tv U.S. Senate CSPAN June 26, 2013 5:00pm-8:01pm EDT
of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: mr. president, we have been working to come up with a list of amendments. without any editorializing, this is the list we have been able to come up with. the staff has worked on this for long hours. i ask unanimous consent that a managers package of amendments which is at the desk be in order and considered en bloc, that the senate proceed to vote on adoption of amendments in this package en bloc, and upon disposition of the managers package, the following amendments be in order to be called up and that the clerks be authorized to modify the instruction lines to fit the committee-reported amendments as amended where necessary. the amendments are sessions 1334, hirono 1718, fischer 1594, blumenthal 1636, vitter 1445, brown 1311, toomey 1599, hagan
1386, coats 1563, mccaskill 1457, johnson of wisconsin 1380, boxer 1260, feinstein 1250, lee 1214, udall of new mexico 1215, tester 1459, vitter 1474, heitkamp 1593, lee 1207, white house 1419, cruz 1579, udall of new mexico 1691, cruz 1583, heinrich 1342, cruz 1585, reed of rhode island 1608, cruz 1586, nelson-wicker 1253, mccain-cardin 1469, and portman-tester 1634.
at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, june 27, the senate proceed to vote in relation to the amendments in the order listed, that the amendments be subject to 60 affirm h.i.v. vote threshold with two minutes divided prior to each vote. all after the first vote be ten-minute votes. that upon disposition of the portman-tester amendment number 1634 -- that's the last one -- the pending amendments to the underlying bill be withdrawn, i be recognized then for the purpose of raising points of order against the remaining pending amendments, the substitute amendment, that after the amendments fall, the substitute amendment as amended be agreed to, the motion in cloture with respect to the -- with respect to s. 744 be withdrawn, the bill as amended be read a third time and the senate proceed to vote on the passage of the bill as amended. the presiding officer: is there objection? the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i object, and i ask for the floor.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the objection is heard. the senator from iowa. is recognized. mr. grassley: on behalf of myself and my colleagues, -- i better say on behalf of myself and some of my colleagues, i have to object. now, the majority party has proffered an agreement from our point of view that is insufficient and clearly not serious even though i know they considered a serious offer. last night, our side offered a list of amendments that could be voted upon. we asked for votes on 34 amendments, and that 34 amendments is less than 10% of all those amendments that are filed. right now about 550. but now the majority wants to limit the number of amendments and in a sense limit our rights
because each senator ought to have an opportunity to put down the amendments that they want to offer. it doesn't preclude the majority party from offering any amount of their amendments that they want to offer. it seems to me the majority wants to pick and choose the amendments, the amendments that they like. they don't want to take tough votes, so they have chosen just a few of our amendments to make it look like it's very accommodateing. so i have to say i feel a bit used and abused in this process. for two and a half weeks, we have been pushing to get votes on our amendments. we have had a measly ten votes on amendments. remind you that there are 550 filed. that's pretty embarrassing for the majority after they promised a fair and open debate. and i want to remind my colleagues about fair and open debate.
one republican member of the group of eight said -- quote -- "i'm confident that a open and transparent process, one that engages every senator and the american people, will make it even better. i believe that this kind of open debate is critical in helping the american people understand what's in the bill, what it means for you and what it means for our future." end of quote. that same senator also wrote to chairman leahy on march 30 before the bill was brought up in committee -- quote -- "i wish to express my strong belief that the success of any major legislation depends on the acceptance and support of the american people. that support can only be earned through a full and careful consideration of legislative language and an open process of amendments." end of quote. in a letter to me on april 5, that same senator wrote -- quote -- "if the majority does not
follow regular order, you can expect that i will continue to defend the rights of every senator, myself included, to conduct this process in an open and detailed manner. when the bill was introduced, the senior senator from new york said -- quote -- "one of the things we all agreed with is that there ought to be an open process so that people who don't agree can offer their amendments." so it's very clear that the gang of eight, the authors of the legislation, called for a robust floor debate. they said they supported regular order. so i ask now do they think that having only a few amendments considered and this list that's just been put before us, is that robust and open process? do they think that the majority party has used regular order? so after spinning our wheels for a couple of weeks, we had an important vote on a couple days ago. the proponents have been
bragging for weeks that they were going to get over 70 votes for their legislation and somehow force the house to take up their bill, and of course that won't happen so they don't get 70 votes. but i saw the shock of some that they had on their faces when their vote count fell short here a couple of days ago. so now what are they doing? they need to pick up some votes and they need to make it look like we have had a more fair process, so after less than the expected vote yesterday, the proponents came to me wanting to strike a deal that would give us votes on amendments. the problem is that we still want to -- they still want to limit our amendments, but they want to make sure that we include amendments that will help them pick up some votes. well, i happen to be a farmer, but i haven't -- and i am proud to be a farmer, but i want them to know that i haven't just fallen off of the hay wagon.
it's pretty clear what's going on around here. regardless of the reasons for the majority now trying to look like they are accommodating us, i'm still willing to negotiate votes, but it needs to be a lot of votes. now, some on my side may be less charitable than i am since they also understand what's going on around here, so in the end, we may very well not be having any more votes on amendments. it's too bad the majority led us down this road and is aiming for the ditch. in other words, we have not had the fair and open process that we were promised like we had in committee a very fair and open process there, but it's -- it ended up completely contrary to what the group of eight told us we were going to have when we got to the floor. so in the end, they have only themselves to blame. in the end -- i think the end's right now. we're going to have votes on
cloture. we're going to have a vote on final passage. i'm telling people on my side of the aisle that if you -- if you're going to be against this bill, there is no sense of debating it any more. we might as well carry our story to the other body because that's where this bill is going to be perfected, if it can be perfected, in a way that it's going to be sent to the president and solve the problems that we have and not make the same mistakes that we made in 1986. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. warner: i ask unanimous consent that i be allowed to speak, followed by the senator from ohio and then the senator from new york. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. warner: mr. president, i'm disappointed that the senator from iowa didn't accept the majority leader's proposal to let us finish this bill in a more orderly process, but i -- i have watched this debate and want to add my voice to those
who have come out and complimented the enormously good work, bipartisan work that the gang of eight has performed in their efforts to forge a bipartisan compromise on an issue that is of rashable importance to this country, to our economic growth, to our security and quite honestly to the character of our country. i look forward to voting in favor of this legislation. i will not recap all of the components and the path of how we got here, but suffice it to say that this -- this critically important piece of legislation fixes our broken immigration system, ensures adequate and some would say, i would even say undue border security, allows part of those 11 million undocumented individuals to earn their path to citizenship or earn their path to legal status, learning english, paying back taxes, contributing to our
society as has been indicated by the congressional budget office where they will actually -- this legislation will dramatically decrease the deficit. as well as parts of this bill that i was proud to work on around high-skilled immigration, improving on our h-1b program, making sure for high-tech workers, making sure that as we continue to train and educate the world's best and brightest, those ph.d.'s and elect engineering from virginia tech, if that individual happens to be from brazil or czechoslovakia or india, they have a job offer here after they graduate with that ph.d., they ought to stay here in america because unfortunately what happens right now since canada, the u.k. and australia have changed their laws, they don't go home. they simply move across the border to canada and take those high-paying jobs and support jobs with them. this legislation will also make an important stride to make sure that america's dreamers, those
young people oftentimes who are brought here without any ability for them to weigh in individually as their parents moved here, who are caught in this limbo at this point, with many jurisdictions including unfortunately my state sometimes don't allow them to finish their education, serve in the military. if they have those abilities, they ought to be able to get an expediteed path to citizenship. as a matter of fact, during this year's state of the union, i was proud to invite anbar pinto, who is a 19-year-old incredible young woman who was born in bolivia but has grown up most of her life here in virginia. i was proud to invite her to be my guest at the state of the union address. i know that anbar will be able to -- will be able to contribute to her community, to virginia and to the united states, and this legislation will make sure that she gets the same kind of fair shot in this country that i
got and other americans are going to have. let me also say, mr. president, because i know there are other senators who want to speak, that this legislation really is about the character of our country. senator alexander from tennessee said something the other day that i have quoted him on a number of times. in this immigration debate, we discuss the character of our country. if i move to china tomorrow, i will never be chinese. if i move to india tomorrow, i will never be indian. if i move to france, i will never become french. it's only in america that someone from anywhere around the world, if they play by the rules, accept our democratic principles, our free enterprise system, can come here and get the fair shot, and not only can they become american but their children will be american for generations to come. that history of our nation as a nation of immigrants, that history of our american character, is reflected in the
tenets of this legislation. the path has been circuitous. we are long overdue. the last immigration reform was more than 20 years ago. our current system is fundamentally flawed and broken. it is time to pass it legislation with an overwhelming majority, get it to the other body, get it out, and get this bill to the desk of the president for signature. so, mr. president, i am proud of the work that has been done by members from both parties on this important legislation. i look forward to its successful conclusion i hope tomorrow and look forward to the fact that the anbar pintos and other dreamers who have lived in the shadows for so long will have the trite gethe right to earn tr shot that so many of us in this body have had. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the
clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. portman: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. portman: i rise today to talk about the underlying immigration bill but importantly to talk about a really important amendment that i hope can be brought up. i have spoken on the floor about this before and provided great
detail as to why it works to ensure that we have employment verification at the workplace, why it's so important. really the critical element, i believe, in terms of immigration reform. i believe strongly that if we do not have a stronger employee verification system at the workplace, the rest of this legislation is not going to work. we're not going to have the people come of out of the shados that those who are proponents of this legislation would like to see and i would like to see. significantly, we're not going to be able to curtail future flows of illegal immigration. people come to here, and it's that magnet of employment that has drawn meme to the country. and if we're just going to put up more fences, which i support, we're not going to get at the problem. when people want to come here badly enough, he figure out a way -- they figure out a way to go under those fences, they figure out a way to go around it. some sections of the border now there are double fences. people still figure out a way to
go across. 30% of those who are here lyle e illegally in this country came here legally. think overstayed their visas. we need to ensure that we have strong workplace verifications. the underlying bill must be strengtheninged in order for it to work the way it's supposed to. i'm prepared to work with senator tester. my amendment is not just bipartisan, ites no the just one that has been worked through with the gang of eight, with the white house, the chamber of commerce, we played by the rules over the last months to get a good amendment. but it is one that will actually ensure that we can have an enforcement both at the border and at the interior at the workplace. i've made it very clear over the last several weeks that i cannot support the underlying bill unless it has those enforcement guarantees because i can't go to my constituents, look them in
the eye, and say this is going to work. so i agree, our immigration system is broken. the legal system is broken, the illegal immigration system obviously is broken. but we've got to do the right things to fix it or else the promises we make it empty promises. everybody wants to go to heaven but not everybody is going to go the hard things to get there. this is an example of that. this is a hard thing. a lot of people don't want to see a tinting at the workplace. i think we all acknowledge that. i was part of the 196 immigration reforms. -- i was part of the 1986 immigration reforms. we imposed employer sanctions, called at the time, both in terms of the legislation, how it was implemented, those employer sanctions were never put in place. that's why all the 3 million people were legalized. millions more came. up to 12 million now. i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, let's have a vote on it. if we don't have a vote on it, we will not send a necessary
message to the house of representatives of the importance of this piece of the puzzle. people said, why didn't you include it in the corker-hoeven amendment, which was about a border surge? because it needs to be and deserves to be drawn out as a separate issue, a separate debate which we've had on the floor. we need to be sure that we can show through a bipartisan vote that we are willing to do the hard things to get to heaven, the hard things to make sure that this legislation actually works, and that's dealing with it at the workplace, which is the magnet, which is the reason people come in this country. so i would ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, please, let us have a vote. there's only been ten votes out of the over 500 parntlely that 0 apparently that have been filed. wrel be able to do in this a bipartisan way. we'll be able to show the american people we can come together to solve big problems. and this is a big one. if it is not solved, i will tell you, it is not going to work much the pilot program for the kind of everify that's in the
underbuying bill has been tested and you know what the reason report says on it? 54% of those who are illegal got through the system and got a job. more than half. why? because the verification doesn't work. our legislation strengthens it. in a half dozen waisms i have gone into great detail on the floor and it is all in the record. i have shared this with all my colleagues who are interested. and, again, we've done the right thing in terms of working with both sides phs aisle, playing by the rules in terms that the gang of eight signs off on it. it is not the original legislation that i drafted. but it does put in place real enforcement to ensure that the legalization will not occur in the absence of enforcement, which would lead not only to fewer people coming out of the shadows bus more illegal immigration happening. the 1986 bill cast a long shah i do on this place. this will ensure that we don't do that again. i urge my colleagues to accept a
reasonable list and to accept some time limits that are reasonable. i will say last july 4, a year ago, we were kept in session in this place. i was kept in session, as was every member, and i was happy to do it. but frankly it was regarding legislation that was more political than it was real. it never went anywhere because it is viewed as a political exercise. we stayed on saturday. as i recall, we stayed that weekend. here we have an historic bill before us on immigration and we can't stay for a couple days to be sure we get through some of these amendments? that makes no sense. members in this body know me. i am not a partisan. i am not a guy that get gets upe and rails against the other side about process. both parties into he had to figure out a way to come together and come up with a list of amendments that make sense to ensure that this legislation we're considering is one that not only goes over to the house with over 60 votes but goes over to the house with the kind of stains substantive provisions that are tbg to make the
legislation work so that we can tell the american people and frankly tell our colleagues in the house this is something they ought to take up. because our immigration system is broken. i see my colleague from montana is here. i would yield to him. mr. tester: i want to thank my -- mr. chairman, i want to -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tester: i just want to say this. i am not going to speak a lot about the amendment. i think senator portman has laid it out very, very well. i want to say that we've got immigration problems in this country that need to be fixed and they need to be fixed for sometime. i think the gang of eight has done a great job coming forth with a good-faith effort with a good bill that i think heads us in that direction. i think this amendment makes that good bill even better. and i would -- i want to thank senator portman for his work in a bipartisan way to put forth an amendment that makes the bill better, it makes the bill work better. and i will tell you, at some point in time there will be consent consent offered on this
amendment to get a vote on it. and i will hope that both sides agree that we can get a vote on this bill -- on this amendment. i'll tell you why. it makes the bill better, and it will pass. and that's what we're here to do. so i just want to thank my friend from ohio, and i encourage, as i did, both sides to come together make a good bill an even better bill, so we can pass it through congress and get it to the president's desk. thank you, mada mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: i thank my colleague fro. this was not an easy process. there are people on all sides of this, the business community sometimes doesn't want to the labor unions sometimes don't want to. other groups are concerned about this. but the reality is, unless we have strong workplace verification provisions in place, the rest of the legislation does not work. it's a critical piece of the puzzle. i would urge my colleagues to give us a vote, give us a chance, let us show that we can on a bipartisan basis do
something that will actually create the enforcement that's needed to have the rest of this legislation work. and, again, i'm urging both sides of the aisle to work on this together and to come up with a reasonable list of amendments. i'm not suggesting anybody else's amendment should not be offered. but i am saying that there is a way to get there. if we have to stay in, i hope members would be willing to do this on an issue this important to the american people and this important to the future of of or country. with that, i yield back my time, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from niewrm. mr. schumer: thank you. i thank the senator. i thank the senator fro from oh, for his good work on this piece of legislation. i want to just talk in general about where we are. obviously, this has been a long, hard road and we're on the edge of passing one of the most significant pieces of legislation that this body has passed in a very long time. and the good news is we're going to pass it with just about every
democrat voting for it and a very significant number of republicans voting for it. and the reason for that is the vast majority of members in this body realize that the immigration system is broken and needs fixing. absolutely. we have a dumb system right now. we turn away people who create jobs, and we let people cross the border who take away jobs from americans. and america is crying out that we fix the system. we have 11 million people in the shadows. they are working for substandard wages, many of them, under desperate conditions. and they bring down the wage rates for everybody else. through no fault of their own. we want to bring those people to an earned path to citizenship. we want to take our immigration system and admit people who are going to create jobs. we have shortages here. google maps is now in van
ciewrvetion canada. -- google maps is now in vancouver, canada. it is an american company but they're in canada because they can't get the employees think need here. they're willing to pay whatever. but canada's immigration system is much better than ours, and they can get the people from all around the globe who are needed to run that part of the company. and we are fair to agriculture, growers, and the farm workers have come together on this bill. it's a large, large improvement over the present system. now, you know, i've heard my good friend from ohio, and i like his amendment -- in fact, my staff worked on it with him -- but let's make no mistake about it. this is a vast bill. permanent everify is in the bill. and maybe it can be improved a little bit. but it is .01% of the bill. doesn't deal with border security, doesn't deal with exit-entry, doesn't deal with the 11 million, doesn't deal
with future flow. so i would urge my colleague to reconsider. of course we want this amendment offered, and many of us will support it. but to say that that is the only reason -- if it doesn't get in the bill is not worth voting for, i would have to respectfully and completely disagree with the bill -- with my colleague. and let's face it. there are members on his own side of the aisle who will block him from offering it. so that says it all, doesn't it? why do they do that? because they don't want the bill to pass. and that has been the strategy here. i heard my good friend from iowa talk about we're not aproving enough amendments. well, i'll tell you, folks on the other side have had a great plan. block votes for two weeks, and then in the final hours complain we haven't had enough votes. that's what they've done.
the first week we wanted to move bills. the able chairman of the judiciary committee did. oh, no ... we had to change the whole rules and change the number of vote vote it takes tos a bill around here. week two we proposed many amendments be offered and the pace was painstakingly slow. that's the plan -- block votes for two weeks and then complain. and finally, last night we go to a list of 35, 36 amendments from ethe other side. we have amendments. that would be 72 amendments, because ours would want a on one-for-one. that's only logical and fair. then we heard that wasn't sufficient. that they wanted more amendments than that. and, furthermore, the republican steering committee, my own colleagues have told me, sent out word, get more amendments out there.
because we want to make sure there are so many amendments that we could never finish this bill. in fact, even in that list of 36, the majority -- the majority -- not the majority but those who asked for the most amendments were professed opponents of the bill. they weren't interested in improving the bill. this strategy was at the last hour create dilatory dakota particulars so the -- tactic so the bill could never be approved. again, look at the list. one member -- i won't mention his name -- offered self -- offered seven, another offered six. two of the five leading opponents of the bill. they are not interested in aproving it. many of the amendments on that list of 35 were debated in committee and defeated by bipartisan votes. the committee was an open process. that shows our bonafides.
there were 301 committee amendments, more than 130 votes, 49 republican amendments, added into the bill, and leader reid has just made a reasonable offer. he took 17 amendments from that list of 36. every one of them was a republican request. he didn't make them up. he didn't spin them out of whole cloth. he added 15 democratic amendments. we have a lot of people on this side who genuinely want to improve the bill. and, of course, the other side objected. so the idea -- the idea that we're not allowing amendments? please. take the leader's offer. that's a half of the amendments you submitted last night. mr. mccain: will the gentleman yield for a question? mr. schumer: i would be happy to
yield to my friend from arizona. mr. mccain: my understanding that there were 17 amendments that were just proposed by the majority leader and it was opposed by the senator from iowa because we weren't allowing votes; is that -- if i heard correctly that after a unanimous consent request for 17 republican amendments, one of them very critical that the senator from montana and the senator from ohio, because of everify, which is something which is a fundamental key to making sure that those 40% of the people who are in this country illegally who crossed -- didn't cross our borders but came on visas and overstayed. and then it's my understanding that after those 17 votes, with ten minutes allowed with each side, if i understand the unanimous consent request by the majority leader, then we would do 17 more. and even 17 more, if necessary.
and yet the senator from iowa says that we're not allowing amendments? now, i've got to say, i think in honesty, i would ask the senator from new york, that there was a delay of a couple of days there that was unnecessary which, frankly, was from the other si side. but to somehow allege that the rights on this side of the aisle are being abridged when there's a unanimous consent request to have 17 votes right now with ten minutes inbetween, perhaps the senator from new york can explain to me that look i can. mr. schumer: well, it's very hard to explain. it's sort of twisted logic a little bit. it's sort of pretzel-like logic. it's also pretzel-like logic to delay votes for so many weeks and then say all at once we need hundreds and hundreds of amendments. not right, not fair, particularly as my good friend from arizona knows, when so many of those amendments come from sworn opponents of the bill, when so many of those amendments
were disposed of in committee. so he is right. and one other point i'd make while my good friend from arizona is here, one of my fellow so-called gang members. we have a lot of disputes in this body because one side is against the other side. one side says one thing and the other side bands together and says "no." and we get gridlock. we need 60 votes. neither side has it. but that's not the case here. every major vote has been bipartisan, with a very significant number from the other side supporting the bill. more than that, the whole process has been bipartisan. the gang of eight was four and four. we sat in that room and haggled. we had as many disputes on the democratic side that didn't want to accept what the republicans wanted as disputes on the republican side who didn't want to accept what democrats wanted.
but we all met in the middle because we believed in this bi bill. and the sad fact of the matter is that while a vast majority of americans support this proposal by every poll that's seen, a majority of republicans support this proposal, a majority of conservative republicans support this proposal. there is a group in the country and reflected here in the senate that is so opposed to the bill they will go to any length to stop it. but the good news here is when you have a bipartisan majority, that can't happen. so we get the kind of logic that my good friend from arizona has pointed out, we get the kind of thing, you know, it's sort of like hug houdini. remember, he tied himself in a straitjacket and then complained he couldn't get out? mr. mccain: if the senator would yield? mr. schumer: i yield for another
question. mr. mccain: the senator from iowa may allege that the amendments that he wants considered are not in that package. i would ask the senator from new york, and perhaps the majority leader, would we then agree to have votes on the amendments that the senator from iowa wants? i -- you know, i mean, it's -- these are -- these are a beginning and something that we could continue to vote on as long as it takes. when we were doing the budget, we stayed up all night. that was another great moment in the history of the senate. but -- and again, i'm not saying that all amendments aren't equ equal, i'd ask my friend, but i think it's pretty clear that the senator from montana and the senator from iowa -- excuse me, ohio, senator portman, have a very important amendment that has to do with everify, a fundamental of this legislation that we can assure the american people that the magnet is -- disappears because of the certainty of penalties for employers which is embodied in
everify which the senator from ohio has spent weeks on. only a nerd like the senator from ohio could come up with the -- the absolute detailed and absolute complete and comprehensive approach to everify. a man i admire enormously. anybody who could be the director of the budget has got to be a nerd, as we know. but i admire the senator from ohio's work on this, along with the senator from montana, and i think it -- is there anyone who would disagree that what the senator from ohio and the senator from montana are proposing wouldn't improve the billy normously -- bill enormously and the confidence of the american people that we could verify whether someone is in this country illegally and applying for a job illegally? so i guess my other question is: if the senator from -- if the senator from iowa doesn't like the list that the senator fro from -- that the majority leader read from, why don't we do some of the other amendments? or are we not going to do any
amendments? and i would like to -- mr. schumer: i would say -- mr. mccain: could i just say, my friend from ohio, i have the greatest respect for his slel electricitintellect and his caps and i know he knows i was just joke when i -- with my comments. as a personal aside, when i was practicing for my failed run for the presidency, the senator from ohio played my opponent and i began to dislike the senator from ohio enormously and he did a great job, as he did in the last election. i thank the senator. mr. schumer: well, i thank my colleague. in reclaiming my time, i'd say when you get a nerd from ohio and a farmer from big sandy, montana, together, of course you're going to get a very good amendment. the bottom line, though, is simple. that amendment is in the list that the leader suggested. every one of the 17 republican amendments was part of that list of 36. and so the bottom line is, and
now hundreds of more amendments -- you know, or many more amendments have been filed. and just talking about the amendment, look, vie everify isn the bill. i would not quite agree with my colleague from arizona. everify will work very well without the amendment. i think it will work somewhat better with the amendment. it's a good amendment. i'm supportive of the amendment. my staff helped work on the amendment. but let's not say that this bill will have no internal enforcement without the amendment. it has very strong internal enforcement. in fact, it has mandatory everify. my good friend from alabama has been railing that we need mandatory everify in the country for years. and as we work through the process, if the house, in its wisdom, moves the bill, we can improve things. this is not the last train out of the station. but i'd say this, if we don't have a bill, we'll have no
everify. improved, not improved. and so many of the things that many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle wanted won't be in the bill. so, again, to me, who's worked in a bipartisan way -- and i've taken as many criticisms from my side of the aisle as from the other to get this done -- what's happening here, not the gentleman from ohio. he is sincerely eager to improve the bill and i support that improvement. but for many others who are vehemently opposed to the bill, there is a view to delay and delay and delay in hopes, i would say forlorn hopes, that they can't move the bill. we haven't been on this bill for a day. we've been on the bill for three weeks. and, again, most of the objection -- not all, but the vast majority came from the other side when we wanted to move forward.
so i would urge -- i would urge that we adopt the leader's motion, 32 amendments, reasonable amount of time to debate them, 17 from the republican list, 15 from the democratic list, and go forward. and i don't think there will be a single objection from our side, i'll tell you that much. now, if you say we want these 32 and then untold more? that's a different story. that's a different story. but again, let me conclude on a happy note. we have our differences here but it has been truly amazing to work with the senator from -- the two senators from arizona and the senator from south carolina and the senator from florida and the senator from colorado and the senator from illinois and the senator from new jersey. it's been an amazing journey on one of the most difficult issues that face america.
we have crafted a proposal that has broad support and strong momentum, momentum that increased with today's vote and will increase further with tomorrow's vote. please, one of the things that our citizenry objects to is there's always naysaying. it's always easier to say "no" than say "yes." but as has been pointed out, when you say "no," you're keeping the 11 million here under what many have called unstated amnesty. you are keeping a broken system that kicks people out of the country who create jobs and lets people into the country who take away american jobs. you are preventing a change in our immigration system to make america grow. c.b.o. said, wow, that g.d.p. would grow by 3% because of this bill this decade and 5% next decade. it's obvious that's the energy
of immigrants. poor immigrants, unskilled immigrants, rich immigrants, educated immigrants. our ancestors, such as james madison flake, who my colleague from arizona once told me about, but all of our ancestors, whatever part of the globe they came from, worked so hard and are a part of the secret to american success. and this bill restores that energy and that vitality. so, again, this bill is not perfect. we never claimed it would be. but i would urge my colleague, my good friend, sincere friend from ohio, who is much -- he's very smart. that's what my friend from arizona want but has many other great attributes as well, and everyone else in this body to not say, if i didn't get exactly the change i wanted, this bill is no good, i can't vote for it. that's what's paralyzed this nation in the last decade, and this is an attempt not only to fix our immigration system but to overcome it.
and i pray to god we will. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? mr. sessions: mr. president? mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. a senator: mr. president, because there were some comments made about the amendment that senator tester and i have offered, let me just be very clear, this is about making the underlying bill work. i do not believe that it will work if we do not have strong workplace verification, simply. both because, as the senator from arizona said, 40% of the people who are here illegally didn't come across the border. they came here because they overstayed their visas and they're here illegally now and because when folks want to come here badly enough to get work, they will go over, under and around whatever barriers we put on the worried about. i'm for more border security. it's a good part of the bill. but it does not solve the problem. 54% -- remember that, that's the pilot program for ai everify, over half the people who attempt to get work are getting through. i don't think that satisfies anybody in this chamber. i don't think the bill will work. and i'm not going to vote for it if it doesn't have strong
enforcement because i don't think people are going to come out of the shadows in the way people want to have them, including me. and i don't think you're going to be able to stop people from coming in the future. the flows of illegal immigration, just as we saw in 1986, cannot be curtailed unless there's strong enforcement at the workplace. mr. mccain: will the gentleman yield for a question? mr. portman: i yield to my colleague from arizona. mr. mccain: it's my understanding that the senator from ohio, is it true, for lit ually weeks consulting industry, consulting labor, consulting the most -- best high-tech people in america, has come up with these fixes which all of us, no matter how we are on this issue, agree would dramatically improve our capability to make sure that anyone in this country is illegally here before they obtain a job. and maybe if it would -- it might be helpful to our colleagues that you could describe just for a couple of minutes, if you would, what you've been through in this process of coming up with this
product to make sure that this is really a system that -- that can work. i'm not sure that people are aware of that. i say only someone with your background and knowledge and expertise could have come up with this amendment along with the senator from montana. mr. portman: i thank my colleague. i've explained on the floor some detail why it's in the legislation and why it's so important, speeding up the time for everify, including a real trigger that's comprehensive, including the ability to verify somebody's identity which is the problem with everify, by photo match, doubling the amount that goes to states to provide the data, it has privacy protections and ensures we don't create a new national database that could have potential negative consequences for all of us as citizens who care about civil liberties. we have worked with the chamber and we have worked with the afl-cio and with the republicans and the democrats alike, we've worked with people in the gang of eight, it's not exactly the amendment we initially drafted, ours was even tougher in some
respects but it's an amendment that i believe in my heart if we could get this amendment passed would create an everify system that would be strong enough to create a real deterrent and right now the incentive to work is so strong that we can't solve this at the border plus as you indicated, my colleague from arizona, folks are coming over having overstayed their visas. let me say one more thing if i could, please, mr. majority leader. the gentleman from iowa has 34 amendments he tells me he would like to have offered. i don't know if all 34 of those would actually be offered. some of them as my colleague from new york said are being offered by the same senator. i would imagine there would be some voice votes in there. i know as i said earlier there has to be a time agreement that has to be reasonable, there has to be a limit. it seems to me there's a way to get there. to show the american people on a bill this historic we just don't have ten amendments on the floor, that we have the ability to hear not just from our amendment, 12340r tester and
myself which is critical to me, to having this bill succeed but also other members who as members of the senate have the right to be heard. i would hope we could come together, i misspoke and said it was last fourth of july, it was two fourth of julys ago, i remember missing events back home because we're voting. why, because we wanted to spend to time on the buffett rule. i didn't go anywhere. i would suggest this is even more important. if we have to stay through the weekend, stay up late tonight and tomorrow night to get this done, i hope we will do it to provide an ability to find a way forward where we have these amendments and significantly we're able to offer an amendment like this bun that enables this bill to work and enables us to have even more support as this bill goes to the house of representatives. i yield back my time. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: mr. president, i've been very patient today. but i've just about had it on this. all this pontificating on this
amendment, all right, this senator from ohio was offered to put this in the bill. he turned it down and we're spending all this time here because he's -- he's been aggrieved in some way? he had the opportunity to put this amendment in the bill as it's offered. so i wanted to be quiet here all day, but this is enough. this is enough. the american people need to know that he had the right to put it in the bill. they agreed on it. he said no. i assume because he wants a big show out here to have a frat spratt vote. i don't know what it is. but that's enough. i've had enough. i have -- i know he's a smart man, he's been head of o.m.b., lots of good things. i know nothing bad about him. but that's enough of this. enough of this.
the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. tester: thank you, mr. president. i just want to talk a little bit about this amendment, 1634 very quickly and the good senator from ohio has talked about it and explained it pretty well but i want to about a few things. this amendment improves privacy protection for the everify program. that's a good thing. it ensures no federal database will be created using a photo tool or other data from a state dmv veat base. it assures no government can access information made available under everify. that's a good thing. it increases privacy protections using eak next such as notifying a individual if their social security number is used. and it requires new regular reporting of suspected fraudulent use of the everify process. this is good amendment, it will make a good bill better and for that reason i ask unanimous consent that amendment 1634 be in order for the purpose of a
vote on the united states senate floor. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i reserve the right to object but i will object. i want the members of this body to know that i very much am interested in everify stuff because i have legislation in for mandatory everify, i was involved with several senators in 2007 as we tried to get an amendment -- a bill put together in 2007, and -- in those negotiations. and it's a case of something very important, and i happen to support this amendment. but it's one of 34 others that we sent over to the majority to give us votes on. our side isn't going to let the
other side pick our amendments and choose our amendments any more than they would let us decide what democrat amendments are going to be offered. so that applies to the portman amendment as well and the amendment -- tester is a cosponsor of it. so we had this set up where we were asked to put together amendments, it happens to be that a republican senator, somebody that just spoke, involved in this colloquy, asked me to put together some amendments. so i worked hard with a lot of dissenting republicans about how we should do this process. put together 34 amendments, and gave them to that senator, and he was going to go and negotiate with the leader or the majority.
and it seems to me that i ended up giving my amendments just to an errand boy. didn't do much negotiation. and so we're here where we are. and also for that senator i want to tell him that he said, well, we could do 15 vote amendments and then maybe 15 more and then maybe 15 more. the unanimous consent request said that after we do those amendments that we were asked to do, the bill be read a third time and the senate proceed to the vote on final passage of the bill. so there wouldn't have been a tranche of so many and then another tranche. so here we are. even though i think it's a pretty good amendment. when we were promised a free and open process of amendment, and
the group of eight promised that, from day one, that they put their bill down, that this bill can be approved. well, we've had a chance to improve it by a dozen votes and that's it. so i'm sorry for mr. portman and for mr. tester that i have to object to their amendment but i do object and i think that -- we got two and a half weeks that we could have been doing a lot of these things. we're going to have to rely upon the other body to get a decent bill to go 0 the president of the united states. i yield the floor. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana has the floor. mr. leahy: does the senator from montana yield for one minute? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, i think of myself as one of the calmest people around here, but a lot of facts and numbers have been tossed around here.
i think let's get a few in perspective. when this bill was before the judiciary committee, there were 300 amendments filed, 300. we put them online, every single person saw a week and a half before what the amendments were. we then brought them up. i'd bring up one from one party, then one from another. we did this day after day after day, into the night until people said we have no more amendments that we want to bring up. we adopted around 140 of those amendments. all but three of them with republican and democratic votes. to say nobody's had a chance to amend this, we had nearly 140 amendments including amendments from the senator from iowa and others and myself. all but three of these 140-so
were by bipartisan votes. and i well remember the last night of that markup, late in the evening. i said does any senator, republican or democratic, have another amendment they want? no, there was not any more amendments and we voted out the bill. we've offered to have roll call votes on 15 democrat amendments, 17 republican amendments, and then another almost 30 amendments, 29 amendments that everybody agrees should be passed and do them en bloc in the manager's package. now, i know some -- not the senator from iowa because he's been here a long time. but i know that some senators are new to this body. i've been here 38 years. i've seen great legislators in the republican party, great
legislators in the democratic party. we always talk about the hundreds of amendments we know we're going to get down to a finite number. and then you agree to vote on those, and you usually have a manager's package where both republicans and democrats agree these can be done en bloc. this is what we've done. several amendments here on the floor, 140 in committee, we've offered 15 democratic, 17 republicans, another 29 en bloc the objection did not come from the democratic side. it came from the republican side. including some who said they would never vote for any immigration bill whatsoever. the distinguished majority leader has more patience than
the senator from vermont, and i applaud him for his patience. i not have spoken on this point, and i apologize for taking the time. but it is frustrating to me to hear these numbers when so much work has been done by both republicans and democrats on this bill to get to the point we are. now, i respect my friend, senator portman, but he was offered the opportunity to put his amendment in the package, which is agreed to. i had amendments i would love to have, saying here's the leahy amendment passed on the floor, i said no, i'm more interested in putting it in the package and let it go through. i don't need to have my name on it. i just want to get it forward. i thank the senator from montana for letting me have the time. the presiding officer: the senator from montana has the time. mr. tester: i just want to get back to the amendment for just a
second here. since it was objected to. we wonder why we have single digit approval rating in conscious. the people out here that i represent, they aren't democrats first, they're not republicans first, they're americans first. and this amendment was objected to by somebody month who actually agrees with the amendment. if you're watching this on tv, you're saying what is going on in washington, d.c.? we have an amendment people agree is going to make this bill better yet it's objected to. why? because there are two or three -- one or two more votes in the end? is that why? if it is, that's not a good reason. look, we all live in this country. we all want this country to work. we all want it to continue to be a leader in the world. this amendment makes a good bill better. i want to kick it to the senator from ohio just for his closing comments on this amendment. mr. portman: there's been a
discussion --. the presiding officer: without objection, the senator from ohio is recognized. mr. portman: by senator leahy who was complimented earlier in his absence about the way he handled this bill in committee by senator grassley because of the number of amendments he did offer, allowing the republicans and democrats to offer. but to my friend the majority leader, and to the senator from vermont, yes, we were offered, senator tester and i were offered the opportunity to put the legislation into the hoeven-corker amendment. by the way, the idea there was that we had to cosponsor that amendment sight unseen which ended up being about 1,200 pages. we chose not to do. that. senator tester and i for a simple reason. we wanted to have a debate and vote on this issue. i discussed this on the floor now three times. i'll discuss it once more because apparently the senator from nevada wasn't there to hear it. but we believe, and i'm passionate about this, as you can tell, that if you don't fix the workplace, we cannot have an immigration system that works. it's as simple as that. and to not have a separate
debate and separate vote on this amendment on this issue does not give us the possibility of sending this over to the house with a strong message and maximizing the chance that the house of representatives will see that strong bipartisan vote on this important issue of workplace enforcement to ensure it's part of the final package. it's that simple. if it had been part of the so-called border surge amendment, rightfully so, members on the other bodyant others observing -- body and others observing this would have said it wasn't about everify or the workplace, it would have been the border, 5,000 on the border. we said give us an opportunity to have a tk-fpblt it's not about -- to have a debate. it's not about us or politics. it about the substance of the legislation to make sure coming out of the shadows it will happen. to ensure we don't have an
illegal flow of immigration and to show there is bipartisan support for that. it is frankly not a popular bipartisan legislation. over the years it hasn't been. in 1986 it wasn't. that is why it was never implemented because there was sort of an unholy alliance among employers, among folks representing labor union members, among folks representing certain constituent groups who felt there might be discrimination or other issues. that's why we carefully drafted this amendment to address concerns to make sure we had a separate debate and vote. we're talking about a five-minute debate, and we still hope we'll get it because it makes too much sense. we could not believe, senator tester and i could not believe that couldn't be possible in this body. the world's greatest deliberative body couldn't spend ten minutes debating this crucial issue and to show on a bipartisan basis what kind of support there is for not just dealing with the border but also dealing with the workplace, which in my view is the critical element here. we made a mistake in 1986 by not
writing the legislation properly, not implementing what we had in terms of employer sanctions. that's one reason of the three million people given legal status and amnesty, millions more came to the point there are millions living in the shadows. that's why legitimately we thought it would be appropriate for this body to take up that issue and have a vote on it. and i stand by that. i think we made the right decision, although i'm very, very discouraged by the fact that it now appears there might be some sort of roadblock here. let's get a reasonable list. let's get reasonable time limits. let's work through these amendments. we could be doing them now. we could have been doing them tomorrow. we could be here over the weekend. two years ago we stayed here to talk about the buffett rule which never went anywhere. this is not important? legislation we hope will become the law of the land and have a major impact on all of us as american citizens and the future of our country, a nation of both immigrants and laws? i ask again, mr. president, that
republicans be reasonable. democrats be reasonable. let's come together with a list that makes sense. let's vote on these amendments. let's start doing our work. with that, i yield back our time. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: mr. president, i thank the chair for allowing me to have the floor. look, we were moving, senator grassley had a list of 16, 18 amendments wednesday night. he was prepared to begin the voting on those. thursday, friday, saturday, if need be. senator reid said we'd work on saturday. monday. what happened? they had the super amendment. they had the corker-hoeven amendment, and the majority decided to sit on that, not allow any amendments to occur thursday, not allow any amendments to occur friday. only have a cloture vote on monday. and that vote i don't think our members understood fully, gave complete power to the majority to dominate this process, to end the idea that we would have an
open, fair process. it ended with a cloture vote monday. and we were on a process to vote on a series of amendments. and senator grassley worked and worked, and he got 35 amendments. he said that we would agree to out of the hundreds that were out there to have votes on. and now they come back and say 15 or 17, and now we're going to do this and we want this amendment and that amendment. but the process, i hate to say, is pretty obvious to me, monday afternoon it altered. we've gone from an open debate process, as senator leahy conducted in the judiciary committee. at the end of it, he did say anybody else got anything else they want to offer? there was nothing else to offer. and he voted. the committee was not a normal committee. we had four of the gang of eight on there. and so the vote after vote after vote, including two votes on everify that would have strengthened that, were voted down.
votes on earned-income tax credit fixing and honoring the promise not to provide that welfare payment was voted down. so i just would want to say that everybody knows what happened. senator -- republican members of the gang of eight said we'd have an open process. right after the vote sunday or monday afternoon they told me they were going to work for a process, but i knew then a deal had been cooked and we weren't going to be able to result in something that would work and be fair. so, -- would the senator -- mr. vitter: would the senator yield? mr. sessions: i would be pleased to, senator vitter. the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: thank you for yielding. i for one having filing amendments and trying to get votes on important aldz -- amendments for weeks since the beginning of this process. i started on the first day of
this debate and haven't let up. the gentleman from alabama is exactly correct. a slow halting process at the beginning, completely shut down, was completely shut down by the proponents of this bill as soon as they identified a path to pass the bill. as soon as they put together the major elements of the corker-hoeven amendment. and then that amendment process shut down. now they're trying to resurrect a little bitsy piece of it at the tail end of the entire debate for what reason? for the purely cynical reason that they can get a few amendments they want up to try to grow and maximize their vote. well, that is a purely cynical one-sided process. and i for one won't stand for it. i've been here urging my amendments from the beginning and consistently. the senator from new york was on the floor a few minutes ago saying this was a last-minute plea. hasn't been last minute on my
part. i started on day one. i continued on day two. i continued on day three all through the process. i was ready with my amendments early on. friday i organized a letter expressing this very concern about a shutdown of the amendment process and organized signatures and sent that letter monday to the distinguished majority leader. so my plea for votes on significant amendments didn't start today, didn't start yesterday. it's been part of the entire floor process. but that process has been completely controlled and manipulated in a one-sided way by the proponents of this bill. and now they just want a few amendments at the end. why? number one, so they're not embarrassed by the complete shutdown they have orchestrated. number two, so they can try to buy a few more votes for the bill on cloture. that's not an open process. that's not a fair process.
nor is it fair to be picking and choosing what amendment votes i get. all of these amendments by me and others are germane. that's not reasonable in any way. so i proudly join the senator from iowa in objecting to that offer which was completely cynical and one-sided. and i thank the gentleman for yielding. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i thank the senator for his comments, and i thank senator portman for providing some good language that would improve our situation. i truly believe that what happened monday afternoon, the bill was in deep trouble, deep trouble the week before. a dramatic reversal of enforcement ideas came about to throw money at this problem come friday, and that's what happened, and the process has been shut down essentially since then. a senator: would the senator
yield? mr. sessions: i would, the senator from wisconsin. the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. mr. johnson: i came down to express my gratitude to senator grassley in fighting for amendments. i want to confirm what senator vitter was talking about, the senator from louisiana about how the amendments were chosen by the other side. i have not been an abuser of the amendment process in my time in the senate. i try and pick the amendments. i try to write the amendments that i think really have a positive impact on any piece of legislation. in this case on the immigration bill, i want to solve the problem. i was looking for a reason to vote for the bill. what prevents me from voting for this bill is the huge cost that we're having to pay for it. listen, i don't want to divide families. i don't want to deport children's fathers.
i don't want to deport husbands and wives. but i also agree with the american people that we cannot -- we're already bankrupting this country. we cannot provide benefits to those people that are coming here that we want to welcome into this country that contribute to the country, but we can't be paying benefits. i offered two amendments. first of all, to not allow the secretary to extend the registration period another 18 months, so we can get this behind us. my other amendment which i think is more significant would help me vote for the bill, would be to prevent immigrants from obtaining the earned-income tax credit. the american people do not believe we should be paying benefits as we're bankrupting this nation to people that aren't citizens, by a 77% margin. as a result of that amendment, the one that i really asked for, if it was going to be narrowed down from two to one, i asked for a vote on the amendment to prevent the earned-income tax credit, a welfare benefit paid through the tax code to be
offered to immigrants. that was the one i wanted. but in this package negotiated apparently by the majority leader, they were going to offer the other amendment. why? because i don't believe they want to expose their members to that vote basically providing benefits to non-u.s. citizens because they know full well the american people do not support. so, again, i want to once again say i appreciate senator grassley's efforts in this. i also want to say i fully support senator portman's amendment as well. he's exactly right. the way we stop illegal immigration is by reducing the demand for illegal border crossings. we do that by shutting down the demand for that labor. again, we want to welcome legal immigrants through the legal process, but we cannot tolerate this lawlessness, illegal immigration. and we simply cannot afford to pay noncitizens at the benefit level, $262 billion is the cost of that bill, which makes it very difficult for me to support
it. with that, i yield back my time. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: mr. president, one more thing. first, i agree with senator johnson. i offered an amendment on the earned-income tax credit in committee for the gang of eight -- four of the gang of eight members were on the committee and they all voted that down, as i recall, even though they promised that there would be no welfare benefits for those in the country illegally who would be given provisional status under this legislation. and so that is a breach of one of the key promises that they made when the bill was moved forward. as a result, we know that the earned-income tax credit is not a tax deduction. it's a direct tax -- a direct check from the united states treasury to people based on lower incomes. it's a welfare-type payment, and it's not a tax deduction-type situation. so that was a disappointment in
committee that the group promise were violated and they have been blocked ben on the floor. one -- they have been blocked again on the floor. one more thing i want to say. i don't appreciate the idea that no matter what would happen, members on this side said they would not vote for the bill. that's not true. we can and need, and need badly, an immigration bill that would improve the immigration system of america, put us on a sound course for the future, would provide compassionate status for people who are here illegally, put them in a way that they don't have to be deported. and i will support that and have said that for years actually. and have said that through this process. let me tell you what the united states customs -- citizenship and immigration officers association wrote to the
committee, wrote to the senate just two days ago, june 24. this bill, if passed, will exacerbate the u.s. citizenship and immigration service concerns about threats to national security and public safety. will exacerbate their concerns. they go on to say -- quote -- "it will further expose u.s. uscis agency as inept with a case flow that the agency is ill prepared to handle." they go on to say that about the bi bill -- quote -- "it was deliberately designed to undermine the integrity of our lawful immigration system." the officers association wrote us that monday. they go on to say, "this bill should be opposed and reform should be offered based on consultation with uscis
adjudicators who actually have to implement it." nobody asked them. they met in secret with the special interests, the big business interests, the la raza interest, the agriculture interest, the united -- the immigration lawyers association. they didn't have any of the officers in there. i wrote them and asked them to meet with them. they still refused to meet with them. because they didn't want to hear that. then how about the i.c.e. -- the i.c.e. union officers association. june 24, they wrote us and said this -- "all senators: i urge you to vote "no" on this bill which fails to address the problems which have led to the nation's broken immigration system and in fact will only serve to worsen current immigration problems." got that monday.
they go on to say, "instead of empowering i.c.e. agents" -- who are the people out here required to enforce the law -- "this legislation empowers political appointees to further violate the law and unilaterally stop law enforcement." this at a time like no other in our nation's history in which political appointees throughout the federal government have proven to congress their propensity for the lawless abuse of authority. there is no doubt that if passed, public safety will be endangered and massive amounts of future illegal immigration, especially visa overstays, is ensured." so all this talk about the greatest bill ever, it's not so. this bill is much weaker than the bill that was voted down in 2007. it was on the way to defeat last
week until they a desperate claim to throw 20,000 agents at the border and spend a bunch of money, without any thought about how it would work. so, mr. president, i'm concerned about this. i -- i think a lot's at stake. but we -- we know how the situation got here. we know what happened. they voted cloture monday and the majority leader filled the tree. he had, therefore, complete control over any amendment. last time in 2007 there were 47 amendments voted on. this time, nine have been voted on. even if the 35 senator grassley proposed, that would be less than last year. so i -- last time. so i think that we know what's happening. they've managed to get their votes together. the corker-hoeven amendment was able to rescue a bill that was in deep trouble, and now it
looks like we're moving on to final vote without a -- without the ability to have amendments because the majority will not agree to allow an open process, as was promised, and allow a number of amendments to be offered. and as senator leahy said, a lot of amendments were offered in committee. why couldn't they have been offered on the floor? why couldn't we have voted on the amendments on the floor? the majority doesn't get to pick and choose what amendments they're going to allow to come up. we're either going to have a open process, an amendment process or we're not. and it looks like we're not. i thank the chair and would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. shelby: mr. president, before i begin my remarks on the immigration reform, i would like to acknowledge the diligence and leadership of my colleague from alabama, senator sessions, who's spent a lot of hours right here on this floor and in the committee before this on this issue of immigration.
i commend his relentless efforts to bring to light many of the problems and questions surrounding the legislation before, some he's been talking about in the past few minutes. mr. president, as a member of the u.s. house of representatives in 1986, i opposed the simpson-mazzoli act which granted amnesty to nearly 3 million illegal immigrants. supporters of to law then promised that it constituted a one-time fix to our nation's broken immigration system. instead, the promise itself was broken. at least four times as many illegal immigrants now reside in the u.s. some 27 years later. and despite this failure, the senate now tonight is considering legislation that repeats the mistakes of simpso simpson-mazzoli. the provisions are different but
i believe the results will be the same. still, mr. president, supporters of this legislation before us promise border security in return for amnesty, just as proponents of simpson-mazzoli did. in light of these facts, mr. president, here's a more credible promise. i believe the child of simpson-mazzoli will become the mother of all amnesties. you can call it what you want to. compounding the mistakes made a generation ago will ensure, i believe, that the problem of illegal immigration revisits generations to come on a much grander scale. flfer, i ristherefore, i rise te my colleagues to reject this deeply flawed legislation. the subject of border security has been talked about here in the senate. mr. president, during consideration of the simpson-mazzoli act in 1986 here
in the senate, my former senate colleague and coauthor of that legislation stated the following -- and i quote -- "the american people," he said, "in my mind will never accept a legalization program unless they can be assured this is a one-shot deal." the assurances to which he referred were border security and tough enforcement of immigration laws. specifically, simpson-mazzoli called for 50% more border patrol personnel for two years and new penalties for employers who hired illegal immigrants. unfortunately, as we know, the former proved insufficient and the latter was hollow. but it was too late. nearly 3 million illegal immigrants had already been granted amnesty by the time most lawmakers figured out that the assurances were basically a sham. despite the drastic increase in
the illegal immigration in the intervening years, supporters of the bill now before us in the senate make similar assurances of border security in return for a form of amnesty. they say that there will be a surge in border patrol and a fence along the southern border. we've heard it before. but the claim -- they claim two main distinctions between their promise and the one we heard in 1986. first, the supporters of this bill say that this bill does not contain amnesty but a tough path to citizenship. second, they say that this bill will secure the borders before legalization occurs. but will it? mr. president, i believe neither claim holds water. under this legislation, once the secretary of homeland security notifies congress that the department has begun,
mr. president, begun to implement a so-called comprehensive southern border security strategy and a southern border fencing strategy, she can commence processing applications for registered provisional immigrant status. in addition, the secretary must begin implementing these plans within 180 days of enactment of this legislation. i clarify the legal talk. no later than six months after this bill becomes law, those who came here illegally will be allowed to stay legally. i'll clarify that further. that's amnesty, in whatever you want to call it. the sequence is also noteworthy. no fence must be built before amnesty's granted. no surge in border patrol must occur either. those things come after, not before. so i return to the fundamental question, mr. president: will
these measures as structured stop illegal immigration? mr. shelby: the congressional budget office, c.b.o., says no. instead, c.b.o. provides only a vague and uninspiring assessment that the legislation will slow illegal immigration by some amount greater than 25%. slow immigration. if and only if the dubious promises of this legislation are fulfilled. perhaps that's the more salient point. we don't know what the impact of this will be. we don't know what we're doing. we only know that even the best outcome won't be nearly enough. mr. president, i believe we should know what we're doing. we should know that the border is secure before any discussion of legalization begins right here in the senate. but there are economic consequences to all this, too, that people need to think about.
what we do know, mr. president, as the economic consequences of this massive amnesty will make struggling americans a lot of them struck he will even harder. by some -- struggle even harder. by some similarities estimates, this legislation will -- by some estimates, this legislation will produce a surge in the first decade of enact. some believe more. c.b.o. projects that passing this legislation brings grim news about what this will mean for working americans as well as those looking for work. for example, the unemployment rate according to c.b.o. will accelerate over the next six years. average wages for americans will drop over the next ten years. meanwhile, average wages will rise for those granted amnesty or legalization. economic output per capita will decrease over the next ten years and the on-budget deficit will increase by more than
$14 billion over the next ten years. in short, this legislation is projected to increase americans' difficulty in finding a job and then reduce their paycheck when they get one. in my judgment, that's reason enough to oppose any legislation like this. mr. president, i understand the supporters of this legislation point to better economic projections in the so-called out-years. however, even if those projections prove accurate, which we don't know, we should never put the economic well-being of the americans here on hold. finally, mr. president, i'm deeply concerned that this legislation will further strain our overcommitted entitlement and welfare programs. our nation, as we all know, is over $17 million in debt. we should be working on a long-term plan to put our nation back on the sound fiscal footi
footing, not adding to the burden. there's also issues of competitiveness here. mr. president, long-term thinking would also aggressively promote american competitiveness. immigration reform -- real immigration reform -- presents a golden opportunity to advance that cause. this legislation misses the mark. in some instances, as we probably all know, china and india together by some estimates, china and india together graduate nearly a million engineers each year from their universities. the u.s., by comparison, graduates approximately 120,000 engineers. in addition, the manhattan institute estimates that 51% of engineering ph.d.'s and 41% of physical sciences ph.d.'s who are foreign born are forced to leave the united states once they get a degree. mr. president, i believe if we
really care about immigration reform, if we want to continue to lead the world, we must attract and retain the best and the brightest minds. yet this legislation would cause a tectonic population labor market shift in the opposite direction. specifically, c.b.o. projects that among the tens of millions of immigrants who will come to america under this legislation, there will be seven low-skilled workers for each high-skilled worker. 7-1, mr. president. it's little wonder, then, that c.b.o. projects that americans' wages will fall. two provisions in the legislation will affect this change. first, the current cap on family-based visas will be removed. this will create an unlimited influx of low-skilled workers. second, the cap on visas for high-skilled workers will be increased, though not nearly enough to meet the demand.
the legislation will also impose onerous new restrictions on employers seeking to hire such workers. the authors of this legislation claim that it contains a merit-based approach which will ensure that more high-skilled immigrants receive visas. they emphasize that their point system favors higher education, consistent employment and english proficiency. yet, mr. president, a closer examination of the details reveals that points would also be awarded on the basis of nonmerit factors such as family ties and civic involvement. in effect, this dilutes not only the point system but also claims of a merit-based approach that will promote american competitiveness. mr. president, i think we have some of the best universities in the world, they attract a lot of the most gifted individuals from around the globe, deepening our country's vast pool of talent.
this had in turn attracts companies here and abroad seeking the brightest minds in math, science, and engineering. graduates will go on to attain high-paying jobs or even create jobs themselves if they're allowed to stay here. mr. president, i believe we must do more to allow such talent to stay, especially in light of increasingly global and competitive economy. in closing, mr. president, i would quote mark twain, who once cleverly observed "history does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme." in the context of immigration reform, the promises we hear today sound a lot like those we heard in 1986. but this time, the amnesty will be much bigger. i believe that consequences will be many, undermining the rule
of law, failing to secure the border, increasing economic difficulties for american workers and job seekers, eroding our nation's finances, and weakening our competitive position internationally. mr. president, i believe that one of our fundamental responsibilities as lawmakers are to support policies that foster the conditions for job creation and economic prosperity in america. i believe we must remain a welcoming nation, but we must always put americans first. in my judgment, this legislation fails in many corners and it fails most tests. accordingly, i will respectfully but firmly oppose it and i urge my colleagues to do the same. i yield the floor. mr. thune: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, i want to speak to the underlying legislation that we're debating
here in the united states senate today and i want to acknowledge that like many of my colleagues here in the united states senate, i'm a decent ant -- descendant of immigrants. only one generation separates me from a grandfather born in norway but came to america with his brother in hopes of making a better life. my grandfather and great uncle when they came through ellis island wasn't the name spelled, ejylsjik. when they got to ellis island the officials asked them to change the name. so they picked the name of the farm where they worked near bergen, norway, which was the thune farm. when they got here they worked on the railroad, saved up enough money to where they could eventually buy into a merchandising store which became a hardware store and there is to
this day on the streets of mitchell, south dakota, a thune hardware. the family is not associated with it anymore, but that's an example of like so many other cases, people in this -- here in this chamber as well as those all across the country, mr. president, who came here in search of the american dream and in search of a better life for their children and grandchildren. my grandfather raised three sons in the middle of the great depression, the middle son, my father, harold, became an accomplished basketball player,with, went on to star at the university of minnesota and when world war ii broke out he defended his country in combat, became a navy -- naval aviator and flew off the aircraft carrier intrepid in world war ii. when he returned to south dakota he started raising his family in the small town of myrna which is where i grew up. this country, mr. president, was built by immigrants like my grandfather, and our future both economically and as a continued example of freedom throughout the world will be
maintained by future generations of immigrants who come here with a respect for the rule of law a in hopes of starting a better life. mr. president, a lot has changed in the world since my grandfather came to the united states. we face new threats from abroad that attempt to use our porous borders to harm this nation and to destroy our way of life. in addition to these new national security challenges we depend on a more dynamic system of commerce, trade, transportation, and communication. our government is also larger, and now offers a broad social northwest ?et to a growing and aging population. to maintain our system of government while encouraging future immigrants to come here our policy mutt must provide a clear path for those who wish to come here legally while enforcing the rule of law. as lawmakers we have to look at each piece of legislation that comes to the senate floor based on its own merits and the impacts it will have on our nation. the immigration bill before the
national senate has many aspects i can support but there are elements of this legislation, mr. president, that cause me concern and i appreciate the effort of those who have worked and in drafting this bill to find a way to address the 12 million undocumented workers currently living in this country. however, if we're going to fix the problem we need to do so in a way that doesn't result in the senate having the same discussion again and again in years to come. the solution to the problem of illegal immigration is not congress passing new laws every few years that provides for legalization without securing our borders. that sends the wrong message to natural-born citizens and those waiting outside of our country to enter legally. what legalization before enforcement communicates is if you want to come to america, don't play by the rules. it takes too long. instead, find a way to sneak in and wait for the next round of
amnesty. before we can get to the point of talking about what a path to legalization might look like as a country we first need to be at the place where we can, one, confirm that our borders are secure, two, know when people have overstayed their visas, and three, have a system in place where employment is limited to those who played by the rules. mr. president, once you have these tools in place, then we can look at a path to legalization. the bill before us today is legalization first and enforcement second. that's a promise that the american people have heard before. mr. president, last week i spoke several times on an amendment that i had offered to this legislation on a border fence. which at the time was voted down by a majority in the senate. now, i would prefer if we lived in a world where a border fence was not necessary. but, unfortunately, we don't.
when i introduced that amendment i was surprised to learn from some of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle that in their view it was a waste of money and unnecessary. in fact, one might have colleagues even called it a dumb fence. yet the substitute amendment agreed to this week now calls for 700 miles of fencing along the southern border. with this new compromise instead of a fence being a bad idea now all of a sudden -- i guess it's not unlike some of the evolutions that occur around here, it's become a good idea. i appreciate that my colleagues now realize that additional fencing is a key component of border security. i'd like to make clear this 700 miles of fencing is not a trigger that is a precursor to legalization. the amendment agreed to in the senate is still legalization first and the promise of border security down the road. what the amendment that i offered called for was 350 miles
of fence to be completed prior to r.p.i. status being granted. that would have meant another border security first, then legalization. additionally i had proposed a double layered fence to prohibit pedestrian traffic which is different than the single-layer fence in the current legislation. it would be insincere to claim we want to discourage illegal immigration and yet have a border that anyone can walk across in some places without even knowing that a border has been crossed. no border fence will ever be 100% effective. we know that. but a physical barrier along with increased use of technology will stem the flow of pedestrian traffic. on the few sections of our border where a double-layered fence is already in place, this is verifyally bli the case. -- verifiably the case. another provision touted in this legislation is the inclusion of 20,000 additional border patrol agents to secure our southern
border. prior to this committee, our comeeg colleague from texas, senator cornyn was criticized for proposing 10,000 new agents. people said how are we going to pay for it? we don't have the money to pay for this in the bill. now the increase of 20,000, double the enough proposed by the senator from texas is being defended and even celebrated by my colleagues who are criticizing the increase only a week ago. i'm still not sure how these additional border patrol agents will be paid for, nor am i sure how customs and borne will be able to double in size in a short period of time. in, in fact, i want to point out that those who are proposing this and again when this thing was originally proposed, the underlying bill had about $8.3 billion in it for infrastructure and other things that were called for in the bill. but adding 20,000 now border patrol agents and all the other spending in the bill has driven the cost of this up from about
$8.3 billion which was going to be paid for in the form of fees, to now about $50 billion in costs. and the argument is, well, that's okay because it's going to be paid for, the c.b.o. has said this is going to generate a surplus over the next 20 years. well, how is that surplus -- how did they come up with that estimate? pombg first of all it is a -- of course, first of all it is a payroll tax number. they assume people will pay payroll taxes in the social security trust fund and the medicare trust fund. all probably fair assumptions. but the only thing about that, mr. president, is that when those payroll taxes come into those trust funds at some point their assumes is they'll -- assumption is they'll be paid out in the form of benefits. they took payroll taxes surpluses and accounted for those as for the way to spend for the bill. if you look look at what c.b.o.
said, if you take out those social security and medicare trust fund surpluses, excluding the fica payroll taxes on this is a $70 billion deficit. if you back out medicare it's only $14 billion on-budget deficit but it's still a deficit under the bill. so to suggest this is going to be paid for by savings that are going to occur because of additional payroll taxes misses the point that those are payroll taxes that go into those trust funds on the assumption they'll pay benefits in the future. these are temporary savings. these are not savings you can count and, in fact, when you do the on-budget analysis of this, you come up, again, with a deficit of $14 billion and if you take out the medicare surplus payroll tax surplus you end up with a $70 billion deficit. so while i appreciate, again, the work of my colleagues, mr. president, to improve the bill, the final product is
still legalization first and promises of a border security down the road. the drafters of the legislation can point to many specifics if they hope to see in place but these promises of additional fence, everify, electronic entry-exit and more border patrol agents could be years away. if they happen at all. there are virtually no border security or interior measures in place prior to -- prior to the initial legalization of 12 million undocumented workers. i would like to see a border security package that brings real border security prior to legalization. unfortunately, this bill is not it. mr. president, we're a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. and it is important that these laws are respected and enforced
in accordance with the constitution and with respect to our immigrant heritage. we must have an immigration g immigration system that rewards those who play by the rules and come to the united states through legal means. and in considering changes to our laws, we need to promote and reward lawful behavior rather than providing incentives that would encourage even more illegal immigration. in 1986 congress passed the immigration reform and control act offering amnesty to three million people. today the population of illegal immigrants in the united states is estimated to be around 12 million. did the 1986 amnesty legislation solve the problem? no. it did not. yet today here we are again proposing a very similar package which repeats the same mistakes made in the past. mr. president, lawful immigration makes our
communities, our economy, and our country stronger. our current immigration system needs to be fixed in a manner that continues america's great heritage as a nation of immigrants. unfortunately, as this bill currently stantdz standz it will not solve the problem. -- stands -- it will not solve the problem. unless we see changes before legalization, i won't be able to support this bill. and that's not because, mr. president, i oppose immigration reform. it is because this is not a piece of legislation that will help our country in the long run. this legislation will provide instant legalization leaving in place many of the same problems which led to this situation while exacerbating still others. i filed an amendment that would take many of the triggers being touted as part of this latest substitute amendment and make them prelegalization. if this amendment were to be
accepted, this bill would become enforcement first and legalization later. we may not get to the point in the senate where that type of change is going to be considered. it sounds like as we wrap up this debate and move towards the finish line in terms of passage, additional amendments are unlikely to be considered which is unfortunate because we've got lots of colleagues as was talked about earlier who have lots of good ideas that would improve and strengthen this bill. we're not going to have the opportunity to have those amendments debated or voted on. i'm hopeful that this bill as it moves out of the senate some time tomorrow, mr. president, when it gets to the house of representatives it will be strengthened in ways i can support. it is time that we keep our promises to the american people by securing our borders as we seek to reform our immigration system. and i hope, mr. president, that before this is all said and done and this process reaches the final finish line which would be the president's desk, that it
has the right types of enforcement in here that puts border security first and that addresses what i think are the broken promises that have been made to the american people too many times in the past and assures them once and for all that we are serious about the issue of enforcement, about the issue of border security and that the past promises and the assurances that have been given in the past aren't all empty rhetoric and hollow talk, that they really mean something. we can do that. unfortunately, this bill fails to get that job done. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. menendez: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: mr. president, he know that many of my colleagues here are very talented attorneys. i'm reminded of the adage that
when you're a lawyer, if you have the law on your side, you argue the law. if you have the facts on your side, you argue the facts. but if you neither have the law nor the facts on your side, you bang on the table and you create a diversion. what i've heard a lot about here today is clearly a diversion because it is not either the law that we are promoting nor the facts which seem to be pretty stubborn, but sometimes for people in this chamber, i guess the facts are not an impediment towards their arguments. so let me try to get to what this law really is and what the facts really are. you know, my colleague from alabama, senator sessions, he likes to whip out the phrase "welfare benefits." well, we have not -- let's make
it clear to the american people -- we have not permitted welfare benefits for anyone under existing law for anyone who is undocumented in this country. and we extend that and actually to some degree enlarge it in this law that we are promoting. so to throw that out carelessly, to suggest, there are welfare benefits. there are no welfare benefits. existing law stops welfare benefits for anyone who is undocumented in the country, and we extend it in this law. i really must say i am chagrined when i hear my colleagues speak about certain americans, americans, who are part of civil society, part of our civic fabric, part of national organizations like la raza and somehow be spoken of as if they
are second-class citizens when i should bend at the altar of some others that senator sessions believes somehow are superior. they have every right as a united states citizen to voice their opinions about what our government should do in this question of immigration reform. and i really don't care for the categorization of people who are engaged, and ordinary citizens of this country, to be treated as if they were some second-class citizen. only in washington -- only in washington could you hear an argument that somehow public safety will be -- quote -- "endangered as a result of this
legislation." 20,000 additional border agents, more resources going to immigration enforcement than all other federal criminal enforcement agencies. more money. and that creates greater endangerment of the public safety? 20,000 more border patrol agents somehow make the nation less secure? only in washington. only in washington could some of the detractors of this legislation suggest that 20,000 additional border agents, doubling the border patrol, makes us less secure. only in washington could 700 miles of fencing make the nation less secure. only in washington could the
suggestion that an entrance-exit visa program to check who is coming in and making sure they leave or else, if not, they can be pursued is making us less secure. only in washington could you think about a mandatory universal everify program that has been enhanced under this legislation, that that makes the public less secure. only in washington. only in washington. and this from some of the very voices that for so long have said we need more border patrol agents. we need more fencing. and when they finally get the border patrol agents and they get the fencing and they get the everify system nationally mandated so everybody who gets a job and seeks to get a job is going to have to go through the system, when we have an entrance-exit visa program that is going to be implemented, only
even though they get that, they still say, oh no, it's either not what we wanted or it's not enough. and triggers? my god, personally from my perspective, we're trigger happy in this bill. we've got more triggers in this bill than i've seen in virtually any other legislation. we've got, i believe, up to five triggers now. five triggers that have to be pulled, meaning that they have to be achieved before we can move forward to citizenship. that's a pretty, pretty significant period of time. now this suggestion about do have the, well -- this suggestion about cost, well, this is one of the elements of where facts are a stubborn thing to overcome. truth crushed to the ground still springs back up. so what does it say?
well, let's start off with what it says about the deficit. now, this isn't me saying it as a proponent of the bill of the gang of eight. this is what the congressional budget office, the nonpartisan entity of the congress that both democrats and republicans rely on for an analysis of whether a piece of legislation will cost money, what's its economic benefit, what's its economic impact or what are the consequences of it came to their own independent conclusion. and they said that the gross domestic product would ultimate ly -- let's see, got the right chart here. that the gross domestic product would ultimately grow by 3.3% in the first ten years after enactment. now what does that mean? that means all of the output of this nation of that gross domestic product would grow dramatically. when we see growth of that
additional rate, it means every american prospers as a result of it. then it went on to say that an additional 5.4% of gross domestic product increase would exist in the second ten years. that means even greater growth, which means greater opportunities for all americans here at home. that means that the bipartisan immigration reform we've been debating in the senate will actually grow our economy. not harm it as some of the most ardent opponents have tried to argue. i've been saying that as well as many others all along. what else does the congressional budget office tell us? it tells us that on the deficit, we're going to reduce the deficit. going to reduce the deficit by, i think i got the wrong chart here. let me look.
it's going to reduce -- this is actually taxes paid. but we had a chart but basically here's what it says. it's going to reduce the deficit by $197 billion over the first ten years. $197 billion over the first ten years. an additional $700 billion over the second ten years. that's $900 billion of deficit reduction, nearly $1 trillion of deficit reduction as a result of this legislation, deficit reduction that is critical for the nation's economic growth, prosperity and to make sure the next generation doesn't bear that burden. that's what we get according to the congressional budget office, for achieving passage of this legislation and ultimately moving it into law. and then the report went on to say that revenue will come in a
whole host of ways, in payroll taxes, in income taxes, fees, fines estimated to be about $459 billion in the first ten years, $1.5 trillion in the second ten years. and it also found that there were fewer unauthorized individuals coming into the u.s. under the bill. now, yes, one of the things that it said was that to the extent that the c.b.o. said, well, there will be those who we are concerned that will overstay future visas, well, two things on had a score. that's the one point that my colleagues have used consistently. number one is which visas are they talking about? they are talking about the visas that our republican colleagues have largely championed for business in this country and want to see grow, and some have
amendments to grow it even more. those are the visas that c.b.o. talked about ultimately having the concern that people may overstay. and that's where the entrance-exit visa program is so important, to ensure that that doesn't happen. but it's ironic, again, how you can argue all sides here when you're just against, because if you look at what c.b.o. said, c.b.o. said that it was the overstay, the potential overstay of those new visas, the growth of those visas that would be the issue. but that's why this employment verification system and the entrance-exit visa program is so important. the bottom line of the congressional budget office report is pretty clear. it tells us 11 million people living in the fear in shadows are not part of america's problem, but bringing them out of the shadows is actually part
of our solution. it is a key to economic growth and immigration reform also, according to their views, will help save social security and medicare trust funds. these are all in so many ways so incredibly important. now, i heard the suggestion that somehow this will create challenges on the questions of wages. well, as i listened to some of my colleagues make their remarks about the c.b.o.'s reports on wages, i don't think the numbers say what they believe it says. they were talking about how american families' wages would go down. and the report explicitly says that's not the case. in fact, ezra klein wrote in "the washington post" that the idea immigration would lower wages of already working americans is -- quote -- "actually a bit misleading.
as for folks already here, the congressional budget office is careful to note that their estimates do not necessarily imply current residence will be worse off in the first ten years. in the second ten years they estimate the average american wages will taouly rise -- will actually rise as a result of immigration reform to the tune of about $470 billion. an average actual increase in jobs of 121,000 per year for ten years. that's 1.2 million additional jobs to the united states. it's $470 billion in increased wages of all americans. the truth is a stubborn thing. crush it to the ground, it springs back up. now, in addition to that, i have to remind my colleagues as they
come closer to having to cast a vote, and i hear, you know, some voices say i would be open to vote for the bill if this or that. well, look, immigrants constituted 12% of the population in the year 2000, but they accounted for 26% of the nobel prize winners that are based in the united states. 12% of the population immigrants. 26% nobel prize winners. they made up 25% of public venture-backed companies that started between the last -- between 1990 and 2005. the fact is that immigrants received patents -- receive patents in our country at more than twice the rate of native born populations. so the bill's overall effect on the overall economy is
unambiguously positive and you can try to distort it any way you want but that is simply not the case. now, that's the economic benefits to refute some of the things i've heard here. wages go up for all americans, jobs get increased, g.d.p. growth takes place, the deficit is reduced. how many things will we do in the senate that can bring all of those elements together? maybe some pieces of legislation might be about job growth. maybe some pieces of legislation might be about g.d.p. growth. maybe some pieces of legislation might be about how do we reduce our deficit. but what singular piece of legislation, according to the congressional budget office, brings all of those elements together? i would suggest not one that i've seen here in the last seven years. now, i -- i know there's a lot
of brashing and gnashing, part of that banging on the table because when you don't have the law on your side and you don't have the facts on your side, you create a diversion. a lot of crocodile tears here about the question of amendments. let me just say, first of all, this whole process began with a bipartisan group of senators who had input from their colleagues. they did not in and of themselves, the gang of eight, just say, this is my view of what needs to be done. they went back to their caucuses, they asked, what is necessary, what are the foundations, what are the principles thaw need? and there was a lot of input during that whole period of time. i constantly heard from my four republican colleagues of the gang of eight how they had spoken to x or y senator and how they believed this was necessary and what were some of the essential elements. and those got incorporated
through the process. they got incorporated through the process in which the legislation was ultimately devised and put forward. they got incorporated, unlike the 2007 bill that has been referred to here by several of my colleagues in the past. the 2007 bill on immigration did not go through the judiciary committee process. didn't go through the judiciary committee process. this bill did. it went through that regular order. over 212 amendments -- 212 amendments -- were considered. over 136 changes, amendments were accepted. 43 republican amendments were adopted. and all but three on those 212 votes, from what i understand, all but three were bipartisan votes. then -- so we had a -- 136
changes to the law that the gang of eight proposed. and then we came to the floor, and what happened on the floor? well, this -- this bill, which has been on the floor for 20 days -- this didn't just pop up. it's been on the floor for nearly 20 days. that's nearly three weeks of senate floor time. well, what happened was the beginning, that every time there was an effort to offer unanimous consents on the question of amendments, there were objections, objections by the other side. objections against amendments of their own members, because those who oppose this legislation no matter what did not want to give members their opportunity for a vote on their side because they believe if their amendments were adopted, they would agree to vote for the bill because they had made the improvement that they sought to an underlying bill that they otherwise could support but with the change they were offering. so strategically they decided
not to allow their members ultimately to have amendments because they were afraid that they would join in the growing cadre of members here who are supporting the bill. it wasn't about who gets to pick or choose amendments. it was a strategic decision and that took a better part of the first two weeks. we did have nine amendments. overwhelmingly they were republican. and then we had the corker-hoeven amendment which, of course, did the most dramatic, significant impact on border security. but in that amendment, there are an additional nine amendments that were included in corker-hoeven. all of them, i understand, were republican. and we would have had a 10th amendment because i understand, as has been said here -- and i was asked as a part of the gang of eight, can you accept this? -- and, you know, the portman amendment on everify would have been part of that package and we wouldn't be debating about whether that's here or not, it would have been
part of that package. and then we had an offer by the majority leader of 17 additional republican amendments and that was rejected. and a whole host of those amendments were from some of the most ardent opponents of this legislation. so, you know, this -- this thrashing and gnashing about, you know, process -- look, i understand if one doesn't want to get to a final judgment and you want to do everything possible not to get there, you want to do everything possible not to see the legislation move forward because you fundamentally disagree. and, let's be honest -- let me make my final point -- there is a universe of our colleagues in which no pathway to citizenship would ever be accepted. now, that's the unsaid elephant in the room. but there is a universe of our colleagues -- as a matter of fact, some of them are more overt about it.
they show it by virtue of even some of the amendments they wanted to offer, in which there would be no pathway to citizenship whatsoever. trigger, no trigger, any set of circumstances. so we've seen the consequences of that in europe. the consequences of that are there you create unrest in a community. it's not okay to exploit 10 million or 11 million people and not let them have the chance to make themselves right and earn their way into citizenship in the united states. it's not okay to say there can never be a pathway to citizenship when they're the ones who are bending their backs over picking up the crops that you and i get to eat every day for dinner or for breakfast. it's not okay to have that immigrant who is taking care of your loved one with a tender
heart and warm hand to their daily necessities and say they can never get a pathway to citizenship. it is not okay to have had chicken for dinner tonight and not understand that that is from the cut-up hands of an immigrant worker. and it is not okay to say that the country is somehow less secure by virtue of what we are doing here. i -- i -- i've said it many times. i don't know who was here to pursue the american -- who is here to pursue the american dream versus who is here to do it harm unless i bring people out of the shadows into the light, go through a criminal background check. you've got to pass the background check. if you don't, you get beported right away. -- deported right away. if do you, then you have an opportunity to earn your way after a decade in this country towards permanent residency and then later on to u.s. citizenship. so let's say it as it is -- if you don't want a pathway to
citizenship then stand up in the chamber and make your case. you just don't want a pathway to citizenship under any set of circumstances. you have the right to have that opinion. i strongly disagree with you. but don't hide behind procedures and -- and amendments. tell me what legislation that has come before the floor grows g.d.p. in our country, grows jobs in our country, increases wages of all americans, and reduces the debt by nearly a trillion dollars. i haven't seen it. that's what the opportunity is before the senate. that's why no diversion will ultimately sell with the american people. in poll after poll -- in poll after poll after poll across the landscape of this country, americans have said across the political spectrum, republicans, democrats and independents, they want to see our broken system fixed. and when they -- the elements of this legislation, all of its
elements, have been tested, they have overwhelmingly won support. and that's why i am proud of our colleagues, both democrat and republican, who have chosen to finally tackle a tough challenge and actually do something to fix this problem and to show america that this institution can actually work. that's the other side benefit of everything i've just talked about in terms of economic, of security, of promoting our future, of creating greater jobs, of creating growth and prosperity, of having the best and brightest in the world be able to help us continue to be a global economic leader. that's that the senate can actually function, and that's the opportunity before us -- fixing our broken immigration system, showing this institution can function on a bipartisan process and ultimately preserving our legacy as a
nation of immigrants. that is the greatest -- i always say that the greatest experiment in the history of mankind is the united states. greatest country on the face of the world. part of american exceptionalism is that experiment that we have had. we bring -- we've brought from different lands, different people and they have contributed enormously to this country. and tomorrow i hope to show a series of americans who we have proudly held up as examples of greatness who, in fact, would not be here today but for the opportunity, sometimes under a legal immigration system and sometimes not through a legal immigration system, who have served this country grately --
country greatly, who we admire and at the end of the day we show as examples to our children of what you can do for your country, what you can achieve for your nation and models to hold up to. i can't wait to share that with the rest of my colleagues in the senate. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. chambliss: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. chambliss: mr. president, i'm going to begin my comep hers here but i'm told by the majority leader leader that he may come in and want to do wrap-up and i'm perfectly comfortable with him interrupting me if he does ge get -- get to the floor to do that. mr. president, i rise today to speak briefly on the full bill before the senate and more eextensively on a section of the bill i've been working diligently to improve.
i first want to commend the authors of this bill. i have been through complex legislation before and this is a very complex issue, and i know how hard the so-called gang of eight has worked. and you can't please everybody in any complex piece of legislation. but i think they have done a -- a very credible job of putting together a piece of legislation that at least we could get to the floor for debate. i think having this bill on the floor is causing us to have a very important debate that is long overdue. we all know our immigration system is broken and we need to fix it. however, i am disappointed that we have not been able to have a full and open debate on potential solutions to fix the system. i have stated publicly that i have serious concerns with several provisions in the bill, including some related to border security triggers, interior enforcement, and the program designed to address our
agricultural labor work force. and that last topic -- agricultural labor -- is what i want to spend the majority of my time on tonight discussing. but before i focus on the ag piece of this bill, i just have to say that i am terribly disappointed and frustrated at the way this bill has played o out. i'm about to talk for several minutes or so straightforward -- on straightforward, commonsense amendments to the agriculture portion of the bill i've been working on ag immigration reform for nearly all of my time in the congress, both the house and the senate, that's a total of going on 19 years. this is an issue that i care deeply about because i come from the heart of ag country in south georgia. but guess what -- i'm not going to have a chance to vote on any of my amendments, not because they are poison pill amendments. they're not. not because many of my colleagues don't agree with the
changes that i'm suggesting. many actually do. it's because the sanctity of a deal has been given precedence over sound policy. and let me say that again. the sanctity of a deal is being given higher priority over sound policy. now, i'm not on the judiciary committee, and the chairman of the judiciary committee was down here a little earlier talking about everybody had the opportunity in the committee to file amendments, they had over 300 or so and that's well and good and i am glad this bill went through regular order. i wish every bill that came to the floor of the senate would go through that same regular order. but i'm also not a member of the gang of eight, so i have not had the opportunity to have input on this bill. nevertheless, i reached out in a constructive way to various folks to try to make some changes to the bill. and i particularly want to thank my colleague, senator graham, senator rubio, senator bennet, and senator schumer, and their
staffs for working tirelessly and in good faith with me to try to make some improvements to the bill. i thought we were making progress and i think actually we did, but now i understand that one or two members who want to prevent that from -- this bill from happening and so i am not going to be given the opportunity to have my amendments called up. but what i can do and what i will do is highlight to my colleagues here and to my friends in the house of representatives who may or may not take up this issue, the problems i see with the ag portion of this bill. the agricultural portion of this bill has not been discussed extensively here on the floor, but it is vitally important to all americans. farmers and ranchers in the united states produce the highest quality food and fiber in the world. the continued safety of the agricultural goods produced in the united states is an issue not just of convenience but of
national security. due to the importance of food safety, it is critical to know who is handling our nation's food supply and who is working on our nation's farms and ranches. additionally if our rearms and ranchers cannot access a stable and legal work force, they will be forced to downsize or eliminate their u.s. operations, and that is happening today. this leads to more of the food we eat being imported from other countries, and i want to make sure that we do everything we can from a policy standpoint to keep that food and fiber production right here in the united states. today, the majority of immigrant agricultural workers are undocumented. we need both secure borders and put in place an immigration system that allows those who seek to come to the united states to work in the diverse sectors of the agricultural
industry to do so legally. h-2-a is the current ag worker guest worker program in force in the united states today and i've been working on h 2 a since i came to congress not only because georgia's farmers are among the largest users of the program but because it is clear to me that the current program is cumbersome and difficult to use as well as expensive. my colleagues who drafted this bill have included many reforms to the agricultural guest worker program, and several of these reforms do take a needed step in the right direction. however, there are several areas that remain troublesome to me and so i am proposing amendments to address some specific areas. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: if i could ask through the chair to my friend from georgia if i can do the closing
script, take about two, three minutes. mr. chambliss: certainly. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the statement of the senator from georgia not appear interrupted in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: and i do appreciate his courtesy very much. i ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding the rule 22 at 11:30 tomorrow morning, june 27, the senate proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 179, anthony foxx, to be secretary of transportation, that there be two minutes for debate, equally divided in the usual form, following the use or yielding back of that time the senate proceed to vote with no intervening action or debate on the nomination, the motion to reconsider be considered laid maid and laid on the table, there be no intervening action or debate, and no further motion be in order and any related statements printed in the record and president obama be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate resume legislative session. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that tomorrow, june 27, upon disposition of the foxx nomination and the
resumption of legislative session all postcloture time,, that the pending amendments to underlying bill be withdrawn and i be recognized for purposes of raising points of order against the pending amendments to the substitute amendment, after the amendments fall, the senate proceed to vote on the option of the committee of the committee-reported amendment as amended and the ?ad senate proceed to vote to invoke cloture on s. 744. finally if cloture is invoakdz consider as if it had been invoked at 7:00 a.m. on thursday, june 24. the presiding officer: without objection ?ovment. mr. reid: are we in a period of morning business now? the presiding officer: no, we're on s. 744. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent we proceed to a period of morning business with senators allowed to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask the senate proceed to s. res. 144. the presiding officer: the clerk will report.
the clerk: calendar number 93, s. res. 144, concerning the ongoing conflict in the democratic public of the congo and so forth. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. reid: i ask that the committee-reported substitute with be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to be agreed to and with no interveningvening. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. reid: i ask bee proceed to calendar number 96, s. res. 166. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 96, s. res. 166, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the organization of african unity and so forth. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. reid: i ask the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider made and laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
mr. reid: i now ask consent, mr. president, we proceed to s. res. 187. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. res. 187 congratulating the chicago blackhawks on winning the 2013 stanley cup. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider made and laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. reid: i ask we proceed to s. res. 188. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. res. 188 recognizing june 30, 2013, as the centennial of the lincoln highway and so forth. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider made and laid on the table with no
intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask consent we now move to s. res. 189. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. res. 189, relative to the death of the honorable william dodd hathaway former united states senator for the state of maine. the presiding officer: is there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider made and laid on the table with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask consent that the senate when it complete its business it adjourn until 9:30 a.m., thursday, june 27, the journal of proceedings approved to date, time for the two leaders reserved for use later this the day, following any leader remarks the senate resume consideration of s. 774, the comprehensive immigration bill and the time be equally divided and controlled between the managers or their designees with senators permitted to speak therein for ten minutes each. the presiding officer: is there
objection? without objection. mr. reid: there will be three roll call votes about 11 230bg with confirmation of foxx for secretary of transportation and adoption of the committee report on substitute amendment and cloture on s. 744, the comprehensive immigration reform bill. following the statement of senator chambliss for 15 more minutes, senator sessions for ten minutes i ask it adjourn under the provisions of s. 189 it is a a further mark of respect to the late senator hathaway of maine. mr. sessions: reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: tax reform alabama. mr. sessions: would the majority leader agree to 30 minutes? the presiding officer: the request as modified is agreed. the senator from georgia. mr. chambliss: this represents a delicate political balance but we have a responsibility to enact smart policy and we also have a rare opportunity to
replace the cumbersome and largely unworkable h2-a ram with something that will address the needs of those in agriculture all across the country, while ensuring that no american workers are displaced. we also need to ensure that we do not give those undocumented aliens working in one sector of our economy a vast preference over the rest of the illegal population in terms of the pathway to citizenship. before i talk about my amendments, i just want to give members of the senate an understanding of how the agriculture piece of this bill is set pup. the ag portion puts in place a blue card program to transition illegal aliens who have worked in agriculture to lawful permanent resident status. it also creates a new ag guest worker program to replace the current h-2-a program. the blue card program is open to anyone who has works in
agriculture for 575 hours or 100 work days over the two-year period of 2010 to 2012. now, let me say that again. if you worked for 575 hours or 100 workdays out of the 730-day period of 2010 to 2012, you qualify for a blue card provided you did that work in agriculture. now, frankly, to me that is a very low threshold. now, the general undocumented population covered by the r.p.i. program which is in the base bill has to prove that they meet the requirements to gain priempletd status -- r.p.i. status by a preponderance of the evidence standard of proof. however for the blue card program, that undocumented alien only has to prove they
worked that very minimal amount in agriculture by the standard of proof called "just and reasonable inference." there is no interview required and no way to really verify that the person applying for the blue card status actually worked in agriculture. i mean, someone who lives in an area where agriculture work is performed and as evidence of their residence in that area could get a blue card by showing proof of residence and saying they were paid in cash in their agricultural job. i'm afraid the lax standards set up by the bill to qualify for the blue card program will lead to an influx of illegal aliens that worked a minimal amount in agriculture or never even worked in ag at all to program sending more folks than we need in the ag sector to those jobs. now, you might say why in the world would anyone choose to qualify for the blue card program, since agriculture work
is widely viewed as some of the toughest work around and the most demanding work? the answer is pretty simple. it's because the blue card program is a faster, cheaper, easier way to a green card than the r.p.i. program for other undocumented aliens in the base bill. while the r.p.i. program doesn't allow illegal aliens to get a green card for at least ten years, under the blue card program if you're an agricultural worker, you can get a green card in five years. while the r.p.i. program doesn't allow grashedz to be issued -- green cards to be issued until certain border triggers are met, the blue card program doesn't require those aliens to wait on that border security piece. thirdly, while the priermt program -- r.p.i. costs a $2,000 fine in addition to processing fees, the blue card program has a cost of $500.
the theory behind the blue card program is to incentivize this undocumented population to work in agriculture because it is a critical industry that traditionally has not attracted many american workers. however, the way the bill is written, there are very minimal ag requirements. now you have to keep in mind that once an alien gets a blue card, they are authorized to work in any job in the united states. they have to meet the minimum work requirements in an agricultural op paeugs, but other -- occupation but otherwise they are free to take any other job in america and are treated as a u.s. worker for hiring purposes. so what are these work requirements to go through the blue card program and to get a green card? well, there are two tracks. the illegal alien can work at least 100 days a year in an
agricultural operation for five years or the alien can work 150 days per year for three years. either way, the alien gets that green card in five years. even the accelerated track requires the alien to work less than half the year in agriculture. while the alien can work in any other job in the united states, he or she doesn't have to. so in theory, a blue cardholder could work 100 days per year for five years in agriculture and be totally ununemployed the remainder of the year and still get a green card in five years and still have legal residence inside the united states. likewise, the alien could work 150 days per year for three years and be totally unemployed the remainder of the time and still get a green card in five years. that just doesn't seem right, especially when the r.p.i.
population is not allowed to be without a job for more than 60 consecutive days. clearly, the agricultural worker is getting a vast preference over the r.p.i. undocumented workers. because of the way the blue card program is set up, i'm afraid we're providing too strong an incentive for people who did very minimal or even no work in agriculture to access the program, and that we'll end up with more ag workers than we need. then because the work requirements are so low, once folks get the blue card they'll perform the minimal amount of work required and move on to a different job. and we'll leave those farmers and ranchers in the lurch with an unstable workforce, because, remember, these blue card folks are treated as u.s. citizens for hiring purposes. the other aspect of this that really concerns me is, and we
know this to be a fact because we saw it happen after the 1986 amnesty program under ronald reagan, and that is that once these individuals who are working in agriculture get that green card which allows them to permanently stay in the united states, they're out of agriculture. they're going to leave the farm. and they're going to go to work in construction or some other industry some place in america where the working conditions are better and maybe even the pay is better. it's going to happen because we know history tells us it's going to happen. some of my amendments are aimed at tightening up the blue card program to ensure that only those folks who truly work in agriculture are using the program. the fact of the matter is i want those experienced agriculture workers to stay in agriculture, and i'm also providing them some incentives to do so and the base
bill here just went way too far in the other direction. the first amendment i'll discuss tightens the requirements to obtain the blue card. it raises the standard of proof to verify that you actually worked those very minimal qualifying hours in agriculture to qualify for the blue card program, to what it is for the r.p.i. population, i.e., a preponderance of the evidence. as i mentioned before, the standard in the base bill is just and reasonable inference. someone has to be able to prove by just a just and reasonable inference that they performed over two months of agricultural work over a two-year period of time in order to get into the blue card program. i think that standard leaves the program susceptible to all kinds of fraud. however, i understand that there are concerns by some that due to the nature of an undocumented work in agriculture, it will be
difficult for them to garner the necessary evidence of work history to access the program. even though the bill protects employers from liability for having employed illegal workers. at any rate, because there is that concern, my amendment provides that for those who truly worked in agriculture but cannot meet that standard because of the nature of an undocumented workforce, they don't have that evidence, those folks have the opportunity to sit down and do an interview with the appropriate agency officials and prove to them face-to-face that they did work in agriculture as a matter of just and reasonable inference. if they can do that through the interview process, then they can get into the blue card program. this amendment will eliminate most of the potential for fraud for the blue card program and is simply a very commonsense amendment. the second amendment i'll
mention tightens up the work requirements to maintain the blue card and eventually transition to a green card. instead of allowing 100 work days for five years or 150 work days for three years to get a green card, my amendment says that you must work 180 days for each of the five years in order to qualify for the green card. if you're going to be put on this preferential pathway to a green card, i think you ought to be able to work at least half the year in agriculture. i don't think that's too onerous. six months of work per year for five years. now some will argue that some agriculture work is only a few weeks per year, and so six months out of work per year is too much to require. to that i would say if a worker is only performing three or four weeks of ag work per year, maybe this blue card path is not the best path for them.
perhaps they are better off seeking the r.p.i. pathway to citizenship. i mean, we are talking about a preferential pathway to citizenship for a half a year of ag work per year under my amendment, with no other work requirement. i don't think this is too much to ask, and i think that many people will still be able to maintain their blue card status with no problem. the third amendment i filed has to do with just how preferential that pathway to citizenship is for the blue card workers. the current bill says that regardless of any border security triggers being met, an unlimited number of blue card workers will be issued green cards in five years. those folks who qualify under the r.p.i. section of the bill, they can't start the green card process until ten years after enactment and certain border triggers are met. i think that stretching that time line for the blue card
workers who, remember, are authorized to work in any job in the united states, to seven years rather than five years is more than reasonable and is still a preferential pathway to citizenship. the fourth amendment dealing with the blue card program deals with the fines for the blue card program. and again, this goes to how much more attractive the blue card program is as compared to the r.p.i. program. the bill as written requires folks on the r.p.i. program to pay fines totaling $2,000 in order to get a pathway to citizenship. however, those on the blue card program are only required to pay fines totaling $500. just $500 for this faster and easier pathway to citizenship. mr. president, that's just not right. i understand that these agriculture workers don't have a lot of money, and so i'm not asking to raise it to the same
level as the r.p.i. group. however, i think the fines should be significant. my amendment would increase that total blue card fine to $1,000, which is double of what it is in the underlying bill, but still half of what it costs the r.p.i. folks. the final amendment i filed relative to the blue card program should be totally noncontroversial. it has to do with previous h-2a workers who want to participate in the blue card program. there is a provision in the underlying bill which i agree with that allows those former h-2a workers to apply for a blue card and participate in the blue card program even if they are not currently in the country. i think this is the right policy because many h-2a employers have been using the same workers for many years through this legal guest worker program, and i don't think we should punish
them for having done the right thing in the past. what this amendment does is simply add language that clarifies that the agencies involved in administering the blue card program need to promulgate regulations that will allow those former h-2a workers to make their application from outside the country. so in summary, i have five amendments to this bill relative to the blue card program, and self-of these are really -- and several of these are really smell test amendments because without them, i think it is difficult for this blue card program to pass the smell test. i also have a series of amendments aimed at improving the new agricultural guest worker program set up by this bill which is called the w-2, w-3 program. it is imperative that we as policy-makers get this program right. if history is any indication, we make reforms to our immigration laws once every 20 to 30 years.
we have to make sure that the guest worker program put in place by this bill is practical in its implementation and can be used by farmers and ranchers because as thee blue card workers leave agriculture -- and we know they will -- we have to make sure that there is a stable and legal workforce available in those instances when u.s. workers cannot be found. i've said it before and i'll say it again now that i think this new guest worker program takes a step in the right direction. but i do have a few amendments to improve it that i will talk about now briefly. the first amendment has to do with wages. the underlying bill sets a national minimum wage for each of six different agriculture jobs categories for the years 2014 to 2016. the wages for each category will automatically increase anywhere from 1.5% to 2.5% each year
forever. i have several issues with this wage section, like the fact that a national wage does not reflect very real regional differences in cost of living or the fact that the wages do not seem to be based on any survey data. but i know how hot of an issue this wage section is, so in an effort to be abundantly reasonable in how i propose to alter the bill, the main fix i'm looking to make is to the number of wage categories. i think we can all agree that some agriculture jobs require a more skilled or experienced worker than others, and my amendment protects that fact. what i am trying to avoid is the bookkeeping nightmare created by these six wage categories. under the categories presented in the base bill, a worker in a packing shed is in a different
category than a fieldworker and is paid at a different rate. and a worker driving a tractor is in a different category and paid at a different rate from the fieldworker and the packing shed worker. but the reality is, and all of my friends familiar with the day-to-day operation of a farm will agree, the reality is that on any given day on a diversified crop farm, workers will be doing any combination of those three jobs. so my amendment collapses those six wage categories into two: a skilled wage and an unskilled wage. and to get those numbers -- and to get to those numbers, i simply average the wage data that the gang of eight proposed in the underlying bill and used the same job categories that the gang proposed in the bill. my aim is to prevent an employer from having to determine how many hours a guest worker spent in the field versus the packing shed each day as he would have to do under the current bill.
the second amendment deals with the issue of liability. if you ask my h-2a userrers in georgia what their biggest complaint is with the h-2a program, i will guarantee that all of them will tell you it's liability. now let me be clear up front. i do not want to take away any protections that exist for workers. they need that. they deserve it. nor do i want to prevent a worker with a legitimate grievance from being allowed to pursue that grievance. what i do want to protect against, though, is frivolous lawsuits that can cost a lot of money and waste a lot of time. there are several areas in the bill that i think can be tightened up as it relates to liability. the first area of liability that i think needs to be dealt with and is addressed in my amendment has to do with the mediation. the bill rightly sets up alternative dispute resolution to try to keep some of the
complaints outside of the federal courtroom. however, the mediation set up under the bill is not binding. what's the point of providing this alternative dispute resolution if you don't want to make it binding? and my amendment would do just that. the second area of liability i want to talk about that is addressed by my amendment has to do with the legal services corporation. current law provides that legal services cannot represent an undocumented alien who is not present inside the united states at the time representation occurs. i think that's a good law. the underlying bill, however, eliminates that law and specifically says that legal services can represent a w-2 or w-3 ag guest worker even if they reside outside the united states. now we're not talking about u.s. citizens here. we're not even talking about blue card workers.
we're talking about future guest workers. i think it leaves open the possibility of frivolous lawsuits being filed from a foreign country, and i simply don't think that is sound policy. there's a final area of liability i am concerned about that has to do with housing. the bill treats those agricultural employers who provide housing under the w-2/w-3 program as they are required to do if they cannot or do not provide a housing allowance, a housing provider -- as housing providers under the migrant and seasonal agriculture worker protection act as it is referred to. and let me tell you what that means. it means that any guest worker who alleges a housing violation like a broken screen door or a nonworking microwave will be allowed to pursue that grievance through a lawsuit filed in federal court. and believer you me, it -- and
believe you me, it happens today. that doesn't make sense to me. there should be a right to cure a defect before they have that right to file suit in federal court. there should be a right for the employer to fix any minor or accidental issues with housing, but that's not allowed under the base bill. initially my amendment had language to address this, but at the request of the bill's sponsors who told me that was too controversial, i eliminated that piece of my liability amendment. and it's strange to me that this would be controversial, but to some it is. so that is a problem in the bill that i'm not even addressing by this amendment, but i do want to highlight it for my colleagues because i'm telling you this is going to be a real issue if that provision in this bill ever becomes law. and i am hopeful that as this process moves forward, there may be another opportunity to do something to address this in a reasonable way. the third amendment to the guest worker program has to do with
the allocation of visas. the current bill allocates the 112,000 w-2 and w-3 visas among the four quarters of the year. i understand the intent of the drafters. they didn't want all the visas to get used by those who will seek visas early in the calendar year and not have any visas available for those who don't need workers until later in the year. however, i think a more efficient distribution of visas would be to issue them to all allotments. one on january 1 to accommodate year-round users like dairy. and those with a spring crop. and then one on july 1 to accommodate the fall crop. my amendment does just that, and it waits the january 1 allotment to have 70% of the visas because there are those year-round users like poultry processers who will
be needing those visas early on. any unused visas from the january 1 allotment will roll over to the july 1 allotment. the fact of the matter is that crop seasons don't fit squarely into calendar quarters, and i think by changing the timing of the visa allotments, it simply makes more sense. the fourth amendment to the guest worker program has to do with the wages of former h-2a workers. i commend the drafters for recognizing that we don't need to punish those employers who to their economic disadvantage have been using the current h-2a program to ensure they have a legal workforce. they did this by saying that even though blue card workers are treated as u.s. workers under the bill and, therefore, have to be hired before any guest worker, if you have used an h-2a worker for three out of the past four years and want that h-2a worker to continue to
work for you under the new guest worker program, you can. that former h-2a worker won't be displaced by a blue card worker. however, and this is where i have the problem, if you hire that former h-2a worker under the new guest worker program, you don't pay that worker the wage rate established under the w-2, w-3 program. the bill requires that you pay that former h-2a worker a separate and higher wage rate. this is a wage rate that exists under the current h-2a program right now and it is part of the reason that law is so flawed. this just doesn't make sense. it seems to once again punish those who have been playing by the rules. and the punishment is exacerbated because there is a provision in the bill that says you can't give any preference to guest workers.
now on its face, that makes sense. but what it actually means is that you have to pay all the workers you hire that awra rate and that's just not right. this is a fairly technical concept, so let me give you an example. say you have farmer joe who has been using the h-2a program, even though his neighbors have not, and they have hired undocumented illegal aliens and paid a much lower rate. this means that all the years that farmer joe has been providing free housing to his workers, paying their transportation costs to his farm, and paying this higher wage rate which in georgia this year is $9.78. meanwhile those who use a questionable legal workforce have not had to provide housing, have not had to provide transportation and have only paid minimum wage to their
workers. if farmer joe uses 100 h-2a workers every year and has ten critical workers that he would want to make sure he rehired under the new w-2/w-3 program, he can do that. he can hire those ten guys before he hires any blue card workers. he still has to hire americans first, but after that he can hire those ten workers. the rest of his workforce in all likelihood will be filled in with blue card workers because there will be so many of them legalized and needing to meet a work requirement. so farmer joe will have ten former h-2a workers and 90 blue card workers. however, under this bill, he'll be forced to pay those former h-2a workers the higher wage rate of the awra rather than the wage rate set up by the w-2/w-3 program in the underlying bill. and because he can't treat guest
workers any better than u.s. workers, and because blue card workers are considered u.s. workers, he'll also have to pay all 90 of the blue card workers the awra rate also. so my amendment would simply strike that provision so that farmer joe will pay the wage rate set up by the w-2/w-3 program. he'll still have to pay all the blue card workers that the w program wage rate but not the awra rate. the final amendment i'll discuss is very straightforward. it simply extends the h-2a program for three years. the current bill extends h-2a for one year, but my amendment would add two years to that. while the h-2a program is far from perfect, it does allow employers who need legal workers to get them in a timely manner. standing up a new program and moving it to a new agency and issuing new regulations to govern the program is a big undertaking, and it is all
mandated to be done within this one year -- within one year in the bill. i think h-2a can serve as a safety net in the off chance that there's a bump in the road in getting these new programs propped up. now, mr. president, as i said earlier, i'll not have the opportunity to have any of these amendments voted on or even accepted by unanimous consent, and i cannot tell you how much that dispoints me. any of these changes will take this bill in the right direction from my perspective. the ag portion of this bill is a critical piece of the legislation, and i'm afraid it has been overshadowed by some of the other issues. but we are doing a great disservice to our agriculture community and to all americans who put food on their tables if every night -- put food on their tables every night if we don't get this right. and, mr. president, we are not getting it right in this
underlying bill. there is going to be fraud and abuse like we have never seen in the ago guest worker -- in the ag guest worker program. and we're going to have folks getting green cards ahead of those who have been standing in line and doing the right thing for years and years and years, and all of a sudden these workers who now hold a blue card because they came in and said, yeah, i work in agriculture for three months out of the year for farmer mack over here, and there's nobody to dispute that. and he says i worked a definitive period of time for three years and all of a sudden at the end of a total of five years, he's going to get a green card and an automatic pathway to citizenship. that is just not right. i came to my colleagues in good faith to try to make positive changes to this bill. i come to the floor now to talk about some of those changes.
ultimately, i want what's best for american agriculture. i want to be a constructive part of this debate, and, unfortunately, a relative few number of my colleagues are preventing that from happening because none of these amendments are ever going to see the light of day. mr. president, i would yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i want to thank senator --. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. sessions: ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: i'd like to express my appreciation for senator chambliss. this is one of the least-discussed but more important parts of our bill, ag provisions, and he has delineated weakness after weakness after weakness in this
process, and the ideas he had to strengthen the bill, and i hope that the people who have heard it would draw a number of conclusions. first, their great -- there are great weaknessness the bill and secondly, senator chambliss fully understands those and he's worked on this, i know last time we had a bill great length and contributed great detail to it. and i think the third thing we ought to understand is this is a complex regime that we're trying to set up. i'm not sure the government is ever competent to set up as complex a regime as the effort has been made in this legislation to create. so senator chambliss, thank you for your positive contributions, your work. i know you've been constructive advocate with members on the other side trying to improve the legislation, and thank you for
sharing in depth the difficult and confusing parts of this law. thank you. mr. president, there are a lot of things that we need to understand before we move to final cloture vote on this legislation. it's late, i hope people will pay attention and we need to understand accurately what's happening. i've been an advocate, i'm sure in the times that we're here, sometimes you have to respond at a moment's notice and you make a statement, it's not entirely accurate, but i do believe that the sponsors of the bill who came to us and claimed they had the toughest bill in history and that it was going to solve our problems had an obligation to be more accurate than they've been, and sometimes they make mistakes and some of the
disagreements make a difference in whether the legislation is good legislation or whether it's bad legislation. it's just important. and i'd like to just point out a few things that have been talked about a lot today. one was recently one of our gang of eight, senator menendez, made reference to the border security and the officers who have written a letter complaining about this legislation and suggested somehow that maybe it was before the border enforcement had been improvement and promised to be improved, at least. but i think it evidences a misunderstanding of how our system works. this is the letter from the national citizenship and immigration services. these are not the border patrol agents, these are not the i.c.e. agents, these are the
people that process the claims for citizenship. and they try every day to do the right thing and treat people fairly and equally, and ensure that people wait in line and wait their time. they're not supportive of this legislation. they represent 12,000 uscis employees. adjudication officers and staff. and this is is the statement they issued. quote, "the amended 1,200 corker-hoeven immigration bill, not something previously but the last bill that we've moved forward today, if passed, will exacerbate uscis concerns about threats to national security and public safety" -- close quote. these officers try every day to review these applications for visas and entry permits and they try
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