the 35 years since the marquette decision. this little bull's-eye represents the debt beforehand, the giant red circle the debt afterwards. and the credit card companies are taking full advantage. interest rates, as we know, are generally low right now. banks are lending to another at less than a quarter of a percent. 30-year fixed mortgage rates are
2:05 pm
near 4%. savings bonds pay a paltry 1%. the stafford loans we're discussing will move from 3.4% to 6.8% if we don't act. but credit cards? according to bank rate dot-com which tracks lending statistics, the average variable rate credit card now charges over 15%, and many consumers pay much higher rates. at 15% interest, it would take a family paying the monthly minimum, which is often equal to 1% of the balance plus the accrued interest, it would take that family more than 22 years to pay off a $5,000 balance. an emergency comes to your family, you need to go to your credit card to pay for it, you have to run up $5,000, 22 years to dig out from that at a 15%
2:06 pm
rate. over those 20 years, the total you'd pay would be almost $11,000 meaning that interest rate charges would be more than the actual balance that you owed. which is bad enough, but imagine a family paying 30%. for them it's much worse. it would take 25 years to pay off a $5,000 balance making minimum payments, and the total payments the family would have to make would add up to $17,000. moremore than triple the $5,000t was borrowed. families may turn to credit cards in times of emergency and then when they get back on their feet find the next quarter of a century dedicated to paying off that debt. we should act to ensure that families don't suffer lost decades to unnecessarily and what would once have been illegally high interest rates.
2:07 pm
the bill we introduce today, the restoring states' rights to protect their consumers act, would not set a federal interest rate cap but it would restore to our sovereign 50 states their historic right, a right that dated back to their status as colonies before the revolution, to determine what interest rate limits should apply and protect their own citizens. this bill is two pages long. it is simple. it is a states' rights bill. it received bipartisan support when i offered it as an amendment to the dodd-frank bill. and i hope senators of both parties will consider supporting it now. i'll now yield the floor to my lead cosponsor, senator warren of massachusetts, with my thanks to her for her leadership in protecting american consumers and for her help in drafting this measure. it is a privilege to serve with
2:08 pm
senator warren in the senate. i yield the floor. ms. warren: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: i want to start by commending senator whitehouse for his extraordinary leadership. for five years he has worked on this issue. he proved from the very beginning that he was open to consumer groups that came to talk to him about a problem, and that he has been committed to helping working families, that that has been his central goal. it is a great honor to stand this morning -- this afternoon with senator whitehouse and to talk about a bill that can advance that goal, helping work force. -- working families. you know, mr. president, for more than is two centuries a state could pass a usury law and enforce it against anyone who was lending money in the state. congress and the federal agencies played a central central role in our banking policies but our system allowed
2:09 pm
states to play an important role, too. the states decided locally what were the highest interest rates they wanted their citizens to be charged. we honored the traditions of federalism and things worked pretty well. the states protected their citizens. consumer financial products like credit cards were easy to understand, and they were safe for consumers. they were not loaded with tricks and traps. that changed, starting in 1978, when the supreme court issued its decision in marquette national bank of minneapolis versus first of omaha service corps. in that decision the court interpreted a banking law that congress had passed back in 1863, and they decided that the statute meant that the states could not keep and out-of-state
2:10 pm
lender from charging high rates within the state. now, that all sounds pretty technical but the result was that credit card companies flocked to move their headquarters to states that had little consumer protection. then other states raced to the bottom, repealing their consumer protection laws, hoping to attract more business to their state. the basic idea that states could protect their citizens from whatever tricks or traps the banks wanted to try simply disappeared. so i rise today to join my colleague from rhode island, senator whitehouse, to introduce the empower states' rights to protect consumers act. this bill will restore the ability of states to enforce their own rules against all lenders that do business within the state. it does not tell states what rules to put in place.
2:11 pm
it lets states decide for themselves. the credit card act enacted in 2009 and the new consumer financial protection bureau created by the dodd-frank act in 2010, were critical steps in the right direction, and they are doing a good deal to help protect consumers. but we need to recognize the value of state partnerships by empowering our states to play a role, too, and by restoring their ability to serve as a laboratory of democracy. if and when credit card companies develop the next generation of tricks and traps buried in fine print and legalese, states ought to be able to respond with their own rules and protections if they deem it necessary. i ask my colleagues to carefully consider this bill. i say again to senator whitehouse, thank you for your extraordinary leadership on this. it is a great honor to stand
2:12 pm
today and cosponsor this bill with you. thank you, mr. president. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are not. mr. sessions: mr. president, we just saw the news today that g.d.p., according to "the wall street journal," for the first quarter was revised downward dramatically from previous estimates. one of the largest revisions you'd ever see. i'm not saying there's anything wrong with the accounting but they go back and double check their numbers, and add other analysis, and they come up with what the growth of the economy was in the first quarter.
2:13 pm
the previously announced growth level was 2.4% for the first quarter, which is low. we need, coming out of a recession, need to be doing better than that. but now that it was revised downward they found there was only 1.8% growth the first quarter. that's a very dangerous trend, and they said on -- the article said it's evidence of a slowing growth in america. the fourth quarter of last year g.d.p. growth was only .4%. if continued throughout the year, that's a very troubling number. and the data shows that for the last 15 quarters, almost four years, we've averaged only about 2% growth in our economy. growth in g.d.p. so i just would say, colleagues, as we vote to bring in more and more workers at a
2:14 pm
time when jobs are not being created of any significant number, we need to be aware that could cause severe consequences. the atlanta federal reserve economic study, they did several years ago, found that the immigration flow today in the atlanta area of the federal reserve there had reduced the wages of american workers in that region by as much as $1,500 a year already, and that's $120 a month. less money for the average family to take care of themselves. unemployment, declining wages are one reason, a big reason people get in trouble on their credit cards. professor borjas and others have done studies on this, another study found that $960 decline in people's annual wage which is about $80 a month. $80 a month may not sound like a
2:15 pm
lot for a senator, but it sounds like a lot for a working american. maybe equal their gas bill or part of it. so i just would say that, mr. president, that as we consider our votes on the immigration bill, let's consider that this economy is not growing, is not creating large job growth. we have projections we're not going to do so for the next decade. and we ought not to overload the economy with a new flow. i'm not talking about the people that will be legalized that are here, but a new flow. i thank the chair. i see my colleagues here, and i would yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business to offer a unanimous consent. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: mr. president, it has now been 95 days since the
2:16 pm
senate passed a budget, and i have come to the floor myself now six times to request a unanimous consent to move to conference. my democratic colleagues have requested unanimous consent to move to conference another eight times, and after every request a senate republican has stood up seined no. no to the -- stood up and said no to the opportunity work on a bipartisan budget deal. mr. president, i'd like to say to the republicans who are blocking a bipartisan budget conference enough is enough. we have heard so many excuses. refusing to allow conference before we get to so-called preconference framework, putting preconditions on what can be discussed in a bipartisan conference, claiming that moving to a budget conference which leading republicans did call for a few months ago was somehow not regular order. to most recently claiming we need to look at a 30-year budget window before looking at the major problems we've got right now in front of us, which i'd
2:17 pm
add is just unacceptable because the american people rightly expect us to work on both at the same time. mr. president, hearing these changing excuses week after week has been really, really frustrating. not just for democrats, but for many of my republican colleagues as well. a large group of us, republicans and democrats, think that although we do have major differences between the parties, values and priorities, we should at least come to the tableant try to work out -- table and try to work out a bipartisan deal. that's what american people do every day. and when there's a disagreement, they can't afford to play a game of chicken and hope the other person gives in, because when that happens, important things cannot get done. kids don't get picked up from school. bills don't get paid. small businesses miss major opportunity for expansion. every day regular americans avoid those kinds of situations,
2:18 pm
and we here in the senate should at least try to do the same. mr. president, there are extremely important things that are not getting done in the senate right now because some republicans want to embrace the harmful top line spending level in sequestration which have a major gap between the house and senate appropriations levels for the next fiscal year. and we just don't have much time left to resolve that gap. after we come back from next week's state work period, we'll just have one month to try to come to an agreement or else we're going to find ourselves in a very tough situation in september. we could once again be working against the clock to avoid a harmful crisis. mr. president, the last thing the american people who come together and resolve differences every day want to see is another round of a manufactured crisis coming out of washington, d.c., and they do not have to. we still have time. i know there are leaders on both sides of the aisle who would
2:19 pm
strongly prefer to solve problems rather than to get into yet another political fight that creates uncertainty for our families and our businesses and our country and our economy. i'm confident that if those of us who prefer commonsense bipartisanship over artificial crises work together, work together, we can reach a fair agreement and show the american people that our government does work. so i urge senate republican leaders to drop the tea party-backed strategy of delaying until the next crisis and allow the senate to join the house in a formal bipartisan budget negotiation. and, therefore, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the consideration of calendar number 33, h. con. res. 35, that the amendment which is at the desk, the text of h. con. res. 8, the budget resolution passed by the senate, be inserted in lieu thereof, that h. con. res. 25 as amended be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be made and
2:20 pm
laid on the table, that the senate insist on its amendment, 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. following that authorization, two motions to instruct conferees will 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, there be two hours of debate equally divided between the two leaders or their designees prior to votes in relation to the motions and that no amendments be in order to either of the motions prior to the votes. all of the above occurring with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection to request? mr. cruz: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cruz: reserving the right to object, the issue before this body is not complicated. there's a lot of procedural ambiguities that make it difficult to penetrate and yet
2:21 pm
it's one very simple issue. the issue before this body is whether the united states senate can raise the debt limit of the united states with simply using a 50-vote threshold or whether it should go through the regular order before raising any debt limit subject to a 60-vote threshold? what is the difference, mr. president. the difference is simple. if the debt limit can be raised using 50 votes, then the majority party -- the democrats -- do not need to speak to the republicans, do not need to sit down at the table and work with the republicans, do not need to listen to any opposing views. and indeed the president of the united states has been very candid. he's been unequivocal. president obama has said that he believes we should raise the debt limit with no preconditions, with no negotiations, with no khaepbgs whatsoever. -- with no changes whatsoever. mr. president, if you think it's
2:22 pm
okay that if four and a half years our nation's debt has gone from $10 trillion to nearly $17 trillion, if you think it's okay that our nation's debt is now larger than the size of the entire economy, if you think it's okay that our children and grandchildren are being bankrupted in four and a half years the national debt has grown over 60%, and if you think it's okay that the senate democrats want to continue borrowing trillions more while doing, nada, zilch to address the spending problems, to rein in out-of-control spending, then you should welcome this motion. over and over again the majority has asked to go to conference on the budget. why? because going to conference on the budget allows a procedural back door to enable them to raise the debt ceiling using
2:23 pm
only 50 votes. how do we know that's what this is really about? mr. president, we know that is what this is really about because my friend, the senator from washington could go to conference on the budget right now. this instance we could go to conference on the budget right now except, when i ask, as i'm going to in a moment, for unanimous consent not to use it as a procedural motion to raise the debt ceiling, the senator from washington is going to object. i know this because we continue to do this kabuki dance more than one and we'll continue to do it. of course the senate budget didn't address the debt ceiling. the house budget didn't address the debt ceiling. we didn't have a debate on the floor of this senate about the debt ceiling. we didn't have a vote on the floor of the senate about the debt ceiling. and yet, the reason the majority is so adamant that they want to go to conference is because it presents them with an avenue to
2:24 pm
use 50 votes, the votes of only the democrats in this body, to raise the debt ceiling to dig us further in debt and to do nothing, nothing, nothing to fix the problem. mr. president, i would suggest that's irresponsible. that's not what americans want. it's not what democrats, republicans or independents outside of the washington beltway want. americans, look, we fundamentally know it is wrong to stick our kids and grandkids with $17 trillion in debt. and it's even more wrong to keep on doing it and making it worse and worse and worse and not roll up our sleeves to fix things. mr. president, one of the great frustrations of this body is that for some time now the american people have been unequivocal. their top priority is jobs and the economy, is turning around what's going on. yet, this body doesn't talk about that. it doesn't talk about generating
2:25 pm
jobs, getting the economy growing, stopping our out-of-control debt. instead we debate every other priority under the sun whether it is restricting second amendment rights to keep and bear arms, or whether it is a national energy tax through the president's climate change proposal. mrs. murray: i ask include the chair whether there -- i ask through the chair whether there's been an objection or not. mr. cruz: reserving the right to object i ask unanimous consent that the senator modify her request so that it not be in order to include a conference report that includes reconciliation instructions to raise the debt limit. mrs. murray: mr. president, i would object to that. the presiding officer: is there objection? mrs. murray: because what the senator is asking for is a precondition on a conference committee without the consideration of this full senate. what i have offered to him and to this body in my unanimous request is a vote on a motion to instruct conferees, which is
2:26 pm
what occurs in the senate if we want to put any preconditions on to a budget. so i reject his unanimous consent, and i would move again for my unanimous consent and ask consent. mr. cruz: would the senator yield for a question? mrs. murray: i've asked for unanimous consent. the presiding officer: does the senator from washington object to the request as modified? mrs. murray: objects to the request as modified. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. cruz: reserving the right to object, i would note that the comment from my friend from washington suggesting a motion to instruct the conferees, what she of course knows is that's a typical washington maneuver. a motion to instruct is nonbinding and it is subject to 50 votes. if we had a motion to instruct the conferees not to raise the debt ceiling, every democrat in this body would have voted against it. it would be defeated. even if it were passed, it would be nonbinding on the conferees. no one should be confused what
2:27 pm
the democrats want is to raise the debt ceiling, and they want to do it just using 50 votes, ignoring the views of the minority and doing nothing to fix the problem. accordingly, i object. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. cruz: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. bennet: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president. i was here to talk about immigration and that is what i will talk about. but i was caught in the cross-fire on this subject and i just twaopbt say my view -- and i just want to say in my view is, this is exactly what people hate about washington, d.c., exactly why we have a 10% approval rating. for four years i went to town hall meetings and was asked over and over again why don't the democrats in the senate pass a budget, which i think is a very legitimate question. and we got a new chair of the budget committee and we passed a budget after four years, and now we're told we can't go to
2:28 pm
conference. to have a discussion with house republicans about what our budget ought to look like. and i actually disagree with the senator from texas, toeuf say respectfully -- i have to say respectfully, on the merits of this issue. that is to say on the debt ceiling itself. and this is the reason i think folks in colorado can't stand this place. there's not a mayor in my state, whether they are a republican or a democrat or a tea party mayor, not one -- not one -- who would threaten the credit rating of their community for politics. not one. we have run them out on a rail because that's not the way you do business. the credit rating of a community is the most important thing it has. the full faith and credit of the united states of america, which until the last debt ceiling discussion, had never been questioned, was questioned for the first time in our history not because of the size of our debt, which by the way, i spent four years trying to work on because i believe it is a severe problem that we face. very severe problem that we
2:29 pm
face. i look forward to working with the senator from texas on this issue. but because of the political tkeus function in -- dysfunction in d.c.. that's why we got this downgrade. the senator from alabama who left the floor was talking about the restatement of our g.d.p. numbers in the first quarter. i worry about that. the people who i represent, they're not concerned with the procedural stuff that goes on here. what they're worried about is an economy that they're living in day after day after day where even in periods of economic growth median family income is falling. middle-class families are falling behind. they're worried about an economy where they're earning less in the decade than they were in the beginning but the cost of higher education continues to escalate, costs of health care continues to escalate. individuals as families and as members of a generation, they're worried we're going to be the first generation of coloradoans and americans to leave less
2:30 pm
opportunity, not more, to the people that are coming after us. that is what their -- a senator: would the senator yield for a question? mr. bennet: i would like to finish my statement and then i will gladly yield for a question. i was glad to hear the senator from alabama -- he and i disagree on the immigration bill but we certainly agree on the issue of the concern that all of us have for this economy, or most of us have about this economy. and it's one of the reasons we should pass this immigration bill. the congressional budget office tells us that we would see three additional points of g.d.p. increase in the first ten years, five over the two ten-year windows if we pass the bill. and to the point about american jobs, i was very glad to hear him say he wasn't talking about the 11 million people who are here, because most of the 11 million people here are working, but they're working in the shadow economy, a cash economy, under circumstances where they can be exploited. and we have allowed that to
2:31 pm
happen because of the broken immigration system that we have. if all you care about and i deeply care about was rising wages for the american worker, you would want to bring those 11 million people out of that shadow economy. you would want them paid in something other than cash, and you would want them for heaven's sake paying taxes at a time when we have got the kind of deficit problems that the senator from texas is describing. now, the senator also talked about the future flow of immigrants, and i should say i was part of this bipartisan group. this is not a partisan bill, this immigration bill. there were eight of us, four republicans and four democrats who have worked together on this bill, and one of the things we thought hard about was the future flow of immigrants to this country, because generation after generation of americans, since the founding of our country, have relied on new immigrants to bring their ideas, to bring their talents, to bring
2:32 pm
their energies to our shores, to build their businesses here. today what we're saying to people is, even people that get college degrees in the united states that we subsidize, that we pay for, even those people are saying don't stay here. even if you want to stay here, please go home to china, start your business there. go home to india, compete with us from there. go hire people there instead of creating jobs here in the united states. we are a nation of immigrants. we subscribe to the rule of law. and this bill is a ratification of those two american ideals, ideals that you can almost not find in any other country in the world, which is why i am so glad that for once this body is actually acting in a bipartisan way to deal with not an easy problem but a tough problem, because i'll tell you what. the kids that are visiting today from 4-h all across the country
2:33 pm
and from my state of colorado actually are expecting us to do these hard things. as our parents and grandparents did before them so we don't leave them in the lurch. that's what's at stake here, and that's why i wish we could find a way past this budget impasse as well so we actually could start to have a responsible conversation about what we're going to do on the entitlement side and on the revenue side so that we don't continue to hack away at domestic discretionary spending in ways that could lead us with some of the house proposals to invest only 4% of the revenue we collect in the future. 4% in transportation and agriculture and education. there's not a business in this country that would last a year if it invested 4% of its cash flow in the future of that business. so at some point, we have got to move beyond where we have been here and actually get into a
2:34 pm
serious discussion about how we're going to manage this debt down over the next decade or two in ways that don't prevent us from growing our economy, in ways that don't subject our children to unpaid bills. it would be as if i went to the mortgage lender on my house and said i'd like to buy a house, i'm going to take out a mortgage, and then i'm going to give it to my kid to carry for me instead of paying for it myself. that is the position we're in today. and the only way we're going to solve that is if democrats and republicans can sit down together and actually move past the talking points. mr. president, with that, i'll yield the floor for a question. mr. cruz: if i may ask my friend two questions on the two topics that he addressed, the first being the debt ceiling and the second being immigration. and on the debt ceiling, the question i would ask is does my friend from colorado believe that congress should continue raising the debt ceiling in
2:35 pm
perpetuity with no changes and no preconditions, and should the senate be able to do so with just 50 votes? mr. bennet: i appreciate the question through the chair from the senator from texas. it's clear that this is not going to get us anywhere, this procedural fight that the two of you are having every couple of weeks. i mean, i think that's clear. i think it's clear that the debt ceiling is something that's been raised time and time again by republicans and by democratic presidents over the years, and i think it's also clear that we have to deal with our deficit. i believe that. but for myself, i don't feel like i would come to the floor and say i'm only going to allow this bill to go to conference with republicans in the house if all the money comes to colorado. or some other stipulation that i would want, that 99 other senators wouldn't agree with. the second thing is that i think it's important for people to
2:36 pm
understand that this issue -- and again, i am not in any way trivializing the issues around our deficit and our debt, and i want the senator from texas -- i hope he understands that, i hope he knows that about me. but i worry about the debt ceiling as a tool of accomplishing this, first through the reasons that have to do with our credit rating, but also because there's a view among some that the debt ceiling is about bills that we are going to incur as opposed to the ones we already have incurred. in other words, i don't think if somebody were at home and said -- i mean, it would be one thing if somebody said you know what? i'm spending too much money, i'm going to cut up my credit card, and that's what they would do, but that's not what the debt ceiling is about. what the debt ceiling is about is somebody saying you know what? i want the best cable package i can find. i want the best satellite
2:37 pm
package that i can find, and when the bill comes to pay for it, i'm just going to chop it up into little pieces and not pay. that's what i don't like about this approach, but everybody's entitled to their own approach on this question. i just wish we could move forward here, instead of continuing to earn the 10% approval rating that congress has. that's all i'm asking for. mr. cruz: would the senator yield to an additional question on that point? mr. bennet: sure. mr. cruz: i like and agree with your analogy of cutting up the credit card, and indeed if my friend from colorado indeed supports anything resembling congress cutting up the credit card, that would truly be a dramatic position and a position on which he and i could find common cause. and so i would ask -- if i could ask the question and then -- you know, i would ask the natural result of what my friend from
2:38 pm
colorado just said is that i assume then that he would readily support pat toomey's default prevention act, and what pat toomey's default prevention act does is it ensures the scenario you said, money that we have borrowed, we will keep paying, pat toomey's default prevention act says in the event the credit limit is not raised, the united states will always, always, always pay its debt. we will never, ever, ever default on the debt, and we'll take that completely off the table. and so then the debt limit fight would only be about, as my friend from colorado put it, cutting up the credit card for future spending. and so i would ask would my friend from colorado support the default prevention act, making it impossible, taking default off the table permanently? mr. bennet: i say through the chair to my friend from texas, i have not -- i haven't read the bill, but i will read the bill and i commit to you that i will do that. it is -- and i -- i appreciate,
2:39 pm
i think, the implication of this which is that you're not objecting to my metaphor about the cable bill being cut up, because i do think that is a real problem here. we're not saying to people -- we shouldn't be saying to people here that we're going to behave in that irresponsible way. as somebody who used to spend his time restructuring companies that were really well run, really well operated but had horrible balance sheets, i'd have to think hard about the treatment that the creditors would provide to -- to, in this case, the united states government when i look at that, and i will look at that. and i would say to the senator from texas that there are other things that, you know, we might even be able to agree on, too, around here. i for a long time have thought that it would be important for us to put health care on a budget in this country because we're not on a budget. during the health care debate, i had an amendment i think called
2:40 pm
the fail-safe amendment that would say to the american people and to the united states congress this is what we have to spend on health care, and that's all there is. there isn't any more. we have to manage it better. and if we failed, if we tripped over it, then we would actually have to make cuts, make changes to our system of health care. we spend twice as much as any other industrialized country in the world, and it's crowding out a lot of other things that the 4-h kids and others that i worry about care about. so i think there are plenty of things that we can work on, but i just don't think we're going to get to it through -- through this kind of discussion. we might get to it through this kind of discussion. so, in any event, i will commit to the senator from texas that i'm going to sit down and stop talking.
2:41 pm
mr. cruz: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
2:42 pm
the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president. i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president. there is no one else on the floor, so i thought i'd take the opportunity to talk again a little bit about our immigration bill. this has been such a gratifying process to me because it's been bipartisan from the start. in fact, i have been telling people it's not even that it's been bipartisan, it's been nonpartisan. the work of the gang of eight which led to the work of the judiciary committee which has led to work on the floor has been the way i think this place ought to operate on a whole host of issues, from energy -- the presiding officer cares a lot about that -- to infrastructure, to the budget issues that i was just talking about with the senator from texas. and it is important for people to know this is a beautiful bipartisan bill because i think people are fed up with the partisanship in this town, and they don't feel like it reflects the way they live their lives, and there is a reason for that. it doesn't. this place is sort of decoupled
2:43 pm
from the priorities of the american people, and i think this is an effort, among others, to hopefully recouple those priorities. and i have been interested to the objections to the immigration bill since the beginning. first there was the objection that it was actually going to drive up our deficit. well, not surprisingly, we learned from the congressional budget office that this bill actually would create the most significant deficit reduction of any piece of legislation we have considered here, certainly that we have pardon here. 1 $7 billion in the first ten years. $700 billion in the second ten years. even in washington, a trillion dollars is still a lot of money. and that's -- that's what we heard, both because people that are now not paying taxes would be paying taxes and also because of the economic growth that would be generated if we could restore the rule of law to our immigration system and to this economy. so that was an objection, that
2:44 pm
objection was answered, not by me but by the nonpartisan congressional budget office. the second objection was that the legislation was not going to get a fair airing, that it was going to be rushed in the dead of night, and i don't like doing work that way. there were eight votes -- no votes on the fiscal cliff deal at the end of the year, and i was one of those no votes, one of three democrats that voted no. not largely but partly because it hadn't had any process and it was in the middle of the night. this bill by contrast had seven months of negotiation among four democrats and four republicans who were consulting with their colleagues. it had three weeks to go through the judiciary committee markup that had 160-some amendments, many of which were accepted. 41 republican amendments were accepted to this bill. it came to the floor for the debate that we have had over the last three weeks. i realize that the amendment process is jammed up, and i'm
2:45 pm
sorry about that because i think people ought to be able to -- including the presiding officer ought to be able to offer the wise amendments that they have and the not so wise amendments that they have, at least in my opinion, but there certainly has been an open process for this bill. so that objection -- sometimes you hear people say, well, it's like health care all over again. i was here during the health care bill and i can tell you, this process looks nothing like that process. so then there's a third objection, which has been that, well, there's no border security in this bill. first of all, that wasn't even true of the gang of eight bill. we had substantial border security, and i was taking, as my lead, what john mccain -- senator mccain from arizona said was important and that jeff flake from arizona said it was important, two border senators working hard to he radio solve these issue -- to resolve these issues in our group, and we made a substantial investment in that bill in border security, in
2:46 pm
technology, even in fencing in that bill, because i think it is a reasonable expectation, not of republicans but of the american people, that our border should be secure. certainly the people in colorado believe our border should be secure. and so when others came and said, we'd like to sea vote fors bill but we'd like to do more on border security, i not only was open to that i supported it. and now the bill before us has incredibly substantial border security, 700 miles more of fencing, we did double the numf border patrol agents on the border. one of the senators said to me that we're at a point now where there's a border -- a border patrol agent every 1,000 feet on the border. one might ask if that's a wise use of resources, but it was important for people to come on to this bill. so i don't think any reasonable person looking at this could say that border security has not been addressed.
2:47 pm
so then what are the objections? -- the objections to moving forward? and you begin to hear people say, well, it's the path to citizenship. we don't like that part of the bill. that was -- that was a core principle for the four democrats and four republicans that started this negotiation. and it's been a core principle for a lot of people that have voted for this bill. a very important reason to pass this legislation is to resolve the situation that the 11 million people that are here i illegally find themselves in. the path way to citizen hispanic is the right way to do -- the pathway to citizenship is the right way to do that. people have to learn english, people have to pay their taxes. it takes ten years to gate green card and then three years after that you have to pass background checks all along the way so that we know who the people are that
2:48 pm
we want to stay in this country and who the people are that we want to have leave. i see the senator from louisiana is here, so i will wrap up. but let me just say to my friends that think that some lawful status that doesn't include a pathway is useful to this country. i would say to them to look at countries all around the world that have created a subclass of people, vacke secondary -- not n people, just a subclass of people. no chance to believe that their children or the children after them are actually going to make those contributions and say, does that look like the united states of america to you? that's not what the founders had in mind. you hear a lot of cheap talk about the founders these days around here. that's not what the founders had in mind when they wrote in the is that you it was our responsibility as a body to deal with immigration.
2:49 pm
and so i hope people will consider that objection as well now, take a look at the senate bill, and i hope support it and with that, mr. president, i know the senator from louisiana was scheduled to speak, so i will yield the floor to him. mr. vitter: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. thank my colleague. mr. president, i wanted to speak about an amendment i have filed on this immigration bill that i have been working had ard to get a vote on. -- hard to get a vote on. certainly not my only amendment filed, but it is a top priority, and i.t. the violenc it's the vt women aroun and children amendm. we've heard a lot of promises and rhetoric on this issue from many people, including the gang of eight. but i've found distressing, as i've actually gotten to read the bill -- let's always remember, one of the great lessons of obamacare is read the bill; read
2:50 pm
it before we vote -- is that the bill, the details, the exact language doesn't match a lot of that rhetoric. this is one glaring example of that. one of the earliest and most important promises by the gang of eight was that in this amnesty process folks who were guilty of serious crimes would not be eligible; in fact, they'd be deported. that's why in the bipartisan framework for comprehensive immigration reform that the gang of eight released in january this year, they said this: "individuals with a criminal background or others who pose a threat to our national security will be ineligible for legal status and subject to deportation. illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes face immediate deportation." close quote. we can all agree with that. the problem is, the details --
2:51 pm
the text of the bill doesn't agree with that, because it does not include several serious offenses particularly against women and children. and so my amendment is simple. it is to beef up the strength in this part of the bill by including violence against women act offenses as crimes that would disqualify someone from being granted amnesty and which would trigger immediate deportation. these are serious, violent crimes. sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence, sex trafficking, dating violence, child abuse and neglect, and also elder abuse. so specifically violence against women act offenses. these are serious. these are violent. these are against some of the most vulnerable in our society. and these clearly, in my opinion, should be disqualifiers. so that's what the amendment
2:52 pm
should do. -- would do. now, vawa, which we debated and voted on a few months ago, has widespread, bipartisan support, more than 200 national organizations, more than 500 state and local organizations express support for that bill, a great majority of us here voted for it. i voted for it. so we should certainly follow up with that -- to that rhetoric and to that vote by making sure that these serious offenses in the violence against women act are disqualifiers to amnesty in the immigration bill. now, mr. president, this is not my only amendment, and this amendment not getting a vote so far is a frustration. it is a frustration of a lot of us with regard to a lot of amendments. this immigration debate is enormously important. this bill is enormously long,
2:53 pm
well over 1,000 pages. and so far we have had ten roll call votes on amendments. ten, period. that's one amendment per -- i don't know -- 120-130 pages. that's rud ludicrous, mr. presi. that's not the full, robust amendment process that we were promised for months and months and months by both the majority leader and the gang of eight. so i hope we can get a vote on this amendment. and i also want and expect a vote on my other filed amendments. i have many, but i've narrowed that list down. so with that, mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent that my violence against women and children amendment number 1330 be made pending and eligible for a vote. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. bennet: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado.
2:54 pm
mr. bennet: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. vitter: well, in closing, mr. president, i find that very, very disheartening. this is a big subject. i agree with the proponents of the bill that this is a big problem that needs fixing. it is a big subject. it's been on the senate floor for three weeks. it's well over 1,000 pages long, and we need more opportunity for serious debate and amendments than we've gotten. and as soon as a path to passage was identified late last week, as soon as possible that happened -- as soon as that happened, the amendment process was shut down. it continues to be shut down today. this important amendment be denied a vote is an exof that. i find it -- is an example of that. i find it very regrettable, and i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
2:55 pm
2:56 pm
2:57 pm
2:58 pm
mr. sanders: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president, we have a major, major crisis in our country today in terms of the high cost of a college education and, in addition, the incredible debt burden that college students and their families are facing. this is a major problem in vermont. it is a major problem in every state in our country. and the job of the united states senate is to understand that
2:59 pm
crisis, to improve the situation, to lessening the burdens on students and their families, and not to make the situation worse than it is today. mr. president, at a time when we need the best-educated workforce in the world, hundreds of thousands of bright, young americans who are qualified to pursue a higher education, who want to pursue a higher education do not go to college and they do not go to college for one very simple reason: you they cannot afford to go to college. according to a pew study of 18-34-year-olds who haven't completed college, 48% say they cannot afford to do so.
3:00 pm
higher education for middle-class families and working-class families is simply too expensive, and this is an issue we must address. what does it say about our country when hundreds and hundreds of thousands of young people who want to contribute, want to do more with their lives, cannot get the education that they need? it deprives them from in many cases making it into the middle class and it denies this nation the intellectual capabilities that they have. further, millions of young people who graduate college are saddled with an incredible debt burden which radically impacts their lives. in america today, the average debt for a college graduate is
3:01 pm
over $27,000 in my state of vermont. it's about $28,000. that is the average. that means there are many young people who have more debt. for those who go to graduate school or medical school or dental school, the debt can be many, many times higher. last year i talked to two young dentists in the state of vermont. they are in debt to the tune of over $200,000 for the crime of having gone to dental school. now, this horrendous debt burden impacts the lives of young people in many, many ways. it can determine -- and this is a hugely important issue -- the profession that they choose to enter. how can you become a teacher, a child-care worker, a legal aide
3:02 pm
attorney, or even a primary care physician if the salary you earn will not enable you to pay off your debt and take care of the obligations that you face? so, in other words, this debt is forcing many, many young people into professions which are not necessarily their love. i.t. not whait's not what they ; it's what they have to do in order to earn money to pay off their debts. this debt burden, this crushing debt burden, determines where many young people will live and whether or not they can even afford to buy a home. how do you go out and buy a home if you're spending 20% or 25% of your income paying off your student debt? this debt burden on our young people even determines, in some cases, whether or not they get
3:03 pm
married and have kids. mr. president, the higher education debt burden that the american people are now carrying at $1.1 trillion is now higher than our credit card debt and is having a significant impact upon our economy. in fact, the federal reserve and the department of treasury have both issued warnings that high levels of student loan debt could drive down consumer demand and have a negative impact on economic growth. in other words, if you're spending all yore money paying off your debt, you are you aret buying goods, you're not buying services. a high level of student debt is having a negative impact on our overall economy. according to a report released by the new york fed -- and this is really important for people to hear -- student loan debt has nearly tripled since 2004, in
3:04 pm
less than ten years. nearly tripled. total student loan debt in the united states now exceeds $1.1 trillion. average student loan balance has increased 70% since 2004. mr. president, if we do not act immediately, the subsidized stafford loan program will see a doubling of interest rates on july 1, in a few days from now. let me repeat, if congress does not act immediately in the next few days, the subsidized stafford loan program will seen a doubling of interest rates on july 1. the rates will rise from 3.4% to 6.8% for subsidized stafford loans. this would be a disaster for
3:05 pm
millions of students and their families all over our nation. we must not allow that to happ happen. at the very least -- at the very least, we must immediately pass legislation that extends for several more years interest loans on the stafford loan program at 3.4%. meanwhile, as part of the higher education legislation, we must begin work on a long-term solution that guarantees the students of this country that they will be able to attend college and graduate school and not be burdened with suffocating debts. mr. president, as we contemplate long-term new policy on student loans, one thing that we should be very clear about, the federal government should not be making
3:06 pm
a huge profit off of needs of low income and working families who utilize the stafford loan program. that is simply wrong. and, in fact, that is what we are doing today. according to the congressional budget office, the federal government makes a profit today from student loans. for loans made this year, in 2013 alone, that profit is expected to exceed $50 billion, and this is higher than the profits made by exxonmobil, the most profitable company on earth. mr. president, as i hear every day on the floor of the senate, we are reminded that we live in a competitive global economy. and i hear every day from my
3:07 pm
colleagues that the united states is not doing all that we can do in terms of educating our young people in such areas as science, engineering, technology, and math. and in fact, in the immigration bill that we're debating right now, there's an effort to bring hundreds of thousands of workers from abroad presumably because we do not have enough workers who are knowledgeable in terms of engineering, science, math, and other technologies. what sense does it make if we are doing a bad job now in educating our young people in general and specifically in the stem areas that we make it harder for kids to get a college education? what sense does that make?
3:08 pm
and i should mention, mr. president, that countries all over the world understand this point and they are doing a much better job than we are in investing in their young people in general, and specifically in higher education. according to a report released just yesterday by the oecd, the united states was one of the few advanced countries in the world that did not increase its public investment in education. in fact, the vast majority of advanced nations do everything possible and a lot better job than we do to make higher education more affordable for all of their students. a couple of weeks ago, i had the ambassador from denmark coming to the state of vermont to talk about what goes on in denmark, and people asked me, well, how much does it cost to go to college in denmark? and the answer is nothing, not a
3:09 pm
penny out of your pocket, it's paid for out of the tax base. and, in fact, students there get a stipend. but denmark is not the only country which makes sure that all of their kids can get a higher education, a graduate school education, a medical school education without having to pay for it out of their own pocket. austria, finland, norway, scotland, sweden also do the same. in canada, which is an hour away from where i live, average annual tuition fees were $4,288 in 2010, roughly half of what they were in the united states. and yet the oecd says canada is one of the most expensive countries for a student to go to college, half the cost of where we are. germany is in the process of phasing out all tuition fees even when german universities did charge tuition, it was roughly $1,300 per student.
3:10 pm
so here's the bottom line, the bottom line that all over this country, students and their families are facing crushing debts, radically impacting their lives and the choices that they make. and there are some in the united states senate who say, yeah, that's pretty bad. how can we make it even worse? how can we raise interest rates for our kids? make it harder for them to go to college, make sure that when they get out of college, they are more deeply in debt? and i say, no, i think that's absurd. i would remind you, mr. president, that when wall street banks borrow money, do you know what they're getting it for today? less than 1%, three-quarters of 1%. and we are talking now about families having to spend 6%,%, 8%, 9% -- 6%, 7%, 8%, 9%, in order to send their kids to
3:11 pm
college, to help our country, in order to make it into the middle class? that's absurd. we've got to understand that a well-educated population is perhaps the most important thing that we need as a nation if we're going to survive in a highly competitive global economy. so, mr. president, let me conclude by saying this. this congress has got to act and act immediately to prevent the disaster that we're looking at from happening and that is a doubling of interest rates on the stafford loan program which will go from 3.4% to 6.8% on july 1. short term, we've got to extend the 3.4% interest rate. long term, we need to make certain that every kid in this country, regardless of income, can go to college and leave school without a crushing financial debt. thank you, mr. president. mr. bennet: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: mr. president, i'm here today on the immigration bill but i want to thank the senator from vermont for
3:12 pm
bringing our attention to this very serious issue. and it's a little bit of a variation on a theme today, about trying to reconnect the priorities of the american people -- frankly, whether they're republicans or democrats or anybody else -- and this place, which has become totally disconnected. and i just want to say through the chair to the senator from vermont how on point he is. do you know what i people i represent care about? i was talking about this a little bit earlier. they care about the fact that they're living in an economy that even when it grows is not producing sufficient jobs and is not driving income up. that's what they're concerned about. and the student debt crisis that the senator talks about, it tripled over the last ten years, is a huge part of this story, is a significant part. because if your family's income is going down but your cost of higher ed is skyrocketing -- and, by the way, at the same time your cost of health care is skyrocketing -- it makes it really hard to get ahead.
3:13 pm
people are worried, desperately worried. as i said earlier, we're going to be the first generation of americans to leave less opportunity, not more, to our kids and to our grandkids. but there's another issue here as well, which is today in the yeas, in the 21st century in this country, if you are born and you are living in poverty, your chances of getting a college degree or the equivalent of a college degree are 9 in 100. 9 in 100. for the folks in the chamber or for the pages that are here today, we have a hundred chairs, a hundred desks in the united states senate. if -- if these desks represented poor children living in this country instead of senators, those four desks in the front row at that end right there? those four and another one, those are the only folks who would be getting a college degree. 91 other people in this chamber would be constrained to the margin of this economy and the margin of the democracy from the
3:14 pm
outset. and matters are getting worse, not better. we led the world in the production of college graduates when george bush -- this is not a partisan observation, it's a temporal one -- when george bush the son became president. we led the world. the young people that are here today, let me tell you, 13 years later, we are 16th in the world in the production of college graduates. and because of our inability to come together and figure out how to deal comprehensively over time in a thoughtful way or the fact that we don't want to stick our kids with this debt that we have acquired, which we need to do, we are just hacking away at domestic discretionary spending. for higher education, for k-12 education, for agriculture, for infrastructure. some of these budgets that we've considered -- we haven't passed them here, they've passed them over in the house -- that would invest only 4% of our revenue --
3:15 pm
4% of the revenue we collect -- in the future of this country. 96% in something else. it's not going to get the job done. and i think on an issue like this, where our students are saying, how do you at least not make matters worse? we ought to be able to come together in a bipartisan way and solve this problem. so i think that the senator from vermont for coming to the floor to focus our attention on something that the american people actually care about. mr. sanders: thank you. mr. bennet: with that i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask the calling of the quorum be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: i want to give my colleagues a point of view on the immigration bill before the united states senate from somebody other than a united states senator. in the weekend "des moines register" there was an article
3:16 pm
called another view, immigration reform adds disorder to a failing system, by mark h. metcalf, who had been an immigration judge, now a county attorney in the country -- or in the state of kentucky. so i'm quoting. "the most recent push for immigration reform is compelling. true to our heritage of inclusion, it succeeds. true, according to our heritage, it succeeds. false to our tradition to the rule of law, it fails. for any law to forge consensus, it must appeal to both fairness and common sense. the measure now on the united states senate floor fails this litmus. what is sold as a means to simplify and dignify one of our
3:17 pm
most important national institutions, immigration and naturalization, mandates complexity and much of the same disorder that got us where we are today. the bill's neglect of an effective court system only aggregates the disorder. america's immigration courts are weak, and this latest measure keeps them that way. put simply, immigration courts cannot impose order. few aliens ordered removed after years of litigation are ever deported. edward grant, a senior immigration appeals judge, noted this impasse in 2006, and then he quotes edward grant. all should be troubled that only a small fraction of deportation orders is actually executed" --
3:18 pm
end of quote. and he was right. a 2003 justice department report found only 3% of aliens free during trial were actually removed after courts ruled against them. those who deserve relief fare just as poorly. by last count, more than 330,000 cases were backlogged. this historic dysfunction offers a glimpse of things to come if the current version of reform passes. the cause of this dysfunction is simple: immigration courts have no authority over immigration enforcement agencies. unlike federal district courts that have u.s. marshals, among
3:19 pm
others, to execute their orders, federal immigration courts have no such muscle. numbers tell the story. some 11 million illegal aliens now live in the united states. visa overstays, those who entered america legally and then refused to leave, comprise 40% of this total. the rest crossed unguarded borders and entered illegally. both groups brought children with them. from these two populations, one in two deportation orders remain unexecuted. the immigration courts observe this dysfunction firsthand. from 1996 through 2012, the u.s. permitted some 2.2 million
3:20 pm
aliens to remain free before trial. nearly 900,000 of these individuals, 39% of the total, skipped court and disappeared. in the shadow of 9/11, things were even worse. from 2002 through 2006, half of all aliens free awaiting trial vanished. nothing in the details now being debated addresses this systemic defect, and continued neglect will only dismiss public support for worthy individuals intended to elevate the foreign born. fine improvements dot the present legislation. enhancements that protect lawful
3:21 pm
american workers, recruitment of the highly skilled into our tech-driven economy and real-time tracking of visa holders into and out of ports of entry provide overdue fixes. emphasis on border security demonstrates a seriousness absent from earlier proposals. those illegally brought to the united states as children, better known as dreamers, earn tracks to citizenship, incentivized through higher education and military service. now, there's -- let me editorialize here, there are two paragraphs where he says good things about this legislation. don't necessarily agree with a couple of those points. now, continuing to quote, "some reworking is needed but this value-added approach appeals to our better instinct as a nation. problems persist, though, in
3:22 pm
that essential mechanisms upon which a rule of law nation depends, effective courts. while the bill authorizes 225 new judges, judicial authority declines. deportation orders are further enfeebled. aliens deported from the united states may apply to come back, and the thousands who skipped court can request a waiver and get in line when with many who played by the rules. fraud is enabled. courts and immigration agencies alike will be required to accept without independent verification aliens' claims to work and residency that makes them eligible for a path to citizenship.
3:23 pm
constitutional protections are turned upside down." here i editorialize, listen to this of how our laws are turned upside down, continuing to quote, "aliens in civil deportation proceedings will receive counsel on demand, while citizens receive counsel only when facing criminal charges and only after proving they're indigent." so again to editorialize, it gives more constitutional rights and more legal -- than the common criminal in this country might get. "order is subverted. even felons who are subject to deportation may seek injunctions that allow them to remain in the united states. in the end, courts that spend years deciding the cases of
3:24 pm
those who should be removed will see their orders overturned by waivers that mock the judicial process. america's immigration courts express fundamental confidence in those who embrace our shores and the redemptive power of our democracy. for the immigrant, in particular, they reveal the beginnings of accountability that are surely of our exceptionalism. but ignored by administration, both republican and democrat, these courts have ceased to do the critical work for which they were created, to definitively decide the claims of those who ask to join our nation and see that those decisions are impartially enforced. so now instead of debating how
3:25 pm
we extend the great prize of american citizenship to more of the world's bright and talented, congress argues whether felons should be deported. this is the small-ball politics that has sabotaged public confidence in immigration. it shows how far we have fallen both in the mission of these special courts and with immigration in general. courts without authority cannot provide order, even less than they can assure liberty. only independence and empowered courts are an equal match for the certain risk and superior opportunities that american immigration offers. history proves them not just a priceless check against tyranny, but also an effective an ect doatd -- antidote for
3:26 pm
government agencies that delay relief to the deserving and deny sanctions to the offender. such courts are necessary complements to immigration reform that is inclusive, accountable, and commands consensus. end of the article in "the des moines register" by this former immigration judge, mark h. metcalf. i thank my colleagues for listening to this and i yield the floor and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nevada. mr. heller: thank you. mr. president, i rise today to discuss senate bill 744, the
3:27 pm
border security, economic opportunity and immigration modernization act. from the very beginning of this debate i have said that our nation needs immigration reform. i've also urged senate leadership to ensure that the senate has ample opportunity to debate this bill, amend it, and take the hard votes necessary to make the bill as good as it can be. to ignore this problem and to do nothing to change the status quo, would be a disservice to the american people and a great detriment to our country. i've also said throughout this process that in order to enact meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform, we have to strengthen border security. it's true that the border security portion of the underlying bill needs significant improvement, and through the hard work and negotiations led by my colleagues, senator hoeven, senator corker, the border security portion of this legislation has been addressed.
3:28 pm
and for that reason, i can support this bill. the hoeven-corker amendment which i cosponsored adds 20,000 additional border patrol agents to the southern border. it requires twice the original amount of fencing along the border, 700 miles total to be fact, exact and requires the department of homeland security to implement a border fencing strategy to ensure the fence is an effective deterrent. it also mandates the everify be fully implemented before any registered professional immigrant can adjust their status. this will help make sure that businesses have safe and legal work force, and the amendment requires an electronic entry-exit system to all international air and seaports of entry where customs officers are currently deployed.
3:29 pm
by enhancing security efforts at our borders, by using new technology that will allow us to monitor activity at our borders, we will ensure those that are here are here lawfully and that they have the opportunity to thrive and succeed just like many generations of american immigrants have done. to do nothing now amounts to de facto amnesty for 11 million people who are already here illegally. we must take action to prevent further unlawful industry. the current system is backwards and it's broken. this legislation represents a product of many long hours of debate, discussion, and deliberation in this body. it addresses a problem in our country that requires dramatic change and meaningful reform. while this bill is just one step in the process, it is a step in the right direction. it takes into consideration the necessity of securing america's borders while encouraging the lawful immigration of those who
3:30 pm
come or woulddom to our shores to contribute to america's greatness as immigrants have done since our nation's founding. in the past, attempts to reform our immigration system failed due to a process that was neither transparent nor fair. but from the judiciary committee proceedings to today, the senate has had ample opportunity to debate this legislation and amend it. as a result, we have a bill where the good far outweighs the bad. with this legislation, we can address the 11 million undocumented individuals living in the country under de facto amnesty. we can finally secure our borders and stop more people from living here illegally, and we can fix a system that has been broken for decades once and for all. we can continue to maintain the smartest, hardest-working, most creative workforce in the world. fighting for what you believe in and working with members from
3:31 pm
both sides of the aisle does not mean you're turning your back on your principles. democrats and republicans can find ways to work together and pass legislation that this great nation deserves. republicans can do so and still stay true to their conservative principles. no question, this has been a contentious debate. my constituents feel strongly about this issue on both sides of the spectrum. some reporters in nevada like to harp on the fact that my work to find a solution between democrats and republicans has been politically motivated. one such reporter even retorted to describing my actions in racially insensitive terms. the bottom line, the easy thing to do politically is nothing. the harder choice is to govern. we must remember that long before america was the great nation that we are today, before we were the world's greatest
3:32 pm
economy, a military superpower, a global champion for democracy that has forever changed human history, america was merely an idea. america began as an idea in the hearts and minds of a prosecuted -- persecuted minority that longed for freedom. and the opportunity to decide for themselves what their destiny would be. that idea was brought here by immigrants who crossed the oceans and devoted themselves to the formation of a free society unlike any world had ever known. america has always been a nation of immigrants, and that heritage is one of the defining aspects of our national success story. mr. president, when i think about a true american immigrant success story, i think about one of my constituents back home, mr. carlos pierre. he came to america from peru in the 1990's. he and his wife kathea set out
3:33 pm
to build a bill clintonry, but they want -- to build a bakery, but they wanted to build more than a bakery. they wanted to build a new life for themselves and their children and they did just that. they built a bakery with their bare hands, laid the bricks and hammered the nails and after hard work they built bread. today their company is a internationally respected enterprise and their products are used by chefs all over the world. bonds bread is responsible for creating hundreds of jobs in nevada and is a perfect example of what our immigration system should encourage. carlos' hard work, dedication and perseverance allowed him and his business to succeed in a way that would be impossible in many other countries today. and i have three naturalized citizens on my staff about whom i can say the exact same thing. that's a true immigrant success story. that's the kind of potential we can unlock by fixing what's
3:34 pm
broken with our current system. we can improve our economy, create jobs and strengthen our nation as a whole with this immigration reform bill. or we can choose to protect the status quo, do nothing to fix the overall problem. mr. president, this bill is a step forward towards much-needed reform to our immigration system. it is true to the american idea that has defined our nation since its founding, the idea that is inscribed on the statue of liberty welcoming the tired, the poor and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. former secretary of the condoleezza rice made a profound statement recently that in america it doesn't matter where you came from. it only matters where you are going. our immigration laws should embody that principle and enable good, hardworking people to come here, study hard, start businesses, raise families and contribute as productive
3:35 pm
citizens. the bill before us is a good step towards preserving that idea. and so i urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this immigration reform bill. mr. president, thank you, and i yield the floor. mr. inhofe: mr. president? mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that after the senator from massachusetts makes his remarks, that senator grassley be recognized and i be recognized after him and then senator kaine, those four in that order. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. bennet: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: i know the senator from massachusetts is here. i look forward to hearing his farewell, but before he goes i want to say thank you to the senator from nevada for his work on this bill, for getting us to a bipartisan result here, for helping us grow the vote, and for the statement that he made
3:36 pm
about surely not one of us would have written the bill exactly the way that it's written, but there is much more that's good about this bill. and i am grateful for his support. thank you. mr. cowan: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. cowan: i ask unanimous consent to speak for up to 15 minutes as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cowan: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today in my final full workweek and not yet 150 days into my senate career, yet at the precipice, the close of that career. on january 30 of this year, govern deval patrick sent me to this chamber to represent the people of massachusetts and their interests. yesterday on june 25 those same people took to the voting booths and called me home. and in doing so, they called senator-elect ed markey to the high honor of serving in this
3:37 pm
august body. after serving in the house senator-eye hrebgt markey -- elect markey now has the opportunity to offer his voice, wisdom, accumulated experiences, humor and tireless devotion to justice and equality to the united states senate. i for one believe that massachusetts and the country will be better for it. like the majority of massachusetts voters who expressed themselves yesterday, i am quite confident that senator-elect markey will serve with distinction and act in the best interest of the citizens he's now privileged to represent. and the senator-elect bested a strong candidate who brought a new voice and, yes, a new visage to the massachusetts political scene. i applaud gabriel gomez on a well-run campaign and most importantly, his willingness to sacrifice so much in an effort to serve the people of the commonwealth. he started this journey as a relative unknown, but i suspect we have not heard the last of mr. gomez. i thank him and his family for
3:38 pm
their sacrifices and their willingness to engage. mr. president, when it comes to farewell speeches few will top the words offered by john kerry on this floor a few months ago. after 28 years of distinguished service to the people of massachusetts, now secretary kerry spent nearly an hour reflecting on his service to this body. by the same measure, mr. president, as merely an interim senator serving but a few short months, i probably should have ended my remarks about 45 seconds ago. but before i yield, mr. president, i will take a few minutes to reflect on my brief time in this body and extend my gratitude to a number of folks. first, i want to acknowledge and recognize the outstanding staff members in boston and d.c. who have helped me serve our constituents to the best of my ability. when governor patrick named me as interim senator, a few people -- okay, more than a few -- openly questioned whether i would be up to the task and
3:39 pm
whether i was capable of accomplishing anything other than locating the lavatory during my temporary assignment. i knew something those doubters did not know. i knew i was going to do my best for the folks back home because i came to the senate armed with the knowledge of the issues by dint of my time in the patrick murray administration and i planned to make a few key hires and convince the bulk of the secretary's staff to stay on and do the job the governor sent me to do. in other words, i knew what i didn't know but i knew enough to hire the people who knew the considerable rest. boy, have they proven me a genius. if you work in the senate but a day -- and i suspect the same is true in the house of representatives -- you will learn quickly that staff make this place hum and good staff make all the difference in the world. i hope my team will forgive me if i do not list them all by name thereby avoiding the state
3:40 pm
of omission. but instead all of the staff will accept my heartfelt appreciation for their willingness to join my team, show me the ropes, teach a new dog some old tricks, educate me in all the rules that matter, which seem to be written nowhere, and their exhibition of the degrees of professionalism and service to our country that the public too often thinks is missing in our congress. to my entire staff, i have been in awe at your greatness and am forever in your debt for your immeasurable contributions to our work in the interest of massachusetts residents. and i look forward to your many successes yet to come. to two on my team in particular, val young, chief of staff and lauren rich, my scheduler, who have known and worked for me for years, thank you for your continued willingness to partner with and trust in me. and if i am being honest, mr. president, about the people who help me look like i belonged here, i will spend a moment or
3:41 pm
two acknowledging the wonderful women and men who comprise the senate staff. from the capitol police who protect us every day and somehow knew my name on the first day, to the subway operators who always deliver us on time and unfazed to the elevator operators who excel in the art of cutting off reporters and annoying questions, to the cloakroom staff who field every cloying call about calling schedules, to the clerks who discreetly tell you what to say and do as presiding officer while the public and gallery silently wonders why everyone addresses you as mr. or madam president while sitting in that chair, to the generous food service staff who look the other way while you go back for seconds or thirds, to the others who make this engine oil and hum, to each of you who showed patience, support and grace that i know your love for this institution may trump even the
3:42 pm
members' affection for this place and will sustain the institution long after any one or all of us leave this chamber. you are tremendous resources for every new senator, and i suspect great comfort to even the longest serving among us. the public may not know you by name or know the importance of your work, but now i do. and i have been honored to serve with you. the next folks i recognize are the youngest and most silent among us. of course i speak of the pages, the young women and men who spent part of a high school year dressed and acting in the formal traditions of this body. i have yet to speak with an uninteresting page or a page uninterested in the senate and our government. these are dynamic young people who could be doing so many different things with their time, but they give their time and service to the senate and its members. and they are indispensable to both. i look forward to the day when my young boys will be of age to follow in the footsteps of these
3:43 pm
outstanding young people. last and by no means least i want to thank the many family and friends who supported my family and me during my short tenure. we often say that it takes a village to raise a child, but i can attest that it also takes a village to help an interim senator meet his duties in congress and at home. whether offering me a spare bedroom in silver spring or agreeing to last-minute baby sitting duties so my wife and i both could celebrate black history month at the white house, our village is vast and generous. and of course, every village needs a queen and the queen of my village is my wife, stacy. i was able to serve because she was willing to be mom and dad and sacrifice in ways known and unknown while i have been in d.c.. over the past few months i've missed many homework assignments, some birthday dinners, pediatric appointments, school performances and
3:44 pm
parent-teacher meetings. but our sons never felt that their dad was absent and unaccounted for because their mom, a supermom, more than made up for my absence. stacy has been my rock and salvation for nearly 20 years now, and i am better every day for it. and let the senate record show for now and all time my love and dedication to stacy. mr. president, in january of this year i planned to leave deval patrick's administration and transition back into private life. i was looking forward to more conventional hours, a reprieve from working under the public scrutiny of the press and spending more time with my wife and our young sons. so, i came to the united states senate. go figure. i was surprised but deeply honored when governor patrick sent me here to represent the folks back home and i'm eternally grateful for the governor's faith and trust in my ability to serve. this floor on which i stand today and with which i have
3:45 pm
become so closely acquainted over the past five months has been occupied by some of the most dynamic and greatest political figures of our nation's history. from my own state of massachusetts alone, names like adams, webster, sumner, kennedy, all who have come before me are enough to make anyone feel daunt the when assuming a desk on this floor. i was appointed to fill the seat of john kerry and work alongside another great senator, elizabeth warren. thank you for being here, elizabeth. with my work here, although my time was short, i sought to uphold not only secretary kerry's legacy in this body, but the work of all his esteemed senators who have dedicated their service to the commonwealth of massachusetts, and i pledge to be the -- pledged to be the best partner i could to senator warren. i entered the senate at a vexing time in this body's history.
3:46 pm
as we all know, congressional approval levels are dismally low. people across the nation and political pundits everywhere believe that partisanship is a bridge too wide -- a divide too wide to bridge and a wall too high to overcome. yet despite the overwhelming public pessimism, i came to washington with two achievable objectives. to serve the people of massachusetts to the best of my ability, and to work with any senator willing to implement smart, sensible and productive policy to advance the ideals of our nation. from the outside, the prospects for bipartisanship may seem slim. party-line votes are the norm. the threat of the filibuster demands a supermajority of the past leading to the legislation. and the american people have come to believe congress is more committed to obstruction than compromise. to the everyday observer, we have reached a standstill where partisanship outweighs progress, and neither side is willing to
3:47 pm
reach across the aisle for the good of the american people. but what i have encountered in the senate is not a body defined by vitriol but one more defined by congeniality and common respect. and that began before i even started here, mr. president. on the day the governor announced my appointment, i was pleasantly surprised to receive calls on my personal cell phone -- i still don't know how they got those numbers -- from senators king, hagan and cardin, and i had the pleasure of receiving warm welcomes from majority leader reid and republican leader mcconnell, among so many others, my first day. one of the first persons to congratulate me after senator warren and secretary kerry he is sorted me for my swearing in was my colleague from across the aisle, senator tim scott. since then, senator rand paul and i have recounted our days at duke and our affection for college basketball. on a bipartisan congressional delegation to the middle east, i traded life stories and
3:48 pm
perspectives with senators klobuchar and hoeven and discussed the comedic genius of will ferrell with senators gillibrand and graham. senator portman stopped by my commonwealth coffee last week to wish me well as i leave the senate and encourage my every day during my time here. senator burr, my next-door neighbor in the russell building, has always been good to remind me that i came from north carolina before i had the privilege to serve in massachusetts. senator mccain invited me to cosponsor my first senate resolution. and senator manchin has shown me more kindness than i can count. the freshman senators on both sides welcomed me to their class and offered never-ending encouragement, and indeed one of them, heidi heitkamp, has become the north dakota sister i never knew i had. i wish i had time to recount every kindness each of the other 99, including the late senator lautenberg, gifted me while here, but i don't, but each has
3:49 pm
been recorded indelibly in my memory and is returned with gratitude. in april, i experienced the very best of this body's character in the wake of the boston marathon bombings when members from every corner of this nation extended their sympathies, their prayers and pledged their assistance and support to the city of boston and to all those affected by that tragedy. in the aftermath, we all came together as americans to honor those killed and to support the wounded during their time of recovery. and we saw the same in the wake of the terrible tornadoes that swept through oklahoma. upon closer inspection, it is clear that all of us here have common bonds and share similar goals. if only we are willing to seek out those bonds and focus on the goals that are in the best interests of our nation. while we may not agree on every policy, every line item or every vote, we have each embraced the role of republic servants, committed to serving the country we have pledged to support and
3:50 pm
defend. and as i have discovered in my time here, there is more opportunity for cooperation than the american public might believe. and this cooperation has led to some noted successes. thanks to the bipartisan work in the agriculture committee and on the senate floor, we were able to send the farm bill to the house. through the joint leadership of the so-called gang of eight, we are debating right now a workable approach to comprehensive immigration reform. we have confirmed five cabinet secretaries. and in what will remain the most memorable all-nighter of my senate career, through a marathon session and more votes in one night than most interim senators have in a career, the senate passed the budget, and now we anxiously await the urgent opportunity to conference with the house. i have seen progress, and i remain a true believer in the democratic process. the core functionality of our government endowed to us by our founding fathers so many decades ago. and i remain a true believer in our system of government and the
3:51 pm
senate's role in that system. if i have been asked any question more frequently than what are you going to do next, mo, it has been is our system of government broken? is congress broken? and i have answered truthfully each time -- no. our system of government is the greatest ever known, and the best example of democracy in human history. the genius of our founding fathers is on display every day on capitol hill, in every state capital, in every city or town hall across this nation. and part of the founders' genius was the birth of a government designed to function as the people need it to but function only as effectively as the privileged few empowered to work within it want it to work. or as secretary kerry himself said when he said it best a few months ago right on this floor, and i quote -- "i do not believe the senate is broken. there is nothing wrong with the senate that can't be fixed by what's right with the senate.
3:52 pm
the predominant and weighty notion that 100 american citizens, chosen by their neighbors -- or their governor, in my case -- to serve from states as different from massachusetts to montana can always choose to put parochial or personal interests aside and find the national interest. what an awesome responsibility and privilege. and in my scant five months, i have seen the promise of those words realized in more ways and in more interactions than the public, unfortunately, has had occasion to witness. so i believe in that unlimited promise still. i have also been part of history while i was here. with my appointment and coincidence with the appointment of senator scott, two african-americans are serving in this body concurrently for the first time in our nation's history. senator scott and i are respectively the seventh and eighth black senators to serve in this body. while i believe this number to
3:53 pm
be far too few, i am also hopeful that it is a sign that these united states will soon be represented by a more diverse population that more closely reflects the diverse country that we are and the diversity of opinions that exist across and within our diverse nation. with different perspectives, different backgrounds, different races, religions and creeds, we are better equipped to confront the issues that face our vast and changing nation. america has been and always will be a nation of immigrants where religious freedom is in our d.n.a., where more and more we are chipping away at the barriers preventing us from achieving true marriage equality and where people worldwide still yearn to reach our shores to enjoy our freedoms. and a congress that is more reflective of this america as this congress is becoming will be good for america. finally, mr. president, i offer my heartfelt gratitude to the people of massachusetts. not one person was given the chance to vote for or against
3:54 pm
me, but i have gone about my work every day as if they had. i came to this body beholden to massachusetts, her residents and the country only and leave confident that i have stayed true to that honor. and ladies and gentlemen of the commonwealth, it has been a true honor and privilege to represent you as your junior senator in the united states senate. with that, mr. president, and for what will likely be the final time, i yield the floor. mr. grassley: mr. president? mr. reid: mr. president? mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: mr. president, i will be brief. i appreciate very much the remarks of senator cowan. the only thing he said that i disagree with is no one had a chance to vote on him to get here. there was one big vote that was very important, a man by the name of duval patrick. and once he made that decision, you were our senator as long as you -- as well as you were the
3:55 pm
senator of massachusetts. mr. president, i, of course, know duval patrick. we all saw him at the convention giving his brilliant speech. he was swarmed with people diving him advice as to who he should select to replace senator kerry, but he called me and said don't worry about it, i will select the best person from the state of massachusetts to represent senator kerry for the interim. and he was right. and i have told governor patrick on the telephone and i have -- a couple weeks ago, i said you make sure that you call governor patrick for me because i know that they are good friends and you tell him that i told you to tell him how much we all admire you. in the democratic caucus yesterday, this good man didn't get one standing ovation. he got two.
3:56 pm
that's rare. and he got that because he's a genuine person. he came here just now and talked about the goodness of this body. we need more of that. so senator cowan, thank you very much. i admire you, and i know in the paper today you said that you are always going to be mo, but to me you're always going to be senator cowan. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mrs. warren: mr. president, for four months -- a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: let me interrupt for a parliamentary inquiry. first of all, we are operating under a unanimous consent request, and i would ask if we can modify that to hear from the senator from massachusetts and then revert back to the unanimous consent request that has been granted? the presiding officer: without objection. ms. warren: i thank the senator from oklahoma. thank you. i will be brief.
3:57 pm
mr. president, for four months, i have had the privilege of serving alongside my good friend, mo cowan, in the senate. from the time he was sworn in, mo hit the ground running. even though his time here was short, mo has been a committed and strong advocate for the people of massachusetts here in washington. as a former chief of staff to governor patrick, mo brought to the senate a deep knowledge of issues facing our commonwealth. through his committee work and his outreach to his constituents, his careful consideration of important national issues, he has worked tirelessly to ensure that the interests of the people of massachusetts are well represented and the people of america are well served. he has built great relationships and earned the respect of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle. i very much enjoyed getting to know mo's wonderful family. his smart, talented and patient wife stacy, their two young
3:58 pm
boys. i'm sure grant and miles are looking forward to having their dad closer to home again. mo has been a dedicated public servant, and his time in the senate only adds to his fine record of service on behalf of the people of the commonwealth. it has been an honor to work together with mo, fighting for massachusetts families, and i wish him and i wish his family the very best. it has been an honor to be a partner of senator cowan in the united states senate. thank you, mo, thank you. thank you. thank you, mr. president. mr. inhofe: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, we had had a unanimous consent request that senator grassley was going to be going next, and
3:59 pm
i will go ahead and take his time. the unanimous consent request was that i be recognized as if in morning business for such time as i shall consume. thank you, mr. president. i -- let me share a couple of things. first of all, i am looking forward to serving with the senator who was just elected yesterday, and i think he will find out something that i found out when i was first elected to the united states senate after serving for several years in the house of representatives, and that is it is a more civil place. it's a place where we can have differences of opinion, where we disagree with each other, but do so in a very friendly way. i am actually looking forward to that because there have been times when our discourse, our discussion with each other was not friendly, but i think that it will turn out to be a total change, and i just want to get on record and say that i'm looking forward to serving with our new -- newly elected senator from massachusetts, and i look
4:00 pm
forward to being with him, although i think he has every reason to, opportunity to change his mind on some of the positions he's taken in the past. let me just share something i didn't see when i had the floor yesterday and was talking a little bit about president obama's talk. there were four things i didn't hear. i am going to repeat them. these are statements that were made by president obama talking about -- before an audience -- and i have to say, i really believe i know the reason for this long talk he gave yesterday, because he had served for four years. he knew that his far left base was demanding some type of yaid an-- some type of cap and trade and he knew he didn't have the votes to pass it. so he was not able to push that, knowing before the election if this came out what kind of a tax increase this would be on the american people. and so he waited until after the
4:01 pm
election and that's what we heard yesterday. some of the things he said, just, you know, were a little bit insulting, but i can handle thasm he said, "the patience for anyone who denies that this problem is real." he's trying to revive global warming. that's kind of something tr interesting because it started out 12 years ago global warming. remember kyoto, mr. president? that's what it was all about. the kyoto treaty and in fact the kyoto treaty -- they came back from rio de janeiro. it was never submitted by bill clinton to the united states senate for ratification. the reason was, the votes weren't there. so time went by and they decided, w well, since it's not warming, we're going to do all we can to destroy co2 in our society. let's call it something else. they called it climate change. a few other titles came in the meantime. for the first time it has now reverted back after several years to global warming.
4:02 pm
now, the statement that he said was "we don't have time for a meeting with the flat earth society. sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer but it woangts protect from you the coming storm. 129 warmest years in recorded history have all com come in the last 15 years. last year ocean temperatures reached record highs and ice sank safer to its lowest levels on record." those aren't the facts, mr. president. it is not even true. it is interesting that we would be trying to revive this. i know there are a lot of people out there saying for the last four years we haven't been saying anything about global warming. now something is going to be done. i would like to suggest that in "the economist," "over the past 15 years air temperatures at the earth's surface have flat while
4:03 pm
greenhouse gases have continued to soar. the world added roughly 100 billion tons of carbon into that in between 2000 and 2010. that is about a quarter of all the co2 put there by human 2eu since 1715." of course we know that's true because the major surge came in the 1940's following world war ii. it goes on, "and yet as james hanson" -- the head of the nasa's goddard institute for space studies," a as he observed -- anthe five-year mean global temperature has flat for a decade." this is a guy on the other side who has always been held up to be the authentic, knowledgeable person. nasa, the go gourd dared paper m
4:04 pm
this year, the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade, which we interpret as a combination of natural variability and a slowdown in the growth rate of the net climate forcing." reuters, april of 2013, "scientists are struggling to explain a slowdown in climate change that has exposed gaps to their understanding and defies a rise in global greenhouse gas emissions. some experts say, their trust in climate science has declined because of the many uncertainties. the u.n.'s intergovernmental panel on climate change had to correct the 2007 report that exaggerated the pace of melt in the himalayan glaciers and wrongly said that they would they could all vanish by 2035. all that sounded good at the time. it was a lie. my own confidence in the data
4:05 pm
has gone down in the past five years." and that's quoting richard towe, an expert in climate change and an professor of economics at the university of sussex in england. now, i could go on and on and yesterday on the floor i talked about -- i talked about richard lindsey. richard lindsey with m.i.t. is considered by many people to be the foremost authority on climate anywhere in the country. and he's talking about what the motive is behind people to promote this thing and said that it's a -- controlling co2 is -- i'm going from memory now -- is a bureaucrat's dream. if you control climate, you control life. and that's exactly what we were talking about at that time. and it was true. we've covered all these things, and as i've said for several years now, people understand that the science isn't there. i can remember -- and some people -- my republican friends
4:06 pm
got upset with me because i.v.. a -- because i've often said good things about lisa jackson, the first director of the e.p.a. under president obama. and she is of course a liberal and all of that. but she has a propensity for telling the truth. this is all i ask for in people who are serving in public office much and she in fact has done that. i want to share one thing with you. they're unable to pass any kind of cap and trade -- keep in mind the last time they tried to do it was the bill that was introduced by two house members, one of whom was electricked telectedto the sena. in this cap-and-trade bill, people realize the size of the tax increase and it went down in flames. so when the big u.n. party -- by the way, when i talked about the u.n.'s intergovernmental panel on clj, the ipcc, that's
4:07 pm
something a the although of people don't know about. that's really the united nations. they're the ones that put that together to forefortify -- to fortify that position to equalize the wealth of nations worldwide. i wrote a book about that. i won't ask anyone to buy it because that would be inappropriate. but i will loan it to you if you want to read it. in this, i ask lisa jackson the question right before going to copenhagen much what is copenhagen? every year, the biggest party of the year happens to be -- mr. graham: would the senator yield for a second? i hate to flowpt you. i apologize. mr. inhofe: go ahead. mr. graham: i'll buy your book. [laughter] could i have one minute to say something about our departing colleague because i may not be able to get back? literally one minute? mr. inhofe: yes. mr. graham: thank you. i would just like to say to
4:08 pm
senator cowan from massachusetts, i haven't known you very long, but i have found you to be someone who has been quite frankly very earnest in their time in the senate, very smart, and a lot of fun. we got to travel to egypt, to turkey, to israel to see some of the more dangerous places in the world, and i just want to let people of massachusetts know that i met a lot of colleagues in my time here, but this is one fine man. i wish you all the best. i have learn add lot from you. i noir a originally from north carolina. that's probably why we hit it off. i've learned a the although and laughed a the lovment you are a fine man and we wish you well i hope that public service is in your future. whatever you do, i hope do you it we will and godspeed. mr. inhofe: okay. first of all, let me just say kind of same thing here. i had occasion to research senator cowan.
4:09 pm
i do this because one of things that i enjoy doing every wednesday morning when we have our prayer breakfast is introducing those who are speaking. when you research someone like him, you kind of redevelop a love for everyone and i wonder, are you sure you're in the right place here? i question that. but i hold you in the highest regard and i am very familiar with how you tick, how you think, what you said, and we will miss you in this place. thank you so much. and i'm going to wind up this -- and i'm going to continue this later, but i would only say that the science is not there where they're talking about yesterday. i think i pretty much made the point that i came here to make. lisa jackson, right before they went to copenhagen, once a year, the ipcc is part of the united nations. once a year they throw a great, big party. i can remember friends of mine -- one from africa -- showing up at one of these parties and saying, you don't believe all
4:10 pm
this gloacial stuff, do you? he said, no. but this is the biggest party of the year. so they all show up. at that time i'm not sure where it was. but this time two years ago it was in copenhagen. right before i left for copenhagen to be a one-man truth scwawrd there i said -- squad there, said to her in a hearing that we had, this is the director of the e.p.a. that was serving at the time, lisa jackson. i said, once i leave town, since you can't pass any kind of cap and trade, you're trying to do it with regulation, to find an endangerment finding. it has to be based on some type of science p. what science are you going to use? she said, well, the ipcc, intergovernmental panel on climate change, u.n. u.n. well, as luck would have it, it wasn't months after or weeks after that. hours after that, climategate came in and they were exposed for lying about the science for all those years.
4:11 pm
so the timing could not have been better. i would only say that i'm glad that this issue has opened up again because i had a dusty old file on climate change i hadn't used in five years, and i've got it out and we're ready to use it again. i just hope the american people will look at the beautiful political speech that was made by the president yesterday for actually what it is. let's keep in mind, any time we want to go into the extreme position of saying that co2 is the cause of climate change or of global warming keep in mind the cost of this. a tax increase to the american people, one of the senators stood up after i said this yesterday and said, well, there's no evidence of that. yes, that was the wharton school of economics and m.i.t. that came out with those figures. i'm going from memorien this. god is still up there. the climate is going to change and it has. i can remember just studying this -- i am going from memory now. i am not reading anything.
4:12 pm
but i can remember that when i read about the first time they came out with this fact that we're all going to die because the world is going to freeze over, that was in 1895. in 1895 they talked about this disaster that was coming upon us, the coming ice age, they used. then in 1918 all of the a sudden the climate started getting warmer. it has been happening since the beginning of time, these cycles. so it got warmer. that was 1918. then in 1944 the next cycle came in. that was a cold cycle. willen to this, mr. president. because -- listen to this, mr. president. because the interesting thing about this is, in 1944 after the second world war, it was the largest surge in co2 in our country's history. and it precipitated not a warming period but another cooling period, which lasted until 1975, then of course another warming period came in, which i disagree with all the statements that were made certainly by the president
4:13 pm
yesterday and by many of the members of this body. in our we're precipitating going into a leveling off and perhaps a warming period. so it is going to be changing. it is a little bit arrogant for us in this country to look at these god cycles up there and say we can do something to change that because we can't. it's a beautiful world we're in. we're going to try to make it better. we don't need the largest tax increase in america's her to make it better. with that, i will yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from iowa is recognized. mr. grassley: for the benefit of the majority, the only unanimous consent motion i am going to make, at the end of my remarks i will ask for conclusion of something in the record. i would like to share with the public what is taking place on the immigration bill before us. unfortunately, very little is taking place. we've been on the floor of the united states senate considering this bill for two and a half weeks. only 13 amendments have been
4:14 pm
disposed of. we've had nine roll call votes on amendments, three of those amendments tabling votes. yet over 550 amendments have been filed to this bill. senators are still filing amendments. the fact is that less than 3% of all amendments filed have actually been considered and of course for a process that was labeled as "fair and open" and the invitation of -- or amendments even from people that ote the bill, the gang of eight, you know, that makes it laughable. our side has been asking for votes. we've tried to equal up amendments. last night we sent a list of 34 amendments over to the majority and requested votes on them. i'm told that they've refused that list. and i think it's because there's some tough votes in those amendments. they want to limit the number of amendments that can be considered. they want to choose the amendments so in a sense they want to tell republicans which amendments we can offer fromat't
4:15 pm
i'm very disappointed not just for myself but for a the love other members of the body -- not just for myself but for a lot of other members of the body. there's no deliberation. it seems as though there's no path forward to have votes to make the bill better and of course this isn't the way to legislate. immigration reform is an important matter. we have to get it right. we shouldn't just rush a bill just to get it done, especially if we're going to pass a bad bill. this bill shouldn't be rushed if we're getting it wrong. and we have to get it right. so it's unfortunate that what has happened on the floor of the senate, nine roll call votes out of 550 amendments and counting, that have been filed. so much for the world's greatest deliberative body. immigration reform hasn't been debated on this floor since 2007, and as far as i can
4:16 pm
remember, a major piece of legislation like this in immigration hasn't passed the senate since 1986. it may seem that we've been on the bill for a long time compared to a lot of other issues. it has been a longer time. but most of the time has been spent delaying actual debate and consideration of amendments while members crft a grand bargain -- craft a grand bargain compromise behind closed doors and of course as you know that's been adopted at this point in the process. unfortunately it at this bill has been precooked, deals have been made and apparently have been an open debate on amendments to the bill isn't part of that deal, particularly on many more than the few amendments that we have discussed, particularly on those amendments that could substantively change the underlying bill for the better. so we get the impression that "sorry, the kitchen's closed." what's happened? we're supposed to be the most
4:17 pm
deliberative body in the world. we pride ourselves about that but now we're going to rely on the house of representatives to do our job, to be deliberative and to fix this legislation. and i have great hopes that when this process is done through conference that i can vote for a bill that will go to the president of the united states. as i've said before, the judiciary committee markup of this bill was full and open and i have complimented chairman leahy many times on that point. it's just too bad that that process couldn't have been carried out here on the floor of the senate. whether members were pleased in committee with the vote results for their amendments, in committee, the members at least had the opportunity to offer amendments for debate and consideration. amendments were debated. amendments were voted on. but that hasn't been the case in the last 2 1/2 weeks here on the senate floor. we've tried to offer amendments
4:18 pm
to this over 1,000-page-long bill. the majority is shutting us out. they've gotten the votes that they need to pass this bill through members getting their favored amendments into the bill, and some of these seem to me to be special interest provisions and some of them tend to be like the cornhusker kickback sweeteners of obamacare fame. and now we're getting the -- the door to the shop closed. it's important for the public to know that we've tried to make this bill better by trying to offer amendments. we've given the other side a list and i think it's been fatly refused. it's not too much to ask for this number of amendments to be considered. that list had 34 amendments. that's 34 amendments out of 550
4:19 pm
filed. senators would like to see a lot more amendments considered and voted on but we've limited the number to 34. i -- i end my remarks by asking u.c. to put that list of amendments that we asked the majority to consider before final passage to be placed in the record. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: is that a u.c. request. mr. grassley: i ask u.c. the presiding officer: okay. is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. inhofe: mr. president, just for -- the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: i ask unanimous consent that my remarks will appear in the record as if uninterrupted and then also i want to mention, i do, even though i oppose the bill, i do think that they've done a good job of trying to get some of the amendments out and particularly senator grassley and senator mccain who offered me the opportunity to have my amendme amendment. it didn't turn out but it was a good amendment. it was so good that the -- the
4:20 pm
aclu was scoring against it so hopefully we'll get a chance to get those done. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma's request? without objection, so ordered. the assistant majority leader is recognized. mr. durbin: mr. president, i see the senator from maine is on the floor and i would like to speak for ten minutes. i ask unanimous consent to speak in morning business for ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: mr. president, first let me say that i was here on the floor when senator cowan gave his farewell remarks. i can't think of a person who came to the senate to fill the spot have a dated by john kerry, who received a warm response so quickly. senator reid made the comment that it's so rare for a member just six months to get a standing ovation at his caucus lunch. mo cowan got two yesterday,
4:21 pm
which i think is a tribute to the fact that we really enjoyed his service and valued his friendship and will remember him for his fine representation of the commonwealth of massachusetts. i would like to ask consent that a record -- a statement be put in the record relative to senator cowan's service. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: mr. president, i also made a pointed of not raising this -- also made a point of not raising this issue when senator cowan was in the chair the other day but i wanted to come to the floor and say a few words about the chicago blackhawks. for the fifth time since 1926 and the second time in four seasons, the which i black mawxs are the stanley cup champions. on monday night, the blackhawks scored two goals in 17 seconds in the third period to win the stanley cup finals and to bring home lord stanley's cup to the city of chicago. i want to congratulate rocky wurtz, the team president -- the team owner, as well as team president john mcdunn that, general manager stan bowman and head coach joe kenniville.
4:22 pm
i'll just tell you that joe has been an extraordinary head coach and one that has taken a great group of players and brought them to the pinnacle of success when it comes to the hockey -- national hockey league. it was a shortened season but the blackhawks made the most of it. they didn't lose a game in regulation in their first 24 games and by the end of the season these won the president's trophy, awarded to the team with the most points in the nhl. that doesn't always mean you're successful. before this season, only seven winners of the president's trophy won the stanley cup. but the hawks were up to it. first they faced the minnesota wild -- and i heard a lot from senator klobuchar and franken about that contest. we prevailed. then they went on to face the detroit red wings. they had to win three games in a row and score a goal in an overtime thriller to beat the red wings. then faced last year's stanley cup champs, the los angeles kings, and they finally earned the right to play the boston
4:23 pm
bruins in the finals. it was a hard-fought contest by two excellent, great teams. they kept us up late at night. down 2-1 with over -- just over a minute to play, the blackhawks scored two goals to win their second stanley cup in the last four seasons. i'll go on, mr. president, to ask that the remainder of my statement be placed in the record. but i will tell you that i have witnessed representing the city of chicago some extraordinary fan loyalty, but what i have seen for the chicago blackhawks over the last eight weeks has been amazing. you can't walk down michigan avenue, state street or any neighborhood without running into blackhawks gear. people are so proud of that team and now as they parade the stanley cup around chicago, it is the front page of every newspaper. a few years ago when they were the stanley cup champions last, the stanley cup itself came to the senate here and i was honored to have it in my office with a parade of visitors come by and see this magnificent
4:24 pm
trophy. let me just say to the chicago blackhawks, we're proud of you, proud of the great fans who stood behind you and looking forward to celebrating this friday with the great victory parade. mr. president, i now ask that the statement i'm about to make be placed at a separate part in the record. i ask how much time is remaining of my ten minutes? the presiding officer: the senator has four minutes remaining. and without objection, it will be so ordered. the senator has six minutes remaining. mr. durbin: what is pending before the united states senate is a piece of history. for those who are witnessing this debate, whether in the galleries or at home on c-span, you're watching a debate on the floor of the senate that doesn't happen very often. we're debating the comprehensive immigration reform bill. it's the first time in 25 years that we've tackled this issue. if you look at the history of the united states, you know right off the bat we're a nation of immigrants. my mother was an immigrant to this country. many of us have immigrant parents and grandparents and great-grandparents. that's who we are. we come from all over the world to this great nation.
4:25 pm
but the history of immigration law will tell you that immigrants aren't always well received or warmly received. there have been periods in history where we have excluded people from certain countries and excluded immigrants in general. there were other periods when we couldn't wait to get the cheap labor from anyplace in the world to build this great nation. we've had real mixed feelings when it comes to immigration. the sad reality is for 25 years, our immigration laws haven't worked well. we have about 11 million -- that's the estimate -- 11 million undocumented people living in america. i've come to know many of them. they're not who you think they are. many of them turn out to be the mothers in a household where a father and all the kids are american citizens. many of them turn out to be the people that just came next to you and sat down at church. they're the ones who, incidentally, just cleared off your table at the restaurant. they're making the beds in your hotel room for the next morning. they're watching your kids in day care and they're taking care of your mom at the nursing home.
4:26 pm
these are the undocumented people of america. many of them just asking for a chance to be part of this american family. this bill gives them a chance. but it isn't easy. they've got to come forward and register with the government, tell us who they are, where they live, where they work, tell us about their families. then they have to pay a fine of $500. that's the first installment. then any job they have, they have to pay their taxes and submit themselves to a criminal background check. if that isn't enough, we tell them we're going to continue to monitor them over ten years, watching them. during that period of time, they have to demonstrate that they're learning english. then if they complete that ten-year period, they have a three-year chance to become citizens. it's a 13-year process. many of them have already been here for ten years or more. but if they're ready to travel down this long road -- and many are -- at the end of the day, their dream will come true, they will be citizens in america. it's no amnesty. they're going to pay a heavy price to make it all the way
4:27 pm
through those 13 years. but it gives them their chance. it makes us a safer nation, knowing who they are, where they live and where they work. we're going to tighten up our system so people applying for jobs in the future got to prove who they are. no more phony social security numbers. no more phony i.d.'s. they're going to be real proof before you can get a job in america. and if you came here on a visitor's visa -- and 40% of the undocumented people came here on visas and overstayed -- if you came here on that increase ago, we're going to track you into america and out of america. the system's going to be tough. and when it comes to the border, there's a difference of opinion, democratic side and the republican side of the aisle, about how much to do. well, we've done a dramatic -- we've made a dramatic investment in border security between the united states and mexico. in the last ten years, we've increased the border patrol between the two countries from 10,000 to 20,000. we now in many sectors have 97% effectiveness, stopping those who try to cross the border.
4:28 pm
we're going to invest 20,000 more workers on that border. 40,000 border patrol people. people have come to the floor critical of this bill saying it just isn't enough. i'll have to tell you, for some of these folks, it will never be enough. we are going to put billions of dollars into making that border safe and reducing if not eliminating illegal immigration. that is part of our promise in this bipartisan agreement that was reached. i've been fortunate to serve with the so-called gang of eig eight, four democrats, four republicans. we've sat across the table for five months now, 30 different sessions, working out all the details. and we've come up with an agreement, a good, bipartisan agreement that is finally going to move us forward. i might add one footnote. 12 years ago i introduced a bill called the dream act and said that children brought to this country deserve a special chance to become citizens. they didn't do anything wrong. they didn't break any laws. they were two years old and five and ten years old.
4:29 pm
they were brought here by their parents. they deserve a chance. this bill is the strongest bill ever brought to the floor of the senate when it comes to the dreamers. i'm proud of that. and happy that these young people will finally get the chance to prove themselves, as i'm sure they will, when it comes to the future of this country. there are lots of other provisions. never take for granted that the fruits and vegetables on your table just appear magically. they're picked and many of them are picked by foreign workers, migrant workers. we have an agricultural worker section here which is important for the future of our agricultural economy. we have a section when it comes to the talented people that we want to keep in the united states once educated here and those that we can bring in to help create jobs in our country. but the first rule in this bill and the one that i insisted on, every job has to be offered to an american first. with our unemployment, that's the starting point. and it's included in this bill and it should be.÷ i want to tell you there are parts of this bill i don't applaud or necessarily endorse, but it's the product of a
4:30 pm
compromise. we are not only proving to this nation that we can address the biggest issue in our heritage, we are trying to prove to this nation that this chamber, this united states senate can go to work, roll up its -- roll up its sleeves and get something sun dunn on a bipartisan bases. there will be some no votes but the votes so far show a strong bipartisan majority to move forward. if we get it done this week, i pray that my colleagues over in the house will accept their responsibility to this nation to accept the need for comprehensive immigration reform. i yield the floor. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama is recognized. mr. sessions: i see senator king here from maine and i won't talk but just a minute. i'll share some thoughts later about where i see the difficulties with the immigration bill, and would say that for the vast majority of
4:31 pm
the people who would be legalized or coming into the country, they -- the businesses will be under no requirement to hire americans first. that's just not accurate and it's a cause of concern for me. i wanted to share some -- just brief remarks, i know we have a lot to do but i was hear to hear senator cowan's farewell remarks to us. they were delivered eloquently and effectively with integrity and graciousness, and a sense of purpose that i found impressive. i think all of us have found impressive in getting to know him. i heard him share his background recently and how he came to this position, and he does so with a constancy of purpose, a clear vision for what he believes is right, he's been raised right and he reflects those values and has done so in the senate.
4:32 pm
it's a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to get to know him, and i would just say it must be a special thrill for him to be able to all of a sudden find himself, as he says so nicely, in the united states senate. without having to campaign, raise money, or otherwise be in that position. he served his state with skill and dedication, and it's a pleasure to have served with him. i wish him godspeed in his future endeavors. mr. president, i understand the senator from maine is going to share with us some valuable history today. maybe a connection between maine and alabama might even be mentioned. so i would yield the floor at this time. mr. king: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama -- the senator from maine is recognized. mr. king: mr. president, i rise in morning business and request unanimous consent for 15 minutes of remarks. the presiding officer: without
4:33 pm
objection, so ordered. mr. king: we all know that next thursday, a week from tomorrow is our nation's most important anniversary, july fourth, 1776, the birthday of the country. but tuesday, july 2, is also one of our most important anniversaries. because july 1, 2, and 3 are the days that the battle of gettysburg occurred. probably the defining event in the history of this country. and it's especially important this year because it's the 150th anniversary of the battle of gettysburg and what i'd like to do is share just a few moments about one particular aspect of that battle that it does indeed involve maine and alabama. and it involves a man from maine named joshua lawrence chamberlain. who in 1862 was a professor of modern languages at bodien college in -- bowdoin college in maine. had no history in the military
4:34 pm
but decided he had a vision of america and he wanted to serve his country. he joined a volunteer regiment organized in maine in august of 1862 called the 20th main regiment. they came down the east coast, up the potomac to washington, and were immediately deployed to an teet em-- an teet em-- antietam. fortunately for the 20th maine they were held in reserve that day. they did see action over the course of the fall and early winter at the battle of freddie riksburg and then along -- fredericksburg and then with with two great armies they headed north into the state of pennsylvania. mr. president, you're going to have to bear with my carto graphical skills here. i think it's helpful if we can see what happened. it's easy to draw virginia because it's a big triangle. so this is virginia, here's the
4:35 pm
maryland-pennsylvania border and in the early summer of 1863, two great armies snaked north out of virginia. lee's army of northern virginia came up the west side of the foothills of the appalachians into pennsylvania, shadowed by meade's army of the potomac, both 90,000 men and lee was leading the way into pennsylvania without a particular destination but a desire to engage the federal army in one climactic battle which he thought, correctly, could have ended the civil war. nobody knows exactly why on july 1 of 1863 those two armies collided in the little town of gettysburg. there's a rumor there was a shoe factory there and the southern army were going to go to requisition those shoes but for whatever reason, the two armies met in this little town of
4:36 pm
gettysburg, pennsylvania and one of the interesting things about the battle was that lee's army had already gotten almost to harrisburg and came down into gettysburg. the union army was coming up the taneytown road from washington and from the south and they came in from in this direction. at the battle of gettysburg, the southern army came in from the north and the northern army respect army came in from the south. on the first day of the battle, it was a stand-off. they met almost by accident in this town. there was fierce fighting in the streets of gettysburg and south of the town, and it was essentially a draw. and at the end of the day on july 1 -- and the word flashed back to both armies that this was it. this was the confrontation. and reinforcements came in from around -- from both lines of march to meet at this little town. and what happened on the second day was on the morning of the second day, the union troops,
4:37 pm
again if this is the town up here, the union troops ended up on a hill called culp's hill and then in a long line to the south along an area that was an old place where they buried people. of course, that's seminary ridge. on the other side, the confederates -- and interestingly enough throughout american history, red markers represent the confederates and blue the federals -- the confederates ended up on a long ridge that went this way about a mile apart, and over here was a place where they trained people to be preachers. and that, of course, is cemetery ridge. so generations of sixth graders have been -- seminary ridge here, senl taxpayer ridge here, generations of sixth graders have been con fused by this by it's cemetery where with the union and seminary where the confederate troops were. about the middle of the second
4:38 pm
day of the battle, a union general noticed there was a small hill down at the bottom of the entire line of the union troops that was unoccupied by either side. he also immediately realized this could be the most important piece of property in the entire battlefield. because it had an elevation that looked up the entire federal line and it anchored the federal line. the union general grabbed the nearest officer near him and said we have to occupy that hill immediately, the fellow's name was strong vincent was the officer from new york, and vincent grabbed two other regiments, new york and pennsylvania, and then maine, the 20th maine regiment and they went to the top of this hill. now, joshua lawrence chamberlain had only been the colonel of the 20th maine about a month. he was in charge of 358 men, and vincent took him to the extreme left flank of the union
4:39 pm
army, of this little hill, which is called little roundtop. we had pennsylvania, new york, and maine. and vint took lawrence -- joshua lawrence chamberlain to this point and here were his orders. this is the extreme left flank of the entire union army. you are to hold this ground at all hazards. at all hazards. that means to the death. almost immediately upon getting to the top of the hill, up came the 15th alabama, one of the crack regiments in the -- in lee aarmy. up the hill to try to dislodge the 20th maine. now, if you haven't been to gettysburg, little roundtop, if god was going to build a forth tax credit tress, it would look like little roundtop. it's steep, rocky, with lots of places to be behind and
4:40 pm
indeed, chamberlain took maximum advantage of that as the charge came, they were able to repel it. a half hour later or so the alabamans came again. they were pushed back. they came again, and were pushed back. and each time they got closer and closer to the top of the hill because of the nature of guns in the civil war. a good shooter in the civil war, a good handler of a rifle could get off four shots a minute. so i want you to think of yourself, mr. president, at the top of that hill with the 15th alabama coming up and you take aim with your rifle and shoot. bang. you're now prepared to shoot a second time. that period that sounded like an
4:41 pm
eternity was 15 seconds. that's how long it would take the reload and get another shot. so that's why in this situation the charge came closer and closer. and by the third and fourth charge, it became hand-to-hand combat. i should say, by the way, as i mention that joshua lawrence chamberlain was an soldier by trade. he was a professor at a little college. he spoke ten languages in 1856. but he had a deep vision for the meaning of america. and he had a deep concern about the issue of slavery. when he was a student at bowdoin in the early 1850's, a young professor's wife was writing a book, and he sat in the living room of this professor and listened to her read excerpts from this book. and the book turned out to probably be the most influential book ever published in america. it was called "uncle tom's cabin." and it described for people in the country the evils of slavery.
4:42 pm
and indeed when abraham lincoln met harriet beecher stowe, he and shook her hand, he said i'm shaking the hand that started the civil war because it lit the fuse that lit the pressure that ultimately let to the abolition of slavery. in any case, four and then five charges, each time the 15th alabama was repulsed. but then they were gathering at the bottom of the hill for the final assault. late in the day, a hot afternoon, july , 1863. the problem was for chamberlain, his men were out of ammunition. they each had been issued 60 cartridges at the beginning of the battle, they'd all been fired during those five assaults. he then had a choice to make as a leader. he had three options. one was to retreat, which is a perfectly honorable thing to do in a military situation, but his orders were to hold the ground at all hazards. at all hazards.
4:43 pm
because if he hadn't, if the confederates had gotten around little roundtop, the entire rear of the union army was exposed. his other option was to stand and fight until overwhelmed. that wouldn't have worked very well because it would have only delayed them for a few minutes. instead, he chose an extraordinary option that was very unusual even at the time. and he uttered one word, and the word was "bayonets." there's a dispute in history where whether he also said charge and what his actual order was but everybody agrees he order uttered the word "bayonets" and his soldiers now what that meant and down the hill into the face of the final confederate charge came 200 crazy guys from maine. the 15th alabama for the first and only time in the civil war was so shocked by this technique
4:44 pm
that they turned and ran. and the 200 boys from maine -- and i say 200 because at the beginning of this action there were over 300, they'd lost a hundred to casualties and death -- captured 400 or 500 confederates with no bullets in their guns. chamberlain tried to call his men back. they said hell no, general, we're on our way to richmond. now, i tell this story because it's a story of extraordinary bravery. by the way, chamberlain received the congressional medal of honor for his bravery and creativity that afternoon on that little hill in pennsylvania. but i tell the story because it's a story of our country, and it's the story of how a single person's actions and bravery can have enormous impact. historians argue about whether this was really the key turning point, was there something else, some other regiment in
4:45 pm
some other place, but an argument can made that this college professor from maine saved the united states. the defining moment for our country was that hot afternoon in pennsylvania, july 2, 1863. . i believe it's one of the great stories of american history and in fact the story of chamberlain little round top is being taught in army manuals to this day as a story of leadership, of creativity, of perseverance, of courage, and of devotion to god and country. mr. president, i hope all americans will think about these moments and thousands more like them as we celebrate not only the birth of our country next week, but also the rebirth of our country in the three days prior to july 4th. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
4:46 pm
mr. barrasso: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. barrasso: mr. president, we've heard a lot of talk this week about the big push by president obama and his allies to promote the health care law. we're less than 100 days out from the implementation of that law. people in wyoming are already feeling the effects of the democrats' health care law. the law says that employers with more than 50 full-time employees have to provide expensive one-size-fits-all health insurance. so employers all across the country are cutting full-time workers back to part-time status, cutting their shifts to less than 30 hours a week. that's the cutoff point, mr. president, to be considered a full-time worker under the democrats' health care law. well, that's why we're starting to get stories like the one from the "rocket-miner" newspapers in
4:47 pm
rock springs wyoming that came out yesterday. the headlines is school district looks at coverage work options under the topic of health care reform. here's what the article says. "more than 500 employees working for sweet water count school district number one could see a reduction in their paychecks for the upcoming school year." a reduction in their paychecks. "the district may reduce hours for part-time employees to exempt it from covering them on its insurance plan under president barack obama's patient protection and affordable care act." right here the "rocket-miner" rock springs, wyoming. the school district has more than 500 employees who are working between 30 and 34 hours a week. those are the people that the health care law is threatening the most. the article goes on to say that these workers -- quote -- "are
4:48 pm
likely to see their hours decreased by up to five hours." the people at 34 hours getting them down to 29. it quotes the school board chairman saying that the huge chunk of money it would need to provide washington-approved insurance for everyone would have to come out of classrooms and other essentials. taking money out of classrooms and other essentials. he says -- quote -- "we're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. well, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars isn't very an impressive amount to washington democrats, but for a small school district in wyoming, that's a big hit to their budget. and it's a lot of pain that the law is inflicting on those teachers and on those students. so for the employees who are going to see their hours cut from 35 hours to fewer than 30, the democrats' health care law is hitting their paychecks and hitting it hard. well, that was yesterday.
4:49 pm
today the gillette news record, kathy brown writes in "the gillette news record" today school trustees consider changes with obamacare. here's what they say. in campbell county about 200 part-time positions could be affected. if goes on. it says it does mean the district must track the hours of employees much more closely and consider what to do with 320 substitute teachers, 27 substitute bus drivers, 23 coaches, 8 temporary and 4 summer-only employees. before the july 17 meeting, school officials will try to provide information to trustees on hours and possible costs -- quote -- "this is a paperwork nightmare says one of the trustees. she wondered if the district would actually have to hire employees just to do the paperwork and the tracking." mr. president, there are nearly eight million people in this
4:50 pm
country who are working part time because they can't find full-time work. these aren't just numbers in a monthly unemployment report. these are people, people all across the country in towns like rock springs, wyoming; gillette, wyoming, who want to work, who want to provide for their families. but they are suffering from the bad economic recovery that's been caused by the failed policies of washington democrats. then they get a second hit, hit a second time with this terrible health care law, a law that cuts back their hours and cuts their paychecks even more. i want to make one more point about the health care law, and it's the headline in today's "investors business daily." it says privacy falls victim to obamacare hub. well, the hub that is being talked about, privacy falls victim to kpwo*e -- to obamacare hub, front page, this morning,
4:51 pm
wednesday, june 26, 2013. the hub that they're talking about is the data base of information about people that was created by this health care law. it was created so that washington could figure out who has health insurance and who might qualify for subsidies under the law. with this data hub, washington bureaucrats are going to have access to a huge amount of information, personal information about people all across the country. here's what the article says. it says -- quote -- "the obamacare data hub will interact with seven other federal agencies: social security administration, the i.r.s., the department of homeland security, the veterans administration, the office of personnel management, the department of defense -- believe it or not, mr. president, the peace corps. plus the hub will plug into state medicaid data bases. so what does the hub want to include in all of this? well, the article goes on to say that the hub -- quote -- "will store names, birth dates, social
4:52 pm
security numbers, taxpayer status, gender, ethnicity, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers on the millions of people expected to apply for coverage at the obamacare exchanges." that's just part of it. they are also going to have tax return information from the i.r.s., income information from social security, and financial information from other third-party sources. the article says that washington will also store data from businesses buying coverage through an exchange, including a list of qualified employees and their tax i.d. numbers. and they're going to keep it on file for ten years. ten years, mr. president. in addition, the article goes on and says the federal government can disclose this information. we're talking about citizens' private information turned over to the government, and the government can disclose this information without the consent of the individual. they can disclose this information without the consent
4:53 pm
of the individual to a wide range of people, including agency contractors, consultants or grantees who need to have access to the records they claim to help run obamacare. so all this personal private information is collected in one place, held for ten years, and made available to bureaucrats, to contractors, and to consultants. this is just another terrible effect, mr. president, of the democrats' health care law, a law that american people are just starting to learn more about and a law that those, many of those who voted for it didn't even know what was in it. the more people learned, the more worried they become about how this law will affect their care, their jobs, their paychecks and their privacy. when democrats here in washington push their health care law through congress, they weren't honest with the american people about any of this, any of these negative effects.
4:54 pm
the american people deserve better. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. grassley: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: call the roll. quorum call:
4:55 pm
4:56 pm
4:57 pm
4:58 pm
4:59 pm
5:00 pm
quorum call: mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. reid:

67 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on